In Long Weekend, we see Don and Rachel connecting the dots. Maybe the first time I saw the episode his arrival at her door came from nowhere, or maybe I was just taken with their mutual attraction, but on closer examination, they are connecting at a deep level.
We arrive at Sterling Cooper in a Nixon campaign meeting. Don wants to set aside current ad ideas and tell “the story” of Nixon. He calls Kennedy “a recent immigrant who bought his way into Harvard,” On the other hand,
“Nixon is from nothing. A self-made man, the Abe Lincoln of California, who was Vice President of the United States six years after getting out of the Navy. Kennedy, I see a silver spoon. Nixon, I see myself.”
He sees himself. He sure does; he came from nothing, went into the Army, came out a new man (literally) and in a short time (six years?) he was a big success.
Later the same day, there’s a Menken Department Store meeting. There, Don kind of poo-poos Abe (there’s that name again) Menken’s history of coming from nothing (like Lincoln; like Nixon). Rachel takes umbrage:
“Excuse me, this is not some phony story you people print in your Fourth of July circulars. My father actually started with nothing and he made it into everything we’re talking about. Who here can say that?”
Don. Don can say that. And although Rachel doesn’t know that about Don, he must feel like she’s looking right through him, and like he and she are the only two people in that room who understand each other.
So of course, that’s the night they sleep together. But more importantly, that’s the night he finally tells the truth about himself to another human being. And it’s so important, so powerful, that I offer it here in its entirey:
“You told me your mother died in childbirth. Mine did too. She was a prostitute. I don’t know what my father paid her but when she died they brought me to him and his wife. And when I was ten years old he died. He was a drunk who got kicked in the face by a horse. She buried him and took up with some other man. I was raised by those two sorry people.”
He came from nothing. She understands. She kisses his hair.