When Don Draper raids Roger’s office for a bottle of Smirnoff, you know he means business—even at the risk of losing business. Back in his new office, the co-director of creative drinks like a man in the desert who finds an oasis. And why not? Smirnoff’s very own tagline, developed by Milton Goodman of the Lawrence Gumbinner agency, was “Smirnoff Leaves You Breathless.” And as William Grimes notes in Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, “[Vodka] allowed [the film community] to drink on the set and elude the sharp eyes (and noses) of studio spies.”
You’re not supposed to notice, although Don’s behavior is a dead giveaway. (As I mention in my upcoming vodka book, Daniel Oliver, the former FTC chairman, says that the partners at his old law firm advised him to drink brown spirits as opposed to vodka: “That way the client will know you’re drunk and not just acting stupid.”)
But wouldn’t you drink? Don is being humiliated—having to work for Peggy, dismissed by Bert Cooper. My wife was hoping somehow he’d end up forging a new firm with Freddy Rumsen. But Don feels too strongly about SCP. He needs to find a way back to the top—but how? His only ally is Roger Sterling, who spent the episode on a commune trying to rescue his daughter. Maybe Pete Campbell? Certainly Ted Chaough is a wild card. But not Peggy, not Joan, and definitely not Lou Avery and Jim Cutler.
Something’s gotta give.
By the way, did you catch that reference to the end of Mad Men? Or at least a nod toward all the speculation: Freddy Rumsen asks Don if his goal is to kill himself, giving his critics what they want. Indeed.
Photo courtesy of AMC