Mad Men
The Summer Man

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: B+ | 2 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Half the Battle
goes on that the man he's describing would then smile, content in his realization that the world isn't perfect. "We're flawed, because we want so much more." Henry comes in from mowing the lawn, removes his shirt, and passes Betty with yet another cold stare, like, I was never your biggest fan but I didn't peg you to be quite this insecure, guy. DVO finishes up by saying that we get things and then wish for what we had, and at home, dressed up in a casual suit, Don finally steels himself with a small belt of liquor, but it's understandable...

...because it's time for his al fresco date with Faye. After they're seated, she notices that he smells like chlorine, and he tells her how he's been swimming to clear his head, as he's been somewhat out of sorts lately. "And it's an effort to get in the water, but when you do, you're weightless, and you don't even sweat. And in the end, you're wrung out." Faye smiles and says she's been looking forward to this -- I'm going to guess she's talking about the date and not the swimming-related metaphors -- and Don tells her it wasn't exactly easy to get a reservation. Faye tells him he should have called her, as her dad is a candy-store owner and thus has mob connections. Okay, I could have danced around the subject a bit as she did, but in the end her meaning is as plain as mine, so why bother? Don smiles and asks what he's like, and Faye returns the favor as she says he's "a handsome, two-bit gangster like you." Cute, but the "two-bit" part makes me wonder if she knows just how much Don got when PPL bought SC.

Perhaps because of the nod to her Italian heritage, Don orders them two glasses of Chianti, and then Faye tells him that when she's out of sorts, she looks at the calendar, as there's usually something significant on the horizon. As much as I like her, I feel constrained to point out that for a lot of people, that would only make them more out of sorts, and Don kind of proves my point when he tells her it's his two-year-old's birthday, but he's not going to the party because he isn't welcome there. "He thinks that man's his father. Maybe that's okay." Faye opines that all Gene knows of the world is what Don shows him, which is pretty much what she told him in regard to Sally, so you'll forgive me if I'm glad that we're spared further platitudes by the arrival of the wine, with Don pausing almost imperceptibly before taking a sip. He then tells Faye that even though he's sometimes behaved in a manner that contraindicates this, he does admire her work, and when she seems flattered, he asks her to tell him a trade secret -- how does she get her people to do what she wants them to? In response, she paraphrases a rather famous fable of Aesop about the wind and the sun, ending with the moral: "Kindness, gentleness, and persuasion win where force fails." You're lovely, Faye, but that phone call seemed awfully windy. They smile about Aesop's economy of words before Don gallantly offers her his coat to protect her against the night air...

...and then, after they're settled into a cab, he grasps her hand and they kiss rather passionately. When she suggests that she'd like to come back to his place, however, he tells her that he's going to stick to the plan of taking her home, "because that's as far as I can go right now." Probably best not to mention how much farther he went in his last cab ride, but I am happy to see him treat Faye with the respect she deserves, not to mention it's nice to see at least one woman not get shit on this episode. Of course, he may just be thinking that he doesn't want to risk hurting someone whose dad could have his kneecaps broken as easily as blinking. Faye admits that his demure attitude isn't what she expected, but she doesn't seem to have a problem with it, instead settling back into making out with him. As consolation prizes go, that leaves little to be desired.

In the morning, Don wakes up in bed, stretched out and alone, and then in the pool, he ends up in an impromptu race with some younger dude, whom he beats out. And he doesn't even hack up a lung afterwards, which means he's really getting in shape!

At the party, kids are playing and adults are talking when Don appears, looking very well turned out and carrying a large stuffed elephant for Gene. Francine greets him politely but not enthusiastically, but Bobby makes up for it with a happy "Daddy!" while Sally opts for an uncertain wave. Henry asks Betty what Don's doing there, but Betty, having had some time to mull things over, tells him it's okay, and picks Gene up and brings him over to Don. Henry looks pleased at her newfound civility, not that he demonstrated much of it himself, and Betty smiles as she parrots Francine's line from earlier: "We have everything." When she looks back over at Don, though, who's happily holding Gene up in the air, she looks pensive, like, as Don suggested, she's wishing for what she once had. And now that he's cleaned himself up, can you blame her? See you next week!

John Ramos is a writer and film producer living in Los Angeles. You can email him at couchbaron@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/couchbaron and https://twitter.com/eastfifthbliss.

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