Recap: Christmas Waltz

 Posted by on May 21, 2012 at 2:20 am  Mad Men
May 212012

Mad Men Christmas Waltz-Harry and Paul chant Hare KrishnaIn watching Mad Men episode 5.10, Christmas Waltz, my first thought was not about the episode’s theme. In fact, at first, a theme didn’t emerge. Instead, my first thought was how much fun this episode is. I haven’t been complaining about the season; last week got some bad reviews but I was fine with it, and the season overall has had some amazing episodes (Mystery Date and Far Away Places in particular), but this feels different. This feels like perfect Mad Men, everything we love about it. Scary, unpredictable, heart stopping in its tense moments, laugh out loud funny, sexy, insightful…all the great Mad Men things. In fact, I’m pleased that a theme didn’t present itself in an obvious way. By giving us a fun, funny, and surprising episode, Christmas Waltz engaged our interest without having to announce itself. It is both brilliant and unassuming, in that it doesn’t have to stand on a chair and tell you how meaningful it is. But don’t worry, there’s meaning, and we’ll get to that directly ahead.

As soon as I saw the “previously on” clips, I thought, ‘We’re getting everything the fans have been clamoring for.’ More Lane, more Joan, less of a laser-focus on the Draper marriage to the exclusion of wonderful secondary characters. But I had no idea, no idea, that the longed-for return of Paul Kinsey was in store, and what a return it was!

(I want you all to know that my son has to be at work at 5 a.m. on Monday, and my loud laughter was very inappropriate while he was trying to sleep. But I just couldn’t help it. This scene is hysterical. Oh, Paul, we missed you so.)

Paul, by the way, is the perfect access point to what the episode is about thematically: people turning themselves into things they aren’t; people layering false identity onto false identity until they don’t know, truly, who they are. Paul is a Krishna devotee, except he isn’t. He knows himself, to a certain extent: He’s still the jerk who wants people to like him but nobody does, and even in the act of serving his guru, Srila Prabhupada (yes, they depicted the real founder of the Krishna Consciousness Movement), he is sure that the guru likes everyone else better. This is the same old Paul who was jealous of Peggy’s talent, and realizing he’s the same person, whether in ad-man guise or spiritual guise, is actually a profound insight that might someday help him achieve true happiness, but for the moment, it makes him miserable.

Paul has a false image of his own creativity, made embarrassing by his ridiculous Star Trek script (when fans talked about Paul coming back to the show, Star Trek was often mentioned, so this was quite satisfying). He pretends to be a devotee to stay with Lakshmi; he is a twisted mass of false fronts and self-deception. Lakshmi, hilariously, is equally false, trading sex to undermine Paul’s dreams, wanting a drink, slapping Harry, and calling Paul a great closer: neither the spiritual teacher she pretends to be nor the vulnerable, frightened girl Paul sees is anywhere in the person she presents (ass-first) to Harry.

Virtually by definition, a Joan episode is a great episode. Christina Hendricks  knocked it out of the park again. I am frustrated that we’ve seen almost nothing of Joan since episode 5.04, but this is a welcome return. Have we seen her melt down before? I don’t think so. Oh, Joan, melt down for us! That scene has everything; Joan Harris losing it, the magnificently silly receptionist, Mohawk’s airplane getting crushed (a little foreshadowing for their late-episode strike announcement–historically accurate, natch), and Don coming to the rescue.

Joan, too, has layers of false identity, pretending to be a happy wife at SCDP for over five months when she knows her marriage is over, pretending that Greg is Kevin’s father, and managing Roger’s efforts to act as Kevin’s father, which could pull the curtain away from her story. Joan had an identity she understood: “My mother raised me to be admired.” But she also had an identity she thought she understood: Mrs. Harris. Now she just doesn’t know. She’s as lost as Paul, but without the ponytail. The sweetness of her connection to Don has always been a delight: Everyone loves the scene at the end of Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency where they just get each other, because they know that being admired and feeling admirable are two very different things, and because they know each other as two people who have the appearance part down but not the rest of it. Will they or won’t they? I kind of hope they won’t, because I love the mutual respect, but I may be the only person on the entire Internet who feels that way, and I have to admit the potential visuals of a Don-Joan hookup make my head spin.

Roger, too, is juggling identities. He thinks his LSD experience exempts him from falsity, but he’s still playing Roger games. Like Paul, whose shaven head doesn’t drive out his old self, Roger is still trying to manipulate Joan with money and a puppy-dog sort of longing for her that shows no real commitment. He’s never had a clue what she really wants and needs.

I haven’t talked about Lane yet, and his falsity is most obvious, most pivotal, and most dangerous. All we know by the end of the episode is that he’s set himself up to be caught, and probably by Joan, since she’s the one who goes over the books. Forging Don’s signature was an ugly move by a desperate man; he was so sure he’d figured it all out! At the beginning of the season, Lane was riddled with unarticulated longings; it’s almost wrong to say he has a false front because, like Paul and like Joan, he hasn’t a clue who the real Lane is. There’s no true self hiding behind a false front, just a series of facades that fail to give him any satisfaction.

If there is a flaw in Christmas Waltz, it’s that we can feel the machinery of this episode moving towards the conclusion of a later episode. Obviously, early episodes have to set up later ones, and also stand alone. When you experience the set-up more than the stand-alone, that’s a structural flaw, and in the Lane storyline, that flaw is present. But: great episode? Yes! I am on pins and needles about Lane’s fate.

Don is the mystery at the heart of it here: Who is he and who is he becoming?  While we have a pretty clear idea of the positive and negative trajectories of every other character (Paul, Joan, Roger, Harry, even Lakshmi), I honestly don’t know who Don is defining himself as in Christmas Waltz.

Unaffected by work earlier, Don is suddenly, at the end, throwing himself into it. Missing Megan, he’s angry at her, happy with her, and unhappy with her all at once. He doesn’t understand her temper tantrum, at first taking it for sex play, and I’m not sure she understands it either. You know what’s hard? Suddenly being home all day. Suddenly being “the wife,” and preparing a simple, low-effort dinner and then having nothing else to do. The “problem that has no name” is worse in the suburbs but not only found there. Megan doesn’t know who she is now either, and so the circle is complete.

Some additional thoughts:

  • We could tease out a second theme of people helping, or withholding help: Harry genuinely helped Paul, Don genuinely helped Joan. Lane got what he thought was the help he needed from the bank, but it proved not to be so. Joan also refused Roger’s help, seeing strings attached.
  • Quote of the week goes to Don: “You’re going to need to define some of these pronouns if you want me to keep listening.” Ha!
  • Megan throws food! Joan throws airplanes! Lakshmi slaps Harry! Even though nobody punched out Pete, that was still a lot of violence, and I loved it. Call me shallow.
  • We finally see Scarlett! She’s been mentioned in many episodes but this is the first time she’s appeared on-screen.
  • Don quotes Bobbie Barrett from episode 2.03: The Benefactor, “I like being bad and then going home and being good.”

Originally published at Indiewire Press Play.


  422 Responses to “Recap: Christmas Waltz”

  1. Boy you get these recaps up fast. What a talent!

  2. Excellent as always Deborah!

    I first thought the Lane forgery a bit contrived…why didn’t he just borrow the money from one of the partners or a commercial lender. But, given his personal pride, English (buckle down and take care of your own situation), and a basic panic instinct…it makes sense.

    • My impression is that he is so over-extended (hence the lie to his wife at the end to short-circuit any thoughts of a trip home) he had no other option than to use the company’s finances to rescue him.

  3. Will they or won’t they? I kind of hope they won’t, because I love the mutual respect, but I may be the only person on the entire Internet who feels that way, and I have to admit the potential visuals of a Don-Joan hookup make my head spin.

    Mine too.

    Look, I really like Megan. When the Drapers are good, they are very, very good. But Joanie and Don? Better.

    If I do have a legitimate shot at seeing Don and Joanie get together, I might just flip on my support for Don-and-Megan fidelity. And I mean flip. Like a buckwheat pancake.

    • Don and Joan having sex would cause an irreparable tear in the space-time continuum that would likely imperil the very existence of the universe itself — but it would definitely be hot!

      • Agreed, Smiler! Plus I’m with Deborah, I like the respect and attraction but don’t want to see them get it on.

    • Somewhere I’m smiling like the Cheshire cat.

    • I thought the scene with Don and Joan was interesting because in the past Don has always been reluctant to give advice. I believe he told Lane this twice during the holiday season when Don was divorced and Lane was without his family. Yet here they are in a similar situation. Both of them have spouses that initiated the divorce proceedings and both of them initially were quite angry when it happened. And as Deborah pointed out, both of them have been maintaining a false identity. So Don, speaking from experience with both the divorce and false identity, advised that this was a good thing because she could now move forward on both counts. Joan can find comfort is this since she knows the divorce for Don was not the end for him. I never thought they would be having this chat based on so much common ground. And it truly is exhausting keep up with a false identity.

      • Don was living in the past as he power shifted that XKE, rememberning what it was like being bad and then going home and being good. But home is different now, don’t you think? Isn’t Megan turning into Betty?

        • Megan definitely waited with a cold dinner on the table just like Betty but I am not sure Betty would have had that tantrum and thrown the food. When Don disappeared from the birthday party and then came back hours late with a puppy, there was no tantrum which would have been justified. In that regard, maybe Betty aint looking so bad anymore to Don :]

      • I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to say Don doesn’t like giving advice. It’s more apt to say Don doesn’t like giving solicited advice. If you ask him for help, he’s the worst person sometimes. But if you’re in the midst of a crisis (like Joan was in this episode, or like Peggy in The Suitcase or when she was pregnant), Don advises like an expert because he’s had to survive tough situations in the past. He knows the right times to throw out a lifeline, even if his recommendations aren’t always on point.

        For example, if Don and Lane were having a meeting, and Lane got that call about prison and wound up confessing to Don, he probably would have fronted him the 8k. But I don’t think Lane feels close to anyone in the company except for Joan.

        • Don told Lane and I am paraphrasing that he had learned to not give advice. Lane was clearly looking for advise but Don only listened and did not tell Lane what he thought he should do. He just said it was a tough situation.This is definitely in contrast to how he handled Joan. I dont know if Joan was looking for advise but she got it when Don told her divorce was a good thing because now she can move on.

        • I think there is a difference between giving advise and helping someone. Don in the past has helped people like when Pete did not have money that the partners needed to front but he has been against giving advise in at least marital situations.

    • It was true electricity between them, the macho but nice way he mandhandled her out the door sendt shivers up and down my spine…

      • I saw a parallel between this scene and the one in Far Away Places, where Don rushes Megan out of the office without warning.

        I didn’t like the way he did that with Megan. This time I didn’t mind. 🙂

    • Ever since S1 Ep1 – the alpha male (Don) and alpha female (Joan) cannot hook up…i’ve said it is like Superman and Wonder Woman having sex – the Earth would instantly combust upon their copulation!

      Even Superman was ‘scared’ of Wonder Woman – what does that tell you!

      Signed Aly Khan (note Y not I) – nice touch MW

      • Wasn’t the “Y” Ali’s personal playboy way of spelling his name? Almost a non-nickname nickname.

    • Those scenes were both very long takes by Mad Men standards–both longer than any other in this episode. The first–from Don showing up in the SCDP lobby to the Jag dealership to the hotel bar–lasted 5 minutes, the second, which had the air of pillow talk, lasted three. And to us obsessives, it was a salve on an itch we never knew we had–it felt that good. These two old pros, finally trading secrets.

      I am Sally Draper’s age, and I rememember my pre-adolescent world in a much different way than, say, my world after 1965 or 1966, when, like Sally, my family moved to a different suburb in NJ, where we might have had Harry Crane for a neighbor. And the world of Don and Joan in that bar is the world before 1966, the bars with high leather banquettes and flocked wallpaper. The world of a saloon singer like Sinatra or a nightclub singer like Rosemary Clooney, where Don’s hat still makes sense, where the references are to stars in or just past their twilight, like Sinatra or Jimmy Durante, who we even used to imitate as 6-year olds. And what delicious and long-suppressed office story isn’t seasoned with the ghosts of workplaces past, like Freddy Rumsen and Burt Peterson?

      I have no reason to feel so sentimental–by my own choice I’m living in a faraway country and teaching ESL, and connected to the day in, day out life of an ex-pat–but I can’t help watching that scene with Joan and Don, without feeling the echo of a time when my parents, their friends, my aunts, and my uncles were all still young, and I looked at all of that world with wonder, just before I began to grow up and they began to grow older. And now I offer up a silent tear in toast–oh yes, it was a very good year.

      • Umm, to clarify, I’m not 12. I’m 58.

      • Well said. We are the same age, and I know just what you mean about the time when our parents and their siblings and friends and neighbors were still young, the light around them was golden, and anything was possible. I felt the real change in 1968 — what a year. I saw my parents age right in front of my eyes. I got a lot older then, too. No more innocence.

  4. One thing with regard to Joanie’s reaction. Didn’t the lawyer tell Betty that in New York unless she could prove adultery, she would have a very difficult time getting a divorce? Joanie did not say what grounds Greg had alleged in the Complaint… could it have been adultery and that he has done the math and realizes that he is not Kevin’s father.

    • I believe abandonment was also legal grounds, and may be provable in this case. Otherwise, yeah, he’d have to have done the math.

      • But wouldn’t abandonment be grounds for HER to divorce HIM? He’s the one filing for divorce.

        • I haven’t done the research yet, but if he joins the army & she refuses to follow, she could be the one doing the abandoning.

          • That could be true at the time. However, my family (father and uncle) were career military during this time. Since Greg was returning to combat duty, Joanie, as his dependent, could live anywhere she chose.

          • Has she looked at the papers to see what the grounds are? Don said she threw the papers out the window. Does she even know why Greg opted to file?

      • Does kicking him out and saying she is done, qualify for abandonment under the law at the time?

  5. The fuse has been lit for an explosion, folks. Lane (I actually yelled at the TV, “Lane, you slimedog!”) is mucking around with the books, just as they’re putting all their eggs in Jaguar’s basket. And if Roger ever finds out who those flowers are from…

  6. This the the first wholly satisfying episode for me since S-5 began. It hit on all cylinders and presented everything that attracted me to Mad Men in the first place. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been moments in previous episodes this year that weren’t great, because some really have been. It’s just that everything in Christmas Waltz worked together in just the right way, recapturing the magic of the show.

    • I just got a chance to watch this, and I completely concur! Great episode! Krishna cracked me up, and when Paul wanted to submit that awful Trek script, I lost it! I’ve always thought that Paul would become a fan boy when Star Trek came out, and he totally proved it! Hilarious!

  7. DD and our Joanie hook-up is too much of a good thing. That would be as if Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio, or something. Know whatta I mean?

    • I too have thought that the hookup of two alphas like Joanie and Don could be explosive.

      But both of them have, or have had, explosive combinations in their marriages. (Joan with the vase over the head! The yelling in the apartment, despite the presence of Baby Kevin! A chase around the penthouse, a tackle, a collapse on the floor!) Explosion might be in each of their natures — and, like power itself, be exactly what each of them needs.

      • If (big IF) Don and Joan ever tried, I think they’d recognize enough about each other to avoid pushing buttons when unnecessary.

  8. Deb is amazing. AMAZING. First ep that felt like MAD MEN this year. Outstanding. Maybe not the best, but I haven’t felt this good since Blowing Smoke.

    • I agree- the scene where they go look at the Jag? remember when Don bought the Cadilac and the saleman was just sooooo smmooooth , a british gent if i recall, very elegant. and the Jag salesman
      was SO smarmy……….just delish

      • The theme of another woman at SCDP playing his wife comes back with Joanie — not in front of a contrived and expectant audience, to boot — and she knocks it out of the park.

        I’m beginning to wonder if the image for this season with the two mannequins and Don looking through the window is symbolic of him watching the different women’s roles in his life. Even though he tried having a wife who worked with him in the office, the feeling was short-lived. And in some strange way, I think he imagined needing that anchor that meshed his success with his desires. Also, that robe reminds me of a producer sitting on his casting couch — possible new long-term affair casting, anyone?

  9. Far Away Places was a classic. This episode was fun, and is probably the turning point of the season, but not a stand-alone classic.

  10. Your recap rocks. A quick pointer to the play Don and Megan watched.

    America Hurrah premiered as a trilogy Off-Broadway at the Pocket Theatre, NYC, on November 7, 1966. America Hurrah ran 640 performances in New York. Widely hailed as the watershed play of the sixties, America Hurrah heralded and was the first major dramatic expression of the anti-Viet Nam war movement. Catching theatre—goers by surprise, America Hurrah had a shock effect on the culture.

    • Thanks. This will land in Cultural References.

      • I posted a link about the play in the open thread.

        Also, excellent recap, per usual.

    • I have to watch it again. I thought the playbill said a different title. I actually googled it as I was watching but dont remember it now. There were many hits to the search so I put off looking at them so I did not miss the show.

      • I just watched it again and what I was referring to is on the top of the playbill it mentions Evergreen and a second word, maybe it was Showcase.. I mistakenly thought this was the name of the play. I did not see the America Hurrah logo at all which is very interesting if you look at it up close. What is the Evergreen reference? Is that the name of the theatre group?

    • According to the Daily News, a person associated with the actual production is stating the MM did very well in the re-creation of the play. Link below quotes this person and gives a little background on the play.

  11. I was glad to see Paul Kinsey back!

    It doesn’t sound as if he’s attained much in the way of spiritual enlightenment. But maybe that great Achilles-inspired idea for Western Union he had in S-3, suddenly popped into his consciousness, at some point.

    • And Smiler, I LOVE how Harry got him out to LA without telling him that his script was awful! $500 to start all over again. Harry, what a pal!!

      • The money was surprising. Harry always gave me the impression he was cheap and $500 was alot of money back then.

        • “Harry, what a pal!!” — I’m thinking that, as in all things Harry, there is a lot of self-interest involved in his giving the money to Paul. After all, he did just screw Paul’s girlfriend–and what better way to keep Paul from finding out?

          • What a pal! I keep on thinking that even though he was given free boxing tickets for the Cassius Clay fight, he charged most of the people for the tickets and then he did not want his wife to know.

  12. Phrases uttered by the characters in episode 10 that tell us a lot about them:

    a) Joan Harris

    “I know what I am doing and I’m in control and then I find a way to ruin that.”

    Joan is a very smart, sophisticated woman at work who because of awful personal decisions in her life with men finds herself always behind the eight-ball.

    Why hasn’t Joan found true love? Don told her one possible reason: Intimidation. Yes, Don was probably married at the time he first met Joan, but even the great Casanova Don didn’t have enough gumption to have an affair with Joan on the side. So what does that say about other men less confident than Don in the sexual or romantic arena? They won’t ask her out either.

    But Joan told Don a primary reason why few men have found success with Joan: She is always in complete control and knows what she is doing and thus very selective. And by being Roger’s girlfriend for many years, this tells me she is attracted to rich, powerful men who will “constantly admire her” (Joan tells Don she was brought up to be admired) but by her marriage to Greg also tells us she would like to have her own family and understands she has to settle for someone less well-off or powerful because men like Roger are already married. Obviously Joan’s ideal mate would be a rich, powerful man who is not currently married and admires her.

    Imho, Joan has one major drawback in her love life. She is always the one being pursued. She never does the chasing. The control she brags about is actually bringing about her unhappiness with men. She is restricted to those men who ask her out which we already know is depressed because she scares the hell out of men in Don’s words. In this sense Joan is NOT a liberated woman although some might consider her to be one. Imagine if Joan began to take the initiative in the future and asked men out, she just might end up with someone more to her liking. And ironically she would be in more control of her life than she is now imho.

    b) Mother Lakshmi

    “He’s our best recruiter and closer.” (referring to Paul Kinsey and Hare Krishna)

    Religious conversion is the hardest type of sales.

    Why then is Paul Kinsey pursuing writing which according to Harry Crane he is not all that talented in and not enter the world of sales and public relations? Here you have a classic case of a person pursuing the wrong career. And you may be seeing the same syndrome play out with Megan Draper as well as she throws her talent for advertising creative output overboard to pursue an acting career in which may be less talented and not as productive.

    c) Don congratulating Joan for Greg serving her with divorce papers because that will now give her the opportunity to move forward

    Don is a great friend to Joan because he is not only comforting her and showing great compassion but he is also showing her the way forward. It’s one thing for Don to want that for himself but by showing he wants that for his friends as well, it shows a consistent philosophy and that he is generally optimistic about the future.

    d) Megan Draper

    “You used to love your work…you loved it before you met me.”

    For a wife to be more concerned about her husband taking time away from work rather than being in a bar spending time with Joan Harris makes her a very incredible wife but is consistent with Megan’s own personal philosophy.

    Megan told Don in Chinese Wall, “You judge people on their work. I’m the same way. Everything else is sentimental.

    Seldom do you hear a woman admire a man so overwhelmingly for his prowess at work. This is right out of Atlas Shrugged. And Megan basically shames Don and again does not lay a guilt trip on him in being in the company of Joan in the afternoon. And if you know anything about Narcissists like Don, they respond better to shame than guilt. Megan played Don perfectly. Notice Don’s strong pronouncement at the end of the episode of his commitment to help the firm “to take a great leap forward.”

    And from Don’s point of view, after he told Megan about Joan, I think he expected a major blow-up.over her. Instead Megan focused on his talent and made Don realize he was frittering it away. In addition Don also knows now that Megan will never complain about him working overtime or on the weekends like most wives might. He now feels confident that he can pursue the advertising business with reckless abandon as he used to and not lose his marriage in the process. For a man so insecure as Don, this is a great comfort. And Megan has given Don the opportunity to recapture his past greatness.

    Finally I know an argument can be made that by Don committing himself to working overtime for the next 6 weeks that he is doing it to spite Megan. I would agree with that sentiment if Megan had not uttered the above words. She wants him to work harder and be more committed to the firm, not less.

    • Pretty sure Joan said that “he” found a way to ruin that.

      • I am not sure how accurate closed captioning is. I thought Joan said “he” as well but cc said “I”. I found the audio to be terrible this year and have started watching all the shows with cc.

    • Good stuff.

      (a) I think that Don didn’t ask Joan out because he didn’t want her. She might make a doting wife, but she’d want to be a lot more too, and that’s not what he likes. And anyway, his boss was banging her, and I’ll never believe that wasn’t common knowledge. You both can’t slip away at the same time for hours during the workday over a decade and not be noticed.

      “She is always the one being pursued. She never does the chasing.” I won’t believe that, and what support do you hvae for it?

      Maybe now she’s done persuing someone to Get Meals and Furs from, and someone to Take Me Away to the Suburbs. Maybe now she’ll persue someone to love.

      (b) You may be right. But: (1) maybe he’s not a genius writer now, but will become a good writer. (2) The people you can sell a religion to, and the people you would sell a business venture to, are very different.

      (c) Yup.

      (d) “You used to love your work…you loved it before you met me.”

      Don DID used to love advertising, convincing people that things that aren’t true ARE, and what’s important ISN’T and what isn’t important IS. Dick Whitman trying to hide his real self would love that profession. Don Draper trying to seduce women would love that profession. But a man who’s integrated his two identities (as far as he can without going to the stockade), may come to hate it. I think that this is really why he resents Megan leaving the agency, and the play criticizing advertising and consumerism.

      “And if you know anything about Narcissists like Don, they respond better to shame than guilt.” Maybe Megan needs a copy of The Sword and the Chrysanthemum*.
      *done without spellcheck, how’d I do?

  13. The scenes between Don and Joan were absolutely stunning – those two characters may have the only really healthy relationship on the show. From his rescuing her from her public breakdown, to the way they played off each other at the dealership, to the honesty of the bar scenes – just perfection.

    My favorite moment, when Don tells Joan some of the boys at SC thought she was a lesbian and she responds “as if they didn’t bring that up with me.” Hendricks just nailed that line – Joan’s disdain for the childish behavior of men (including Roger of course) was just dripping.

    • One of the most underrated features about Don is his brutal honesty with his friends.

      He did the same thing with Roger in My Kentucky Home:

      “No one thinks you’re happy. They think you’re foolish.”

      • You’re right. Don can be a very good friend –to Peggy too. It’s a nice side of him and it adds to his complexity. Part of the reason he’s always been so interesting.

    • It was magnificent! All of it. Their beauty, banter, honesty, friendship, attraction. I could watch their hooky day over and over never tire of it. Ahhhh and then the roses.

  14. Joan really has gone off Roger hasn’t she, that line about it being some other girl’s turn. Snap.

  15. Where did Don go after leaving Joan? He got up some serious speed in that Jaguar. Hard to drive that fast in Manhattan. And the look on his face…scary Draper.

    • Since we saw no roads, we can’t say. I imagine he just headed north into Westchester–he knows those roads.

      • I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Don entered the apartment. Inebriated, clench jawed and glassy eyed, I was truly scared he was going to be mangled around a guard rail somewhere.

        • Me too! Him driving home, the only thing through my head was please don’t crash!

          • Totally! I kept sucking air thru my teeth during that scene.

          • I suspect Don was turned on when he drove that Jag home. He initially said that the Jag didn’t do anything for him, but I think after his drinks with Joan, I think he was subconsciously aroused. Heck, I thought he’s be making love with Magan as soon as he came through the door!
            Quite the opposite.

          • Therese, I hear ya. Remember, he was the mold for the Devil in the last episode.

      • For a second, I thought we’d see him back in Ossining and find Suzanne jogging down the street.

  16. Deb, brilliant recap,as usual. I agree with the Don/Joan hookup. This would be a guilty pleasure that would ultimately be destructive to the show, unless it comes at the very end of the series just before Don eats it while floating on a pool raft. That’s the way I picture it, anyway. While watching them together I got the same giddy-uneasy feeling I got when Peggy went to that hipster party and it felt like Andy Warhol might walk around the corner any second. ” Yes. NO!” For one thing, I think Don likes, admires and respects Joanie too much. He values her too much to risk screwing with the status quo and changing their relationship to something more unstable and rediculously hot.
    I wondered many times thu seasons 1-3 if Paul was aware of what a poseur he is. I have my answer now, and it is, sadly, yes. Harry’s a schmuck, but in the end, he did Paul a solid. He is better off starting anew in Lala land.
    I have been silently nominating Laine for “falling man” since his Dad cracked him upside the head last year.
    Finally, I completely got Megan’s flip-out, it was just a tad over the top. A more mature person would have gotten their point across in a less sticky manner. Especially if there was cheese on that pasta.

    • Paul does have self-awareness. In the prior Ep 10, The Color Blue, after Paul forgets his idea for the telegraph ad and Peggy turns his forgetting into the ad itself, he says “Good God.” On the DVD commentary, Michael Gladis says he asked what the line was about and was told, “This is where Paul realizes he’s not good at his job.” Of course, these moments of self-awareness can be, er, momentary.

  17. So, what do people think was the point of the whole Paul thing, really? How is this going to feed into/advance the story? One thing I started to wonder about is, having Paul wind up in LA might bring him into another story down the road if Megan winds up with a film or TV gig that brings her out there????? Not saying I have any kind of a story sorted out, just trying to figure out how this might come back in down the road. He’s never been a major character, so what will be served by last night’s story line?

    • Thinking some more about this, I suppose the Hare Krishna/Lakshmi thing was another nod to the irrelevance of advertising –a theme that has been brought to the fore by Megan’s rejection of it for the theater and, quite pointedly, in the content of the play he and Megan saw.

      • Relgious groups, whether mainstream or cult, all know how to sell, so advertising is anything but irrelevant. Both Paul and Lakshmi were clearly selling something, with varying degrees of success. Remember Peggy’s line about the Catholic Church knowing how to sell things in S2,
        Advertising will always be relevant, even if the counterculture movement at the time said otherwise…the counterculture had to sell itself, too, and did, often.

    • There’s a Twitter account out there called Roger’s Wad of Cash, and last night, it tweeted that it was, apparently, on its way out to California. So there’s one possible reason for the Paul storyline. 😀

      Does anyone else follow the burgeoning multitude of MM characters — living and inanimate — on Twitter? What a riot they can be, and how fun it was to see Kinsey pop up in my feed after being inactive since July 14 (!).

      • Kathy–yeah I do follow some of them, although it can be a bit confusing, since more than one person will usually appear at some point as “Joan” or “Betty,” using a slightly different Twitter name than the other person. (For instance there will be “BettyDraper” and “TheRealBettyDraper,” etc.)

        so I follow some, not all, but it can be quite amusing.

    • Easy. The success that eludes Paul in N.Y. comes to him in Ca. Working for Chuck Barris writing for “The Dating Game”, or H.R. Puffinstuff or any of the t.v. shows of the day, which would be conected to Harry down the road. Don’t you wonder what became of people you once worked with? Sometimes, you find out in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes, you can help each other out.

    • I think I said it in my recap, Patricia: He shows us that we can change everything about ourselves, wear any disguise we choose, and yet we’re still ourselves. Isn’t that true of Roger? Of Harry? Of Don?

      • Definitely. For instance with Harry, at times we see him acting as if he’s more hip, cool, laidback, etc., but nervous tense Harry always comes back and reappears later on. Certainly he’s changed his appearance, and at times, the way that he speaks, but he’s still the same old Harry.

        Like you, I was not expecting to see Paul, although I did think he’d reappear at some point in the later Sixties. I was thinking we’d see him in ’67 or ’68. With the times changing and the growing popularity of the counterculture, it’s not so strange that Paul would seek out an alternative lifestyle, while still being attracted to the lure of making money (TV writing).

      • Exactly!

        The happiness, the self-worth, they need to come from within. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anything else you might have in life.

        The Gospel according to Mad Men.

    • Per Deborah, I think Paul is there to advance the theme, not the story. But I’ve been wrong before.

  18. Interesting imagery: Megan chilling at the table with a glass of wine and a plate of uneaten food was so Betty. Except Betty would just quietly fume while Megan freaks the f*ck out.

    • True that. I bristled when she said “SIT”. And he did.

      • Once Don sat down, Megan calmed down as well other than giving disdain to Don’s comment about helping her clean up the mess.

        Megan basically told Don it was her mess and it was her responsibility to clean it up.

        First Megan asked Don if he wanted some cheese?

        And then she set about to tell him the facts of life and how important she considered his work. That was extraordinary. And Don then realized Megan’s anger at him was not because he had gone to the bar with Joan but because he was not fulfilling his potential at work. And Don responded accordingly at the end of the episode. And he proved that he did care about other people when he promised them the great leap forward in 1967. Megan did criticize Don “for not caring a s*it about anyone else.”

        • Well, Megan was angry with Don because he did not consider her, did not think of her. He said he was coming home for dinner, then didn’t phone to say he wasn’t or would be late, just leaving her to stew as if she didn’t exist. Highly inconsiderate, and she wasn’t going to stand for it, as Betty always did. It wasn’t all that different from leaving her at the Howard Johnson’s. Of course she was mad. True, the fact that he was with Koan didn’t bother her specifically. But the “not working and not enjoying work” went deeper – it raised questions as to *why* he was just wasting time, and himself. It showed her a as Don’s best friend and good wife. But waht made her angry was the insult to her, just ignoring her. Quite right, too.

        • This is the most under-analyzed scene of last night’s episode. There’s such emotional ambiguity here.

          I can definitely see why a viewer would construe it as a positive act by Megan, but I see the anger as:

          A) a response to Don’s nasty remark about Megan’s distaste for the ad game;

          and more centrally: B) a reflection of Megan’s own very deep insecurities and fears about her life and where she’s headed… not as Don Draper’s wife, but as her own woman who is struggling (it’s what she wanted, and yet she sees how hard it is) to make a mark on the world in a meaningful way.

          I see Megan’s outburst as so dark that it outweighs her positive contribution to Don’s life by reminding him that he once cared about work. Moreover, the (partial) result of Megan’s words to Don is that Don will be working exhaustively, for the next six weekends (even during the holidays) in fact, on the Jaguar account. I think Don will have some sort of fling and/or clash and/or bout with drunkenness, leading to yet another explosive moment with Megan in which he will throw in Megan’s face something to the effect of, “THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED! HERE IT IS!”

          As that noted philosopher, Rafael Nadal, says, “We gonna see, no?” 😉

          • mzemek:

            Megan is dedicated to helping Don be the best person he can be at his job.Sally said it best at the Cancer dinner where Don received an award for the Letter that her father should keep the award because Megan was so proud of him.

            Imho, Don will never cheat on Megan because he is working long hours at the office. That is what she wants him to do. But he will cheat on her if she no longer wakes up in the same bed as him every morning due to traveling all around the country as a successful actress or relocating to Hollywood.

            Megan is not a typical wife who will constantly harp on Don for neglecting her. But as you saw in this episode she will harp on Don for neglecting his work. This is something Don is not used to as well as the vast majority of husbands in 1966.

            Megan understands how to keep her husband. It all comes down to him being successful in his career. Everything spins off that.

            • Megan is not a typical wife who will constantly harp on Don for neglecting her. But as you saw in this episode she will harp on Don for neglecting his work. This is something Don is not used to as well as the vast majority of husbands in 1966.

              It is unfathomable to me that anyone can watch her throw that plate of food and imagine it was because Don is neglecting his work. He wasn’t home. Dinner was ready. She didn’t know where he was. She got mad.

              Work doesn’t enter in to it.

          • techno
            I agree that Megan wants Don to be successful but Sally told her father that he should keep the award because it makes him (her father) happy. Megan was not part of that quote. And then in the end, the irony is that the award would not make him happy because he realized it was not a springboard for new business as told by Ken’s father in law.

          • Agreed that this is a major scene and very much under-analyzed!

            I liked the way it turned the usual “cheating” tropes on their heads. Don talks to Joan about being bad and then going home and being good (or whatever), but what he actually does here is the opposite of that.

            In the past, Don would cheat during the day and come home on time (or maybe late but with a plausible lie) and give the appearance of being the husband and father that his family / the culture expects. There were not many plate-throwing-type scenes with Betty that I recall. Don kept his infidelities under wraps.

            Here, he doesn’t actually do anything “bad” while out with Joan during the day, but he gets home late and abandons all pretense of being a “good” husband (no lying to Megan or placating her). When Megan asks where he was, he tells her the truth. He comes off as a cad in that scene, drunk and kind of surly. (But also maybe more honest than he has been in the past.)

            Basically, he was good during the day and then bad when he got home.

            Then, Megan tells him he used to love his JOB more. Unexpected and very telling. I thought. It was as if she was accusing him of cheating on his job. Interesting twist and maybe more serious than his martial infidelities in the past were. Up until recently, Don’s first love – -and the recipient of his commitment — was his work.

            What it all ultimate;y means, who knows. I just loved that way they messed with usual structure of the “cheating husband scene.”

            Later at the office when he tries to psych up the team about working weekends to nail the Jaguar account, I took that as a possibility that he is making an effort to be more faithful to SCDP.

        • And then she set about to tell him the facts of life and how important she considered his work. That was extraordinary. And Don then realized Megan’s anger at him was not because he had gone to the bar with Joan but because he was not fulfilling his potential at work.


          Okay. Here’s what I saw and heard:

          Megan comes to the table. After a pause and a comment about cleaning up her mess, Megan says, “You still love your work.” A flat statement.

          Don says, “Well, it’s different there now.” (Still twisting that you-left-us knife a bit, I feel.)

          Megan must have seen this as a dig at her as well, because she shoots back, “You loved it before you ever met me.”

          At no point did I see Megan tell Don “the facts of life” or share her own feelings about his work. (For one thing, she now knows that’s where he’s been all day: doing work stuff, with work people. For another, she knows all too well how he feels about work.)

          And I really didn’t see Don realizing anything about his wife’s anger. I saw him recognizing that Megan may not be sexy-mad, but she’s absolutely still mad, so dude better shut the f**k up and eat.

          It was an uncomfortable scene. I liked it (especially the part where Don drops his coat on the lamp), but I believe it was written as a tense scene in the marriage. That is what I saw.

          • Anne, I agree. That’s exactly how I saw the seen as well, especially when Don says that it’s different now.

            I was reading people’s comments about how awesome Megan was for encouraging him to be better at his job and wondering what episode of MM did they see ?!

      • Woof. Good stay.

    • I was struck by the bemused expression on Don’s face when she said that – it wasn’t so much a WTF moment as an “okay, I’ll humor her”. Kind of the way you might treat your child when he/she is having a meltdown… I think it speaks volumes about how Don fundamentally views Megan. When they had their argument about Betty’s phone call regarding her cancer scare, Don told her she wouldn’t understand because of her age. When Megan woke Don up to tell him that she was quitting advertising, his comments seemed paternal, at least initially – like a father talking to a daughter who decided to quit college or change majors. We know he relates to her sexually, but not really as an equal. That’s why the bar scene with Don and Joan was so great – the mutual respect and feeling of equality between them ignites that chemistry.

      • @Seeshaw — Yes, totally agree. Even when he mentioned to Joan about playing Sinatra tunes, wearing his hat…he never seemed more old-fashioned (read: like my grandfather) compared to Megan with her Beatles tunes and avant garde entertainment.

        • The old fashioned part struck me too. The whole scene seemed so “out of time” and I was thinking these are two people kind of caught in a time warp, caught between generations but mostly are stuck in the old established rules of behavior.

      • I disagree with you on how Don deals with Megan.

        In transactional analysis a person is supposed to have 3 different personalities inside them which they can summon up at any time in attempting to communicate with another person:

        a) The parent (based on values, traditions, habits, injunctions, unconscious behavior learned in childhood etc.)

        b) The adult (rational, level-headed, objectivity in approach)

        c) The child (emotionally-charged persona or behaving or feeling like a child would)

        For example a consistent parent to child situation could be defined as enabling if it existed between two adults.

        And if one party is determined to adopt a parent or child role and the other maintains an adult role, then no or little communication is possible or they will be at loggerheads. But parent-parent, parent-child, adult-adult is consistent with steady communication.

        What I find fascinating is the difference between how Don dealt with Betty generally and how Don deals with Megan.

        With Betty, Don quite often played “the parent” and Betty “the child”. Part of it is when Don called her Betts. That dynamic was really not that uncommon between a husband and wife in the 1960’s. Men were designated as men of the house and women were considered adult children be many men. And couples did communicate in like manner and marriages remained intact.

        This was the way it was in my own parent’s marriage. And it lasted 38 years.

        Now don’t get me wrong, it did flip around occasionally such as when Don was forced to tell Betty about Dick Whitman. Betty became “the parent” and Don “the child.”

        But it was when Betty entered “the adult mode” and the Don stayed in the parent role where most of their problems arose. Notice how Don tried to act like “the parent” when Betty told him from “an adult” viewpoint she had consulted a divorce lawyer and for him to do the same. It was at that very moment Don tried to play “the parent” but Betty wasn’t having any of it. Communication on the subject ceased.

        It is only when Don plays “the adult” role when he phones Betty from the Pierre hotel and tells her he will not challenge the divorce that they can then communicate on the subject. And in the last episode of season 4 Tomorrowland we again see Don and Betty at the empty Draper house both adopting “the adult role” and communicating with each other. This last scene was a glimpse of what could have been if Don and Betty had communicated as “adults” for the most part in their marriage.

        Now turning to Don and Megan the one striking difference between their marriage and the Don-Betty marriage is how seldom either one of them take on “the parent role” or “the child role” to admonish one another or complain about one another. For the greater majority of the time, they maintain their “adult” roles and consistently communicate.

        Let’s focus on two conversations Don and Megan had in the last episode:

        a) Don and Megan return to their apartment after seeing the play

        Don does NOT want to engage Megan in conversation claiming he is tired. Megan then after observing Don claims he is NOT tired but he is upset by what was said in the play about the advertising industry.

        Don makes the “adult” comment that he doesn’t want to pick up the tab for people who insult what he does for a living. Megan then responds in an “adult” way claiming Don also has made fun of advertising in the past.

        It is only when Don offers the “child” comment to Megan, “No one has taken a stronger stand on advertising than you” that the conversation ceases and Mad Men moves onto another scene. But the thing Megan did not do was to respond to Don in like “child” manner. Yes they would have communicated but the communication could have produced a heated argument which Megan did not want any part of.

        b) Don returns to the apartment after spending the afternoon at a bar with Joan and riding around in a Jaguar

        Don is drunk; Megan identifies his current state. That was “adult” because she did not act like a parent and scold him for getting drunk or try to make him feel guilty about being drunk. Instead she wondered why he had not called her.

        Throwing her plate of food against the wall was definitely a “child” tantrum act from Megan and accusing Don of not caring a s*it about anyone else and telling him to sit down was a “parent” posture but after Don explained to her where he had been and sat down as a child would sit down listening to his mother, Megan, unlike many wives, adopted “the adult” approach. Megan could have easily belittled Don and continued the war but she did not.

        Yes, when seated, Don did mention the food that Megan threw against the wall. Megan told Don angrily she would clean it up. Don made a smart move not to go there. And the subject changed.

        And this is where Megan imho proved she was in Don’s corner. Most wives would have adopted “the child role” and become jealous over Joan and a huge argument would have ensued while Don was trying to defend himself adopting “the child role” as well. But Megan adopted “the adult role” and focused on the time he had spent away from work in terms of his productivity and did not focus on his pleasure with Joan.

        I think this took Don completely by surprise. I think he was fully expecting Megan to go for the jugular at the top of her lungs but instead she questioned his dedication to his job in a very rational, subdued manner. Don responded it was now different there, a “child” response. But Megan didn’t take the bait and stayed in the “adult” mode and told Don he loved his work even before he had first met her. That is where the scene ended and Don realized he had no comeback unless he wanted to go into “the child mode” again.

        But instead I believe Don stayed in the “adult mode” with Megan and rationally came to the same conclusion about his current lack of dedication to his work. And the proof of that was Don’s declaration to the partners and staff they would do what it took over the next 6 weeks including Christmas and New Years to secure the Jaguar account.

        And thus I really believe Megan shamed Don into becoming more dedicated to his work.

        And finally ask yourself would this scenario have unfolded in this manner if Don had taken an “adult” approach and refused to sit down at the table after Megan told him to? No, I don’t think so. Many viewers of Mad Men argue that Megan has too much influence over Don. And furthermore I would argue that Megan is acting more the role of parent to Don’s child than the other way around. How can we forget the scene in Far Away Places where Don is hugging Megan around the waist and Megan is nodding in approval?

        • Techno,

          Astute emotional analysis, as usual.

          I am of the view that Megan did take Don to task for being drunk and wanted him to think that being drunk was not acceptable.

          How much weight does (did?) that carry in the scene and the development of the two characters? I’m not sure. Something worth reflecting on, though.

          • Getting drunk is a natural state in Mad Men, Please don’t bring modern MAD Mother logic into this discussion.

          • I agree, but she chose to take the focus off him as a drunk and decided to focus on the behavior and how that behavior was affecting his job.

            Honestly how many wives would have focused laser-like on that one issue instead of accusing their spouse of cheating on them? This had the potential of being a blow-up of monumental proportions. I got the sense that Don in his drunken state really thought that was what he was coming home to. And so did I as the viewer.

            Instead, Megan without raising her voice argues why Don needs to become more focused on and dedicated to his work. I think he was caught completely off guard and did not know what to say.

        • @techno – i do agree that Megan, overall, has taken more of the parent/adult roles in the relationship. However, I’m not sure how much of that is a conscious decision on her part. Rather, it speaks to how astute she is in reading people (as we’ve seen demonstrated numerous times). When she sat back down to the table she looked like she was forcibly swallowing her anger and recognizing that she had to use a different strategy to get her point across (the “cheese” comment was to give herself a moment to gather her thoughts – been there, done that!). Although we do see changes in the right direction, Don has yet to become a complete adult, who understands himself and takes responsibility for his own actions. How oblivious he seemed (drunkeness nonwithstanding) when he assumed Megan’s anger was foreplay.

          If Don doesn’t continue to evolve Megan will outgrow him/become frustrated with him and the relationship is doomed.

        • How may wives throw a plate of food at the wall? Hopefully not many. I’m surprised by the lack of reaction to this scene. What Megan did here was not a healthy or motivating behavior. It was disturbing. Just bc don got his groove back, which I don’t think was wholey due to Megan, does not make her destructive behavior healthy. Don threw Bobby’s robot against the kitchen wall and we called him violent. Megan throws her plate of food, smashes it and we call her modern and motivational? No. Plenty of wives support thier husbands work and trust them not to cheat. And plenty of them don’t end up With dinner on the wall.

          • Wives don’t throw food at the wall, because they know they will just be the one who has to clean it up.

          • Immature wives do!

            Although they appear quite different…down deep (where it matters) Megan and Bets are very similar. Joanie’s comment to Peggy was dead on.

          • Pete did not throw Trudy’s dinner against the wall, but off the balcony for a poor sidewalk dweller to enjoy and then sue.

      • I agree, Sheshaw. Don hesitated to take a minute to decide and decided to humor Megan? Or maybe resigned to the fact that Megan had a point? In any case, so different from how he related to Joan. The difference was very apparent and I think it reveals something about the Megan and Don relationship, ie. without the commonality of their work, what do they have? To Deb’s point, re: Megan rubbing up against “the problem that has no name,” it seems to me that the 3rd Draper marriage could be suffering from the age old dilemma and Don will soon be asking Megan, “Am I not enough to make you happy?”

    • And Megan gets angry and throws the food against the wall — much like Betty getting angry and knocking her own celery to the floor in Dark Shadows.

      Ladies. EAT your food. Please.

      • No — it’s okay to throw icky celery on the floor.

        Pasta, no. Must stay on plate and be eaten with cheese.

  19. I assumed Megan’s outburst is a result of her insecurities. She knows that Don used to cheat on Betty, and the first time he’s late home she jumps to conclusions (especially after his little dig the night before). It was fine when they were in the office together and she always knew where he was, but now they are living separate lives she isn’t sure any more.

    • It’s more than that. Being home all day is mind numbing and without kids she doesn’t really have that much to do… and there is only so much acting classes and auditions one can go to. Hence, my original confusion about why she had to stop working in order to pursue acting?

      I think her reaction was as much about the act that he didn’t call and she was forced to sit around and wait for him, with a nagging doubt of a possible affair.

      • I read it exactly the same way Ivona. I don’t think Megan has any insecurities in that department.

      • I wondered if her outburst was because she did not know where he was for more than half the day (given his “careless appetite”) but also wondered if Megan is feeling guilty. She did not know Don was testing a Jaguar, a prospective client. All she knew is he left work during the day. So could she be thinking he lost his interest in advertising because she is not there anymore? That it is her fault that it is difficult for him to be in the office? As you pointed out, she has too much time on her hands to think.

        • The boredom is part of it, but I’d say the insecurities are far more central to the whole matter.

          After returning from the theater, the clash between Don’s and Megan’s worldviews was brought into the open. Megan shortsightedly discounted the extent to which the play threw mud in Don’s face, and Don really didn’t want to talk about the subject upon arriving home. However, when prodded into conversation, Don was very nasty in hitting back at Megan, reminding her in a not-very-subtle way that she chose to walk away from advertising.

          So, when Megan tosses her noodles (literally), she’s hardly castigating Don solely on the basis of what he did, or even on the basis of her aloneness and boredom during the day. She’s acting from a place of pain, of woundedness, knowing that she chose this path of struggle and must now deal with its full dimensions. The added (substantial) pain is that Don is not being nearly as supportive of her new career pursuit as he should be.

          As a point of pure (psychoanalytical) speculation, this COULD be why Don, in the midnight conversation when Megan said she didn’t want to work at SCDP anymore, talked to Megan in a cliche-ridden and parent-to-child manner. He was saying what Megan wanted to hear, not fully believing or trusting what he was saying to his wife.

          It seems to be the case that Don might actually have to STRUGGLE to win this Jaguar account. When both of the Drapers are struggling, it could either bring them together or pull them apart.

          Next three episodes will have a bit to say about all this, I reckon…

    • Your post made me think differentky about Don’s coment that it is hard to be seperated. At the time I watched last night, I thought he was only talking about Joan but now I see that he was also talking about himself and Megan.

      I met my husband at work years ago while we were in school and have both moved on to different career paths, but I still miss working with him.

    • She also reacted to Don’s report of Betty’s illness in Tea Leaves with a “What did you do?” — he’d been out late the night before, I think.

      Megan is definitely aware of Don’s nature and track record. Much as she loves him, she knows the character of the man she married, and she openly challenges him when she sees behavior that she knows is in line with his old ways. “You’re drunk.”

      Good as this is for a marriage, I’ll bet it’s a hell of a way to live. Poor Megan.

  20. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare…. peace, peace, love, happiness, peace, peace, love, happiness……

    Sorry — just had to take a little joy break there. What were we talking about?

    • It IS catchy isn’t it (which I guess a chant should be)? It’s still playing in my head this morning, although oddly enough it’s mashed up with Justin Bieber’s “If I was Your Boyfriend” from the Billboard Awards.*

      *Don’t ask. Skindp wanted to watch it. Fast forward is our friend.

    • Did y’all notice how dirty Paul and his girlfriend were? I can’t believe Harry slept with her. She looked as if she was seriously stinky. Harry will have an STD for sure.

      • What was up with the stringy hair strands hanging perpetually in her face? Does Hare Krishna not allow combs?

        • Also, I noticed a big grease stain on Paul’s shirt, which I thought was a brilliant detail.

      • I was worried about that. makes me wonder if Harry is really so lucky with the broadcast ladies as he led Peter to believe. The Hare Krishna lady’s seduction routine such that i t was would not have worked on someone more sophisticated. I hope Harry isn’t bringing diseases home to his pregnant wife.

  21. Let’s hope that SCDP’s “great leap forward” doesn’t meet the same fate as China’s great leap forward which saw the deaths of untold millions in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s because it was an economic disaster.

  22. Great recap, as always, but you didn’t mention my favorite thing of all: the roses. And the card! I’m expecting someone to do an entire post about it. Most Adorable Don Moment since he got back from California and immediately noticed Peggy’s new hairdo.

    • Speaking of roses, I’m catching up on Tom & Lorenzo’s posts, and they point out that Joan wears roses when dealing with her marriage. She wore at least one rose-printed dress in this episode, yes?

      • Yes! And it was the “dead roses” dress first, and then the blue/green swirl of color- not sure if the latter were roses or not

      • She wore the dead roses/brown dress.

        • I believe I saw that dress before this season. Anyone – which episode?

          • my post is worded wrong. I meant to say I have seen that dress before during season 5 but am not sure which episode. I just remember the dress matching the moment

          • The brown roses was in Lady Lazarus.

    • He really gets people. I could get a post out of the way Don really pays attention. Notice he took her to shop for Jaguars, and that she was the ONLY person in the original Jaguar conversation, months earlier, who said she really liked the car.

      • True. And classic Don is always working. Pete wanted Don to take Megan. That was going to be sticky, so he was going himself… and then Joan’s meltdown presented an opportunity.

        This is another thing about the show, and Don particularly: Characters (esp. Don) are propelled by the input they get from other characters. E.g., in Nixon vs Kennedy, Don decides to risk being outed by Pete because of things Rachel Menken and Peggy say to him in the episode. I don’t doubt Don’s main intent was to find out what happened and try to help Joan, but part of it was planted by both Joan’s and Pete’s comments.

      • Right, and the whole “look at your watch” directive and then the taking off of Joan’s coat (his) in front of the salesman, as if unveiling a statue. That was Draper at his best: in complete control of the situation, right down to then “I’ll just write you a check for six, and if we don’t return, you keep it” security deposit.

        • I LOVED that she said they had four kids….they do, if you combine Don’s three with Kevin….It is such a pleasure to watch them play off each other, no prompts needed.

      • Right! Great catch. They played that salesman perfectly.

  23. Aside from being some of the most fun I’ve had recently with my clothes on, I thought Paul’s Hare Krishna story line functioned similarly to Roger’s LSD trip: to show us a trope about what some people experienced in the 60s. Taking mind-expanding drugs and joining silly cults were two ways in which people were experimenting with bursting out of the tight strictures and rigid cultural expectations of the 1950s (which really lasted into the first half of the 60s). Although I was a little kid in the last half of the 60s (and the first half of the 70s, which were really still the 60s), I remember well the feeling of knowing that people around me were doing this kind of experimentation. People were rejecting the idea that they had to conform exactly to the roles that society had set down for them. The civil rights movement, women’s movement, and gay rights movements all derived psychological permission from this more general societal feeling that we didn’t have to accept the roles we’d been assigned. Taking drugs and joining cults were two ways of breaking out of those roles and trying on new identities. I love how the theme of Mad Men — who are we? what is our identity? dovetails with the big question of the late sixties.

    • And don’t we also see how sometimes, some people don’t really change? Paul can do whatever the F*ck that haircut was and chant and wear grandma’s dingy sheets, BUT he remains a man who dreams of being artistic and creative (and he’s not) who wants to be liked (but isn’t) and wants to make a difference (but can’t or doesn’t). Roger can trip and turbie-towel, but he’s immature, a womanizer, and thinks buying people off is similar to earning to respect and building relationship.

      You can trip, chant, and quest, but sometimes you can’t quiet what’s in your head.

      • Sadly, so true. Sometimes I think everything else is but window dressing to our true deepest nature.

        OMG!! Window dressing! I just subconsciously made a connection to the photo for this season…. Is Weiner telling us that everyone’s attempts to change are just window dressing?

        • or maybe we ARE window dressing? THe illusion of a perfect life, a perfect marriage, perfect children? But what lies beneath?

          • My stereotype of the 50s is that this is what they were all about — how perfect things looked on the surface. Meanwhile, underneath, many people (especially women and African Americans) were living lives of quiet desperation.

            This is the aspect of the 60s I really have respect for — the collective decision not to suppress all the ugly stuff underneath anymore: to talk about what people were really experiencing.

        • DING DING DING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES!

          By Jove, I think you’ve got it!!!!!

          Fabulous insight, and I had never considered any of those things in relationship to the “season photo.”

          Thank you!

  24. What was the model of Jag Don test drove? My Mom had something very similar in the early 70’s (based on the pics, I’ve seen, she got rid of it before I was old enough to remember) and I’m trying to figure out if was the same model or not.

    • XKE was the model.

    • E-Type or XK-E FHC (fixed head coupe) There are some pics on Wikipedia and other sites. The writers worked in that bit about shoddy electricals a real problem with all things of the Lucas brand. Classic british motoring enthusiast joke: If Lucas made weapons, wars wouldn’t start either.
      Another poster can complete this one: Why do the english drink warm beer?

      • The Brits have always drunk their beer warm.It is a cultural thing.If you want a glass of water there; they will ask you if you want sparkling or still, not whether you want ice. Jan & Dean’s song Dead Man’s Curve is about an XKE remember.Don Draper took this XKE across the Hudson on the GW bridge to New Jersey then North to the thruway and the Tappan Zee bridge.He could have given it a pretty good workout.

        • When I lived in London in 1987 I was told the beer was warm because originally they did not have freezers or iceboxes as they were called. Dont know if it is still uncommon for Englanders to have freezers or not.

      • Because Lucas made their refrigerators, too.

      • Because Lucas electrical makes refrigerators, too.

    • XKE

  25. Am I the only one who thinks Mother Lakshmi’s Tissues makes a great name for a punk band?

  26. This episode felt so much like the “old” Mad Men, loved every moment of it. A couple of observations:

    Lane: I truly hoped he would stay behind after the partners meeting, and ask Don for a loan but I get how his “englishness” would not let him do that.

    Roger and Joan: I couldn’t help but laugh when Roger (of course!) thought Joan’s biggest concern was that Jane would get everything. Seriously dude? I don’t think Roger is good for Joan and thankfully she seems to know it but I don’t see why she shouldn’t accept his help. Probably should wait after the divorce, but still. He is the baby daddy, and Joan certainly knows how to put him in his place.

    Don and Joan: I LOVE Don and Joan exactly like this. They have a mutual respect and knowledge of each other that others just don’t. Having an affair would ruin that and thankfully, they both seem to realize that it would just be a bad idea.

    Megan: Oh dear Megan! Is it still as easy to judge Betty when you are now the one waiting on him with a plate in the oven? At least you have the city, and aren’t stuck in the burbs with two kids as Betty was. Not so easy to be a housewife, huh?

    Paul: Am I the only one who thought Of course! when we see the Krishna Paul? After all of his civil rights pandering this seems like a natural progression.

    Harry: ew! He tried to do right by Paul in the end but still ew!

    • I totally thought “Of Course” when I saw Krishna Paul. The 60s version of his 50s affectation of the beard and pipe and tweed jackets and living in Hoboken in a “bad” neighborhood.

      Poor Paul — none of the costumes he tries on make people like him.

      There seem to be so many people in this series who feel (perhaps rightly, sometimes) that no one likes them — Paul, Pete, Peggy.

      Is there something unlikeable about names that start with P?

      • I think what is interesting about these 3 is that all want to be something else, but they don’t really seem to do anything to become what they want to be. Don seems to constantly to try create Don Draper and reinforce the illusion of what he is to others– be it through his clothes, campaigns, decor, a letter, etc.

        Pete wants to be suave, athletically masculine, artistic (his writing). But did he take a writing class to improve? Go to the athletic club? No. He has a vision of what he wants to be, but he wallows in what he is.

        Peggy wants to be sophisticated, intellectual, and progressive. But she’s a girl from Brooklyn who went to secretarial school. She can’t get her head around what’s happening if it isn’t in an ad.

        Paul want to distance himself from being a working class kid who went to Princeton on scholarship by reimagining himself as a progressive, decadent, literati type. Or as a spiritual guru who’s found his enlightenment.

        But Pete is still a child of privilege who can’t stop a drippy faucet. Peggy doesn’t get the difference between her experience as a white woman and that of people of color. And Paul can’t seem to make friends, even with himself.

        • Great points!

          Interestingly enough we have not heard or seen Abe since the moving in bomb was dropped.

    • Did you really mean to use “Harry, in the end.”

    • Good stuff there. I love Lane, but he’s useless to Mad Men. Anything he could be used to say could also be done with another character. He’s gotta go.

  27. I understand that Harry was helping Paul but I cannot help that this is a dead end for Paul. There have been other mentions of Paul’s writing and it was not a favorable view. Do not remember the actual episode but there was one when, after all the partners left, the entire staff all started drinking and partying in the office. I think it may have been to watch the election but not sure. Ken found a piece of Paul’s playwriting and started reading it out loud. They ended up getting so drunk that they started to act out the play with Paul directing. When Paul asked Joan if she liked it, she said she did not. Now Harry does not like the Star Trek script of his. The Hare Krishna girlfriend didnt like it. For SC, did he ever write anything more than a tagline? Clearly his skills do not lie in writing plays or television scripts so to move his life to California thinking he has a writing career, I think is cruel.

    • Don’t write Paul off. As one who watched way too much TV in the 60’s and 70’s there was plenty of room for “hack” writers and bad scripts. Some of the stuff I thought was great then, I now cannot watch. Yes, part of that is due to changing attitudes, part to my own maturation; but, part of it is that the stuff is just plain bad. It is bad now… and, it was bad then.

      When you only have three channels and TV is still a novelty; your eye is less critical.

      • Totally agree. I doubt Paul goes to Hollywood and becomes the next Robert Towne, but I’m guessing he can find something out there — even in a marketing capacity. Plenty of jobs in LA/Hollywood other than “screenwriter”. I think Harry’s thought was you need to get the hell out of NY, and it is hard to disagree with that logic when it comes to Paul.

      • Ditto, Old Fashioned. Ever try to watch “Laugh In” or “Dark Shadows” as a grownup? Painful. “Love American Style” producers would be likely thrilled to get Paul.

    • Harry was helping Paul, but I saw the added benefit of wrecking the situation with Lakshmi — she lost her closer. Pretty smooth.

    • Paul’s ‘play’ was staged on election night of Nixon vs. Kennedy.

  28. Who wants to bet that we haven’t seen the last of Mother Lakshmi? She’s a professional con artist and has something on Harry.

  29. Also….what about the guy whose wallet Lane found? I can’t remember what business he is in (some speculated that he was a mobster), but he told Lane to call him if he could be of assistance. Lane just may need to make that call.

    • I was just about to post the same thing! He may need assistance if his check bounces because the bank money was not avail same day as he was promised or if he gets found out. And he may still have the photo to remind him of this resource.

  30. Thanks again for the great recap. I’m so glad I discovered this site.

    I am not on the *Hate Megan Bandwagon* but wow…Jessica Pare’s acting is so sub par. It totally takes me out of the scene. Has anyone else felt this?
    The throwing spaghetti fight scene…it just felt so false. The other cast members are light years ahead of her in the acting department I’m sorry to say.

    • I have been thinking that all along. She needs to get some training also about how to move across a stage, across a room, and how to stand still without so obviously “posing” her body. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her just STAND, she’s always got her body and her legs arranged just SO. And unfortunately, once you notice this about her, it’s the only thing you see. It’s distracting and annoying, imo.

      Jessica’s acting: I’m never sure if she’s been directed to be “acting” some pieces she does because she’s somewhat fake as a character — or if she truly is just not a very good actress.

      • Yes, I agree…earlier in the season I posted that either Megan or Jessica Pare lacked substance…not sure which one, possibly both. It may be the hollowness and lack of resonance of her voice…I;m very affected by vocal tone and inflection, and she sounds ditzy, whether she wants to or not. Zou bisou bisou LOL.

    • Agree. And I want to like her more. But you know what? She reminds me of Claudine Longet, anyone remember her? Andy Williams ex. During their marriage Andy and co. tried really hard to make Claudine “happen”. She did have a hit song, and was the female lead in Peter Seller’s “The Party”. Even as a little kid, she rang kind of false to me. I still don’t know why. She was pleasant, pretty and seemed nice. The same general physical type as Megan, brunette, French, whispy. I would bet real money M.W. wanted a Longet type. Unfortunately, he got it. BTW, Claudine got into big trouble in the ’70’s when she “accidentally” killed the shit outta ski champ Spider Sabitch.
      Please excuse my horrid spelling, for I ama idiot.

      • My name is Claudine and I have heard about Claudine Longet my whole life! So funny to see MY name in “print!” ps. My husband is still alive and well. Yes, I hear that skier story joke all the time!

        • If my memory serves me correct, Claudine had Spider legs; Megan has posed/splayed legs.

    • I want to withhold judgment, as I do not recall ever seeing her in any other role. Maybe she is another Meryl Streep and that is the way the character is being played. However, I must say most of the time when she is reacting to another character’s line, she looks as though she has been posed to model clothing in a catalog or magazine.

    • Maybe playing Don Draper’s wife on a TV show makes you the subject of intense scrutiny.

      I think Jessica Pare does just as good a job of playing Megan as January Jones does in playing Betty.

      There IS an awkwardness about Megan’s character, but that’s the character as it is and should be, given the trajectory of Megan’s life and the very uncomfortable emotional world she’s only beginning to confront. The awkwardness is not a failing of the actress, but a measure of success and quality. This is similar to how January Jones portrays the stifled, repressed, not-sure-how-to-emote-herself Betty, so wracked by self-doubt and (appropriate) anger at Don.

      Few might agree with this line of analysis on Megan-Jessica Pare, but it’s definitely worth considering since the Betty-January Jones “good actress or bad actress” debate has acquired such mileage for five seasons now.

      • I’m neither here nor there on Pare’s performance. I think the role is poorly written. She reminds me of Lois Chile’s from the seventies. It seemed like Hollywood really wanted to make her ‘happen’. She was in The Great Gatsby and was up for seemingly every hot talked about script. She was beautiful, but couldn’t act. At all.
        When I read that Pare was being trumpeted for an Emmy nod, it made me think of Lois Chiles. I don’t think she’s a poor actor, but an Emmy nod? It’s a bit of a stretch, imho.

        • Wasn’t she in a Bond movie with Roger Moore?

        • The Megan character is quite inconsistent, so JP might not be to blame for not being able to project her as believable – although her frequently jerky head and hip movements are quite annoying. At this point we can only surmise that Megan is a confused woman, who does not know who she is and what she wants, which might explain why she can at one point desire to work in advertising, and then after some success, decide that she should abandon it, for no obvious reason other than the fact that she can, as the wife of a wealthy man, do nothing but take acting classes.

          • The Megan character is quite inconsistent as is the Draper marriage. I understand that there isn’t time to show everything, but it feels like we flip flop between Abusive Don/Victim Megan like the HoJo/Domestic violence episode, to “you are everything I hoped you would be,” back to inconsiderate Don leaving Megan sitting at home waiting dinner not bothering to call especially having been shown don and Megan conversations about don’s paste careless appetite it seems particularly hurtful of Don. Most adults call home if there is a change in plan. I thought JP did a wonderful job in that scene where Don chided Megan with the comment “no one made a bigger statement against advertising than you.” I read Megan as trying not to escalate the situation and her standing there awkwardly seemed just like what a person might really do trying not to take the bait. I think we are seeing that Don really is not accepting of megan following her own path despite what don said to megan or roger since don seems to keep throwing it in Megan’s face. As someone else pointed out, it is kinda like when a child doesn’t want to follow in the family business and the parent takes it as a rejection of the parent instead of accepting that people are different.

          • Marylou… all I had to see was the expression on Don’s face when he put Megan on the elevator and sent her home from the office. The party’s over.

        • Funny about Lois Chiles, whom I have met (briefly). She teaches acting in L.A. and is respected. She was a Bond girl (Moonraker) and I thought one of the worst. She was also in The Way We Were. A friend who is a professional actor chided me for thinking she couldn’t act and told me her classes were quite well thought-of. I don’t get it.

        • I agree Techno that it may be the writing…but something is off.

          I just believe that all the other characters are so flushed out and whole. Remember Rachel Menken? Midge? Even in a short scene there was so much impact and you could get such a sense of who they were. The actresses who played those roles are dynamos.

          What I get from Megan is mostly what the lines are telling me. She falls pretty flat and some of the scenes are ineffectual because I’m sitting there thinking about how hard she’s trying to act. I have never felt that way about any other character on Mad Men.

          January Jones suits the role of Betty, IMO. Can’t say the same for Megan.

      • I agree with Tilden in that I really can’t judge Pare’s acting because I think the character is so poorly written. There have been a few moments this year where I can detect that she is acting — her uncomfortable diffidence during Peggy’s post-Heinz praise, a couple of scenes from her secret casting call episode — but again, some of it may have to do with the role. To me it has never seen credible.

        I’ve often defended the Betty character and I think January Jones does a fine job, but she was horrendous when she hosted SNL, which unfairly or not, always make me wonder about an actor’s range (Jon Hamm is often wonderful on there). And for the record, I had the same impression of Cuba Gooding after he made it big some years back; he couldn’t act his way out of wet paper bag on SNL sketch comedy. The man was horrible.

        • yeah, but some snl sketches are so clunky and awkward.

          • Good point – IMO SNL sucks pretty bad, and you would have to be enormously gifted to make a good appearance on that show these days! Jon Hamm was great his first time, but I remember his second time was pretty much a clunker due to the bad sketches. They had already done the obvious Mad Men jokes, and apparently couldn’t come up with much more to showcase his talents.

        • Robert DeNiro is also a classic bad host on SNL. Really, really horrible. Sometimes good actors just make for bad live TV.

          • Fair enough point about SNL. But I think there is a difference between this skit sucks rotten eggs vs. this skit is pretty damn iffy but when it gets to so-and-so actor/actress it stops dead in its tracks. And FWIW, I am a fan of Janurary Jones in the Betty role anyway.

  31. This is not only impressively fast Deb – it is spot on as usual. It seems as if S5 is at least as much about the themes of truth, honesty and falseness as it is about the nominal “Every man for himself” theme.

    Like the MM characters, we are all actors to some extent, but it is fair (heck it’s necessary) to go deeper and ask why. What is the motivation for our falsehood and does our deceit require manipulating others? What is at risk? Does our lie ultimately result in result in harming ourselves or others? Could it serve some useful and perhaps even noble purpose? Finally, are we even aware of our falseness? As Deb notes, we see Paul miserable as ever but at least there appears to be a silver lining of self-awareness around him that was not there three years ago. Far Away Places is another really solid episode exploring this key theme.

    Lakshimi is false, manipulative – she would claim in the purpose of her beliefs (one might question whether the beliefs are ultimately worth that level of manipulation but whatever . . .) Harry, the original phony baloney, lies and manipulates but has some good intent as least with respect to Paul’s fate.

    Our justified fan favorites, Don and Joan, fake out the Jag dealer (and each other to some extent) but it is to a good purpose. Joan’s circumstances have required faking it for some time and she is at the end of her tether. Joan is entirely aware that she is faking it and she knows who and what she is about even if the future is murky. Her deceit is necessary to her survival (not unlike an earlier version of Don). She is over Roger’s fakery and is thinking about her baby as much as herself.

    Of course the potential harm of Lane’s deceit far outweighs any scrap of good and it is hard not to think of the old (but wise) saying about pride going before the fall. He could have fixed this problem by reaching out and trusting others but his pride is in the way. Joan’s pride is certainly evident too but she would never compromise herself or the firm in the process.

    Don remains a mystery and frankly Megan is pretty mysterious too. Don seems to be in the process of yet again redefining himself but I can’t tell where he’s headed. Did anyone else see just a bit of acting in both Megan’s spaghetti blow up and Don’s “once more into the breach” Jaguar speech? I’m not sure whether that speech was for the team or really for Don . . .

    • Great thoughts and questions, d Davies Denver! Thank you!

      I would consider the role of the play, “America Hurrah,” in all of this. The play clearly took a shot at mass consumer culture, which held sway in the post-WWII era that carried through the baby boomer generation, which unofficially lasted through 1964. In late 1966, Americans – in appreciably greater numbers, at least – began to take fewer cues from mass consumer culture and engage in at least some degree of open questioning of what they had been taught/fed/given.

      This basic process — beginning to look inside instead of taking cues from the outside culture — is in many ways a process of trying to strip away falsehoods and find (and then love) the true self within. Every Mad Men character has had to work through this. Henry Francis had seemingly attained a place of total honesty, but he’s beginning to doubt himself after having picked the wrong candidate. Ken Cosgrove is in many ways the only Mad Men character who has somehow managed to be fully comfortable in his own skin and completely at peace with who he is, what he does, and how he lives. Why? Ken, who was “one of the guys” in the early seasons of Mad Men, did not define himself through his work or some other vestige of the outside culture. He valued himself and Cynthia more than anything else, and more CENTRALLY than anything else as well. It is for this reason that Ken does not live in the midst of the falsehoods that everyone else on Mad Men (maybe a slight exception for Bert Cooper, but his character is such a peripheral one…) is always having to wrestle with in a painful and protracted way.

  32. I think Paul has always worn his false identity which is magnified by his clothing and accessories. He had his pipe when he was directing the very drunk staff in the play he wrote. He had a strange get up at his party in Montclair complete with his African American girlfriend. And now he is in Hare Krishna costume. The difference between him and Don is as Don goes through his stages he looks and dresses the same. But Paul’s stages really show on the outside.

  33. Lakshmi fucks Harry, then slaps the living daylights out of him. Perfect girl for Don!

  34. Great recap as always, Deborah.

    I watched the episode at my cousin’s yesterday, and she was talking to me when the show first started so I missed a little bit of the opening scene. I will watch it again as soon as possible, but I’m wondering if it was made clear(??)—what is the actual source of Lane’s financial trouble, does anyone know? It sounded like the man he was talking to on the phone mentioned that there had been a threat of prison?

    I was just confused about what Lane had actually done to get him into hot water, so if anyone was able to figure out more, please let me know. Thank you in advance!!!

    • I thought he may have been dodging the Kingdom’s taxes for a few years, but I wasn’t sure either.

    • It appears that Lane paid taxes owed to Her Majesty to the IRS instead, as far as I can tell. He could lose his visa as well as go to jail.

      • When you have a visa from Britian to work in the US, do you have to pay both British and US taxes for income? Does Lane still own property in Britain and he owes property tax to Britian or does he just owe income taxes?

        • All this talk has me wishing I knew my Sarbanes-Oxley stuff a lot better. 🙂

          Really, though, I work in accounting, and I would LOVE to hear an interview with the accounting personnel consulted in the writing of Lane’s storyline.

          As one might expect, I do love details.

        • I would be happy to have someone research that for the blog. Right now it’s on the back burner for me.

          • If Lane in 2012 has a nonimmigrant visa and is in the US working for more than 183 days, he does have to pay US income tax. I do not know if this was true in the 1960s or even they had different categories of visas back then. No idea how the Brits would have treated Lane’s circumstance back then since none of his income derived from working in the US. Still wondering if he owes property taxes to the British. Was there ever an episode where it stated when his wife came over, they sold the family homestead?

          • Some countries ask that you pay taxes even if your money was derived elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if you also paid taxes to the country of residence. The laws for this kind of thing depend on the country.

            The only reason I know that is because I was temping for a lawyer about a year ago and this was a huge issue for one of his clients in particular. I had to keep track of all his emails, take dictation, etc. and that’s how I learned the little bit I know.

          • I don’t want to tackle a post about British Tax Issues circa 1966, but any Basketcase who’d like to give it a go can find several links about Hansard Procedure at Comment 198 over on the Open Thread: Christmas Waltz thread. Good luck with it! It’s pretty arcane and cumbersome stuff.

        • Usually you have to continue to file income tax returns to your country of citizenship, even if you are employed elsewhere (and paying taxes elsewhere).

      • Thanks, Deborah!

  35. Megan is not consernes about Don beeing out with Joan for drinks, because she thinks Joan is no threat because of her age.

    • I think you’re probably right from Megan’s point of view. Not sure that Don wouldn’t be more suited to someone slightly olde rwho wouldn’t literally throw her food at the wall. There again Joanie’s been known to smash vases on her husband’s head. And there’s the whole Kevin thing…

    • Betty thought she was safe with Bobbie, too. “How could you, she is so old! As we know, Don does not discriminate.

    • Well, Megan’s wrong.
      I think Don is atracted to Joan and the thing keeping him from acting on it is his regard for Joan.
      She might be the first woman to actually pose a threat to Don’s enthusiastic fidelity.

      • In Inside Mad Men for this episode Jon Hamm claims the time at the bar was essentially a friend helping a friend. If Don was indeed attracted to Joan during their time together, don’t you think he would have stayed with her?

        There is not much which we all agree on on BOK but if there is one thing we can agree on i that Don is NOT bashful. If he wanted to sleep with Joan who by the way called him irresistible, Don would have found a way of doing it, regardless of the regard he had for her. Don also had high regard for Rachel Menken and Midge as well.

        Why didn’t Don sleep with Joan? Because he knows if he does, Megan will divorce him. And Don knows he won’t be able to get away with it with Megan as he did with Betty for many years. Megan knows Don is a former philanderer. And she’s not stupid.

        • He did not sleep with Joan because she is the only woman he truly respects.

        • Don respects Joan, but I do think he has a set of situational ethics. Sleeping with Joan, when she was feeling so vulnerable over the papers and after she’d been drinking, would have been wrong in his code.

  36. If Don indeed is interested again in his work, who else can match him in that interest?

    Pete — no, not at this point, his sense of grievance has overtaken him.
    Megan — Art and Socialist education are winning her over, not advertising.
    Roger — maybe…but he’s not really all that interested.
    Peggy — probably, but only in the sense of copywriting.
    Harry — Please.
    Lane — Not now for ‘Soon-to-be-jailbird’ Lane!

    To me, it seems clear that it is Joan. Who else, at this point, would be a better business partner than Joan? She’s not a ‘creative’ or a salesperson, but she longs to run a tight ship and actually has fun with Don to boot.

    Is she the ‘work/life’ partner Don wanted Megan to be? Maybe so….he’s not scared of her as he once was, (even adopting the ‘Aly Khan’ role with the flowers) but well aware that she would not accept his past unfaithful BS.

    From Joan’s perspective, Don is kind of ‘old fashioned’ like she sees herself as now.

    They both would have personality hurdles to overcome….but they may have actual fun and I’ll bet Joan would like the Orange Sherbet.

    • Ginsberg.

      • I don’t think Ginsberg, like Peggy, would be in a sort of commanding position just yet!

    • Yeah, but a Joan/Don coupling would be so powerful it would overwhelm most of the show. My guess is if MW ever went that way he would save it as a series ender (or thereabouts). I also suspect Megan will be around for at least part of season 6. After that I am not so sure (and she could very well be around till the very end — two more years). MW has spent so much time establishing hers and Don’s relationship, I can’t imagine him pulling the rug on her that quickly. I’ve always thought (well, since the beginning of the year), she would settle into some role which would, in screentime, land somewhere between Betty of the first three seasons and Jane Sterling; i.e., not as much as Betty in seasons 1-3, but certainly much more than Jane ever received. I think that transformation was set in motion a couple of weeks ago when she resigned her SCDP position.

    • Joanie WAS a salesperson, briefly. Remeber when she was working at the department store and took care of Pete’s neighbor’s au pair’s dress problem?

  37. A Great Leap Forward and more than a few looks back during the Christmas Waltz.

    The most shocking storyline was to see Layne forge a check and embezzle funds from SCDP. Had everything worked out according to his plans, he would not have been driven to such a drastic step. His securing of an extra $50k for the SCDP credit line was not untoward, even if we knew his motivation. He did not overtly miss-represent the condition of the firm or it’s finances. Bookings looked good, but expected payments had not been received. He crossed the line when the other partners decided to wait a bit before giving out bonuses. His transgression was compounded when Mohawk cancelled future media purchases and the other partners decided to forgo their bonuses. With the Mohawk announcement comes the issue of fraud. Since this is clearly a material business issue, it becomes an obligation of the firm (IE Layne) to inform their banker of this latest development. Absent Layne’s embezzlement, their banker would have likely canceled the LOC extension. Instead the banker will not find out until it is too late. This will not end well. At the very least, Layne will be asked to depart. It is likely that the other partners will have to settle the issue with Chemical Bank. Seeing the amount of the check Layne wrote to himself indicates that he is a full partner.

    Layne’s issues also remind us of how important Harry Crane is to SCDP. The company has 2 revenue streams, direct billing for advertising work and commissions earned on the purchase of media time. The later goes directly through Harry Crane, meaning he is integral to the success of the firm. No matter how personally loathsome Harry may be, he is smart and professionally astute. Instead of being blackmailed, he turned the situation around to save his friend (and prevent Paul from finding out). Instead of meekly accepting what happened he pointed out that the value exchanged was already consumed- earning him a slap in the face when Lachme (sp?) realized he was correct.

    What about seeing Paul Kinsey? It was shocking to see how far he had fallen, but really no surprise to see that he had become a Krishna. He was always a poseur and still is. While the short-term solution was to get him out of NYC, sending him to LA in December 1966 was probably the last thing he needed. But who knew what would happen on the West Coast over the next few years ? Unfortunately Paul will probably be taken in by all of the “groovyness” out west and will descend even further.

    There were several references to S-2 in this episode. The most obvious was during Don and Joan’s conversation- Don remarked that he enjoys being bad and then going home to be good. And Joan knew not only what he meant, but also the source. After Roger announced in S2 that he and Jane were to be married, Joan placed herself as Don’s secretary. When Don returned from his CA sojourn, Joan was the first person at the office that he interacted with, and their greeting of each other implied a past relationship and a level of rapport that we did not know existed. We have seen hints of Joan and Don’s past, and in those hints we have seen the enormous amount of respect and empathy they have for each other. However, last night marked their first extended scene together. Their chemistry is amazing and combustible. Don joined the firm in 1955; by Feb 1960 he was the Creative Director for the firm…5yrs. He rose quickly through the firm, but we know very little about that portion of Don’s life. I would like to see more of how Don changed from 1955 to 1960, because when we see him in the pilot for the first time, Don Draper is a fully formed person. My point is that it is very likely that Don and Joan had worked together during Don’s ascent at SC and their all too brief interactions draw on the professional relationship they had developed previously.

    In S-2 / Three Sundays part of the plot is the firm’s attempt to create a campaign for American Airlines. At one point Don comes out of his office and tells everyone that the direction of the pitch will be “It is 1963” and the firm will look forward. We know that they created a campaign but it was ultimately stillborn because their contact and benefactor at American had been fired. When introducing the need for a Jaguar pitch, Don announces that the firm is taking “A Great Leap Forward”. Big pitch, huge work effort, forward looking perspective. American was a big letdown; will Jaguar be a similar letdown ?

    In the first episode of this season, Pete’s “friend” Howard tells Pete that there comes a time when husbands go from taking the 5:15 train home to taking the 7:25 train home. I was reminded of this when Don told the troops that they will be working through the following 7 weekends in preparation for the Jaguar pitch. Is this Don’s way of creating reasons to be out of the house ? This scene is set up by Don’s conversation with Joan and his argument with Megan. Joan reminded him of the satisfaction that she had been able to derive from the office, and by implication remind him of his past successes. When Don finally arrived home, Megan was angry and Don made yet another comment about Megan having left the office. Megan’s reply was to flatly tell Don that he loved his job before he had met her. From Don’s perspective, both were right. During Don’s speech we have repeated views of both Peggy and Joan. Both are beaming with happiness and pride. Peggy has overtly wanted Don to come back to the office, and I think Joan has as well. Don’s speech was notice that he has returned from “Love Leave” and a tacit thank you to both Joan and Peggy. Pete also figures into this. He pointed out that if he had brought in Jaguar the previous year, Don would have kissed him. Don’s speech was partly a payback to Pete for reminding him of this. Again, possibly reminiscent of S2 when Pete briefed Don regarding the politics of the buyout, thus allowing Don to be prepared for the post merger meeting.

    In thinking about the remaining trajectory of the series, I have begun to think of the years 1966-1970 in very broad and thematic terms. 1966, on the edge of a cliff. 1967, the year everything changed. 1968, the year all hell broke loose. 1969, a year of healing. 1970, when the malaise set in. Granted these descriptions benefit from hindsight, but it will be very interesting to see how these themes affect the characters of SCDP. 3 Episodes Left, how far into 1967 will we get ?

    • “In thinking about the remaining trajectory of the series, I have begun to think of the years 1966-1970 in very broad and thematic terms. 1966, on the edge of a cliff. 1967, the year everything changed. 1968, the year all hell broke loose. 1969, a year of healing. 1970, when the malaise set in. Granted these descriptions benefit from hindsight…”

      This is very interesting. Are you talking about how you see those years in real history, or are you predicting what the tenor of those years will be for the MM characters? And either way, I’d like to hear more about what you are basing those characterizations on.

      • The action in the series is impacted by what occurred at the time. So events that shaped our society/culture at the time, I think, would have an affect on what happens in the series and to the characters. Not only situations, but reactions and changes in personality and attitude.

        My assessment of the period 66-70 is entirely based on hindsight. 1966 was the last year that the establishment could point to that even remotely resembled “normal”. Looking back it seemed like events were occurring on a large boat that was about to approach an unseen waterfall. By 1967 there was no doubt that life in the US had changed. The mainstream was starting to question the war in Viet Nam. The youth were in charge for better or worse. Older people did not know how to react. In 1968 it seemed like America was coming apart or starting to implode on itself- 2 assignations, riots, almost civil war in Chicago, open defiance on the Olympic podium, Tet Offensive. 1969 was year of healing and hope. This feeling actually started in Dec 1968 with the Apollo 10 mission that left Earth orbit, circled the moon and then returned safely. People stopped, took notice and started to calm down. 1969 was the summer of Woodstock, the Moon landing and most improbably the Mets. These were all good things that brought people together and provided hope. By 1970 society was reminded that it will be a long time before conditions really improved. We were still in Nam with no end in sight. The My Lai massacre, Kent State. All of these events shaped the country, shouldn;t it be logical to assume that these events would also shape the world of MM/SCDP ?

        • I always feel that the most accurate trajectory is for external events to have small impacts to MM. That’s why I’m disappointed when a heavier hand seems at work. Even though as an ad agency they must be aware greatly of trends, clients are still older men.

          I know everyone quotes the times they are a changing here but Nixon was elected twice. It reminds me of how more people say they were at some seminal event than is realistically possible or claimed to have voted for Kennedy when they all could not have – everyone wants to believe they were part of the zeitgeist but most people just muddle along and change incrementally, if at all. If MM hammers that home about the 60s, I would consider that admirable.

          • Spot on. Most people think they’re cooler than they are, and like to place themselves at the center of big time action. Basketball great Wilt Chamberlain said that over the years at least 50,000 people claimed to his face that they were there the night he scored 100 points. There wer 4,200 souls in attendance that night.
            The Don Drapers of the world elected Tricky Dick, and they were supposedly out of it. THE MAN still ruled then, as he still does today.

          • “external events (have) small impacts to MM” – this is a oft-repeated talking point when MW is interviewed.

          • I agree with you BKNY. IMO what impacts people the most during any period, even one of big change, is what’s happening in their personal lives and the lives of the people they know. You didn’t see people walking around with their hands to their heads murmuring “oh the times they are a changing” during this time frame. They were just lgoing about their business living their lives for the most part.+

            What I remember best about the late 1960’s is that I started college evenings in 1965, got married in 1968 and changed jobs and began working on Wall St in 1969. If I had been attending college on my dad’s or the government’s dime, I probably would have been demonstrating in front of the Treasury Building at Wall & Broad. Instead I was working at 55 Broad and trying to get into my building and super pissed because the demonstrators were making that impossible those few days. Instead of demonstrating in jeans and tshirt and waving a banner and shouting 1 2 3 4 we don’t want the f–k’in war for hours and days on end, I was demurely dressed in my patent leather heels, panty hose, white gloves and a dress similar to any of Megan’s and worrying about work and school and wishing they would get out of my way :).

            Yes, we all remember where we were and what we were doing at the exact moment of momentous events like the ones rl1856 mentioned above. But I think what we remember the most is not how “life” around us changed or was impacted — it was/is all about me me me me.

            I like the way MW is handling the changing times so far in his MM world. He’s not smacking us in the face with big changes over night — and that’s not the way this happened either to people there/then. So now MM has a black secretary and she’s pretty much treated as any new staff person, she’s in the background; MW didn’t make it all about her, the staff’s relationship with her. We got one impactful scene, one that we talked and talked about. And we’ll probably get more. I’ll bet this will be the way MW handles the coming anti war demonstrations also. There were thousands and thousands involved, maybe hundreds of thousands. And yet there were hundreds of millions of people living in the U.S. then, and most of them were going about their business, living their lives. But listen to the media at the time, or even now, and you would think that every single man, woman and child in the U.S. was hugely effected. Not so.

    • I enjoyed what you wrote but I think Lane did misrepresent the company finances. He told all the partners that the company was doing better than expected and they have an extra 50k. He did not tell them the 50k is money he just borrowed. If he had, they would ask why he borrowed the money which was for personal motives only.

      • Lane’s actions really worry me. He misrepresented the state of the company to the creditor (which is bad since they’re losing Mohawk), he forged a check in Don’s name (which could put the Feds on him for embezzlement or fraud should Lane get caught), and he told the partners they had extra money that they don’t have (which Joan will find out about, even if Lane doesn’t invite her to the partners’ meeting). I am foreseeing something horrible coming down the pike in the penultimate episode because of Lane.

        • I agree.

          I think Lane just pulled the pin on a big old grenade. He knows it, too.

        • I agree. Although, they are not losing Mohawk- there is a difference there.

          Mohawk pulling ads for a short time would not be as big of a deal for day-to-day business if they weren’t still recovering form Lucky Strike loss.

          I also cringed a bit that he chose to sign Don’s name and not Roger’s or Bert’s since that could bring Feds focus back on Don/Dick.

          We only have 3 episodes left til the end of the season and I don’t think Lane’s embezzlement will be caught in those 3. It is a fairly small amount and Lane is high up and not stupid, it would be unrealistic to uncover this in a span of 2-3 months…

        • I agree with you, ashe_phoenix. It was such a ‘quiet’ gesture compared to all the other flashy action in the episode, but forging Don’s name could potentially pull the house down around Don – if the Feds have to be involved, it’s the Don Draper-Dick Whitman identity that’s at stake, too, and it could get very nasty indeed. Ugh.

      • I feel he did not misrepresent financial conditions when talking with his banker. I agree that he misrepresented conditions to the other partners. The former would have been fraud and legally actionable, the later, a breach of trust- but not legally actionable. Sorry I was not more clear in my distinction.

        • Maybe I am wrong but I thought he lied to the banker when he said they needed the money because clients were not paying on time. I have to watch again to see where I got that from but for now, I am thinking if clients were not paying, wouldnt the partners know and question how they had 50k? They have frequent meetings to discuss status. He definitely misrepresented the finances with the partners and maybe the bank as well.

          • What Layne said to their banker was correct. SCDP had bookings but clients had not paid. That part was accurate and the info was provided by Harry Crane. However he used that fact to disguise his motive in seeking the line extension. He may have stretched things a bit, but not to the extent of causing any real problems with their banker or the firm. He crossed the line when the partners decided to delay the distribution of bonuses, causing Layne to forge a check and embezzle funds from his employer. Even then he would have been fine because had the firm paid partner bonuses then he would have “received” his but not cashed it, knowing that the already had so to speak.Then the Mohawk announcement… Incidentally, this is the beginning of the end for Mohawk Air. They experienced a fatal crash in July 67 and then a series of strikes. By 71 they were bankrupt and in 72 they were acquired by Allegheny Airlines, which eventually became US Air.

    • I’m quite sure the writers will resolve the embezzlement before season’s end – but think (hope) they will somehow “save” Lane. Another basket case suggested a way – Don could make Lane a personal loan – and keep it private (Joan would keep mum as well).

      Lane could be discovered, fall on his sword, beg forgiveness, and make it right somehow – though this would rupture the partners’ trust. Lane saved them all from life with PP&L (or worse) so perhaps the partners would grant him a pass (didn’t hehave to come up with $50k only a year ago in Mad Men time?)

      Many other permutations are possible.

    • As all of us have found, speculating with Mad Men is fun but unrewarding. If I had to guess, SCDP doesn’t get Jaguar year end 1966. With that demoralizing defeat weighing down the staff, Pete Campbell pulls in North American Aviation on January 28, 1967 because NAA will need the integrity shown in Don’s “why I am quitting tobacco” letter.

      • Apollo 1. Ooof. That was ugly. The beginning of the 24 month bloodbath that was 67-68, which was ended ironically, by the Christmas voyage of Apollo 8.

      • Nobody will be getting Jaguar at year’s end. It’s December and the presentations from all the wannabe agencies is not for another 6-7 weeks, which is why Don said they’d be wroking every weekend until the presentation. In an odd way if they don’t get Jaguar they may dodge a bullet since, as Bert noted, the cars had many problems.

    • Ahhh, the Summer of Love. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

  38. The Joan Meltdown (and excellent aftermath with Don) were the highlights for me, hands-down.

    To me the receptionist’s reaction to Joan’s tirade was interesting — very 1966 as opposed to 1960. She actually said to Joan, “You can’t do that!” Wow! Badass temerity, all things considered. In the old days she’d be in a puddle of tears and begging Joan not to fire her, while totally expecting it.

    • The receptionist was too stupid to be scared.

      • Oh, she definitely was lacking in the brains/self preservation department. But I still thought the “you can’t do that” line was an interesting choice of words. (even if stupid, from a don’t-mess-with-Joan standpoint)

      • “You’re not allowed to do that”? To Joan? Joan’s the one who makes those rules.

    • The meltdown was great but I was wondering if Joan had some stored disdain for this receptionist back from the time Joan was visiting with the baby and the receptionist did not know who she was and did not help her get the carriage in the door.

      • Oh god, that SCENE! I wanted to throw things at her (Meredith?) for not having the common sense to assist a person trying awkwardly to pass her baby carriage through the doors!

        I assume that no one would forget meeting Joan, so I also assume that the receptionist was hired once Joan was out for childbirth & aftercare — which is why not even facial nor role recognition would prompt Ms. Front Desk to hold open doors for Joan.

        Slightly related: the whole exchange made me think of Don and Peggy testing Cool-Whip, because Joan was taking out her anger at Greg on someone else. In both Don’s and Joan’s cases, the unusual circumstances led to a certain type of loss of anger self-control — not something we see often from Don and Joan.

        • I think I was a receptionist for about 20 minutes, blabityblah years ago, but even I know you hold the door open for anyone showing the least bit of difficulty with it, for any reason.If you’re not capable of basic politeness, you should not be a receptionist. Girl is a hopeless dipwad.

  39. This is a quick drive-by comment and a couple of questions, and if they have been answered above I’m sorry but due to a family emergency I am unable to devote as much time this week as I normally do reading the recaps and comments.

    1. Why does Lane owe all that money? Is it taxes due to the UK?

    2. Did Harry’s comments to Paul about moving on, forget it happened etc, remind anyone of the comments Don made to Peggy in the hospital after she had the baby and the breakdown? I mean, some of his phrases sounded almost exactly like what Don said.

    Also, I don’t think there has been a bigger “oh SHIT!” moment for me in any season than when Paul appeared all Krishna’d out!! What a shock! What a blow! What a hoot!!!! But he’s still Paul.

    • Key phrases (paraphrased):

      Money owed to her majesty.

      The Taxman will wanted to make an example of an ex-patriot.

      So yes – taxes owed to the UK.

      • The Taxman. That also refers to a Beatles song from the same album that was already highlighted. Now wouldnt that have been a great closing song!

        • There’s the small matter of 250 G’s. Imagine what Let It Be or Hey Jude would cost?

          • Yes I know it is a pipe dream (to quote Don) but for the price they could have thrown in another song! It definitely fit Lane’s issue.

      • Expatriate.

    • Regarding #2 — yep, made the same point on the eariler “Open Thread”. And Harry’s handling of the whole affair — once he withdrew the script from Peggy’s consideration — was a bit Draper-esque.

  40. Lane tried to avoid Brithish taxes, which were at the time 90% of income by becoming an American. He cannot get away with it because of treaties. Unless Don crashed the XKE, he could have avoided a DUI, since there were no breathalizers at the time. My father, a WWII vet, got away with about five of them. Since about 50,000 people die annually from death on the highways, don’t why doesn’d Darwin rule?

  41. Great recap and analysis DL

    The only non Mad Men-esque aspect of this episode was Joan chucking the airplane…it seemed over the top for her who usually wounds with a deftly aimed horrific comment since she is always in Control of herself and often does not say or do what she needs to do.

    I would like to see her and DD have it off…yuck. They are siblings. I mean Joan was banging Roger and seemingly other married men in the past. She takes care of herself most of the time. I did like the scene in the bar as it showed DD can be a good egg instead of massively cracked egg.

    I always thought Lane was a slime…yet I do feel sorry for him at times as he isn’t as calculatingly as nasty as many others can be (PEte; Roger).

    And I will never see Megan as Betty–Betty never put herself first…she spent most of her adulthood like a doe in the headlights thinking she failed her parents esp vis a vis Sally being a better daughter to Gene than Bets, whereas Megan is more of a free spirit. Betty’s family seems very blue collar and aspiring whereas Megan’s is Boho and elitist at the same time.

    Joan speaks for all of the main women characters (nearly) when she states her Mother raised her to be admired–but how the females handle that is all different. Joan needs to be in Control and something inside her just cannot be reached; Peggy is similar to Joan except she isn’t using the feminity/bombshell approach as much as succeeding almost purely on Merit. Betty doesn’t know what she wants but she needs shelter; Megan doesn’t know what she wants but she wants to have a dream that features her as the star. None of the women want to be like their Mothers…none of whom have any decent/ideal modern women attributes–all of their Moms are/were awful, overbearing, or picked at their daughter for not being something they are not.

    That episode made me think of those things.

    It is my opinion so I believe it.

    • Joan hit Greg with a vase. If she gets to the end of her rope, she loses her cool.

    • My response to Kate:


      “Joan needs to be in control and something inside her just cannot be reached.”

      Joan is a much more difficult character to understand because her early years and background have not been sketched out as for example Peggy’s has been. But if I could name the one thing inside her that cannot be reached in the sense of what drives her need to be in control it would the word CYNICISM. Name one thing Roger and Greg have in common: cynicism.

      Thus one of the main reasons Don may not have been attracted to Joan: He is an eternal optimist and not a cynic.


      “…She isn’t using the femininity/bombshell approach as much as succeeding almost purely on Merit.”

      It was in the last episode of season 3 where Peggy tells Don that many people think he is doing all her work and in The Suitcase she tells him that people think she slept with Don to get to where she is now. What I find interesting is that these people have worked alongside Peggy Olson for at least 1-3 years, and you would think they would have realized by now she is good at what she does or in Freddy Rumson’s words, is like “watching a dog play the piano.”

      Or could this feeling be imagined or overblown in Peggy’s mind and does she feel guilty that she is so successful or guilty in the sense that her work success prevents her from settling down and having a family? Peggy also is somebody who is loath to toot her own horn.


      “Betty doesn’t know what she wants but she needs shelter.”

      In season 3 episode 4 The Arrangements (the episode where Grandpa Gene dies), Gene tells Betty, “It’s all my fault for shielding you from the dangers out there. It’s probably why you married this joker.”

      Imho, there are two decisions that will haunt Betty for the rest of her life: The impulsive decision to fire Carla that threw Megan into Don’s arms and the decision to forego alimony and probably child support and to listen to Henry who insisted he would take care of her and the kids (I know that the latter is a matter of debate on this blog whether she did so but Don did agree to keep up paying the mortgage on the house, its maintenance and its taxes) which directly relate to the issue of shelter.

      Generally in the first instance Betty was moving to Rye and the second instance she saw the type of shelter Don and Megan now enjoy.

      Betty now realizes she sold out for the “shelter” provided by Henry which she now believes was a huge error in judgment. I think Betty was prepared to sock it to Don in divorce court and she would have if she had not met Henry while estranged from Don. And like Gene said Betty was not prepared to live life on her own.

      Imho Betty has now reached a point she would gladly sacrifice her shelter with Henrry if she could some way or somehow take Don and Megan’s shelter away from them. In fact Betty would be extremely happy right now if she were still living in the Ossining home with her three kids as a single parent exacting revenge from Don through his pocketbook for the rest of his life.


      “Megan doesn’t know what she wants but she wants a dream that features her as a star.”

      Taking that to the next logical step, Megan will not want to pursue acting long-term if she is not good enough to work consistently (Julia told Megan she hadn’t worked in awhile). only is qualified for bit parts or is only asked to play character roles and not become a feature player or a star. And I think you may be right.

      And in several posts I have tried to make the contention while showing my agreement with Joan on Megan’s acting talents, that Megan will turn out to be “a failed actress married to a rich man.” As adults we all know the difference between a pianist who can play a piece who engenders polite applause and a virtuoso who can take that same piece, give it a life of its own and emotionally connect to the audience, who gives the artist standing ovations after the performance. Acting is no different. Megan may be able to memorize and recite her lines and provide the proper level of emotion in a given scene but to be a featured player one needs the “wow factor”.

      And this in turn makes me believe eventually Megan will return to advertising where she could be a star in the making and not a part of the background. I knows dreams die hard but I believe Megan has too much pride to sacrifice her entire life to pursuing a role of an obscure actress when she could be an elite member of the advertising fraternity. Nobody can take rejection forever. And Megan I believe is no different.

      • Betty did not meet Henry when she was estranged from Don. She met him at a party when she was pregnant with her third child and living with Don. And I still think it was a creepy start.

      • On Don- I can see what you mean when you call him an optimist. But something about that doesn’t sit with me. I feel like he’s more of a survivor- a neglected and abused child who now as an adult believes in love, wants to love, but can’t see how to do it in a healthy way. I can’t call him an optimist. However, I do believe that don mostly stuck to his rule about workplace relationships until season 4 when he bottomed out. That’s why he was never w Joan.

        • He’s not sure how to do it because he had no healthy, positive role model growing up – what does it say when the kindest person in your life is a hobo passing through? By the time Uncle Mack arrives, Dick has spent the earliest formative years unwanted, unloved, abused. How anyone learns to love in a healthy way from that is remarkable and against the odds.

      • Megan had a good idea, and one deft meeting where she was quick on her feet and performed skullduggery. One idea. One meeting. To be a star you need to show consistency. Prove yourself over and over. One flash of brilliance is not enough, even if you are the bosses’ wife.
        Don told Peggy to wait for her recognition. In his mind, Her Flawlessness need not be bothered with the tedium of waiting her turn. Revolting.

        • TK:

          Saving the Heinz account was a huge deal. Even Peggy admitted Megan had hit a home run and it was “as good as it gets.”

          Notice in the conference room how the accounts execs and creative people were celebrating saving Heinz. It was a huge deal.

          And finally not only did Megan come up with the idea but she was in the right place at the right time to find out Raymond Geiger was about to pull the plug on SCDP and that because of her whisper to Don at the dining table allowed him and her to save the account.

          And even Pete called her “a natural.”

          • Well, but then again, if she had been talkiing the Heinz guy would have rejected it, because it did not come from a man. So it has nothing to do with her idea at all.

          • If you watched the pitch over the restaurant table you would have seen Megan actively participating with Don in saving the Heinz account which Don spoke glowingly of in the back seat of a taxi while he was making love to her.

            And don’t forget initially Don was reluctant to present Megan’s idea to Raymond Geiger and it was only after 20-30 seconds that Don decided to go for it. Afterwards Don admitted to Megan his first instinct was to let Raymond have it between the eyes and not to go with Megan’s idea to save the account.

            Go back and rewatch the scene in At the Codfish Bowl from the time Alice Geiger and Megan talk to each other in the ladies’ room to when Don and Megan are in full embrace in the back of the cab. There is no way that anyone imho can deny that Megan had a huge role to play in saving the Heinz account. Matt Weiner and the writers did a tremendous job of showing it unfold before our very eyes.

          • Again, one time. The scene was merely OK, cause you could see it coming from a galaxy away.
            Scenes of the year so far: Roger and Jane in the pink towels. DD and Joanie in the bar. Ginzo and Roger “dinner and…..murder”. Ma lighting into beloved Pegs. Peggy, Don, Cool Whip.

            Line of the year so far: Ginzo, “A woman and her secrets, oh the things she’ll never tell”. Its a harbinger.

          • Obtw; has she paid Ginzo back his 15 bucks yet?

          • Soon as she gets her first real acting gig. The “eagle’s gonna fly”!

          • I think you may be conflating a single good campaign that landed an important client with being a star– or a consistant performer who can land important clients more than once.

            I also wonder about some of the praise. Do you really think anyone of Don’s junior partners or lower associates could REALLY say “just beginner’s luck?” Or “now let’s see you do that again?” Do you think they felt like they could be anything but effusive or at least positive? They were thrilled to get a new client, wanted to give her positive reinforcement, and wanted to get Don’s approval for their actions. It wasn’t just about HER and her abilities. Like it or not, like him or not, those guys at SCDP seem to crave Don’s approval, and one way to get it is being nice to the Missus.

            Just sayin’.

          • Oh, and Peggy’s “as good as this job gets” comment was NOT about the pitch itself, but the feeling and excitement of landing ANY account. In other words, enjoy the feeling of getting some success; it doesn’t come often enough. And when Megan left, think about Stan’s response: “you work your ass off and for what? Heinz Baked Beans.” Peggy can at least justify the work for the fleeting pleasure of landing the account.

      • Betty would not as easily ditched Don in divorce if she didn’t already have a willing and waiting Henry to fall back on. She had no income of her own, beyond whatever she inherited from Gene, and I cannot see her living on alimony and child support – plus she would have to deal with Don on at least a monthly basis, asking for her check.

    • So this is interesting to review the threads of similarity and difference with Joan, Betty, Peggy and Megan. Betty and Joan are both creatures of the old school values, raised “to be admired” i.e. Betty as the cat is purrfect! (that was awful – sorry!).

      Anyway, Joan was imbued with an innate pragmatism and ability to see and solve problems. Note, however, that like many of us, she is better at seeing and solving other people’s problems than her own. Joan has been playing without a net for the bulk of her adult life where Betty has had the “luxury” (and serious disadvantage) of safety and time for reflection and self pity – as opposed to self-reflection. Joan does not wallow – she is presented with problems and deals with them. Very occasionally they get the better of her in a flash of temper. Sure, Joan is being tested by rapid societal change and new values but is so much better equipped to deal with it than her counterpart in Rye!

      Peggy and Megan are the representatives of a new generation but take on life’s challenges very differently. Peggy has the old school ambition and scrappiness of DD. Don’t sweat too much about “finding yourself” just go out and get it. You will be defined by what you make of yourself and if it doesn’t work just start over. Megan is still quite mysterious to me but appears to be a 2.0 version of Peggy – plenty of talent and certainly some ambition but she does not feel constrained by a pre-ordained path. She wants to follow her bliss and find herself – a new and confusing concept to the Peggy/DD worldview.

      It is certain that this outside v. inside dynamic will be more and more evident in the coming weeks and final seasons. Don, Joan, Peggy use the tools they have and build themselves from the outside with little introspection (Joan has no time for it; Don and Peggy actively avoid it). Megan (and symbolically Kinsey) represent an alternative operating system where if you have adequate life security and time you can define yourself from within. Doesn’t necessarily mean it will work but it is a new approach. It will be fun to see what happens!

  42. I mean I would NOT like to see her and DD together…yuck ; )

  43. And I want more Betty and bring back SAL you Mad Men showrunners!

  44. The whole Lane storyline makes me feel like SCDP is headed for disaster. As another poster said, this is the beginning of the end for Mohawk, which means they won’t be back as clients. That $50K and loss of Mohawk business could cripple SCDP. As Matt Weiner has said, it’s ever man for himself this season.

    Also, saw this interesting article saying that this season is following the trajectory of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, at least thematically:

    It seems like an interesting idea. I don’t know why, but I feel like danger looms toward the end of this season. It feels like Pete or Lane may be headed for a tragic end. And that Don Draper will be restless once more. I wish for Betty some sort of freeing transformation, and for Peggy a way to stand on her own formidable talents. And for Joan, financial stability and self-esteem not dependent on a man.

    • Many folks have assumed that the every man for himself theme in season five meant the demise of a character or two but could all the characters be set adrift due to the closing of SCDP and left to fend for themselves, some survive and thrive, while others end up like Paul Kinsey.

      Could season 6 follow the various characters as they are working at various firms?

      • “Could season 6 follow the various characters as they are working at various firms?”

        I can’t see that happening. In the history of MM, if you don’t work at SC or SCDP or you’re not a wife of Don Draper, you’re basically a bit player. And if the main characters aren’t working together, you would have to contrive various reasons for them to cross paths. Moreover, you would have to establish co-workers at each place of employment, which would run the risk of diluting the intense character studies of the show.

      • Oh, and I should add a DD mistress or his one serious GF … but even they had limited tours on the show — Faye Miller lasting the longest (in the latter role) for a season.

        In short, SCDP could go kaput but I can’t envision the main characters scattered various firms up and dowm Mad Ave. In theory, interesting concept. In practice, unsustainable.

    • The younger, single people will be OK. Jobs and opportunity galore in NYC in the late 60s. Even Don could remake himself professionally (if he doesn’t get caught in his identity web of lies). A handsome, charismatic, aware-winning creative guy who’s only in his early 40s? No problem. Lane and Roger, though–if SCDP goes down, they’re out to pasture (Lane, if he’s lucky he only gets put out to pasture).

      I can’t get excited about the “tragedy” of SCDP going belly up. Big deal. I’m so done caring about most MM characters now. I pretty much only care, and only a little, about Joan and Peggy (and Peggy WILL BE OK — she’s young and unburdened by family responsibilities, mortgage, etc). What happened? I went from 60 mph to zero in about six weeks.

      • Megan (Her Royal Flawlessness) happened. The agency in peril was done at the end of the last 3 seasons. They gonna go down that road again? Again?

        • “Her Royal Flawlessness” — too funny. Ah well, I’m holding out a little hope for Megan after last night. I’ve never been a fan of her character, but I thought MW would do something interesting with her after Tomorrowland. She was such a blank slate he could have gone any number of ways. (And the route he chose, IMV, was the most tedious/off-putting one.) For the record, I think Joan’s pregnancy, or carrying it to full term, was another mistake, in regard to storylines on the show.

          But hey, it’s impossible to be perfect, especially when the judging is so subjective, and who knows, a dip in quality was may be inevitable after the first four seasons. If nothing else, last night felt like the return of Don. Liked that. And Jaguar should have everyone fired up the last three episodes.

    • I want every character to be in the most trouble imaginable, so every possible storyline can be leveraged for maximum drama.

      • tilden, I think we are going to have our first real “cliffhanger” ending to a season. I don’t see how they can develop a geniune arc and realistically resolve it in the remaining 3 episodes.

        • MW can see the finish line now, and I can see an endgame storyline being developed as a S5 cliffhanger. I’m with Clubber Lang of Rocky III fame when they asked him for a prediction. “Prediction? Paiiiiiiiiiin”.

      • Just for you…. How about, “Who shoved Megan down the elevator shaft?”

        • Be still my heart. Kidding, kidding. I kid because I love. 🙂

          • Hehe.

            I think that it is the first time when the writers have worked on one season (# 5) while knowing that they were renewed for at least another one. Maybe that would change the way they look at the season ending. They might go for a true cliffhanger.

            Of course the agency is in danger. Don and Roger have been doing nothing the whole season, what with their mid-life crisis wives, and they have left everything on the shoulders of Pete, as well as Peggy and the rest of creative. Joan has been away on maternity leave for a long time, and Lane has been cooking the books (at least lately). SCDP might be going down.

      • Tilden, sending you a virtual high five for this one.

    • sjw,

      Thanks for the Sgt Pepper’s link! It was written after “Codfish Ball” and after seeing the Rita Hayworth reference in “Christmas Waltz” I think the article may be spot on.

  45. The Lane storyline paves the way for major changes at SCDP. Once discovery is made of the $50,000 debt and/or advance payment to Lane, the house of cards will start to fall. Is it possible that not a single executive had his finger on the financial pulse of SCDP? If Joan is truly as capable as Lane, she should know they don’t have money to cover the bonuses. I got the sense that Lane wanted to forge Don’s signature as opposed to Roger’s or Bert’s but I don’t know why that would be. And Don writing a personal check for $6,000 would leave an impression on Joan. I can see that coming back once Lane tries to avoid getting caught. Lane is obviously broke or close to it with some kind of kinky explanation in the closet. Assuming the company makes it, Lane is a goner and then we’ll see if the boys will recognize and reward Joan based on her value to the firm. The shake-up should wind up with Pete a full, named partner.

    • That makes sense to me — Pete becoming full-partner and maybe Joanie taking over Lane’s role and, dare I suggest, becoming junior partner. The latter might seem a little far-fetched, but she would have two huge champions in Don and Roger. And though I have never believed Roger loves her as much as some would wish, I do think he cares about her and could view it as a way to help her w/ Kevin w/out her having to swallow her pride and accept his help (as she refused last night). And lord knows everyone is pretty aware that Jane rules anyway. She’s always been office mama to Don’s office papa.

      • You have made a valid argument why SCDP could still remain intact. I frankly never thought of Joan replacing Lane. But the more I think about it, I think you’re on to something.

      • Joan will never be partner. She has no skin in the game.

        • Obviously, your last comment was figurative not literal.

        • Good point about Joan not having coughed up cash. Ah well, could still see her getting promoted to Lane’s role.

          • I hope both Megan and Lane are gone. Joan can fully run the business part of the agency, Don the advertising end. It would be Don’s agency lock stock and barrel.Bert and Roger would be marginalized. Don will still contend with Pete Campbell and have issues with Peggy and others. He could gradually make both Joan a partner through her pay to buy into the agency.Don will never allow Pete to become a full partner.Lane hopefully reserved space at the crossbars hotel for a long stay.Megan and Don have zero chemistry.

          • Bert and Roger made Don a wealthy man on a handshake when they elevated him to partner in S1. So no cash from Don, either.

            OTOH, to Bert and Roger, all of Don’s hard work and success counted as “skin”. Joan would not get that much credit for her work.

            Like it or not, without sales (account men and creative) there are no beans to count.

            On yet another hand – Joan has a great deal of value – worth some small piece of equity in the company – and a raise.

      • I can see Joan as a junior partner. I can also see that sphincter Greg suing her for alimony.

        • He could try but in 1966? Not a Sno Ball’s chance. He’s a doctor, an Army doctor, true, but an MD nonetheless and she, for now, is an office manager. Even if named junior partner and given a raise – even a small percentage of the business – it’s not the same as cash in hand. Sort of like stock that has appreciated or declined – all on paper until you pull the trigger and sell. In this period alimony is becoming a temporary “bridge” to economic independence and Dr Greg is already presumed to be economically secure. Not gonna happen.

  46. Loved this episode.
    Is this the first time we’ve seen Harry cheat on Jennifer? I can’t recall a previous occurance.

  47. No… he and Hildy had a go round in the office. He confessed to Jennifer and moved into Sterling Cooper Dog House Apartments for a while.

    • The epic Carousel pitch moved him to tears and towards reconciliation. Don’s finest moment as an ad man.

      • That’s right.. I had forgotten. He started to cry and had to leave the pitch meeting.

  48. I am seldom critical of the Mad Men writers but I think they missed a golden opportunity in the Don-Joan hook-up to provide more background info on Joan. For example, I would have been interested to find out how much Joan was really admired during her formative and teen years. And it would be interesting to find out the source of her cynicism, whether she gained that as a young girl or whether it was a part of being involved with Roger.

    • Admired? Lets see; in 9th grade at the age of 14, 15 our Joanie was probably a D cup. Can you imagine what she had to go through/put up with? Joanie once said, “Men follow you down the block”. I’ll bet. I think its easy to be cynical and see men as contemptuous poodles when you’ve been blessed/cursed with a bod for sin.

    • “That cynicism you refer to I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys.”
      –Karen Richards [Celeste Holm] to husband Lloyd Richards [Hugh Marlowe] in “All About Eve.”

  49. Okay, I admit I have a food thing. First Betty’s weight gain struck me as way out of character. Then I can’t believe my eyes when I see what’s on Betty’s T-day plate… ONE Brussel sprout. WW would have lectured her about too many carbs and not enough veggies. Then there is Henry confessing to Betty that he can’t eat fish 4 or 5 nights a week. But Sally hates fish so either that changed at the Codfish Ball or Betty makes Sally something different…Not! Of course she could be serving fish sticks which were a main stay in the 60’s especially for Catholics on Fridays…they didn’t look, smell, or taste like fish so might pass the Sally test. So last night’s food issue is the dinner Megan kept warm in the oven for Don– are you kidding me, spaghetti noodles? Don should have thrown his plate across the room. The noodles would be easy to clean up as they would be a massive tangled blob after warming in the oven. I am also developing a bare foot issue as well. Have you noticed Megan is constantly barefooted at home? And the patio furniture stacked on the Draper balcony is a bit out of character for the perfectly appointed apartment. I might be mistaken but I thought I saw leaves on their balcony last week?? I also looked for an ink stain on the white carpet but it’s gone. I fear I might be developing MMOCD?

  50. The angry sex from A Little Kiss messed up the carpet for its Architectural Digest debut. Awww.

  51. I wonder if any of the former Sterling Cooper, season 1-3 characters will ever be seen happier and more successful. Rachel Menken was the closest, in the sense that her progression seemed a logical one for her status, but she was so briefly seen.

    I’d love if someone like Allison is actually doing well for themselves away from Don and co., working on some women’s magazine somewere. Or Lois!

    But especially… Sal.

    • There’s no reason to think that Allison was ever insightful or empowered enough like Peggy. To her, Don was just ‘a bad person’. I wouldn’t personally want to see a ‘See, Allison took a huge dump on Don and was rewarded by the universe for it’ scene. If every girl who had a one-night stand with the bad men of SC/SCDP had an off-camera career epiphany and decided to join a feminist cause in the late 60s, then I assume Sterling Cooper’s steno pool must be hunting down copywriters and accounts men in 1966.

      Sal is definitely defrosting somewhere in the writers’ kitchen counter. Maybe we’ll see him in 1967-8.

      • I thought it was interesting that in Chinese Wall Megan alluded to Allison crying tomorrow when she told Don she would do no such thing if he had sex with her.

        Allison is a typical middle-class WASP born around WWII who was raised to think of sex as a preview of coming events including marriage. That Don viewed the episode as a one-night stand and nothing more than that was obviously not Allison’s take. She expected more, at a minimum to be treated like a girl friend and felt violated by Don.

        With Megan being raised in a French-Canadian household and also observing her parents, she would have understood that her sexual encounter with Don was nothing more that what it was and she would not have held anything over him as a result.

        Notice in episode 12 how Megan was very businesslike towards Don and that in episode 13 she had no way of knowing she would be accompanying him to CA. Yes, Megan admitted to Don in bed after they had sex in CA that the first thing that went through her head was to have sex with Don again–she was going to miss him so much anyway.

        But if you notice Megan’s reaction to Don’s marriage proposal she had no or little clue of what Don was intending to say. If the proposal was NOT forthcoming Megan was prepared to assume her role as Don’s secretary and if he never pursued her again c’est la vie!

        • No, Allison didn’t expect to be treated like a girlfriend. She expected to be treated like a human being. She expected a conversation like, ‘Let’s act as if this never happened. It was great but it can only be once.’ A simple conversation respecting her and respecting what happened. Allison was devastated by being completely ignored.

          • Absolutely. And I don’t think we know enough about her upbringing to conclude that she’s middle class or a WASP. And after her relationship with Ken, I doubt she harbored any illusions that having sex with someone (especially just once) meant a proposal was in the pipes. I think it can be very easy that in finding differences in characters and in wanting to be effusive in praise for one we like particularly well, we can be unfair to other characters and criticize them and attribute to them things that don’t fit.

            And I do think Megan was surprised by the proposal, but I’m not sure she would’ve slid back into “just a secretary” role that smoothly after everything they shared in California. She might have, but what if Don had acted as if nothing had ever happened? It’s one thing to sweep one night aside, but to act as if the sharing and a week long experience were not only meaningless but didn’t exist could rattle anyone, even someone who is sexually free.

  52. What I found interesting is that Don left Joan at the bar by herself while he took off in the Jaguar and returned it. I could understand that happening in 2012 but in 1966 I would venture to say that would be less common. A lady who was escorted by a man to a bar usually left with that man. Or else she might be considered a hooker.

    Yes, he did give her “mad money” as she called it but lest we forget Joan is a single parent. Wouldn’t she want to get home and look in on her child? After all Kevin is still an infant. It was unlikely she was heading back to the office.

    Of course the viewers are not supposed to think this deeply about scenes but I admit I do occasionally wonder if the writers create scenarios that may look good on paper but don’t quite make sense when they are played out, given what we know about the era and the character’s obligations.

    • “Wouldn’t she want to get home and look in on her child? ”

      Umm, no. She was pissed for being served and she needed to feel like a woman, not a mommy going home to change diapers and deal with drool all over you.

      I’m not commenting on the other part of your comment mainly because I haven’t lived than and have no idea how it would be interpreted. I do believe it certainly wouldn’t go as far as automatically jumping to the hooker conclusion.

      On the subject of moms, this is my own 2 cents: Society seriously needs to lighten the hell up. Women are NOT all Mother Nature, breastfeed ’til 4yo, all encompassing come from a full time job whip up a fantastic dinner all with a smile on your face. Why would Joan want to go home to look in on her child?

      The said child is being taken care for and well provided for. She is allowed to let someone else take over, especially because she IS a single parent and does not have a partner to take over for her.

      And yeah, I am both a parent and step parent before someone brings up how I’m not and that’s why I’m commenting the way I am.

      • One can argue that while in the bar Joan did not feel maternal at that very moment and needed “space” to reflect on what just happened to her regarding Greg serving her divorce papers. Perhaps that is what Don was doing by leaving her at the bar.

        I can see it from Joan’s point of view. If her mother was in complete control of the situation with Kevin then fine and dandy. But I thought her mom was supposed to go back home. But she may have said that before Joan kicked Greg out.

        My point was focused more on the writers than on Joan’s decision to stay at the bar. Joan is a grown woman and knows her own mind. She is entitled to make any decision she damn well pleases.

        • Didn’t Don tell Joan to sit by the jukebox before he left? Wasn’t that an old fifties cliche? “Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.”

          • If it’s fifties, then Joan Jett stole it.

          • Don suggested Joan go and stand by the juke box that it looked good before. (so that the guy at the bar that Don and Joan were discussing would see Joan and possibly strike up a conversation with her after don left)

    • 1. I think It’s been established earlier in the season that Joan’s mother is looking after Kevin. Keving was not stranded on an island while his mom was living it up it the city.
      2. Joan left work early (not even lunchtime), so she wasn’t due anyway at home for a few hours..
      3. Joan is no ordinary gal
      4. Don did not rush home to check on his 3 kids either.

      • Joan also mentioned “she will get a girl” when she comes back to work, when she visited the office after the unfortunate equal opportunity ad.

    • I thought she would finish her drink, maybe have another, fend off some inevitable passes, and take a cab home (or find another way and keep the change). Her daycare is either Mom or someone who expects Joan will often work late.

  53. I wonder if Harry’s comment to Meredith about looking for a nanny for his children regarding Lakshmi visiting him had any validity in 1966. Would a man in Harry’s income bracket (he is not a partner) have even aspired to hire a nanny or au pair then? As far as I know Jennifer did not work outside the home.

    And even Betty Francis does not have a nanny. If anybody would have one it would her living in a mansion.

    • Harry was bluffing the secretary to explain the presence of this oddly dressed woman caller so as to keep idle speculation at a minimum.

      • It was a plausible bluff. Roger gave Harry $1100 (“one month’s salary – after taxes”) “relocation money” – which is $150,000 today – more or less.

        • Yeah, I imagine if you’re working for an ad firm on mad avenue, even in a boutique shop like SCDP, you’re drawing a pretty decent salary if you have a position like Harry Crane’s.

  54. The one emotion that sums up Megan and dominates the majority of her thoughts and feelings is GUILT. Above I made a point that she normally communicates from an “adult” or rational point of view or outlook but I also believe underlying her life since episode 7 has been a sense of overwhelming guilt.

    The guilt trip laid on Megan by her father was huge and I believe sent Megan into an emotional tailspin to the point where she decided to give up working at SCDP. And when you add in Megan’s personal guilt for giving up too soon on an acting career, you have a woman who now is at loose ends who virtually finds herself in the same position as Jane Sterling but unlike Jane does NOT want to be there.

    Yes, you can throw in the guilt of being successful early in her advertising career as well. Some people feel like a fish out of water when the limelight is shone on them. I think Megan falls into that category.

    The one thing we found out about Megan in episode 10 is she doesn’t play the role of a sedentary, dutiful housewife very well. And Megan castigated herself for being an idiot waiting for Don to come home. Megan gave Don fair warning she is not about to become another Betty in that regard.

    I see this going in one of two directions. Megan will either taking her acting classes in the evening and become more dedicated to acting and will not be home in the evening on a regular basis to cook Don’s meals and thus see less of Don or Megan will decide to put her acting career on hold and go back to SCDP at least on a part-time basis. (Obviously if Megan gets pregnant that becomes a third option.)

    And here is why I think the latter course is possible. Megan feels guilty about pursuing an acting career while financially secure because of Don. Emile Calvet called it abandoning the struggle and losing her soul in a sea of exquisite decadence and her friend Julia called Megan out for “sitting on her throne at Park and 73rd looking down at actors who are struggling. And finally Megan realizes it is “advertising money” that is furnishing the grand lifestyle that she has now grown accustomed to. Criticizing advertising in any way is like biting the hand that feeds you and not fair to Don.

    Yes, Don was sarcastic in claiming that “No one has taken a stronger stand on advertising than you” but Megan digested that comment. Either she can run away from advertising even further by becoming really serious about acting or she can get back in the advertising game which would make her husband a happy camper, especially now that he is competing vigorously for the Jaguar account.

    And finally it would get Megan off the couch and allow her to be engaged again in creative activity which she needs to avoid vegetating any more. And the longer Megan vegetates the more intense her guilt will become. She may not always blow up at Don but when she doesn’t she will internalize that guilt which will make her more unhappy. In turn their marriage will suffer because Don needs a partner who is cheerful and upbeat not only for himself but also around the children as well.

    What will Megan decide by the end of season five? It’s anybody’s guess.

  55. Not sure where to post this. I am unable to view “Basket of News” on the MadMen page of this blog. Are any of you experiencing this as well and it is a glitch with the blog or is it my computer? thanks

    • I just tried it and I was able to view the Basket of News May 12-18. It worked from here!

  56. Is plain spaghetti the only thing Megan knows how to cook?

    • She can make beef bourguignon!

    • No…..but, she seems a bit limited in the kitchen. She does her best cooking in the bedroom… on the living room carpet….in Don’s office… in the car……..

      • LOL. Plus, she is a young newlywed. I didn’t have many dishes under my belt when I was her age.

    • It’s her go-to comfort food, the thing her mother fixed her as a little girl. She was upset that Don hadn’t called. As I recall Betty made spaghetti a few times too.

  57. I have come very late to this blog, so I apologize for bringing up old issues, but I just discovered you after the 5th MM season started. In fact, I only just discovered Mad Men about 6 months ago on Netflix after hearing rumors of its excellence, and became addicted upon watching the very first episode. Actually, it was the first fiction television series I’d become attached to or maybe even watched more than a few minutes of in about 20 years. As a composition teacher (of advanced ESL college students) and as a former lit major oh so many years ago, I fell in love with the show for its wonderful writing and for the rich characters brought to life by such fun and believable acting.

    So, I’m wondering what people’s reactions were at the end of season 4 in real time to the emergence of Megan as such a pivotal character. I was shocked. It just didn’t seem ‘earned’ in the writing or in the character development of the show. It stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I’m sure that you all have discussed just about everything I could ever have questions about at some point in the past, but still I wonder.

    When I read here about all the ‘positive’ aspects of her behavior now, it seems like Megan has become a completely different character from what she started as and she’s still confusing and uneven. In season 4, Megan struck me as no more remarkable than Alison and not nearly so likable or professional. She and Don had no special chemistry up to the moment he proposed to her, and nothing about her work even stood out. So, what was the draw there? At the same time, she seemed somewhat pushy and slightly manipulative in the way she ended up on the couch with DD. She HAD to have figured out as his secretary that he was already seeing Faye. It’s become clear subsequently that she wasn’t really interested in advertising although she said she admired Peggy’s skills and claimed she wanted to learn about copywriting. The only thing that was special about her was her touch with children.

    I wonder whether it was partially a casting issue, since DD has had if anything way too much chemistry with numerous other partners and obviously even with Joan. I realize there was a bit of foreshadowing for his remarrying, but it just seemed like an artificial bond between the two.

    So, I wonder what you all think was and is going on. Did you and do you now buy it as a plot development? What are your thoughts if anybody has time for this?

    • SD, unlike you I was a long time reader of BoK, but I did not join in the discussion until this season.

      I think you will discover the conversation here to be lively, interesting, very intellegent, and for the most part respectful. People have many views of the show, the characters, the actors, and those responsible for the direction and words; however, everyone seems to have two things that they can agree upon…MM is a very special and unique show and they LOVE it.

      I would suggest that you read as many of the recent Season 5 entries as you can; jump in and hold on.

      You will discover that the subject of the third Mrs. Draper and the actress who portrays her is one that remains on the front burner. So don’t be shy, but be prepared to be challenged and to defend your statements.

    • I am like you. I watched Mad Men (MM) in its first season and then stopped watching it. But because of Netfllix I have seen all 52 episodes in the first 4 seasons, all at least twice, some episodes as many as ten times. So I understand where you are coming from. I like you started posting at BOK after Season five started. And I have shared this very often: Unlike you, I love the Megan character but I fully understand why she may not be your cup of tea. There are many reasons I feel that way towards her character and let me give you ten of them:

      1) Matthew Weiner in a recent interview claims he found the perfect Megan Draper in Jessica Pare. MW is the creator or Mad Men (MM). He has watched Megan develop as a character since she was introduced to the MM audience in season 4 episode 2 Christmas Comes Every Year and Pare’s growth as well in that role in the 9 episodes she participated in season four. I am NOT sure but I think the actors are paid per episode so if MW had felt Pare could not carry her weight he did have the power to change the story line at the last moment and kill her off without incurring any penalty. For example he could have left the end of season 4 as a cliffhanger with Don debating whether to marry or not going into season five. By including the proposal scene in Tomorrowland MW must have felt confident going with Jessica Pare into season five, don’t you think, although there is a 17 month gap between the end of season four and the beginning of season five.

      2) In Inside Mad Men (you tube) in the premiere episode The Little Kiss, MW points out that Megan with her extroverted sexuality (Zou bisou bisou) and the way she dresses and her general attitude towards life represents the generation gap between the Eisenhower years and what is coming. Imho, If MW did NOT create the Megan role, he would have had to find someone to fill it to take MM into the late 1960’s. Many critics of the Megan character think she doesn’t bring anything to MM, but what many folks don’t realize is Megan was not brought in to represent 1960-1965 but the future: 1966-1970.

      3) So MW could have gone in various directions in making someone of this type in (2) a main character, but he chose the most controversial route by developing a story line that had Don marrying someone of this ilk. SDA, ask yourself would Megan have invoked this much controversy if she were a single female copywriter at SCDP or a new male lead character introduced into MM who represents what is coming. Some controversy but certainly not as much.

      In addition the last lead character MW had put on the payroll was Lane Pryce in season two. In other words whoever MW would have hired would have been “the new kid on the block.” People need time to adapt to a new lead character as they do when a major change occurs in any arena.

      4) In other words Megan (and Jessica Pare) is an object of intense scrutiny by the devotees of MM because she is now on the same par as Roger, Betty, Peggy, Joan, Pete, and Lane. But being Don Draper’s wife even further intensifies this scrutiny. As you know the entire MM series is built around the DD character. Who he sleeps with or does not sleep with is of immense importance to the plot and of course who he married if he did remarry would be absolutely huge and a defining moment for the remainder of the series.

      Many MM watchers wanted Don to end up with Dr. Faye Miller and not Megan Calvet if he did remarry. And then many viewers would have preferred if Don had stayed single and continued to play the field in season five as he had done in season four. Why change a good thing or rock the boat? In other words even if Don had ended up with Faye or remained single there would have been critics who criticized that story line. You can’t please everybody.

      5) In the same recent interview about finding the perfect Megan Draper, MW pointed out Megan’s role is to explain further who Don Draper is, to play off Don to show his virtues and his flaws and to advance the story line in DD’s direction.

      Megan does NOT only exist to take MM into the latter 1960’s but even more importantly to take Don into the era as well. Don clearly is a fish out of water when it comes to modern trends, culture, music etc. Megan is able to keep Don abreast of what is going on in the world. Would a woman more in his age bracket (eg Dr. Faye) have done that for Don? I don’t think so.

      6) I know it is easy to stereotype Don Draper based on the first 3 and 1/2 seasons of MM but in episode 8 of season four The Summer Man, DD decided to re-evaluate his life and part of that process was to keep a daily journal where we found out what Dons’s philosophy of life was and how he personally felt about his trying situation at that moment. Bottom line: We witnessed a man attempting to transform himself into a better human being. But to MW’s credit he showed the evolution over 5 episodes (4 months) before the last episode Tomorrowland was unveiled rather than an instantaneous conversion which would not have been realistic. It has been always my contention that Don would NOT have married Megan if he had not gone through this process. And if he had not gone through this extensive re-evaluation of his life, he may have ended up with Faye Miller.

      And what precipitated Don’s journey of self-discovery in the latter half of season four? My opinion: Waking up with a waitress who he did not even remember meeting, let alone asking her to sleep with him and not knowing the day was Sunday, the day he was supposed to pick up the kids (episode 6 Waldorf Stories) and the death of Anna in episode 7 (The Suitcase) which sent Don into a deep depression and psychologically, mentally and physically hitting rock bottom. When Don emerged in episode 8, we saw a man searching for the truth and the way back to a normal life.

      7) I know this is old-fashioned but in 1965 divorced men who got part-time custody of their children felt dutybound to have a wife to help them look after their kids when they got to see them. Don was also a lousy parent. For the record at the beginning of season four, Don was divorced and had access to his 3 kids every other weekend. And here in episode 5 Don is telling Faye Miller how he felt about his parenting skills: “When I see them, I don’t know what to do. When I drop them off I feel relieved. And then I miss them…it’s NOT going well…” Again these are Don’s own words. Now when you couple that with his process of self-evaluation, is it any wonder Don took this factor into consideration before asking Megan to marry him?

      8) Now we come to episode 9 The Beautiful Girls where Sally runs away to find Don and the next day Betty is slated to arrive to pick her up. Sally balks at leaving Don and runs down the corridor outside of Don’s office and trips and falls flat on her face. In a matter of seconds Sally is comforted by Megan while other women like Faye and Joan are watching all this unfold from the sidelines. Megan is able to calm a distraught Sally down by talking to her and hugging her before Sally eventually is turned over to her mother.

      In addition the day before Ida Blankenship had died at her desk and Megan who had been the firm receptionist moved up the pecking order and became Don’s personal secretary.

      In other words starting in episode 10, Megan began to featured more prominently in the story line, as she was now directly tied to Don. And by the way Don would not have forgotten how Megan comforted Sally in a moment of crisis.

      9) Going back to the proposal itself, many MM viewers consider it an impulsive move on Don’s part, to marry someone who he hardly knew. In fact if you go back to episode 2 where Megan was first unveiled to episode 8 you will see little interaction between Don and Megan and get the sense he really didn’t pay any special attention to her. So when the proposal came it came as a shock to the majority of viewers if you go by Twitter’s reaction to it (mostly negative).

      But let’s go back to the actual proposal. Don is sitting at the edge of the his bed in his apartment in NYC and Megan is still sleeping. We find out after Megan awakes Don has been up for hours and we see he is dressed in a white shirt and tie. Imho, it is not a leap of faith to suggest he was doing some deep thinking as the sun was rising about what he was about to say to Megan. In other words, I submit what Don was about to say to Megan was not impulsive in the sense he had not thought over what he was going to say, but could be considered impulsive because they hardly knew each other.

      And it doesn’t take much a leap of faith to suggest that Don took into consideration what kind of stepmother Megan would be to his kids. Tomorrowland was basically Megan’s audition to become stepmother to the 3 Draper kids although nobody knew that at the time. Don called Megan, Maria Von Trapp. He noticed that the kids were calm and that they were not in chaos or disobedient when Megan took care of them. And finally Don noticed how Megan stayed calm during the milkshake incident in the restaurant while he was ready to fly off the handle as his pattern was when he was married to Betty. Taking the sex out of the equation, Megan passed her audition with flying colors. And in life how often do you really get to audition your future wife to see how good a mother she would be?

      But let’s not be naive. Don made his decision to marry Megan because she satisfied him sexually. Sure Don had only slept with Megan at most 4 times: in the office in episode 11 (Chinese wall), probably twice in CA and once in the NYC apartment. But you have to give Don credit for knowing what he wants in the sexual arena. Don found someone who he was sexually compatible with. He didn’t need to sleep with Megan anymore to find that out.

      So then the question for Don became: Should he treat Megan like a girlfriend (he might have if this was 2012 but this was 1965 and appearances mattered not only in minding the kids but also at the office) or should he make the great leap forward and marry a 25 year old French-Canadian who happened at the time to be his secretary and marry someone who was unlike anybody he had ever gone to bed with in his past who he never would have considered marrying before episode 8?

      And imho it came down to two considerations besides the stepmother factor: Don’s need to continue his journey towards personal normalcy (wife) and possible redemption and his newfound belief that change was now possible (in the Mountain King he had told Anna he didn’t think change was possible) and Don’s recognition at the time he would never find another woman who would be so accepting of his past and not demand he fundamentally change his personality (as Dr. Faye recommended), who understood his need to succeed in advertising, and who would love him as much as Megan loved him and Don’s recognition of how improbable they would even be together in the first place. The latter was Don’s follow-up pitch to Megan after he asked her initially.

      10) Finally in retrospect what does the character of Megan Calvet (Draper) bring to the table? First proof that Don was right to ask Megan to marry him in terms of taking care of his kids. Notice how calm Don is around his kids now. And yes, Megan has now decided to become a professional actress but it should be forgotten without her input the Heinz account would have been lost. Would SCDP made Megan a copywriter if she had not married Don? And what can you say about their sex life? Sure Don and Megan have their fights but can anyone dispute that Don and Megan have a great connection in bed (or on the living room floor)?

      Yes, Megan may have been featured too much in season five but think about it, have we also not learned a hell of lot more about Don? We have and what we are seeing is what I call “the new Don” as opposed to “old Don” we saw in the first 3 and 1/2 seasons.

      Many critics of Megan criticize her for turning Don into a boring character and wish the old Don would return. But it is Don himself (and the MM writers) who decided to change course and take his life in a new direction. Don’t forget Don proposed to Megan; she did not propose to him.

      And finally we now have a story line of Betty being very jealous of Megan and the Don-Megan marriage. A Betty vs Don confrontation would not have been as intense. Now it is war between Betty vs Don and Megan.

      SDA, hope this helps you out. I believe Megan is here to stay but who knows? MW may decide to kill her off and go in a different direction in 1967 and beyond. But if he does replace her, who does he replace her with?

    • SDA- I had a similar viewing experience as well. I tuned into mad men during the second half of season 4. I want to say the first episode I saw was actually Hands and Knees. Something about it literally captured me, and from the on I was engrossed. I went back instantly and watched all of the episodes. I have seen most of them, over the past almost 2 years, probably 10 times. (Is there a diagnosis for this yet??)
      I went into the series then with these interesting points of view- Betty had already been turned into a witch of sorts by the time I tuned in. So watching Don philander and mistreat his wife didn’t REALLY bother me, because in my head I’m chanting “Thats right Don. She’s a cold, petty, narrow little brat, and she’s going to leave you anyways.” I also saw what a mature woman Peggy would become, so rewinding to season 1 with her was amazing.
      Therefore, Tomorrowland did not SHOCK me as much as other viewers, bc when it aired, I still hadn’t seen the complete series.
      Ironically, Megan’s overbearing prescence in Season 5 has humanized Betty for me. I see nothing in Megan that I can’t imagine was once in Betty. The difference is that Don never gave Betty the chance. He never allowed her to accept him for who he was and to forgive him for the ‘sins’ he was carrying. Instead he lied to her and spent his life building a huge emotional wall between them.
      Betty was beatiful like Megan. She was probably easier with a smile before she had to care for their kids while Don spent nights in the ‘city’. She enjoyed entertaining, albeit with less success due to the strain of their marriage, and she was NOT what would have been called at the time a ‘frigid woman’. She enjoyed sex with her husband, dressed for him, bought him gifts, wore lingerie etc.
      I still don’t really like Betty very much. But this depiction/projection by some of Megan as an almost angelic figure, a perfect wife, who is even defended when she smashed a plate against a wall, really bothers me.
      I hope that MW has a great end game for this character, because I have not seem as much of Joan,Peggy, Roger, Pete and their interactions with one another and Don in this interim.
      Megan’s just not very mad men. I have pointed out before that MW seems to have a different perception of Betty than the audience does, and I fear this is happening with Megan as well.
      Any LOST fans out there? Remember when they introduced the ‘tailies’? I didn’t connect with them as much as the original cast members, bc I was sooo invested in them. When I think of the cast of Lost, I feel almost the same warmth as I do for MM characters.
      PS – I highly recommend that anyone who hasn’t done so already, go back and read Alan Sepinwall’s reviews for each of the MM episodes, all the way back to season 1. His insights, as well as the insights of many commenters, are very very good.

      WOW that was long. Sorry.

      • It would have been interesting if the birth control pill had been on the market in the 1950’s when Betty had her children.

        Megan has the advantage of growing up in the 1960’s where it became readily available.

        Yes, I suppose one could argue that other birth control methods were available before the pill but the pill is a simpler method of preventing pregancy.

        Megan put her foot down on their honeymoon (Don telling Roger) that she didn’t want any kids. Apparently Betty never did because quite likely she wanted kids.

        Megan will never be another Betty, constantly waiting for her husband to come home from work. She will never play the dutiful wife.

        • She probably won’t play the dutiful wife, but does that make her better? I don’t think so, really.
          Although as you pointed out, she already is already, in that she’s watching the kids and sitting home with a plate in the oven. And they are still on marriage year 1.

      • MadManda – I enjoyed reading your post, but I am way more sympathetic to Betty. I didn’t have any feelings about her one way or the other until I started with season 1. For me, she’s a well-rounded well-developed character who embodies why the women’s movement really took off when it did. She is self-defeating and her background is less instant-sympathy- making than Don’s, but I keep hoping for an epiphany that will help her reach beyond her home to go back to school or find something meaningful and satisfying to do as work, not necessarily for much money. She obviously doesn’t need money. So many women of her generation did that if they started with the kind of intellectual chops that she has and has forgotten that she has. It would certainly make her a better role model for Sally. There is so much room for Betty to grow. I have to admit I feel like they’re wasting a lot of screen time on Megan, who isn’t all that compelling. I would rather see Betty’s personal frustration explode into something positive. Betty’s got lots of untapped potential, in my view. Maybe they have too many male writers. I do recognize the whole weight issue as an understandable and legitimate plotline – hey, a lot of us have been there. I know it was probably created for convenience’s sake, but it fits. Still, I would rather see Betty grow – she doesn’t have to remain so stunted, necessarily. It might give January Jones an opportunity to prove her critics wrong. I don’t know what her real acting ability is, but I thought she was really good in seasons 2-3 during the Draper marriage conflicts.

        As SDAgemate (SallyDraperAgemate in other words), I watched lots of women in my mother’s generation take control of their lives as their children got a little older and they were able to do more interesting things. Obviously, I see the 60’s through a daughter’s eyes a lot, but I have an excellent memory for that period, so I know Betty could change her life. I think Matt Weiner knows that too. His background isn’t all that much different from mine. I’m not putting down being a wife/mother primarily, but obviously it’s not what Betty needs. She has so much potential in terms of storylines.

        • I think I should have said for Betty to “grow intellectually and emotionally” not just physically to really be accurate.

  58. SDA — spot on. The “Tomorrowland” episode at the end of Season 4 remains the biggest WTH moment in MM’s history. What little I had seen of Megan in Season 4 had not impressed me: as you indicated, she seemed a bit like an opportunistic, and moreover, pretentious. Still, I would have been fine with the character if MW had used her to broad effect in Season 5. I thought that might have been his aim heading into Season 5: to have some fun with the character, make her an agent for sexual revenge vs. DD, or have her cut a wide, body-strewn path (figuratively of course) through SCDP. Bascially, some type of master of disaster — w/in reason of course. MW had slyly laid the foundation for this, or so I thought with — as you pointed out — her sort of professional seduction of Don in his office. No courting was required.

    Hence, to me she has been a huge disappointment this year, though you will find others who are highly enamored of her. My suspicion is her screen time will begin to dramatically decrease, and hers and Don’s conflict will begin to incease, which to me is vital in making their relationship interesting becasue as two romantic leads they have zero chemistry. In fact, of all the women Don has ever been with, he has he least chemistry with Megan, except maybe Betty, though in fairness to MW, maybe that is his point — Don was going to marry Betty 2.0 come hell or high water. Or a Betty that was good with kids and little more sexually advanced.

    Anyway, have fun at BoK. Enjoyed your post.

  59. Here’s a sudden thought: where is Freddy Rumsen this season?

    I’m listening to an interview with Bob Goldthwait (in which he discusses his new movie, God Bless America, which stars Joel Murray) and dear Freddy came to mind.

  60. Old Fashioned, Techno and 2BG, thanks for welcoming me to the blog. I will continue to read as I’m able to and will probably contribute now that I’ve started although I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I have a long history as a lurker (not really on this blog).

    Techno, I’m not sure you understand my problem with the Megan character. I would say that Pete isn’t my ‘cup of tea’ nor is Harry; I didn’t really care much for Suzanne as one of Don’s choices (maybe because I’m a teacher), but none of them ever struck me as not fitting into the story. One of the joys of Mad Men is the way that everyone is so full of flaws and even some virtues – so much like genuine people.

    I absolutely love the characters of Don, Roger and Betty even though there are holes in their personalities big enough to drive a truck through. Peggy, Joan and Sally are much more naturally likable. But all of them are products of their life experiences as they were revealed from episode to episode. The layers were so perfectly pulled away over the course of each season. The style and method of development in MM has so much integrity – like a really good piece of literature.

    Also, I have tremendous respect for Matthew Weiner and have read a lot about him on the internet. I’ve watched him interviewed numerous times about the show and love his work. I wouldn’t feel so invested in an actual TV series if I didn’t think he had created and developed something really special. I’ve gone through long periods of my life without TV, so it takes a lot to hook me as a viewer, and it doesn’t bother me if I don’t like a character that much. In fact, I often enjoy that more. That’s why Pete is so juicy. For me every other character in MM has been woven into the story in a convincing way. Only Megan hasn’t been developed with the same skill and loving care. She’s haphazard.

    The very quality of the writing, the acting and everything else that goes into the series is what makes it so hard for me to believe in the character of Megan. I feel like MW had the idea of Megan intellectually and I understand the points he was trying to make about Don’s character, men in general and what life was like in the 1960’s. It certainly sounds like he finds the Megan actress tremendously attractive based on that recent interview as well. Everything and everyone in the series has evolved in such a completely integrated fashion while still surprising viewers with new plotlines and characters. They all felt natural to me whether I liked them or not. But, Megan’s sudden arrival as more than a supporting role was like watching a can of red paint being splashed unto a Vermeer in terms of tone and style.

    I think MW wanted the idea of Megan in the story, but he and his writers and definitely his actors just weren’t able to believe in her enough to integrate her into what had come before. That’s why I think there’s no real chemistry between Don and Megan. I don’t think that Jon Hamm and the writers were able to integrate her into the story as a logical step in its progression as they had already created it. It’s the only thing in the series that seems like that to me.

    I did like the idea of Faye better (an equal, wow!), but given who Don has been revealed to be over previous seasons, he would probably have blown that up in some other way. I also kept hoping that Betty would be seen perusing the pages of The Feminine Mystique as I saw my mother do during the early 60’s, but it makes perfect sense that she didn’t.

    For me, season 5 has not been as wonderful as the first 4 seasons because Megan is like a pea under the mattress.

    I did love episode 10, though. It seems like things may right themselves and the pea may be crushed or remolded, and therefore no longer felt at some point. There have been some other great episodes as well. I loved the one with Roger’s acid trip, for example. That really worked. And of course, I will continue to watch.

    Good viewing, everyone!

    • I find the issue of chemistry between Don and Megan fascinating, considering in the history of Mad Men, they have had some of the most passionate sex scenes including the ones Don had when he was promiscuous and that no one in the series has even remotely hinted they are not good in bed.

      Joan mentioned to Don in the bar that he had found someone perfect. If anything, Don and Megan love each other too much. SBA, if Don and Megan break up it will NOT be because he is NOT sexually attracted to her.

      Now am I suggesting Don won’t ever cheat on Megan? No, I’m NOT willing to go that far but if he does cheat it won’t be cheap trick or someone Don picked up in a bar. Megan has set the bar very high for other women to even match her sexual prowess.

      As for the character of Megan, again she was NOT brought into the series to depict the early 1960’s but the latter half of the decade. I agree she would not have fit into the JFK period (1960-63) and 1964 and LBJ but she was introduced into the series at the tail end of 1964 (Christmas party) and didn’t really have any prominence in the show until late summer 1965. But season 5 has been all about the latter half of 1966 and will soon with the next episode it appears will unveil how the characters react to the beginning of 1967. The late 1960’s are right up Megan’s alley and her role as Matt Weiner sees it is to show how Don reacts to the time period and the massive change that is occurring during it. Without Megan as Don’s wife, the writers would have imho had a much harder time showing that.

      • One of my reactions to the sexual chemistry between Don and Megan is that it seemed just ok in Season 4, but in season 5 it reminds me more of what he had with Bobby Barrett. That’s not something you base a marriage or a longterm relationship on. He KNEW that when he was with Betty. He seems to have forgotten it now. Of course we know Don doesn’t understand much about what it takes to create a good marriage. That’s among the things that make him so saddening and in my view so sympathetic as a character. I don’t really view him as a cad like a lot of other viewers seem to; he’s just very damaged.

        The chemistry between Don and Betty on their trip to Rome was way way better in my view than anything between Don and Megan. Don was clearly satisfied by that kind of sex, too. It was both steamy and romantic as well as what you experience when you know someone really well and you’re still attracted to them. If Betty hadn’t just gone home and been unable to sustain what they experienced in Rome, their marriage might have been reclaimable. That wasn’t really Don’s fault even though we can all see he’s pretty clueless about relationships. The end of that episode was so sad.

        The Rome episode is in my MM top 5. Nothing between Megan and Don has ever come close to that one. It’s hard to see how what he has with Megan is any better than what he had with Faye unless it’s that the Bobby B s & m thing is his be-all end-all need.

        I don’t think that Don strayed from Betty because he didn’t find their sex life fulfilling; it was all the other things that kept him from being monogamous and her from being a happy person. He just took the physical part of their marriage for granted as people do in long-term relationships especially when they are unhappy in other parts of their lives. When he almost lost it the first time he seemed to value it more. She just wasn’t able to be a more satisfied and satisfying person out there in suburbia.

    • Thank you SD for your contribution. I find it to be very thoughtful and appealing. I too see Megan to be a square peg in a round hole. And it bugs the hell out of me. MM has been such a balm to me for the first four seasons. I agree it’s almost like great classic literature. Then along came Tomorrowland and it became soap operaland. A monkey wrench was thrown into the beautiful dream. This season has been a great disappointment to me.

      • Don used to love advertising, which is (may I be cynical?) convincing people that things that aren’t true are, what’s important isn’t, and what isn’t important is. Dick Whitman trying to hide his real self would love that profession. Don Draper trying to seduce women would love that profession. But a man who’s integrated his two identities as far as he can without going into an Army prison, may come to hate it. I think that this is really why he resents Megan leaving the agency, and the play criticizing advertising and consumerism.

        • John:

          Don is like a good many people. My spouse and closest friends/colleagues (eg Bert Cooper) can take me to task but I will NOT allow a total stranger to say the same identical thing and get away with it. That doesn’t only apply to the advertising profession but all professions. Who says it matters!

          And what Don told Megan is essentially what gives anyone other than you the right to criticize me? And you have no business defending these people when your livelihood is dependent on advertising dollars?

          I don’t think Don resents Megan leaving the agency but what he is upset at is how his colleagues treated her when she was there. In Don’s conversation with Joan, he again brought that up.

          But I think it boils down to this: Don is one insecure dude. He doesn’t want to lose Megan and as he told Megan at the end of episode two A Little Kiss that he wanted to give her everything he wants. And if that meant only working to 5:30 PM every day, so be it. But now Megan has given Don license to work longer hours and for Don the bottom line is Megan won’t act like 90% of wives and complain he is ignoring her or being inattentive, especially over the holidays. Instead Megan wants Don to devote more time and attention to work and get back in the groove. Don now knows that will not lead to the breakup of his marriage. Witness how fired up Don was at the end of episode 10.

          • I agree with you that Megan has now given Don license to focus on his work world, and episode 10 probably indicates that he is about to take it. Thank God! It’s about time.

      • Obviously, many of us share this sentiment. However, I think the consensus from the posts since Sunday is that “Christmas Waltz” has restored our hope that something more substantial than “The Life and Times of Megan Calvet Draper” will be the memory associated with Season 5.

        Given the great entertainment provided in the previous seasons; I think MW & crew deserve our confidence that they will not disappoint. Hope at 11:00 PM (EDT) on June 10th, that confidence has been rewarded.

        Ironically, how ever it turns out; last episode’s scene with Christina and Jon is Mad Men at its best. I am very biased regarding each of them and their talent….but, it is a contender for my favorite scene of the series.

      • Yes, absolutely. I feel that way too although I’ve probably spent a much shorter amount of time seeing MM that way.

      • I wonder when we (i.e. viewers at large) became such harsh critics of each nuance, phrasing, episode, line of dialogue to the exclusion of appreciating what is essentially a banquet table on which an astonishing story feast is laid out each week, each season.

        I dunno… I just think there is so very, very much to admire about television done well and MM in particular that I am willing to give myself over to the suspension of disbelief even on plot points or character motivations I question, and let myself be lavishly entertained.

        I’m not the least disappointed in this banquet of riches, even though I say “wha’?” every so often (as is my right as a viewer, of course). Each Sunday I am totally tickled to drag my chair up to the table and be well fed.


          That sentiment needed to be voiced, GoodSally.

          I do maintain (and have said so) that TomorrowLand was the worst episode in Mad Men history because it didn’t honestly offer the character development (of Megan) or the wrestling (from Don) that make the show so powerful as a revealer of the human condition. I had hoped Megan would have been killed off in the season five premiere.

          With that having been said, since Megan was not killed off, I think season five has done a *marvelous* job of portraying the emotional complexity of people and the relationships they try to form. I would have been disappointed in season five if it had portrayed the new Draper marriage as this perfect, sunny oasis of all-encompassing and unceasing warmth. I would have been disappointed if Don and Megan exhibited a natural chemistry that exceeded what Don had with Betty and, for that matter, with Joan.

          Don and Megan’s relationship *should* be lacking in chemistry, and Jessica Pare *should* come across the way she does…. because Don made a very impulsive and ill-conceived decision in TomorrowLand; because there are big age and culture gaps between them, to the extent that Don often treats Megan like a child, with barely-concealed dismissiveness; because Megan carries enormous self-doubt and considerable fear beneath her Zou Bisou Bisou veneer of sunniness and anti-cynicism; and because Megan prefers “the struggle” while Don prefers to ascend and gain scalps in his anything-but-socialist environment(s).

          Nothing will ever make me change my opinion about TomorrowLand, and the many eloquent criticisms of that episode voiced by new commenters in recent days are spot-on.

          However, the key point of divergence I have with my fellow TomorrowLand critics is that if Megan was not going to be killed off in S-5 episode one, we needed to see the 1966-1969-style tension points and the worrisome consequences of Don’s rash, impulsive, not-fully-considered decision to marry Megan. That was how TomorrowLand – though eternally beyond saving/redemption – could at least be reconciled with the furtherance of the series.

          Have we gotten that in season five? Yes. Without question, yes.

          I have seen very rich emotional portrayals this season with the exceptions of Lane (too absent for overly prolonged stretches) and Ginsberg (not as central a presence as a character with his backstory first suggested). With the other characters, it’s true that their raw amounts of screen time have been limited by Megan’s character development, but limited minutes have not gotten in the way of powerful revelations. Peggy, Joan, Pete, Roger, Jane, Ken, Harry, Sally, Betty – they’ve gone through a lot despite comparatively small windows of Matt Weiner-allotted exposure. Only Lane and Ginsberg have built up levels of centrality within the Mad Men story yet not been showcased to an appropriate extent (though that’s likely to change with Lane in the next three weeks).

          The show’s hallmark points of emphasis — A) You must find happiness within yourself, not from externals; B) characters are never one-dimensional, always surprising you just when you think they’re either saints or scoundrels; and C) things are seldom what they seem on the surface — have been exquisitely illustrated this season, with Mystery Date, Far Away Places, Codfish Ball, and Christmas Waltz all joining the pantheon of top-quality Mad Men episodes (and with three more episodes still to come in season five).

          As I’ve remarked within the past two weeks or so, I do think that season six does not need to “set up” characters or future episodes the way season five has. As the series approaches its end, Weiner needs to trust his audience a pinch more and not introduce new characters, only new dimensions of the characters he has. Season five has, I admit, not been as expansive as it could have been, and TomorrowLand IS the reason for that.

          Which makes the original point: It’s really not season five that has disappointed. It’s TomorrowLand which disappointed. Everyone’s mileage may vary, and there are no definitively “right” or “wrong” answers, of course, but it’s worth reflecting about that distinction as season five winds its way toward the finish line. I’ve seen the high art and unmatched intricacy this season that I’ve come to expect from Mr. Weiner. I do think that he carries a weighty responsibility heading into season six, but that only means he’s on the hook for the future, not what he’s done in season five.

          • Sorry for you. Perhaps you had to ride an elephant and not a jet plane.

            Tomorrowland was great.

            Some like chocolate;some like vanilla;nobody seems to like orange sherbert os Sangria Ice ( a B&R flavor of the month which did not last the entire month.

          • I will fully admit if we had not seen Don Draper’s personal journey from episode 8 The Summer Man to episode 12 Blowing Smoke, Tomorrowland would NOT have made any sense.

            To me the most underrated feature of the entire series and which does not elicit much comment at BOK or other MM blog sites is the daily journal Don kept starting with the Summer Man.

            And with swimming clearing his head as Anna had suggested, Don gradually over a period of approximately four months in 1965 became a better person.

            But the one thing Don would NOT sacrifice for anyone is his integrity. There was no way in hell that he was going to allow Faye to make him like everybody else as she suggested at the beginning of Tomorrowland. And thus what was attractive about Megan was she was not going to try to change Don; she would accept him for who he is now and in addition would not hold his past against him.

            Don’s decision to propose to Megan was based on three main considerations besides the stepmother issue:

            a) Faye insisting Don had to change or reform

            b) Megan taking Don for who he was

            c) The phoniness of Faye vs the open sincerity of Megan (don’t forget Faye’s scene in the phone booth in which she revealed her true self).

            In 2012, Don would have gone the Abe route with Peggy and asked Megan to live with him. In 1965, he needed a stepmother for his kids and being a high-powered executive dealing with the public he was in no position to flout social convention and live in sin. That is another aspect of the proposal that doesn’t get much discussion.

            I thought Tomorrowland was wonderfully done. Megan never saw the proposal coming and neither did the audience. But neither did Don before he set out for CA? But in retrospect overall Don made the right decision. And that doesn’t get much attention either.

          • Techno,

            I find that Rachel Menken and Faye Miller were the two women who offered the greatest opportunities to Don because they were two women who, though having their own shares of weaknesses, were supremely strong career women and appreciated a healthy separation between life and work. They both called Don on his bullsh–, Rachel’s great line being, “You don’t want to run away with me, you just want to run away, and Faye saying, “You only like the beginnings of things.” The sales pitches and great visions Don can conjure in the advertising room at pitch time do not fly in the realm of his intimate relationships. Don saw that Rachel and Faye would be a challenge for him, but with a challenge comes the possibility of great growth. Don could have been “stretched” as a person.

            With Megan – and this is part of what TomorrowLand represents – Don was SELLING a vision, a fantasy. Yes, one can see that Don is better for his marriage to Megan in many ways; Don has been happier and more mellow than in the past.

            HOWEVER… (gosh, this is why Mad Men is so great….) is that happiness the product of Don being stretched, pushed and challenged as a man and as a person, or has it come about because it was Don’s very attempt to have his wife with him at the office, giving him an emotional security blanket (and eye candy) all the time so that he did not have to push himself so hard and could have an easier life?

            It is very much worth noting that the Draper marriage’s many tensions and underlying points of instability are emerging precisely because Megan WANTS the struggle, but the struggle that Don did NOT initially envision for her or want for her. The Don-Joan scene is powerful for so many reasons, but one of them being that Don and Joan, used to being in control of their intimate relationships, find that they’re both quite lacking control at the moment. It’s true that Megan called Don on the carpet about his career in “The Christmas Waltz,” but ironically, that challenge came in part from Megan’s own pronounced fears about her inadequacy as an aspiring actor, her worries that her own career won’t pan out.

            When Rachel doubted herself, it was her own sense of prudence and judgment. When Faye doubted herself, it was her skill set with children. As career women, though, they harbored very few if any doubts.

            Comparisons between the Rachel-Faye prototype and – on the other hand – Megan do not make it clear that one type of woman is better for Don (that’s a matter of opinion), but they invite the very important question:

            Has Don’s happiness in season five been the result of what he thought was his orchestrated vision for his new marriage, or has it been the result of Megan making him grow up as a man, husband and father?

            There’s evidence to support either view, but I think there’s more on the former side, not the latter. It seems Don was happy when he felt he “had it all” (i.e., having Megan with him at all times), but now that that dream (fantasy?) has been shattered, just how far has Don come as a man, and where will he go – in the remainder of season five and the series, for that matter?

            Such delicious complexity. (It’s why season five has been so enjoyable.) Mad Men being Mad Men, to a tee.

    • SDA — excellent post @ 1:41. Totally concur.

    • SDA,

      Welcome! Great post, you comment about watching a can of red paint being sprayed on a Vermeer eloquently sums up what many other viewers feel as well.

    • For me, season 5 has not been as wonderful as the first 4 seasons because Megan is like a pea under the mattress.

      You should read all of that fairytale, princess.

      • Hey Stan – I remember seeing the Princess and the Pea on some 60’s broadcast a thousand years ago. I just remember the metaphor. So, what happened in the end?

  61. Joan may appreciate Don’s talent, looks, and charm, she really has contempt for him.

    What does Joan know of Don? She told Peggy that she knows what kind of woman he marries: stunning Stepford models. “Did you know he met Betty Draper doing a print ad? Did you know she was a model? That’s the kind of girl Don marries.”

    Joan found out that Don cheats in the pilot episode. She knows he knocked up his wife Monday and got divorced Tuesday. She’s seen his daughter have a mini-breakdown in the office (409) because of this divorce. She’s cleaned up the mess he made doing something to Allison, giving her her own mini-breakdown (404). She’s seen him spend a year as a useless drunk — she didn’t go to Don about the drawing of her and Lane put out by his creative department, did she? And she’s seen him marry his goddam secretary?!: “Happens all the time. They’re all just between marriages, you know that. He’ll probably make her a copywriter. He’s not going to want to be married to a secretary.”

    Now watch Don and Joan in the bar again. What does she say to Don that’s nice? “You’re irresistible,” she said, resisting with ease.

    Then she lets him have it, beginning at 31:55: “And who do you think’s waiting at home? I bet she’s not ugly. The only sin she’s committed is being familiar.” Don: “So you think it’s all him?” Joan: “Because she can’t give him what she wants?” Don: “Because he doesn’t know what he wants. But he’s wanting.” Joan: “He knows. It’s just the way he is…” Don: “I’m gonna go.” Joan has no protest to make.

    Was Don trying to get laid? Who knows. From what he said, not even he knows.

    Too long for the show, but I had to send it to you.

    Joan is a master. She told Don what a shit he is, to his face, and he sent her flowers the next day. Crap, no wonder he found her intimidating.

    • Sounds very good to me John. Your analysis cleared up a lot of things for me about the discussion in the bar. Their conversation was somewhat elliptical and confusing to me. But it looks like you hit the nail on the head.

    • I thought she was talking about Roger when they were in the bar.

      • In the first season Joan made a very interesting comment to Roger:

        “I know as much about men as you do about advertising.”

    • I think you’re selling Joan short here. She’s not that cynical – cynical, yes, but not THAT cynical. She’s known Don a long time and respects good work as he does. She is also capable of real perceptiveness and empathy – I think she’s smart enough to know that in spite of their natural mutual attraction that Don’s sadness and disfunction is a deep deep bottomless pool. If you care about self-preservation, you don’t want to go there.

      • Definition of cynical:

        Distrusting and disparaging the motives of others.

        Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous or pessimistic; sneering disbelief in sincerity or integrity

        Showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one’s actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others

        I do NOT know why Joan is so CYNICAL but after watching her character interact with several different character in almost five seasons, she is imho not mildly cynical but wears it on her sleeve. Her attitude towards Megan becoming a failed actress married to a rich husband, her belief that Paul was entered into a relationship with the AA woman Sheila to look like he was progressive, and her comment to Peggy there’s no virtue in chastity unless you’re from China are all ideas or thoughts of a cynic.

        Joan never trusts anybody’s motives to be noble. She truly believes in “every man for himself” and that most people are insincere or cannot be trusted. And it is my belief that Joan will never end up with Don because of that one character trait. Don is NOT a cynic and generally optimistic.

        • Is Don a cynic or not?

          This is a question worthy of extended essays, and the fact that it invites such rich, layered and diverse interpretation is precisely why Mad Men is so fully worth the commitment of energy and investment of time.

          I can see, Techno, how and why you’d arrive at your conclusion about Don. He is big on “moving forward,” after all, and he has assailed many characters in season five for hurting Megan’s feelings, primarily because Megan was so frequently put off by the cynicism she saw/felt/absorbed in the SCDP office. In a broader cultural sense, there is a certain hopeful quality that comes through Don.

          He clearly doesn’t “get” the culture that’s unfolding before him. Matt Weiner has clearly shown how Don sees the Beatles through the lens of their cherry 1964 songs, not through the prism of Megan-recommended “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Yet, Don doesn’t take a dim view of the youth culture when he meets that young woman backstage at what he thought was a Stones concert. He’s concerned, but he’s curious and not adversarial. When looking at the world, Don is skeptical of its politics but open-minded about the culture and where its youth are headed.

          However, in his personal life and in his work life, Don is very much on guard and defensive. There’s a lot of dismissiveness even toward Megan’s parting from advertising. Don is wounded by that, no matter what his “do what you want to do” midnight “assurance” to Megan a few weeks ago might have suggested on the surface. He’s carrying that wound and its pain, which is still fresh.

          Don is quite the cynic in his relationships with Ginsberg and Pete, and he’s about to find out about Lane. In season four, he not only felt threatened by Faye, but dragged her down to his much more cynical level of operating, his more dubious ethical standards, so fully exposed in the Heinz account. Don sees “anglers” all around him at SCDP, and I think that Megan’s throw-the-plate-against-the-wall outburst is reflective of what he’s beginning to see as an attempt to keep him on a very short leash… a leash that Don helped bring upon himself by distrusting Megan so markedly in “Far Away Places” in front of the HoJo.

          Don, shaped by his relationship with his father as shown in “The Hobo Code,” carries a deep cynicism inside his soul on the immediate level of his most important/consequential relationships. In the broader context of what he sees in mass culture, that cynicism is not in a position to emerge; it’s where Don feels brighter and more optimistic.

          In all, there are two conflicting, competing sides of Don here. In the spirit of Mad Men’s fundamental creative arc and ethos, it shouldn’t be any other way. 🙂

  62. Joan may appreciate Don’s talent, looks, and charm, she really has contempt for him.

    What does Joan know of Don? She told Peggy that she knows what kind of woman he marries: stunning Stepford models. “Did you know he met Betty Draper doing a print ad? Did you know she was a model? That’s the kind of girl Don marries.”

    Joan found out that Don cheats in the pilot episode. She knows he knocked up his wife Monday and got divorced Tuesday. She’s seen his daughter have a mini-breakdown in the office (409) because of this divorce. She’s cleaned up the mess he made doing something to Allison, giving her her own mini-breakdown (404). She’s seen him spend a year as a useless drunk. She didn’t go to Don about the drawing of her and Lane put out by his creative department, did she? And she’s seen him marry his goddam secretary?!: “Happens all the time. They’re all just between marriages, you know that. He’ll probably make her a copywriter. He’s not going to want to be married to a secretary.”

    Now watch Don and Joan in the bar again. What does she say to Don that’s nice? “You’re irresistible,” she said, resisting with ease.

    Then she lets him have it, beginning at 31:55: “And who do you think’s waiting at home? I bet she’s not ugly. The only sin she’s committed is being familiar.” Don: “So you think it’s all him?” Joan: “Because she can’t give him what she wants?” Don: “Because he doesn’t know what he wants. But he’s wanting.” Joan: “He knows. It’s just the way he is…” Don: “I’m gonna go.” Joan has no protest to make.

    Was Don trying to get laid? Who knows. From what he said, not even he knows.

    Joan is a master. She told Don what a **** he is, to his face, and he sent her flowers the next day. Crap, no wonder he found her intimidating.

    • A unique take on the Don and Joan tete-a-tete.

      I would agree with you except for one point: Joan had her own problems with Greg serving her divorce papers. Would she have at this time really focused on Don’s checkered past in talking to him, or would she have been more self-absorbed in her own future?

      But Joan did NOT forget to throw in the line, “You found somebody perfect” to Don. Reading between the lines how does Don get so lucky while I always end up with rotten eggs? Life isn’t fair.

    • JiC, we allow cuss words here. Using those words to flame other posters is verboten, but you can write “shit.” Happens all the time.

      Yeah, there’s probably some contempt mixed in with Joan’s feelings about Don. Maybe even some envy — “why can you screw up and still have a doting partner, and I can’t?” But she doesn’t know what’s really going on with him and Megan. She thinks Megan just wanted an excuse to stay home and be barefoot and pregnant, and “pursing an acting career” is just window dressing to save her and Don face. She doesn’t realize that once Megan stopped working there, she and Don ceased to have anything in common except sexual attraction, and that’s not enough to sustain the next 40 years of marriage. Don and Joan, on the other hand, have possibly too much in common.

      • You forget the role Megan plays as the Draper kids’ stepmother which allows Don to go to work while she is looking after the kids on the weekend.

        Don’s attitude: Yes, Megan and I have our challenges but who else am I going to find to do what she does? I’ll admit if Don did not have kids by his first marriage his attitude towards Megan might be different now.

        And let’s face it if Don was not being sexually fulfilled at home, he would have strayed already. I know, I know I have belabored the point but the bottom line is, Don has not had sex with anybody else since the start of season 4 episode 13 when he woke up in bed and began talking to Faye. Why? Because he takes his marriage vows seriously. C’mon, we’re talking Don Draper here. Megan gives Don what he wants in bed. Otherwise he might have gone to bed with Joan.

        • Meowser- good point about Don and Megan having lost their common ‘interest’, or at least common experience.
          On Don not cheating- how long do we think it initially took him to cheat on Betty? Also, he even cheated on Faye with Megan, and we can’t assume that’s because Faye was ‘bad in bed’. Don confuses sex with lots of things, and that’s why he has it outside of his marriage. Not because the bedroom wasn’t exciting enough.

          • I’m glad you brought that up about Don cheating on Faye.

            What prompted it? Imho, it was when Faye put up a Chinese wall and called Don’s job/profession stupid when they argued in the office?

            Imagine if that argument had not taken place. We found later after Don had sex with Megan at the office that Faye did a 180 degree turn and told Don that Heinz was looking for a new ad agency.And the episode leaves Don holding Faye in his apartment.

            Timing is everything.

            But back to the cause of the original argument: advertising and someone putting Don’s profession down. Megan is smart enough to realize she is treading on thin ice here. Instead of doubling down and creating the advertising industry and consumerism and perhaps sending Don into the arms of another woman, Megan shows she is four-square behind Don as seeks to regain his mojo. That was absolutely a brilliant move by Megan. Don doesn’t respond well to criticism especially when he feels it is unwarranted.

          • Actually I believe it was don who insulted Faye’s profession, something about how her professional courtesy and confidentiality weren’t as important as his actual business’ future. So in the course of one night, he betrayed Faye professionally and physically and convinced her to break her own moral code. Oh don.

          • Faye did call Don’s business stupid in her argument in the office.

            • Faye was comparing life and love on the one hand to stupid business on the other. Don has said the same thing: “There’s life, and there’s work.”

          • Yes she said “the stupid office” talking about work in general.

    • It’s an interesting point of view. I don’t think Joan has contempt for Don. I think she sees them as similar. Both have acted out sexually in the past. Both admit, in the scene we’re discussing, to missing their past bad behavior. Both are accustomed, not just to being sexually attractive, but to being in control and to using that attractiveness as part of their control.

      I think Joan sees Don directly, eye-to-eye, warts and all. It’s a good basis for friendship.

      • Yes! The bottomline is that Joan is a realist. She see’s the world as it is with her eyes wide open and that includes Don. He knows all about the world too, but he chooses to keep his eyes wide shut.

    • JiC,

      I think Joan probably has contempt for Don’s behavior, but it’s not the overriding aspect of her attitude and feelings about him. She has also cheated on partners in her life and probably thinks that there are things that only the people in a relationship know about. She tolerated being the victim of a rape and still went on to marry the rapist. She went on to have a child by another man even though she was still married to that rapist. She knows she herself is hardly a perfect human being even though a lot of men may think so based on her appearance. (Are you judging her motivations only from the point of view of a man? She’s not viewing Don from that point of view.) Joan’s also old enough to have given up on the delusion that someone will rescue her, and most likely the delusion that Don is anymore black and white as a person than she is. My own experience is that women tend not too view the world in black and white terms as often as men do.

      But mainly, she’s not blind. Don (a lot because Jon Hamm plays him) is a very attractive man and she is definitely attracted to him. He’s an alpha male at least on the outside, but isn’t she an alpha female? Takes one to know one. He’s NOT a desirable sexual partner for her at this point in her life, especially considering the other partners both of them have had. But, there have been numerous scenes in MM in which Joan and Don demonstrated mutual respect. The scene after the lawnmower incident was great and a perfect example of that. Maybe I’m just not remembering this accurately, but I can’t remember a time when Don has done anything personally demeaning to Joan. You tend to judge people based on their behavior towards you, not on their behavior towards others.

      Personally I find her character too wise in the ways of human motivation to be contemptuous of Don. Cynical? Absolutely. Joan is both beautiful (a lot because she’s played by Christina Hendricks), and a really well-rounded person, and not just physically. She’s the most ‘knowing’ MM or maybe MW because she’s an ADULT, and a very intelligent one, but even more so because understanding people is her stock in trade, along with being a gifted organizer. If not, how did and does she manage all those people so skillfully? She always does a good job of managing Don, too, and she knows it.

  63. Christmas Waltz pretty clearly riffed on Sartre’s Nausea. I’ve written about it at great length here

  64. There may have been a creepy parallel between Paul/his girlfriend and Don/Megan. At the diner, Paul says that no one likes him except his GF. In the S5 premiere, Megan says no one cared for Dick Whitman (who Don basically is) but she cares for him. Which is false. Anna cared for DW, so did Adam. Don’s army buddy he met on the train seemed to like him a lot from his days back in the army, and the person Peggy seems to care more for is DW versus DD.

    Paul’s GF wears a red shawl w/a metallic design, Megan wears a red dress w/a metallic collar. Paul’s GF talks about about being anti materialistic but in the end doesn’t care about that credo, she just wants Paul to stay on as a recruiter. Megan goes off after the play about being anti consumerism. Yet she goes to the play in a lavish dress, in front of her actor friends who are waiting tables.

    Also, when Paul’s GF wants to seduce Harry, she bends over his desk, her backside facing him. And when Megan want to seduce Don in the season premiere, she cleans the carpet on all fours, her backside facing him. Furthermore, when Paul’s GF doesn’t get her way with Harry she slaps him hard. And when Megan doesn’t get her way with Don she hurls her plate against the wall. Makes on think.

    • An intriguing insight. I like it – although when I read ‘cared for’ I thought that might mean ‘took care of’ rather than ‘liked’ when referring to DW’s childhood. I may not have as good a memory or knowledge of past episodes as you do, though.

      • SDAgemate,

        Thanks! I can’t remember exactly what Megan said, but it was more along the lines of “liked,” similar to what Paul said. Also, makes “onE” think. Dealing with a compressed keyboard, too many typos to catch.

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