Don’s now a dom. And, no, it’s not as sexy as it seems.
In ‘Man with a Plan,’ our antihero has one plan: To gain some semblance of balance by controlling everyone’s lives around him.
In doing so he lays down a path of destruction. He more or less imprisons Sylvia in a swanky hotel, and mortifies Ted by getting him rip-roaring drunk.
This episode, the halfway mark of season six (yes, already), has two or so other subplots with Pete and Joan. But what’s really prominent is Don’s overwhelming lack of control in his own life, and how that intertwines with the RFK assassination.
But, first, onto Don’s cruel case of mental sadomasochism.
Don’s on the apartment elevator when it stops at the Rosens’ floor. As it opens, Don sees suitcases and hears the couple shouting. Sylvia screams at Arnie to go, insisting that she doesn’t need his money (that’s Don’s job, apparently). “You’re not taking care of me -- you’re taking care of you!”
The one person she thinks can take care of her? Don. Vulnerable, she calls him later when he’s at work, in desperation. Initially he resists.
“I need you, but nothing else will do,” she coos. Finally, he feels needed again. He drops everything for a long lunch break and tells her to meet him at a hotel.
Then the horror show begins. Nothing gory or graphic, but it’s by far the most loathsome we’ve seen Don. Ever.
First he tells her to get his shoes. She scoffs, pointing to them across the room. Not good enough. He tells her to get on her hands and knees to find them. Playing along, she obliges and puts them on his feet. He tells her to undress and to wait for him.
At first she buys into the kinky dom/submissive game, and even gets off on it (literally) when he calls her later not to leave the room or to answer the phone.
No ties, no bonds, no chains. He never handcuffs her to a bed, like he did to Bobbi Barrett, only to leave her there for housekeeping to presumably untie her. Nonetheless, he keeps Sylvia in her dungeon-like hotel with near-psychotic manipulation.
"Why would you think you’re going anywhere?" he sneers, as she’s dressed in the slinky red dress Saks Fifth Avenue he sent her. "You are for me. You exist in this room for my pleasure." Why, Don, why?!
Because, finally, it's something beautiful he can truly own. And, apparently, control down to every last thought. Here's where it turns creepy: “Who told you you were allowed to think?” Run, Sylvia, run!
After two nights of being locked down in the hotel, Sylvia tells him the freaky fantasy and affair are over. Not if Don can help it. Even as she breaks up with him, he's trying to control her: "It's easy to give up something when you're satisfied."
"It's easy to give up something when you’re ashamed," Sylvia remorsefully replies.
She touches Don's face as he whimpers, "Please." He's no longer in charge. He looks more frightened and helpless than he did on the airplane with Ted.
In the elevator ride to her apartment, she appears traumatized yet relieved. As she walks to her apartment, she doesn't say a word or look back at Don.
He goes back to his apartment where Megan is waiting for him and planning their next romantic excursion. His head is spinning and his world is upside down.
Now for the aftermath. Will she admit the affair to Arnie or Megan? If she does, will she reveal what a sociopath Don is? And if she is the one who tells Megan, will she cry on her shoulder, or Megan on hers?