Monday, August 20, 2007
For those of you who saw last week's episode of 'Mad Men', I'd like you to try a little experiment. Strip away all of the subplots from "5G", save for that about Don Draper's secret life being discovered by the half-brother from his earlier identity. Take away even most of Peggy's scenes of her entertaining Don's wife as they await his return to the office, since that had more to do with Peggy's discovery of Don's affair with the artist.
So we're left with the story of Adam Whitman, finding out that the older brother he worshipped did not die in the Korean Conflict, but instead was now living a new life as ad executive Don Draper instead of as Dick Whitman.
Don didn't want anything to do with Adam, nor with that world which he had escaped. And he was afraid that somebody was going to find out his secret if Adam stayed around for much longer. So drastic measures had to be taken.
We saw Don unlock a desk drawer at home and stare at something hidden away inside. We could sense that whatever it was, it was both troubling to Don as well as the answer to his problems. Finally he made the decision and put it in his briefcase.
When he arrived at Adam's Times Square flophouse hotel, Adam momentarily turned his back on his older brother in order to make him coffee. While doing so, he mentioned that their late Uncle Mac always thought Dick/Don was soft. "But you're not soft, are you?"
With a grim determination, Don replied, "No. I'm not." And he reached into the briefcase. Adam turned around and asked, "What - what are you doing?"
And that's when Don pulled out - five thousand dollars in cash.
Admit it. How many of you watching thought Don was going for a gun to kill Adam in order to protect his secret? I think it was more than just that we've become accustomed to the protagonists on cable shows going dark - Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey, Tommy Gavin. I think the basic plot summary could have been the first twenty minutes of a classic 'Columbo' episode. We would have come out of the commercial break to follow the rumpled detective as he investigated the murder.
Luckily for Don, had he actually killed his brother, he wouldn't have had to worry about Columbo being on the case. Although the Lieutenant began his career in New York City, by 1960 he had already moved to California - the year before in fact. (In a 1973 episode, he said he had been living there for fourteen years.) And this episode of 'Mad Men' had to be taking place around June. (After CBS guaranteed a full season to 'The Twilight Zone' in April, but before the Draper family's plans for an August vacation in Cape May, still early enough to change those plans if need be.)
But if he had killed Adam, he'd probably have to face a grilling by another Adam - Detective Adam Flint of the NYPD, as seen in 'Naked City'.
It would have made for a great story, although it would have brought this fantastic, well-made series to a halt. And besides, Paul Burke, who played Adam Flint, is now too old to play opposite Jon Hamm as Don Draper. (O'Bviously the same holds true for Peter Falk as Columbo.)
Still, for those of you who write fanfic, there's an idea for an alternate universe crossover with either of those two crime series!