GAH, the season is young but we've already reached 4 out of 5 razor blades on the Depressing Scale (tm), and it probably would have been 5 out of 5 if this episode had actually aired at Christmas. So, yes. Welcome to the Christmas episode. Won't you enjoy some eggnog and cyanide?
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is forced to throw a Christmas party to appease their demanding, obnoxious client (singular), and if that's not uncomfortable enough, the forced cheer is accompanied by a forced Santa-ing.
We also saw the return of Freddy (the drunken pee-er, now 16 months sober) and That Weird Kid, Glen, who was corrupted by Betty (or something?) back in season one and is now corrupting Sally by explaining over the phone in poorly lit rooms about the ways of mothers and stepfathers. In an odd display of adolescent chivalry, Glen and his friend trash the Draper house after Sally says she hates it there. They don't touch Sally's room, however, and they leave her a little gift of a bracelet. Weird, but almost cute, too.
So at this point in the episode, nothing is THAT depressing, right? I mean, it's kind of depressing, but there were still a handful of yuks: the Christmas party conga line, the Roger/Joan flirting, the shaky icing.
I was getting disappointed, truth be known, because if any show is going to do a depressing Christmas episode, it's Mad Men. So at first I thought, "Well, it sucks that Don is spending Christmas alone, and it sucks that Peggy's boyfriend knows nothing about her, and it sucks that Sally keeps thinking she'll see her dad everywhere, but ehh, it's probably a 3 or 3.5 rating", BUT THEN Don foisted a creepy, depressing quickie on his secretary.
See, Don is not supposed to be that guy.
In the pilot episode, he is specifically not that guy. He is kind to Peggy, and that immediately sets him apart from all the other men at the office. Yes, he cheats on his wife, but he's never creepy at work, and he's never creepy with his secretaries, and that's why, in part, we were able to root for him.
But now he's absolutely that guy and it's ugly and sad, for all involved. And the next day he gave the secretary some cash in a card as her Christmas bonus!!! NO!!!
It's gonna be a long season if we'll be spending it watching Don hit rock bottom. And I'm scared to find out what Mad Men thinks is rock bottom.