Mad Men, Season 4

Week 12: Don's Net Worth
Talking television.
Oct. 13 2010 1:39 PM

Mad Men, Season 4

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Week 12: Don's Net Worth

 Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Click image to expand.

I will admit nothing on the Joan front, Turner! With her figure—and more importantly, her arsenal of complicated underthings—Joan could hide a pregnancy for multiple trimesters. (She'd certainly do a better job of it than Peggy did in Season 1.) I think the mystery remains, perhaps to be solved this week when we learn that Dr. Greg got iced by Charlie while fumbling for a Band-Aid out on patrol near the Mekong.

John Swansburg John Swansburg

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.

I am willing to concede that Don's tobacco gambit will likely carry the day, in one way or another. (My hopes, if not my money, are with the Disney theory—I've complained in the past that Mad Men loses its way whenever Don leaves New York City, but I'd love for Season 5 to feature a scene of our hero sitting on the Thunder Mountain railroad, staring contemplatively from Frontierland out toward Tomorrowland, his hair immovable in the wind.) While I found Don's open letter a tootransparent attempt to change the conversation—and one that SCDP, with its long track record of service to the tobacco industry, was really in no position to make—I imagine that it will end up working somehow, if only because I can't see Weiner & Co. ending another season by blowing up a firm. Whether it's Walt, Connie, or my dark horse, Lee Iacocca, someone's going to walk with purpose through SCDP's doors come Sunday.

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One segment of this week's episode that we haven't discussed is the one following the Phillip Morris no-show, when the camera cut quickly among the SCDP staffers as they fretted about the firm's future. I can't remember Mad Men doing anything quite like that before: The quick cuts captured how news—especially bad news—spreads through a small office. And the snippets of concerned conversation gave a nice reminder of each staffer's anxieties. (I loved it when Cooper booted Crane from the partners' debriefing.) Another nice directorial touch from John Slattery.

Several TV Club readers took up my question regarding Don's net worth, reminding me that Don cleared $500,000 back when the Sterling Cooper was bought out by the Brits. Given his relatively modest lifestyle—fancy dinners, yes; fancy apartment, no—and the fact that, as readers also reminded me, Betty didn't ask for much in the divorce, he's probably sitting rather pretty at the moment. Still, even assuming he's worth something like $1 million, spotting Pete $50,000—5 percent of his net worth in that scenario—is pretty darn magnanimous. I assumed initially that this was the price Don was willing to pay to thank Pete for keeping his secret (and for shooing away North American Aviation, a big account and what would have been a big score for Pete). But a couple of commenters pointed out that it might also be interpreted as a sign of just how much Don has come to respect Pete as a colleague. Back in Season 1, Don tried to fire Pete—he saw him as an entitled little weasel, an impression that was only deepened when Bert protected Pete because of the prominence of his name in certain New York circles. But over the years, Pete has proved himself capable and dogged, and Don may well have had occasion to reflect on Pete's abilities this week after the Heinz rep gently told Don that he should leave accounts to the accounts men. Don may have been buying Pete's silence, but he may also have been buying SCDP a fighting chance. Maybe that's not a bad deal at $50,000.

Now here's my next money question. How much smack does $120 buy you in 1965?

If Pete and Trudy move to Connecticut, I hope they take their giraffes with them.

Firmly anti-laxative,
John

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