A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this in my season-four Mad Men predictions:
I can't explain why, but I find Don's position the least interesting of all those set up for us last night. So, he arranged to have Betty's senile father move in with them. So, he prevented Betty's nasty brother from glomming onto Daddy's house and all its contents. So what?
This week, in only the fourth episode of the season, Betty's senile father fell down dead while buying peaches in the A&P. It's not too surprising, really. There wasn't enough meat on those story bones to sustain an entire season. Don is not engaged enough in his home environment for this to have made much difference to him. It was a flat conflict, and now it's done.
This was a mostly unremarkable episode (that is, entertaining and well-written, but without as many surprises or aha insights as we've come to expect). There were two powerful moments in terms of emotion and storytelling. First came when Betsy closed the door on little Sally Draper after learning of Grandpa Gene's death. Betsy is a lousy mother (except to that neighbor boy, Glenn, who alone of all the children can capture her attention). And poor little Sally Draper -- Don had better start setting aside a nice chunk of each paycheck for her future therapy needs. I don't know whether she'll end up in a drug-soaked commune or in a hospital on permanent suicide watch, but her parents clearly are grooming her for a tragic end.
The second powerful moment came when Sal danced the Anne Margaret commercial knockoff for his wife. Sal won't be able to keep that closet door locked much longer. He's losing the battle of Sal v. Sal by inches. He's one of the most interesting characters this season, a true tragic hero, and I can't wait to see what happens next with him.
We're being set up for more conflict between Don and Betsy over their mutual withdrawal from the home and family life, and Peggy is going to continue to surprise us as she emerges from her cocoon, and Joan's husband, if he continues on his current path, will not be long for this world. He'll disappear one day, and she'll serve a tasty "venison" stew buffet-style in that lovely chafing dish that was a wedding gift from the chief surgeon. Bye-bye, Dr. Rapist! Joanie, you simply must give us your recipe! (Okay, maybe not, but Joan is holding on to her job at Sterling Cooper for a reason. That's her safety net when her sham of a marriage fails.)