The fun, and the slow emotional meltdowns, never stop at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Peggy’s got a complicated relationship, Don’s just slept with his secretary, and nobody had a very Merry Christmas. What’s in store for New Year’s?

The Players:

  • Writers: Jonathan Abrahams and Matthew Weiner
  • Director: Jennifer Getzinger
  • Players: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Robert Morse, John Slattery, Alexa Alemanni

Episode: “The Good News”

Don sees an old friend in California.  A secretary sends the wrong flowers.  Don and Lane hit the town and have some fun to celebrate their mutual divorces.  Joan and her husband patch a few things up.

The Good:

  • Joan of Arc: It’s great to see how Joan’s doing, and she actually gets a lot of good material this episode.  We finally get to see her husband in action as a doctor, and realize that while he may be a rapist, a douche, and an insensitive idiot to boot, he’s not incompetent at his job.  But he still sucks, and the episode keeps bringing up his inevitable trip to Vietnam.
  • A Trip with Lane: Lane Pryce hasn’t had much to do since the end of the third season, but here he manages to score not one, but two, really, really big laughs.  It just goes to show you that if you slap a steak in your crotch, everybody loves you.
  • Best.  Jump Cut.  Ever.: Setting up Don and Lane to go see the classic French musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and instead cutting away to a kaiju movie (Gamera, to be specific) is one of the single greatest gags the show has ever dropped, especially as it’s immediately followed up with Don’s line about what goes on at giant monsters movie.
  • Goodbye, Anna: Cancer is a pretty nasty way to sign off a character, and the episode handled it well.  That it was Anna Draper, probably the one human being who truly knows Don, and the wife he really should have had, and you’ve got one of the sadder, more melancholy moments of the series.  Don’s somewhat choked goodbye is tear-jerker material.

The Weird:

  • Cradle Robber: Don trying to put the moves on a poli-sci student from Berkeley who is, in a technical sense, his niece was a creepy and tone-deaf moment for Don.  Don’s really not the “creepy uncle” type.
  • Gay Jokes?  Really?: Is it just us, or was the comedian riffing on Don and Lane as homosexuals seem a little off, especially for this show?  It seemed a bit out of place and the scene didn’t quite gel.

The Bad:

  • Oh, Go to Nam Already: Seriously, can we just pack Joan’s d-bag of a husband off to basic training and have him get his crotch blown off or join the Viet Cong or come back a dedicated war protester who dumps Joan for a hippie or whatever they’re going to do with this clown?  Stop beating around the bush and do it already.  Sure, his moment of calmly stitching Joan up is a great little bit of dimension, while at the same time illustrating why their relationship is never going to work.  But still, we’re sick of the guy.
  • Not Wild About Harry: The next episode promises to address this a bit, but so far, Harry Crane has seemed kind of like furniture, and this episode is no exception.  Remember when he had a wife?  And a personality beyond “whining”?

Overall:

A solid episode that gives two underused characters some depth, and helps get at the root of what’s tormenting Don.  As the show says, welcome to 1965.  It’s going to be, if history and these three episodes are any indication, a very tumultuous year.

Rating: 8.5/10

Agree?  Think we got it wrong?  Tell us in the comments!