'Mad Men' Season 7 Premiere Makes It Clear That Don Draper Is More Broken Now Than Ever
Show of hands: Who else got nervous when broken man Don Draper walked out on to the broken balcony of his Manhattan high-rise at the end of the premiere of Season 7 Sunday night? For a brief moment it looked like that infamous, theory-spawning falling man from the opening credits would come to fruition in the Mad Men Season 7 premiere "Time Zones." Of course, Don didn't swan dive into the streets of New York City, but it wouldn't have been surprising if he did. His spirit seems more broken than ever.
Whatever shred of hope the Season 6 finale left you with for the state of Don Draper (maybe his forced leave of absence would force him to get his act together, make peace with his past, and build a somewhat brighter future) was pretty much obliterated last night. Things looked bright and sunny from the start... but, then again, California tends to have that effect. Don went out to visit his wife Megan (yep, they're still together for now) in Los Angeles, and it seems like their bi-coastal relationship is nothing more than a band-aid on a big wound.
While Mrs. Draper is continuing to make strides in her career and seems content with her humble digs (her husband, on the other hand, thought her place felt like "Dracula's castle") Don is just in limbo. Megan's life is in motion, while Don takes lunched with a disturbingly peppy Pete (who, along with Ted, is living the life Don should be living). From the looks of their unenthusiastic lovemaking session, it's only a matter of time before the emotional distance gets as taxing on these two as the physical distance.
The only ray of light for a possibly reformed Don Draper is that he turned down the glances and advances of two women during the episode. The first was Pete's flirtatious real estate agent, and the second was Don's seat mate (well hey there, Neve Campbell), a beautiful widower, on his redeye back to New York City. Don always plays his cards close to the vest, but there was nothing vague (at least not to the viewer) about him declaring things like "I'm a terrible husband" and "I really thought I could do it this time." Don has lost just about every part of himself, even the terrible, soulless, philandering part. (At the end of the episode he couldn't even bring himself to open a bottle of his beloved booze.) Hell, even his breakthroughs are breakdowns.
Between the deflating trip to (and from) Los Angeles to the warning from Freddy Rumsen to not become "damaged goods" at work (he's been gone for two months now), that jammed door wasn't just an inconvenience, it was some good ol' fashioned Mad Men symbolism. When Don walked out on to that freezing balcony, the "marquee idol" continued his free fall into a shivering, weeping shell of a man.
Coming through, make way for Sad Don.
Images: AMC, Uproxx