Mad Men 4.6: "Waldorf Stories"

Perhaps the most interesting thing to emerge out of this episode is the revelation that Don Draper was effectively hired by Sterling Cooper because Roger was drunk. It's not only easy to believe, given what we know of Roger's history, but it goes a long way towards explaining the uneasy relationship between the two men over the course of the series.

Of course, the point was to draw certain important parallels. Roger's influence has been on the wane for quite some time, and as Lane noted in his conversation with Pete, many of the partners are seeing Roger as a liability. So it's telling that Don is effectively following in Roger's footsteps. Combined with his embarrassing performance at the meeting over the Life ads, and Don is all but squandering whatever goodwill might remain among his colleagues.

It feels more and more like the transformation of society taking place in the background is preparation for similar tumultuous change within the agency. Lane appears ready to stage a bit of a coup, and he's lining up allies. The question is: will Don be a part of the new regime, or will he find himself on the outside looking in, a liability rather than the reason the agency exists? If he continues to sap away the goodwill of his former acolytes, then there's no telling where his self-destructive journey may end.

Pete and Peggy are both displaying the kind of drive and purpose that breeds success, and they would ostensibly be on Lane's side. But like so many of the people in the agency, Don knows a lot about their personal failings and past history. If they try to push him out, would he salt the earth on his way out the door? Or would he use all that information to force them to keep him around? It could get very, very ugly.

There's little doubt that Don Draper is still disintegrating. The question now is whether or not the agency will come crashing down with him, or provide the new paradigm for his redemption. At the rate things are progressing, we may not know for another season or two.


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