The return of a few pivotal guest characters and some very funny moments, in some situations that those characters–Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie), and Glen Bishop (Marten Weiner) created. Garner, may not appear much, but I’m sure many Mad Men fans are displeased with the character who is the reason that closeted homosexual art director Sal Romano (Bryan Batt) was fired. Remember when Garner made a pass at Sal who nervously rebuffed him? That’s all it took for Lee to tell Roger to cut Sal loose, which don didn’t hesitate at doing, once Roger told him it was for Lucky Strike, their number one client.
I certainly hope everyone remembers the divorced neighbor’s (Darby Stanchfield) son, Glen Bishop, who Betty (January Jones) babysat for and who developed a crush on Betty. One day the mother confronted Betty at the market after finding out that Betty had given Glen a locke of her hair, calling her juvenile and questioning her judgment. Glen is played by Martin Weiner’s son, who does a creepy good job with the role. Last night, Sally (Kiernan Shipka) and Bobby (Jared Gilmore) ran into Glen while Christmas tree shopping, and Glen seems to take a liking to Sally, whom he tells, “I saw your new dad. My mom said that would happen.”
Then Glen calls Sally (top pic), tells Carla that his name is Stanley, and then tells Sally that her parents will not get back together because, of Betty he says, “she’s doing it with somebody else.” Little Sally didn’t even get what that meant, but she did tell Glen she’s miserable, and Glen told her she would be miserable until she moved. Later, Glen and a friend, who Glen calls a “shithead”, trash Betty’s house, because Glen feels he is helping Sally by getting Betty to think about moving. Glen continues the onslaught by making crank calls to the old Draper resident in the middle of the night.
Another old character, the affable Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray), walked in to the new agency clean and sober, with a major account in toe, and was hired back on the spot by Roger. Freddy had a great line when he said of Roger’s (John Slattery) office, “it looks like an Italian hospital” and a very interesting one when he told Roger he didn’t want Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) anywhere near his account, and that he was surprised when he heard they brought Campbell along. Remember that Campbell made fun of Freddy when he was on the way out due to his alcoholism, and when he pissed himself. Freddy seems very sharp, and out for revenge on Campbell, who he also made a dig at in a meeting in Don’s (Jon Hamm) office with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss, looking large) and Roger.
Speaking of alcoholism, let’s do our Don Draper update. Early in the episode, Don drops his keys at his door, and is observed by his neighbor, as he wobbles to get down to pick the keys up. Phoebe (Nora Zehetner), lets Don in and puts him to bed while resisting his advances. Don tells her she’s good at this and she zings him with “my father was a drunk.” The presence of a female around don usually means one thing: Don’s gonna tag her. But with “Christmas Comes but Once a Year”, s4, e2, we see Don drinking too much–a fact pointed out even by Sterling Cooper all-star drunk Freddy Rumsen, when he asks Don f it isn’t too early in the morning to be drinking. Also, the new artist calls Don pathetic, and it wasn’t the first time that he has made a remark about Don, to Peggy or some of the younger SCDP employees. Last night, when he calls Don pathetic, nobody disputed him–an interesting tell on the state of Don Draper right now. That’s why I’m not sure if Phoebe is there as Don’s neighbor this year as a romantic possibility, or as someone who is going to be coming to his rescue.
Then you have the Christmas party, where Don spoke with another potential hookup, Cara Buono, who played Phaye Miller, a consultant that the firm has brought in. You might remember Cara Buono as Kelly Moltisanti, Chris’s wife, from The Sopranos, and also as Artie Lange’s love interest in Beer League. But the party was made by the spoiled SCDP top client, Lee Garner Jr., who strong armed Roger for an invitation to the party, causing the party to be changed from a small, quiet affair to a fete worthy of the man who “keeps the lights on.”
Lee asked Roger to play Santa Claus, then insisted, waving off Campbell who tries to take the bullet for him, and staring Roger down and saying of the costume, “Seriously. Put it on.” Sterling trudged off and then trudged back as Santa, making for one of the funnier Mad men moments we’ve had. Lee Garner Jr.’s Christmas present was a Polaroid camera, and, ballbuster he is, made everyone get on Roger’s knee for a picture.
When Alison (Alexa Alemanni), Don’s secretary, brings Don his keys after the party, Don makes a crude, drunken pass at her, and she resists at first before kicking her shoes off and laying back. Joey, played by Matt Baird–the new character with a lot of venom for Don–seems to be dating Alison, a nice potential plot complication for the future. And while Alison tells Don, or attempts to tell him she has a boyfriend after they have sex, she was clearly preoccupied with Don all episode, from her reading Don the letter to Santa from his kids, and she seeemed on the verge of tears after Don acted coolly towards her the morning after at the office.
And Sterling had us laughing until the end, when he greets Don that morning with, “Did you enjoy the fuhrer’s birthday?” in a German accent–a comment all the more valid when comparing the proclivities of Adolf Hitler and Lee Garner Jr. But if Don is firmly walking in the land of the dangerous alcoholic this season, where he has tiptoed for years, and he has a tense office romance going with Alison, which could turn very badly, then Don might not be the hero this season that we have come to associate with his dapper character during the life of the show to date, and we probably won’t be laughing too much at all.
Here’s to Don getting it together. Getting dissed and called a type by Cara Buono can’t be a proud moment, and it was only one of many inglories that Don suffered last night.