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“Mad Men”: Episode 12, “Blowing Smoke”

Madmenblowingsmokepainting 

I can’t wrap my head around where “Mad Men” is going in these last few episodes leading into next week’s finale.

Don, as we’ve seen all season, is finally getting his life together even as his professional fortunes take a dive. That’s an interesting change from the past three seasons. Midge’s surprising return in the penultimate episode of season four, “Blowing Smoke,” written by Andre and Maria Jacquemetton and helmed by John Slattery — seemed to be a cautionary tale of the road he might have traveled — not that he was in danger of become a boho heroin addict but she still represented an unsavory aspect of his previous life.

The new-model Don Draper is bolder, as evidenced by the open letter in the New York Times that was an effort to “change the conversation,” as Peggy counseled, about Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and the blow delivered by the loss of Lucky Strike. The fact that Don wrote his high-minded missive while smoking signaled that this was more PR expediency than moral epiphany. But still, the issue of addiction was obviously on his mind, after staring at the inside of Midge’s brain for a few minutes. (Rosemarie DeWitt has always been so good and sleazy in this role.)Madmenblowingsmokemidge

Don’s move to renounce the demon weed of tobacco is sure to look prescient within a year after the Surgeon General’s Office releases its landmark report warning of the dangers of cigarettes. (But SCDP will still lose out on another five years ofbillings until cigarette blurbs are banned on TV as of Jan. 2, 1971.)

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