Pop Culture

'Mad Men's' Don Draper: Sexy, successful ... and so sad

Don Draper found himself surrounded by people, yet all alone and sad, in the ninth episode of the season, titled "Better Half."

It's been a long, sad season for Don Draper on "Mad Men." It seemed almost every episode featured at least one shot of the handsome ad man brooding -- and in some cases, even shedding a tear or two.

What's he got to cry about, you say? We hear you: He's a rich, very successful, good-looking guy with a gorgeous wife. As far as viewers can see, he's still got his health too. (At least, we think so. His liver hasn't started failing from all that drinking yet, right?) So why the long face, Don?

Turns out maybe we should cut the guy a little slack. Money and good looks can't buy happiness, after all. (Just a lot of other stuff that makes life a bit easier.)

Nobody tells Don Draper what's what! Unless you're his neighbor/mistress, apparently. In the episode titled "Man With a Plan," the ad man does his own version of "50 Shades of Grey" and orders lover Sylvia to stay in her hotel room all day (although it felt more like days), even taking away her book at one point. By the end of that ordeal, she'd had an epiphany and dumped him. His response? Disbelief. Sad face. Begging. And later, more begging on the phone.

Who are you?
Daughter Sally delivered a knife to Don's -- and viewers' -- hearts this year. After the Draper residence is burgled while the adults are away and Sally was left behind to watch her little brothers, she explained to Don why she was duped into believing the thief -- a black woman -- was her grandma. "She said she knew you," Sally told her dad on the phone later. "I asked her everything I know and she had an answer for everything. Then I realized I don't know anything about you." Sad, ponderous face.

All by himself
Don's often surrounded by people, whether he's at the office, having a meal with clients or enjoying a little tryst with someone. When he hooked up with ex-wife Betty while visiting son Bobby at camp, he admitted that he'd missed her, hinting at how unhappy he is in his current marriage. "Why is sex the definition of being close to someone?" he asked. Her reply? "I don't know. But it is for me, it is for most people." Cue the sad face. And by the next morning, they were miles apart again. As Don headed into the diner for breakfast, he saw Betty sitting with her husband, Henry ... and Don shuffled off to sit alone.

After smoking some hashish at a Hollywood party, Don started to hallucinate first the happy, then the sad. The vision of a pregnant Megan came to him first, then Dinkins, the soldier he met in the season premiere. Except now, the young man is missing an arm -- and is dead. "Dying doesn't make you whole," Dinkins told Don when asked why the deceased vet was still missing his appendage in the afterlife. "You should see what you look like." And what does the ad man look like? Depressed. And dead. Floating in a pool face-down dead. But fortunately for him, the dead part was a hallucination, but he really was drowning in the pool until Roger dove in and saved him.

When Don finally got caught cheating with Sylvia, it wasn't by who viewers -- or Don himself -- were probably expecting. It was Sally who walked in on the two lovebirds. This sent Don first into panic mode, which eventually morphed into depression. It became obvious two episodes later, when Don started out the penultimate episode of the season curled up in a fetal position on Sally's bed, and ended the hour the same way, realizing that his actions have cost him a relationship with his little girl.

What Sunday's finale holds for Don's happiness, you'll have to tune in and see at 10 p.m. on AMC.