We're back! The second round of March MADMENess begins the same way that round one began in the Rye Rocks Region. For all correct Round Two selections, you're awarded two points. As usual, the winner survives and advances, and the loser goes home. As in the first round, we've also got fake basketball scores.
(1) Don Draper vs. (9) Carla
Round two kicks off with a matchup of two characters who share a core issue: having to put up with Betty. They have taken turns over the years getting the brunt of Betty's neuroses. Eventually both Don and Carla are forced out of the Draper house. Obviously, Don's banishment is entirely his own doing, whereas Carla's getting fired in Season 4 is a final straw of Betty's manic behaviour, triggered by Sally's friendship with Glenn Bishop (more points for him). Carla moved on in round one because of her importance regarding the contexuality, if you will, of the show. Specifically regarding race relations of the time. That's not going to be good enough against Draper though. In fact, Don does pretty well with those sorts of things anyway. As sad or strange as it sounds, he's a very tolerant character, which isn't necessarily something that a high-powered executive would be. It's that type of classic counter balance to some of Don's philandering that makes his character so fascinating. He's a good guy, who does bad things. Even those things aren't really that bad, in that, most of the things he does are at least somewhat excusable. For example, his very existence is a lie. He stole someone's identity. Fundamentally that's inexcusable. Until it is excusable. Anna, the real Mrs. Draper, the one who should be most upset by it, unbelievably allows Don (or “Dick”) to buy himself out of trouble. If she's OK with it. We're OK with it. As for his dalliances with the opposite sex, we see not only does Don's past probably affect him a great deal, but it becomes more and more clear that his wife is this cold person that doubles as a bad mother. Don saw a picture of how his opportunity for a new life should go, and he did what he could to reproduce that picture. The irony is that since Don's need for affection that stems from his youth is so strong that he's incapable of not investigating any opportunity with the opposite sex. He should really be single. Yet, when he had the opportunity to be single, he was miserable. Despite having copious amounts of money, Don lives in a pretty modest apartment, in a building, in a neighbourhood that's far below his means. He punishes himself, sometimes literally, (he pays a hooker to slap him during sex at one point during his free fall) but often figuratively both at home and at work. Yet all the while we desperately want him to snap out of it. He should be in a penthouse condo, plowing through former debutantes at an alarming rate. Instead the last we've seen of him, he was leaping into an engagement because he caught a glimpse again of that life that he should have had. It's a constant struggle that could end in any number of ways.
Winner: Don Draper 85-61
(4) Sally Draper vs. (5) Susanne Farrell
It was bound to happen eventually, Sally would have to run up against at least one of her father's sexual conquests. It just so happens in round two, she faces off against her own teacher. Don and Betty stayed together as long as they could for the sake of the family. Which is yet another cultural theme so slyly touched on during this show. Since Sally was already showing signs of questionable behaviour, this choice that Don made became quite a literal toss-up. It also provided us with one of the great dialogue-less scenes when Susanne eventually realized Don wasn't coming back to the car, that they weren't going away for the weekend, and that their relationship - something that seemed to be special, even to the viewer that had seen this all before – was over in an instant. As night fell, she finally gets out of the car and walks away. Who knows how long it took for her to get home. Farrell's character was important as more than just a fling. She was a symbol of someone who cared for people. Obviously as a teacher of young children, that's supposed to be part of the job; Don also recognizes her heart and feelings of responsibility when her epileptic brother Danny showed up unannounced. I think Don knew this woman was more to what he wanted and was probably mere seconds away from investigating that in a real way until he was called onto the carpet by Betty. Not one to lose a fight, Don stayed with the family and left Susanne out in the cold. However the seed was planted, he knew what he wanted subconsciously. That subconscious affectation is enough to keep Susanne in the game, and we certainly would like to see her return in one way or another (hopefully not as a heroin addict), but the character we most look forward to seeing, especially given the long hiatus, is Sally.
Winner: Sally Draper 71-63
(14) Abe vs. (11) Hildy
If this was the NCAA tournament this 'game' would be akin to Ohio vs. South Florida. Two teams that weren't supposed to be here, weren't supposed to get this far. The bad news is, one of them has to go. The good news is, the winner remains a nice story for the next round. Hildy got in the second round, but emotionlessly banging Harry Crane, and by her numerous party scene appearances while when she wasn't sitting on someone's lap, she was joining them on a ride on a John Deere tractor through the office. Abe knocked off Paul Kinsey in round one, out-hippie'ing the supposed hipster. Paul was a little too fraudulent. Abe seems to be the authentic, one who could be a true character on the show with his own subplots. He has to still be in Peggy's life when the show restarts next week, there's too much potential. We've seen that he's a genuinely good guy with grandiose ideas about politics and the machine that is corporate America. If Peggy's going to continue to grow with that machine, it would make perfect sense that the man she's finally clicked with socially becomes her professions greatest antagonist. How would Peggy handle that? Roger has Joan. Don had Anna. Peggy doesn't have that one person that fully understands her. Hildy was a good time, but Abe should mean something going forward. He should contribute to the iconic brand of the show as it gets deeper into the 1960s. In the same way that a Cinderella team making the NCAA tournament's Sweet Sixteen contributes to the brand of March Madness.
Winner: Abe 60-50
(10) Lee Garner Jr. vs. (2) Salvatore Romano
To say that his is a juicy matchup would be something of an understatement. The similarities are both basic: Both have departed the show's universe, and they are wider scope as well: Both are closet homosexuals. Lee Garner pushed himself on Sal and Sal recoiled. Which is just a glimpse at what makes them different in a core way. Sal was very much the passive closeted gay man, initially denying multiple advances, in favour of advancing in a very harmless way, the way he did with Ken Cosgrove. Lee Garner is, presumably, single and enjoys the company of women, or at least demands their presence at company Christmas parties. The other thing Lee is known for is his corporate connection to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. His Lucky Strike cigarettes were the lifeblood of the new agency and he left them in the lurch. Garner is not good at his job, which is basically a liaison to the agencies that he works with, but yet because of politics and his own lineage, he gets to keep it, no matter what. On the flip side, Sal has to work for everything he gets, and he does a good job, eventually getting an opportunity to direct commercials. However, through no fault of his own, his circumstances intercede and he 'has' to be let go. Don didn't want to do it, but he had to in order to appease Lee. Of course, we don't have to do anything of the sort, so we're going to do what Don should have, if he could have, and we're going to banish Lee Garner Jr. Sal wins in the categories of likability, story arc, and brand importance. He moves on.
Winner: Salvatore Romano 76-72
And we move on as well, to the Vodka Gimlet Region, where results will be posted this evening. As for this region's next round – Sally takes on Don, and Sal goes up against the lowest seed left in the tournament in #14 Abe. That all happens on Thursday as we breakdown the Sweet Sixteen into an Elite Eight. On the road to Sunday's Final Four.
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