TV Recap: Mad Men Season 6 Episode 9

The Overthinkers Recap Mad Men Season 6 Episode 9, “The Better Half.”

Peter Fenzel, Shana Mlawski, John Perich, and Matthew Wrather recap Mad Men Season 6 Episode 9, “The Better Half.”

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6 Comments on “TV Recap: Mad Men Season 6 Episode 9”

  1. BruceWayneBrady #

    Someone mentioned in this recap that Don Draper is looking for a mother figure. He’s now on his 2nd marriage and continues to sleep with anyone he wants, but I can only think of 2 women that have exercised some sort of power over him, in a parental fashion.

    Betty still has a connection with him, as the mother of his children and ex-wife. More recently though, Sylvia Rosen, his neighbor that he had an affair with.

    She’s older than his current wife, Meagan, and was the one to finally put an end to the affair. Don resisted and wanted to keep it going, maybe because the power had shifted away from him.

    In the end, Sylvia called the shots and told Don it had to end, almost like a mom talking to a child.

    Do you think this relationship was the toughest for Don to end because of the way she turned the tables? It seems in the flashbacks that Don’s mother was the only other woman that has been able to talk to him in a stern manner.

    Maybe that’s another reason why he seems so bored with Meagan currently. She doesn’t present the challenge to him that Betty, Sylvia and even Peggy at the office seems to.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Don is on his third marriage if you could Anna Draper – even if they weren’t traditionally husband and wife, she meant a lot to him in a warm and caring sort of way that his other wives haven’t. They used to have adult conversations about stuff — she was another surrogate mother to him — and her death hurt him a lot.

      I think the relationship with Sylvia was tough for Don because of what was happening to him at work and in the culture in general. The change around him threatened Don’s sense of control, so he sought out ways to re-enact and master his childhood trauma in order to self-regulate emotionally and feel better. It was never about Syvlia, and nothing Sylvia did mattered to Don in that relationship. It was tough to end because the reasons he was using it almost as a medication, and the pain that drove him to do that hadn’t gone away.

      Don’s relationship with Meagan is basically over; oh, they’re still married and have a life together, but he gave up Meagan at the end of last season, when he walked away from her on the TV set and went to the whorehouse.

      It’s really hard for Don to have a comfortable home life with somebody who cares about him, because he has no mirroring of that in his life. He gave it a try with Meagan, but it had this unfortunate side aspect of possession that he couldn’t or didn’t want to shake (“something beautiful you can truly own”). It was almost as if he were assembling a family like you go shopping for consumer goods. When it became clear that Meagan was going to commit herself to her career more than to him, he didn’t have a model for how that would work — he felt let down, maybe even betrayed (despite the fact that feeling that way is totally unfair), so he moved on mentally to the next thing.

      I don’t think Meagan could fix her relationship with Don by “challenging” him. She could get him to be more interested in her, sure, like Betty does, but only temporarily. He still has no intuitive emotional understanding of how to sustain a functional relationship over time. She would need to mirror that for him, but she’s so much younger than he is that her educating him in how to behave is pretty unlikely.


      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        Also, let’s not underestimate the effect of Don’s alcoholism on his emotional health. He’s at least a little drunk most of the time, and the rest of the time he probably suffers from the usual “flattening of affect” that accompanies alcohol abuse.

        Even under the best of circumstances, a marriage to a functional alcoholic combat veteran with children from a previous marriage and a high-power job that requires a lot of travel is going to be challenging.

        Add that he’s a huge jerk, and it becomes virtually impossible.


  2. Cimmerius #

    Lane is the other dead partner. Though Cooper can’t hang on forever, can he?


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Cooper’s a Randian, which means he can do anything in the universe he puts his mind to, provided he isn’t held back by small-minded governments and their pandering to lesser mortals.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Then why “Dead or as good as”? I think they were probably referring to the partners in the overlong name…


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