Remember back when I said Hugh Laurie could have the Emmy locked up with the first episode? Retraction... of course, I had no idea that Jon Hamm would have such a plum like this to submit as his Emmy reel.
Like last week, the writers (Matthew Weiner with Marti Noxon & Cathryn Humphris) did a great job of framing the episode around the climax of Betty confronting Don, and the theme was a similar one. If last week was how folks see things, this week is the shattering of illusions, romantic or otherwise. If Betty's impression of Don changed when she opened the box, it shifted dramatically again after Don came (mostly) clean about "the big lie." And that was true in every story. Roger's old flame Annabelle has romantic illusions both about family dog food business (it's made from ponies!), to her feelings about Roger. The scene where she compares their past to Casablanca says it all, where Roger is quick to reply, "That woman got on a plane with a man who was going to end World War II, not run her father's dog food company."
Roger was kind of at the center of this episode, seeming much less like the clown that he's been this season so far. Even his conversation with Joan belied someone who has come a long way from the joker we'd seen in prior episodes. Speaking of Joan, she did some shattering of illusions herself, making Greg understand that she had unattained dreams as well.
Lest we forget, Betty had dreams as well, although it's likely they've been distorted over the years. I liked that they had her express her anger upfront with "Am I supposed to be feeling sorry for you?" only to wilt in compassion after seeing Don's tearful confession about his brother Adam. This was Don's worst nightmare, but it actually looks to be a good thing for him and Betty.
Not so good for Miss Farrel... though I doubt we can close the book on her.
Not to split hairs with a future award-winning episode but... Bobby and Sally's costumes felt a bit too obvious, along with the lingering camera framing on Don after Carlton delivers his "And who are you supposed to be."
Seemed like a good place to just cut quicker to the closing credits with the song "Where is Love" from the musical/film Oliver!, which is a fitting song in that Don is that orphan singing about his lost mother. "Must I travel...far and wide? 'Til I am beside...the someone who I can mean...something to..."
Previously: "The Color Blue" (Episode 3.10)