By Cynthia Littleton

There was a Pedro Almodovar touch to this episode. It was titled “Christmas Waltz” but might as well have been “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

Model planes and new china went flying, Don and Joan went on a mini-bender that yielded some of the best dialogue of the season, and Paul Kinsey reemerged after three seasons, more deluded than ever. So much to love in this seg, written by Victor Levin and Matthew Weiner and sharply directed by Michael Uppendahl.

Clearly there was also a strong undercurrent theme dealing with faith, which was hammered home at the end by the sign that Don Draper has found his religion again in the Madison Avenue parish. The closing scene provided a great Don Draper speech, proving that speeches aren’t necessarily a bad thing so long as they’re in character (and well written). Plus, it had the extra benefit of showing up applause-starved Pete Campbell, who’s been awfully huffy with his senior partners lately.

Layne Price has probably signed his ticket out of the agency by forging that check. He’s violated his faith as a CPA and will lose credibility with Joan et al once the check and the $50,000 bump in the agency’s line of credit is discovered. The Sterling Cooper Draper Price banker took it on faith from Layne’s assurance that the agency could afford the credit bump. Now with Mohawk Airlines pulling its billings, they’re going to be in an even deeper hole. Good thing Don didn’t crash that XKE!

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