At the beginning of Babylon, Don falls down the stairs after tripping on a toy. Don lands on his back and Betty’s breakfast in bed comes crashing down around him.
I can imagine a thousand reactions to such an experience. If it were my own father in, say, 1969 (when Roberta and I were about the age of Don’s kids), he’d have screamed at us about the toy. There would have been a lot of screaming. And even though I said a thousand, I’m kind of stuck in the notion of rage. Don’s an alpha male, he’s the head of the family, it’s all about him, the whole 1960 family structure makes sure he knows that. Pete would rage. Or sulk. Or both.
But Don looks up at Betty from his humbling position on the floor, smiles a sweet, self-depracating smile, and says “Happy Mother’s Day.”
It’s…perfect. It’s exactly how you’d hope a person would react in such a moment; without blame or anger or shame or grief. Just take it in stride and let it go. And it speaks to an excellence of character within Don, despite his flaws. He has a sense of goodness towards the world. He isn’t getting even. He isn’t keeping score. And this makes him, yes, extraordinarily loveable.