Don Draper is spectacularly drunk when his career implodes, but Don Draper has been spectacularly drunk for years by this point so, as far as headlines go, it isn't one to make the front page. The furiously improbable well, how about that part of his destruction has nothing to do with the scotch in his glass of iced tea or the joint tucked into the inside pocket of his blazer and everything to do with the architect of his Goliath-like defeat being some rat-faced freshman named Glen who happens to tape the entire thing on his camera phone and uploadDon Draper's downfall to youtube in time for the eleven o'clock news.
SCN is the first to break the news because news is news even when it's news about their highest rated anchor going on a two minute tirade about consumer culture that ends on a close up of preppy college sophomore Ken Cosgrove trying to fight back tears from the one good eye not covered by a pirate patch while Don practically accuses him of being too stupid to get it .
But that is only news to those who lack imagination. The real story is what happens next.
Following his outburst, Sterling puts Don on vacation effective immediately thanks to orders from high above with the warning that Bert Cooper himself is concerned that Don's glorious fuck up will drive their entire network to the ground.
"A month is excessive, don't you think?"
Sterling's booze sloshes around haphazardly in his tumbler as he reminds him, somewhat incoherently, that Cooper is leaving any decisions of News Night 's future to that weasel Campbell which means that Don's as good as gone if he gets so much as a jaywalking citation.
"Joan booked you a flight to Cabo. Try not to make any children cry," Sterling warns.
So for the next three weeks, Don fucks women he meets at the beach bar while his former protege Peggy mans his desk with all the confidence and charm of a wizened newsman. He watches the show every night with the accompanying background score of whoever he is doing at the time calling out his name while Peggy delivers her nightly signature sign off.
Don finds out the day before he's supposed to go to back to work that SCN has hired a new executive producer, which would be fine if: a) he didn't have to read it on a gossip website like some common fan instead of the goddamn star of the broadcast; b) they had hired anyone but her .
"I already have an EP," Don all but shouts when he storms into Roger's office the next morning, twenty minutes and two cups of coffee too early for their meeting.
"Rizzo doesn't want to be your EP any more."
"He was fine producing Peggy."
"Peggy didn't go off the rails at a mock college debate."
"A month ago. That's practically a lifetime in our line of work!"
"We don't live in a twenty four hour news cycle anymore, Mr. Draper," chimes in some kid who Don didn't realize had been standing by the door. "Michael Ginsberg, sir. I run your blog."
"I don't have a blog."
"You do," Roger says. Off Don's perplexed look, he adds, "It's the age of twitter and cat videos. You needed an internet presence after that fiasco."
"Ginzo, you say 'sir' and I look for my grandfather."
"Call him a son of a bitch. That always seemed to work for our marriage," he hears Betty say as she strides into the room like she's on the runway. Don turns around in time to see her flash him a smug smile, the satisfaction of having something to hold over him as obvious as that glint in her eyes when she sees how much it annoys him.
The first night back is a disaster, the entire show reeking of too many chefs with too many recipes for success. Afterwards, Don and Betty are called into Roger's office like school children being sent to the principal. Don is embarrassed to admit that if it wasn't for a bum knee, he'd probably run in there just so he could make his point first. When they walk in, Pete Campbell is swirling Sterling's favorite whiskey in a glass like a cartoon comic book villain.
"Either she walks or—"
"Don't issue an ultimatum you can't keep," Sterling cuts him off quickly, all four of them knowing that Don would sooner cut off his left leg than walk away from the news desk. "I know you hate it, but you need her. Your likability is just not up to snuff right now."
"Someone has already done a reggae dubstep mash up of your soap box speech with Christian Bale's light bulb meltdown," Campbell adds. "It's making a killing on iTunes right now."
"So find a way to get along," Sterling finishes.
"Let's face it, Don," Betty leans in close to whisper, "I was always the most likable thing about you."
Don screws Megan Calvet, the new TMI Magazine reporter, on his anchor desk after the show one night when he thinks everyone has gone home, the slap of skin eerily echoing throughout the empty studio. As he fucks her, Don looks into camera one as a force of habit, not realizing that he still has his ear piece in and never once expecting to hear Betty start giving him a countdown to commercial in his ear. He should be embarrassed but he can't stop imagining her flushed in the dark control room with her hand between her legs, Betty's breath coming out in staccato gasps as he bends Megan over the desk. It's unbelievably hot knowing that his ex-wife is watching as he times his thrusts to her voice, Betty counting slower as he gets closer just to torture him until the clock finally winds down to zero.
When he finally sleeps with Betty, it's not slow and tender on a bed of roses that he organized to celebrate her leaving her politician husband. No, they fuck on Betty's elevator ride downstairs to meet Henry for their anniversary dinner after News Night scores its first 9.2 of the season. Don hits the emergency brake as soon as she reaches for his belt, his own hands pushing up her skirt and tearing at her nylon hose with the savagery of a man who wants to lay claim to what is no longer his. Betty laughs when Don grips her thigh hard enough to leave a mark, her leg wrapping around his calf as she pulls him in closer. The sound of Betty's platinum wedding band scraping his back punctuates the musak streaming in through overhead speakers as she grasps for purchase with a hiss.
"Bets," Don starts to say afterwards when she's straightening her skirt. She looks up at him expectantly and they both know that he's going to ask her to stay, to choose him instead of the other guy.
"I love him," Betty lies without remorse as she wipes her lipstick off Don's jaw with her thumb.
Don shakes his head.
"Love was invented by guys like me to sell human interest pieces."