“Mad Men,” Season 4, Episode 3: “The Good News”

This week’s “Mad Men” opens in a very happy place. No, it’s not Acapulco. Or Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It’s Joan’s vagina. She’s at her gynecologist. It seems Joan and her rapist, I mean husband, are trying to start a family. But like many busty secretaries of that time, she’s worried a previous “procedure” performed in a back alley might hinder her chances. The only thing that’s going to hinder her chances is Vietnam.

We got our first mention of the war this season last night as Joan (Christina Hendricks) reminded husband Greg that he’ll soon be headed there. It’s New Year’s Eve 1964 and the American ground war started in March of 1965, so we can only imagine the doctor won’t be returning in one piece. I’m anti-spoiler, so I could be completely wrong about everything I say regarding what lies ahead. But I imagine much of this season will be centered around the ground war and the intensification of the Vietnam conflict in general.

I’m actually pretty excited to see the mid- to late-60s happen on “Mad Men.” It’ll be fun to see that shift from wholesome and tidy America to the protesting, dirty hippy divided country. I can almost hear Buffalo Springfrield’s “For What It’s Worth” playing now.

You mention my favorite historic era and I get sidetracked. Back to last night’s “Mad Men.” So Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is less of an ass this week. He’s planning to head to Acapulco for New Year’s with a 24-hour layover in Los Angeles to visit with the real Don Draper’s wife. As weird as his trips there always turn out, it’s nice to see Don as Dick Whitman. He’s almost a carefree Dick. It’s almost like he likes to be a free and loose Dick while he’s there. At any rate, he’s definitely a refreshing Dick.

This time around, he finds out his sort-of ex-wife Anna is dying from Cancer. She herself doesn’t know exactly. But her sister and niece are sure of it. Don’s reaction is both surprising and not. As hard as Don can be, he also has a soft side. Mostly for his children and for Anna. There’s something about Anna that he loves. It must be that she knows the real Don Draper. One of only two women (Betty being the other) who does. And she’s the only one who chose to still accept him.

So Don gets sad and leaves. He heads back to New York instead of sunny Acapulco. When he gets back to the office (why did he even go there? Everyone is enjoying the new year), the only person there is Lane Pryce (Jared Harris). Lane is now experiencing a split marriage as well and he and Don decide to get drunk together. It’s fun to see the normally uptight Lane let loose. He’s loud, obnoxious and allows Don to buy him a whore. Awesome. Of course the next morning, uptight Lane returns and he even pays back Don the $25 for his prostitute.

And that’s pretty much it. We get a couple glances at Pegs (Elisabeth Moss) and what appeared to be a cardboard cutout of Roger (John Slattery) and a second of Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). Other than that it was the Don-Joan-Lane show.

Happy New Year.

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