“Who is Don Draper?”
Those are the first words we hear when “Mad Men” returns for its fourth season, but it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard the question asked. This time, though, it’s coming from a journalist who’s interviewing Don and trying to wrap his head around his subject. The question, as you would expect, thoroughly flummoxes Don, but he recovers nicely, turning his instinctual expression of concern about the query into one of mild annoyance, then firing back, “What do men say when you ask that?” As it turns out, he actually is kind of annoyed by the question, though it quickly becomes evident that it’s mostly because he just plain doesn’t like talking about himself. He’s not used to being on a firing line like this one, and if he had his way, he’d clearly avoid it altogether. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be an option in this new scenario in which he finds himself. The members of this new firm have to promote both the company and themselves…and, yes, that includes you, too, Don.
In a moment of perfect timing, the interview wraps up just as Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell walk up to the table. Pete’s clearly just as obsequious as ever (“We’re grateful for your sacrifice”), and Roger, it seems, has been spending some time on a book. His memoirs…? He doesn’t clarify. He does, however, offer up a trademark zinger within the first three minutes of the episode, so it’s clear that this is, at least to a certain extent, the same old Sterling that we left at the end of Season 3. It does appear that he may be drinking a bit more, however. This is a slightly impressive accomplishment, given that his alcohol intake was rather heroic to begin with, but it’s never a good thing to use booze as a crutch, so I’d expect that we’ll see more of this development sooner than later. Is Roger on track to become this year’s Freddie Rumsen?
Don, Roger, and Pete meet with a new client: Jantzen, who – according to the stats they cite during the meeting – maintain 25% of the bathing suit market. They’ve got some concerns that need addressing, and once again, we see Don’s limited tolerance for current goings-on. You know, when a client says, “I’m getting tired of saying this today,” you’d think most people would have the tact not to respond, “Next time, just have one meeting.” They also probably wouldn’t openly mock the client’s delicate sensibilities and their position that the inherent sexiness of a bikini is somehow diminished if you simply refer to it as a two-piece bathing suit. But, then, Don didn’t get where he is in the ad game by keeping his opinions to himself, now, did he?