Recap: The Phantom

 Posted by on June 11, 2012 at 2:00 am  Season 5
Jun 112012

Mad Men The Phantom tableau at the windowsMost nights I watch Mad Men on my living room couch with a computer in my lap. Tonight I watched at a terrific New York City bar, at the Basket of Kisses Season Finale Party, sitting next to Rich Sommer. It was a fantastic experience: Cheers, applause, shock—there’s truly nothing like sharing the show with a large, respectful, enthusiastic audience. Respectful, because they’re quiet enough that no dialogue is missed, but enthusiastic enough to burst into cheers when Pete gets punched out, and then punched out again (at which point I said “Joan was right—everybody does want to take a pop at Pete Campbell”).

When Don was watching Megan’s screen test, I whispered to Rich, “Do you need to leave the room crying?” Obviously, that scene was meant to remind us of Don’s famous “Carousel” speech in the Season 1 finale, The Wheel, in which Don looks with love and longing at a slideshow of his family, including his then-wife Betty. Now he looks at his second wife, and his longing and love are again visible.

This episode was filled with doubles and references, doublings back and reboots. Just as the screen test revisits the slideshow from the Season 1 finale, the meeting with Topaz Pantyhose revisits the finale of Season 4,Tomorrowland. In that episode, Peggy won the Topaz account, saving the then-desperate SCDP. Now, SCDP is in great shape, but they might lose Topaz because Peggy is no longer there. “We’ve never had problems with this client before,” Ginsberg says, but they have to start from scratch. Ginsberg is also a double—for Peggy. He is Don’s new whipping boy/protégé and junior genius.

Adam Whitman is a revisit, a “phantom” from the title, and Lane’s suicide by hanging is the second such suicide of the series. Adam did it first, in Season 1, and Don is haunted by the memory. Phantoms are not just the ghosts of the dead, of course. As Megan’s mother, Marie, so cruelly notes, they are the ghosts of our dreams as well. We believe there is a thing that will make us happy, but it is a phantom. When we grasp for it, it eludes us, as Beth eludes Pete. Pete’s monologue to Beth is itself haunting.

There are three interwoven motifs in The Phantom, that of depression, that of restarting, and that of doubling. Obviously they connect to each other; Beth’s cure for depression is a restart, a literal wiping out of her memories so she can start fresh without knowing what caused her pain last time, while Roger’s cure for it (or for the fear it will come) is a doubling: He wants to do LSD a second time. Megan drinks wine at home during the day like Betty did, and Rebecca’s remarkable, angry slap-down of Don and his check reminded me (and my sister) of Anna Draper’s sister in Season 4, who called Don “just a man in a room with a check.” Neither woman felt like Don’s money gave him any right to access a family’s private grief.

I pretty much told everyone that Matt Weiner inserted the James Bond references as a personal gift to me. That may not be accurate (it’s fun to say, though), but we share our love of 007. There were two James Bond references in The Phantom–the movie Don and Peggy are seeing is Casino Royale (the comedy starring David Niven). 1967 was a year with two Bond movies, which kind of doubles down on the double identity theme. The second reference is the closing song: You Only Live Twice (considered by many to be the greatest Bond melody), which references doubling not only in the name but in the theme, which addresses rebirth after a faked death (Dick Whitman, anyone?).

So, everything reverts, returns, and wipes out. Everyone is in shock therapy. Partly, there’s a lot of real human grief here. Roger wants to see Marie so he can find life again after death came so close. Don wants to give something to Rebecca that will make him feel some closure. Pete sees death everywhere he looks, and even though he verbally rejects suicide, the swimming pool he wanted suddenly looks like a drowning pool. Joan wants to know why, and, after prostituting herself to become a partner, she finds a way to believe she should have done so for Lane. Joan struggles in two ways to find value after what happened to Lane and to her: First, by proving herself as a partner, from her mannish suit to her assiduous assessment of numbers, and second, by believing, nonetheless, that her only value is sexual. The only way to have saved Lane, she thinks, would have been to sleep with him. Poor Joanie!

An awesome crew of two was at our Finale Party, filming people naming their favorite quotes and characters, as part of the DVD extras for Season 5. I had to say, much to my own surprise, that Joan Harris is my favorite. Her extraordinary vulnerability and need to please sits in such strange and beautiful contrast to her competence and brains. I never thought, in Season 1, that I would come to love her so.

So, tonight was a beautiful experience for me. An excellent episode, an exciting party among a hundred or more excited fans, and a whirlwind of emotions to chronicle. It was not, I have to say, exactly conducive to writing a careful episode review, since I took no notes and started writing a good forty minutes later than usual. I hope you’ll forgive a slightly choppy review in exchange for sharing some of that experience with you.

Some additional thoughts:

  • I had a dentist in the spire of the Chrysler Building, this is the truth, my hand to God.
  • Please don’t ask me about two dogs fucking. I have no idea.
  • John Slattery has a much nicer ass than I would have anticipated. Also, I never imagined I’d have the chance to write that sentence.
  • Quote of the week is tough without my usual meticulous note-taking, so I’ll go with “What is Regina?” because it’s funny and a little smutty and I remember it (thanks again, Roger Sterling, who wins this and every season with the most quotes of the week).

Originally published at Indiewire Press Play.


  450 Responses to “Recap: The Phantom”

  1. I think her seeing the two dogs screwing was showing that these trips aren’t as glamorous as Peggy imagined. Here she is in the hotel they provided and her scenery is screwing dogs.

    • And yet she’s just as likely to see screwing dogs in Paris, no? She looked happy in any case.

      • Agree on both counts, glad she managed to slip in the Paris dig to Don. He deserved it. Still and all I loved that scene despite feeling a bit contrived to me…a little bone from MW knowing we are jonesing for Peggy.

        • Yeah, I know what you mean, DivaDebbi. I was thrilled to see Peggy (in more than one scene!) yet somehow the movie theater encounter seemed a little too coincidental, somehow. Still, I know she learned from him that going to the movies during the day can be useful as well as entertaining, so I suppose it’s not totally contrived.

          • Maybe not so coincidental. I’ll bet that CGC and SCDP are close neighbors.

            Even if not, Peggy probably knows where Don likes to “play hooky” clearing the cobwebs and decided to go there.

            In the future, they will go take the cultural pulse together.

            Teddy boy will see how dedicated Peggy is and will not micro-manage her – that is, if early indications hold true.

    • Well, people can see the dirty no matter how classy the hotel. We stumble upon sights we shouldn’t or don’t want to see all the time… Sally at the ball, Peggy in Richmond, Ginzo and the Speck pics…

    • Thank you! I was wondering what the heck that was about and if anyone would mention it. She still looked pretty pleased with her self after.

  2. Hmm, after last week’s crashing emotional episode last night’s fell somewhat flat to me. I need to mull it over and read your commenters’ thoughts here. The line up in the empty office was amazing. Joan in Technicolor in the center – their sun. Don acquiesced yet again to Megan (who is looking more like Imogene Coca every time I see her) and I was hoping we’d get a raised eyebrow at the end – indicating old Don is back. Megan continues to annoy me as a petulant ungrateful child. Odd, I expect Don to cheat and hate when Pete does. The electroshock storyline was fascinating – to see Pete’s face knowing he’d been erased was worth the price of admission. But Pete, my 11 year old with autism can block a punch for crying out loud. I love how he has NO self-defense skills – it’s a strong message of who he is. Peggy – I hope she comes back. I felt terrible for her. And yes, the dogs were quite a message. Nice shot of Roger’s butt – I gather he took the LSD alone after all, which is progress for him! Megan’s mother is an enigma – strong enough to tell Roger “NO” but stuck avec ton mari. Must ruminate.

    • “I love how he has NO self-defense skills – it’s a strong message of who he is.”

      And yet he launches at a guy who is much taller and weighs at least 50 lbs more than him.

      Reckless courage.

      • my mother always used to say, “no sense, no fear.”

      • I was remembering when Pete attacked Cosgrove, he’s quick to draw for a small guy

      • Pete’s attack on the conductor seemed more like a class thing, too. If he thinks he’s better than someone (regardless of if he’s correct), Pete will pounce. He doesn’t seem to understand that hubris doesn’t win fights.

    • I think Beth was faking not to recognize Pete. Shock treatment is not that powerful and it seems like a manipulative thing that she would do.

      • The memory loss is, I think, usually for the period immediately preceding. However I once read an article by a woman whose entire memory of her life was permanently erased by it. She described how the nice man who she was told was her fiancee gradually lost hope and drifted away….

  3. One scene that I see no one else has yet mentioned but that I thought was wonderful was the one between Peggy and Ted Chaough about the cigarettes. Ted did seem commanding like a boss, but also respectful, confidant in Peggy, warm, funny, sharp…there was just a chemistry there that never, or rarely, existed between Don and Peggy.

    • I didn’t see that at all between Peggy and Chaough, but I did enjoy seeing Peggy handling her staff. She’s a hardass boss. Just like Don.

      • Edited.

        • Getting too personal–please watch it. It’s fine to discuss characters’ behavior, but do it in a way that isn’t confrontational to other commenters. Thanks. -Mad Chick

          • Edited–I know you were just responding to the other post, but the direction of this is getting too personal. Thanks. -Mad Chick

        • Your boss is not an asshole just because he expects the exellente from you everyday.

    • I liked that as well. Ted made his trust in Peggy’s ability obvious, and for once, it didn’t look like she’d have the rug pulled out from under her feet.

    • I wouldn’t call it ‘chemistry’. They don’t have any deep emotional tie like Don and Peggy do, which got in the way of their work all the time.

      • But lots of people have chemistry prior to forming a deep emotional tie. Often it is chemistry that people find attractive—that leads them to form a deep emotional tie.

        I think one reason Peggy needed to leave Don’s office was that he still treated her like a young secretary half of the time. There emotional dynamic was very old, and it didn’t really evolve and change to keep up with who Peggy had become.

        When I lived abroad (three years) it was weird to see how different people acted toward me depending on WHEN they met me. Not everyone, of course, but there were people who met me in my first couple of months who always throught of me as inept, unable to speak the language, and totally clueless. It didn’t matter that I learned the language, made friends, developed cultural competencies–not to some people.

        People I’d met after 2 years–they treated me with far more respect and much more like a competent person.

        Now some people are better able to adapt and grow and change with you, but Don wasn’t keeping up with Peggy’s development and he kept putting her back into a position she no longer wanted to be in. This episode shows she was right–she didn’t need to be there anymore.

        • Agree. There are a few other moms around town whose initial impression of me was of a very anxious and insecure new parent. I sense, 20 years later, that they still see me that way. I’ve also fluctuated in weight and the degree to which I am groomed (I never look unkempt, but my hair is very thick and curly and often looks messy) and I’ve seen people do literal double-takes when I’m out and about well-dressed and with new haircut/color. There is just no way that Don can forget about naive, pregnant, secretary Peggy.

        • I agree with you about Peggy needing to leave so that she could continue to grow. Absolutely! I just didn’t see any special chemistry with Chaough.

    • Agree! Astute oberservation. He treated her “like one of the boys”…but a big, important, talented boy in whom he has great faith. Liked!

      And, I liked how groovy Teddy looked. ;O)

    • I loved that scene too. He expects Peggy to do well, gives her the oportunity to do so, gives her the freedom to do that which she does best, and let’s her fly with it,,,what a great work environment.

    • I liked that scene too. Ted treated Peggy like a colleague and I loved how the copywriters took her dressing them down. Finally we saw the red suit. I loved Don and Peggy’s scene in the theatre, it could have seen contrived but they do both go there.

    • Did anyone else see a connection between Ted’s “Smoke it. Name it. Sell it.” and the Popsicle account tagline of Break it. Share it. Love it? (I think that was it.) That line just jumped out at me and it’s been nagging at me since watching last night. Popsicle was a big step for Pegs and I have to wonder if this is a nod at that.

      • Or Charleston Chew’s “Freeze it! Crack It!” Mmm, frozen Charleston Chew… The ultimate summer by the pool treat! Great observation on your part.

      • Nice observation! Sounds like he knew her work, and was making a complimentary gesture.

      • The pack of cigarettes is smaller than a typical pack….. is going to travel to Richmond, Virginia to see the factory. Sort of gives it away that Peggy itogging to come up with “Virginia Slims”!!

  4. So fun, also, to think about the season five poster’s tie to the entire season. At this point, I think it’s tied to three of the pivotal relationships of the season: Don & Megan, Don & Peggy, and Don & Joan. Each one speaks to a different segment of life.

    • I also think you can see the naked mannequin as Joan and the seated man in the bathrobe as the Jag guy, with Don looking on in a pained way–vaguely seeing himself reflected and not liking the way things worked out.

  5. Not sure how fully formed my recap is, because it’s hard to do an episode recap without looking at the season as a whole and tease out some themes, but here it is:

  6. I wonder if Rich received a lot of questions, both serious and joking, about the future of the series; I can’t imagine he did, though, with this crowd. I’ll tell ya, though, I’m pretty sure the entire cast and crew deserve awards for the incredibly delicate way they deal with those questions. I never fail to be amazed at how they all manage to discuss themes and events without discussing ANY particulars of future possible plot turns. Hats off to Rich Sommer (and his wife, yes?) for attending the party last night and therefore taking the risk of facing those questions.

  7. Was so hoping that the scene in the train car would end with a lineup of people waiting to take a shot at Pete Campbell like in Airplane

  8. I can not stand Megan anymore.

    • I just don’t see how anyone can defend the character or her actions at this point. How the hell does one get so goddamned entitled?

      • Some pretty girls just are like this. They were “special” where they came from and believe that they will be special every place they go.

        • Some people in general are like this, and it’s been like that for a long time.

          Anyone remember the Daniel Radcliffe-hosted SNL sketch that was a talk show dedicated to the measly efforts of young people (tap-dancing while doing Chinese calligraphy, juggling bowling pins)? “No one can say anything bad about me because I tried.” Lord, did I laugh hard at that sketch. We ALL know someone like that.

          • Funny how many of us see Megan so completely differently than how MW talks about her. MW says Don, upon watching Megan’s screen test, recognizes her talent and that the advertiser wouldn’t be doing him a favor by giving Megan an audition, but that he’d be doing them a favor by introducing her to them. And, also, not that Don walked away on her phoniness, but that he realized he’s lost her. Which was why the “are you alone” question lead to the long stare. He wasn’t considering taking either of the women up on what they were offering, but “am I, ultimately, alone.”

            I’m one who thinks Megan is essential to Don finally growing up. I think she has an emotional intelligence he never will and that her clarity about what she needs in the relationship is what it takes to make any relationship work long term. After all, how far did being beautiful and compliant get Betty?

          • Karen, I also find it funny that most fans/MM watchers see Megan so differently than Matt appears to. But my take on the disconnect is different than yours.

            MW had an intention for Megan the character and Jessica Pare the actress who plays the part. IMO he picked the wrong person for this role, and if he had chosen someone else, the reaction to Megan may have been dramatically different.

            Megan never owned the role. And the role as written didn’t fit Jessica the actress.

            MW may have wanted Megan the character to embody the “modern woman” but she is so very far from that woman that she’s not even in the same universe. There is NOTHING about Megan (or Jessica who plays the role) that reminds me in any way, shape or form of the women I lived, worked and played amongst in NYC during the mid to late 60’s. Nothing. No thing.

            This is the one and only thing that MW has been totally tone deaf to in this whole series. It’s the difference between BEING a woman in the 1960’s and being a man in his 40’s doing research about women’s experience of living and working in the 1960’s. It’s a shame because it could have been written as such a great role, and there are many women who could have acted the hell out of that part.

            imo MW’s intention for this role and it’s impact on Don and the world of MM was not realized. AND was not realized in a HUGE way. I’m so surprised he continues to not see this. Listening to Matt talk about Megan or Megan and Don is like hearing someone say the sky is orange when you are in fact both staring at a blue sky.

            And why MW chose the same writers to write this finale as did last season’s finale when sooo many of his viewers really had an issue with that whole episode leaves me totally baffled.

          • Brooklyn Jan–Thank you for articulating exactly what I have felt about Megan the entire season. You have expressed perfectly the complete disconnect between MW’s ideation of Megan, the writing of her, Pare’s acting, and reality. I have NO idea how he is not picking up on the wealth of intelligent critique calling him out on this. But, hey, I guess he’s entitled to being tone deaf to one thing in the entirety of an amazing series. The sky is orange analogy–spot on. Exactly how I’ve felt after watching every Inside MM.

      • Disagree with Jasmine, but also with Karen and Jan. I believe the Megan character and the way Jessica has played her has been essential to developing the story line arcs and Don’s development as well as portraying one aspect ( but not all ) of the watershed period that was the mid 60s.

      • Agree! she has only been on a couple auditions and feels defeated and that she needs Don to get her a part. Actors can’t be that way. To say nothing of stealing the idea from her friend. You can see why Megan gave up for a while after she got the SCDP job. The red haired girl probably realized she didn’t need Megan putting her down from Park Ave anymore, this new friend won’t last. Megan and Pete are my new dream pairing for Mad Men. Both are incredibly entitled. Pete has always thought things should be handed to him.

    • Neither can Don.

      How about that long shot of him walking away from the set, leaving her in the fantasy? My take is that Don is done with her. She once had power in the relationship, which Don liked. Now she’s needy and emotionally unattractive to him.

      And then of course—the epic (and ambiguous) closing shot.

      • It was her mother that opened his eys to Megans true character.

        • I think the fact that she had the gall to ask knowing that it would put him in an awkward position with the client and had a look of pure bliss being made up on that set without any qualms as to how she got there was his real true rude awakening.

          • It has been boiling the last episodes.–

          • It was interesting how she told him that it was very hard for her to come to him in the first place even though her friend had asked her to help her get an audition. At first, I found it shitty that Megan backstabbed her friend but then I think there is alot of backstabbing going on between struggling actors/singers. Also, I’m not sure if she was even a close friend.

            I’m not in the Megan fan club nor am I in the I hate Megan club. I’m really on the fence with her. There are moments where she does the right thing and then there are moments where shes whiny and annoying.

          • Don didn’t have any problems promoting Megan to copy writer, an unearned position she received purely because she was his wife.
            His line about her being discovered was total hypocrisy. He
            can’t be honest and admit he doesn’t want her to be an actress.

        • I saw it the same way Pete and Hildegerd. Don sees her as a hapless child.
          Yes their was love and affection as he watched the film, but it reminded me of the movies my dad used to take of me in my ballerina days…I was a complete clutz, but they gave him tons of joy.

          As an aside, I noticed Megan hiding her smile with her lips in the test. I think it was in Tomorrow Land where Megan confided that her teeth were a hindrance to her getting parts. I thought that resonated with Don after all the teeth talk this episode. I thought Megan, dressed like up like a doll in the commercial was going to flash us a gleaming set of choppers.

          I don’t think Don will be able to resist the pleasure of a gorgeously groomed woman on this particular night.

        • I agree. Loathesome as Marie’s highlighting of Megan’s dashed acting hopes were, she is correct in telling Don Megan has the temperment of an artist, but lacking the talent of one.

          • That last look on Don’s face as he watched the audition. At first he was amused, then happy, then proud, but then there was the subtle vulnerable look that Megan gave that sent Don’s mind in doubt: is she real with me, or is she just acting? Has she played me all along? Along with his thoughts to Peggy, “You help them and they move along and succeed.” That seems to be on his mind as he walks across the big empty sound stage to a James Bond theme, ‘You Only Live Twice,” the real lines which were “You only live twice, once when you are born and once when you face death.”

      • I dont agree. I think he watched her tape and saw that she may actually be talented. If she was awful I dont think he would have pulled the strings to get her an audition. And that since he loves her he has to allow her to pursue acting knowing that, as she gets more parts, she will need him less and even not be home everyday. I think he walks away realizing that giving her this opportunity will be great for her in the short term but may be the death of their relationship in the long term. Does he keep her down so that she is unhappy but still with him or does he allow her to spread her wings (not legs), try to be a successful actor and take off with a new live? So when he is asked whether he is alone in the bar, he is realizing that he may be very soon.

      • …and the fact that he ordered an ‘Old fashioned’ – first line S1Ep1

        • His last words of the season, correct? That struck me, too.

          • Im glad you noticed it Miss Kim, in fact this resonated more than the visual that followed – it was Don reincarnated (another of those death/birth subtexts)

            In fact, when he was an alcoholic all he drank was Canadian Club (still have the image of Miss Blankenship staggering under the load of bottles) and interestingly a Canadian girl who finally puts a line in the sand in that chapter of his life…?

      • I think you are right. Don is astute in his own way and Megan is not subtle. She doesn’t show any solitcitiousness toward him. As soon as he got in the door she was asking him for things and she didn’t even bring him a drink until they finished that conversation. Whatever era we are in it is reasonable for the spouse who’s been at home all day to show a little more care for the one who gets in after a long day and isn’t feeling well.
        I think he has decided to give in to her because that is the easiest thing to do. There was nothing special about her work in that comerical, I thought she looked too old to play a fairy tale character. Don should get together with Trudy and leave Pete and Megan to themselves. Trudy is very supportive but has her own mind. She’s the best wife on the show

        • I’m with you,Anne. This morning, on the way to work it occured to me that Trudie and Don could be great together (if Don stays faithful, that is). Trudie seems to enjoy being a wife, mother and homemaker, and is one of the few women on the show who is not depressed. She is old fashioned enough for him, but in no way a pushover. Maybe she is the happy medium between ?Bets and Megan. Trudie would probably enjoy being married to a succesful,wealthy man and could probably give him some smart advice. We already know he likes her and we know she can handle him well enough…

        • One thing that has happened by the end of the this season: we have a lot more wives to compare Betty to, and very few of them seem to be happy, perfect stay-at-home wives. Trudy comes the closest, but what if Pete’s “buddy” from the train decides to spill the beans on Pete?

          • Ken’s wife…


            …seems if not happy – at least not unhappy – a suitable condition for a newlywed. Ken is probably the happiest guy in the firm – the partitioned Peggy Pact notwithstanding.

            “Mrs. Heinz” (who spilled the beans to Megan in the powder room) seemed happy to look forward to being Megan’s friend – but then, Megan resigned.

            (but then, she can still play the arm-candy role, as Betty did)

            Because Harry is unhappy, one can infer that his better half is not happy either.

            Roger’s first wife, Mona, seemed happy – hard to tell from a three-minute scene – and she’s no longer one of “the wives”.

            Yup, the Happy Wives clubs is small – Cynthia and Trudy.

            Loose Lips Sink Ships. Pete was pretty stupid about his post-tryst dealings with his fellow train-mate. That guy can do a lot more damage than a bloody lip.

            The writers have given Pete his cocoon – an aparment in the City – which will isolate him from his best (only?) friend in the world. This is not a good development.

        • Trudy is far too good for Pete. He really doesn’t deserve her. I’m not sure Don does either, but he’d sure be better than Pete. I suspect there would be a little too much alpha in a Don/Trudy relationship.

    • I was never Megan’s biggest fan, and I often thought she seemed “too good to be true” –not necessarily as a fault of the character, but as a writing issue. For a long time she seemed to effortless become what she was needed to be–but what was needed kept changing, yet she seemed to just shift.

      But I also get really uncomfortable when it seems like “Don’s women” have to either be placed on a pedestal or dragged down and criticized for every perceived moral failing.

      Why must we be so swift to judge the entire character–and to be so confident that some mistakes make people irredeamable? Why can’t this be the obvious panic and despair that comes with a long, unsuccessful job search? Don didn’t even interview for his current position–he got Rodger drunk and then just showed up for work. So is that why Don has no comprehension of the emotional rollercoasters Megan has been riding with each audition and failed attempt?

      For all the times Betty or Megan have been called childish, I think of plenty of examples of how Don, Rodger, Pete, and Lane acted childish. But I do not think either woman is 100% childish, they just aren’t given the same degree of leeway the men are.

      Look at Paul Kinsey!!! We laughed, we felt some sympathy. But did we completely write him off as morally flawed for all time and not deserving of love and support?

      It’s a double-standard.

      Don drives off from a Howard Johnson intentionally leaving his wife in the parking lot. Don spends months ignoring his real work so he can chase his wife into offices and get her to flash him. Don seems clueless as to how to emotionally support someone who is really stuggling with a job hunt.

      Petulant Pete hits on teens at driver’s ed, and “falls in love” with fantasy women. Beth was right–they didn’t know each other at all.

      Do I love Megan’s choices? No. Do I like her? Not realy sure about that.

      But I think there are more complicated things going on here. First–Emil (I think that’s her Dad) and Marie obviously have some issues. His cheating, his idealism, perhaps even Marie being jealous of affection he showered on Megan (and ignored Marie?). And Marie seems to be unhappy in some way that leads her to drink, be rather cutting (or realistic?) and to be less than supportive of Megan (though perhaps some would see this as tough love, while others see it as totally toxic.)

      But what I think is interesting is that Megan seems to have made her peace with the advertising world—until her dad shows up mid-season. She may not have loved every second of the ad world. She may not have thought it was her “dream job.” But she seemed okay about it. She was annoyed that Don didn’t really respect her role, and a little uncomfortable about some of the obvious awkwardnesses of being the boss’s wife.

      I don’t think Marie had any problem with Megan working at an ad agency or being married to an ad man. But Emil? He was upset. His ideals mad him very upset–or perhaps he wanted a man more like himself for his precious daughter.

      He chided her very emotionally. She hadn’t “earned it.” She needed to struggle. This wasn’t her dream. This wasn’t her true calling.

      And it was shortly after this that Megan threw in the towel and decided to try acting again. She had a decent job, and she was earning the recognition of those around her.

      I think Don actually started out thinking that Megan’s work was mostly to appease her–and he actually really started to enjoy having a Megan share his world. He seemed genuinely pleased and proud when she succeeded with Heinz. He never thought he wanted a working woman for a wife, and he never thought he wanted an advertising woman for a partner. Yet, he was surprised at how much he liked it.

      And it really hurt him to see her reject the advertising world. And he was right (a little bit) that she seemed to leave SCDP because it wasn’t “high art” or the stage. It was moneymaking.

      Anyway–I think some of Marie’s tough comments come from living for years and years with Emil’s ideals. Perhaps she knows exactly the kind of pressures Emil put on Megan. And perhaps she has always been a little frustrated and jealous of the father-daughter bond that gave Emil so much power to push Megan to be more like him — whether or not it was the best thing for Megan.

      In real marriages, couples hit big potholes. There are miscarriages, job losses, deaths of relatives, and changing interests and needs.

      I don’t think Marie’s comments were entirely off-base. She advised Don to “nurse her through this.” What does that really mean? I think you can view it cynically if you really don’t like Marie, but you can also view this positively. In a way, Marie was talking about REALLY BEING THERE for your spouse when they are facing a major challenge or defeat.

      This is very challenging. It means that you have to listen, try to hear what is going on, acknowledge the real pain (without brushing it off). At the same time–you cannot magically fix everything for your spouse.

      Don had a choice–to really walk into dark emotional places with Megan–the fear that she had no value as an actress, and therefore no value as a person. Don could have tried to be supportive. He could have reminded her of all the things he loved about her. He could have reminded her of all her successes–the successes that she was brushing off and minimizing.

      She is very bright and lovely. She impressed a lot of people in the ad world, and none of those skills went away. Being a successful actress isn’t just about ability, talent, and looks–a lot of it is dumb luck and who you know. She is a good step-mom to his children. She is beautiful. He loves her. She has intersting friends. She can sing.

      That was the time for Don to say “I will love you–whether or not you ever get an acting job. I will love you if you decide to keep trying, and I will love you if you decide to try something else.”

      I am still confused about the path Don chose–the path that involved Megan getting the commercial. One view is that he suddenly realized how much he loved Megan and he decided to “support” her. You can pretend that nobody knew she was his wife, that she was very talented, and that she completely earned this job. You can say–Don was really impressed by Megan’s clip and wanted to give her a chance. Or you can say “Don remember’s Betty–how she really wanted that Coke commercial, and he wanted to do what he could to keep Megan involved in things that make her happy.” You can say “everyone in that competitive acting world has to know somebody, and this is just the first step.” You can hope that Megan’s brilliant portrayal in this commercial earns her a bunch of other offers. You can hope that Don comes to love how much his wife loves this type of work, and that he respects her for it. That they both support each other and love each other.

      But if that is the way they are going, the choice to show Don walking out, walking away, walking to the bar, and the hot young women hitting on him (with no instand “I’m married response)–the ending seems off if that is the way you want to go.

      It is possible that Megan is good–she just needed to get her foot in the door. Don didn’t arrange her whole career, he just helped her get noticed.

      But Don doesn’t seem to want a model/actress wife. He didn’t want that in Betty, and he doesn’t seem to want that in Megan. The odd thing is that he cannot seem to openly discuss that with either Betty or Megan.

      Perhaps he felt the sting–a couple of months ago, ad work wasn’t good enough because it wasn’t art. Now –suddenly–ad work was “great” as long as she was “acting” by looking beautiful and having her photograph taken. It may have seemed too much like Betty.

      But another possibility is that Megan really isn’t that great at acting, and rather than letting Megan discover her own truth, face her own failure, pick herself up and make realistic choices about moving on—instead of nursing her through a REAL life struggle, Don pulled some strings to make her happy in a way that was not earned.

      And if she didn’t earn this commercial–will she be able to earn other commercials? Other parts? If she really is good, she won’t need Don’s help anymore. But if she isn’t–will she come back asking again and again? Will he need to start finding her just enough?

      Don took advantage of the accident in Korea to switch dog tags. Don took advantage of Rodger’s drinking to land the job at SC. In the end, he was good at what he did.

      If Megan turns out to be “good enough” after this first bit of assistance, it will be one thing. But if she isn’t that great, it could get really awkward.

      Last season, Don told Peggy that he saw Peggy’s spark in Megan. I think Peggy must have wondered, if it was my spark you liked, what was so wrong with the real me? The closeness they shared in “The Suitcase” was shrugged off and packed away. Don left Peggy to manage the office, while he went on love leave.

      Perhaps he believed Megan had hot looks like Betty but she also had the spark and abilities of Peggy.

      But in the end Peggy and her spark left Don. And the part of Megan that reminded Don of Peggy also left and went away. Don now feels he is stuck with another Betty.

      Personally, I think that getting Megan the shoe gig was easier for Don than “nursing Megan” through a defeat. He is better at being open to Megan’s love, but he is not very good at understanding the pains, struggles, and challenges of other people. He is not good at being supportive in real ways.

      He gave Adam money–when Adam wanted a relationship. He took Rebecca money, when what she wanted was her husband to be alive. He gave Allison a nice bonus when she wanted him to treat her more like a real person. He threw money in Peggy’s face, when she wanted some sort of acknowledgment of her role. He offered Lane money to make his debt up to the firm, but he didn’t acknowledge the emotional need Lane had for some sort of recognition of all that Lane had thrown into the firm–money, time, and energy that Lane didn’t have in the end.

      So this job–it isn’t money. And Megan doesn’t really want it for the money. And it is impossible to tell if Don pulled strings or if the casting people caved because they knew Don was the boss.

      But one way to look at it is that Don threw his position around to avoid going into a deep, painful, honest relationship place with Megan–a scary place but a real place. On one level, Marie is right. Lots of girls want to be actresses, singers, ballerinas….but few succeed professionally.

      We won’t know until next season if Megan is really any good. We won’t know if Don’s choice to walk away–was that because he felt he’d tainted things by getting a not-so-talented wife a job? Or because he doesn’t really know how to support talented women? Or because he thought it was too much like Betty?

      We don’t know for sure that Don has started cheating again. But a very, very strong hint was given in that direction.

      I think that Don wanted to believe it was “the woman” that made him cheat. If Megan was perfect and Betty was awful, then he could justify everything.

      But maybe Betty and Megan are both real women–with both assets and flaws. They aren’t perfect, like Don isn’t perfect.

      And maybe Don doesn’t really cheat because all the women in the world “fail” him. Maybe Don cheats, and he justifies his cheating on the fact that women aren’t perfect.

      • thank you for this post! It never ceases to amaze me that the overwhelming responses to this highly nuanced, complex, complicated vision of human nature and the specific era of our collective history end up sounding like “I hate Megan! I hate Betty! Serves her right! I knew she’d fail!” or “She’s perfect!” “She’s Don’s savior!” “She’s finally going to get what she wants!”

        Your response is refreshingly analytical, dense, and nuanced, likea meditation garden in the middle of a Chuck E. Cheese. Thank you for that, and for making allowances that the women on the show might be just as complex as the men.

      • Lady K, thank you for articulating a lot of my thoughts.

      • I thought all the audition stuff started when he and Megan were talking when she was in bed, a little drunk, and she said in effect, isn’t this what you want, me here at home, fixing you supper,etc. I believe Don looked into the future and saw a very unhappy, almost bitter wife who would hold him personally responsible for her lack of a career. I can’t tell you the number of women my age who say they wanted to be “fill in the blank” but their husbands did not want them to do that, or their kids would have had a fit/been in daycare/whatever, when in fact there was no way they could have been what they say they wanted to be.

        • I think he saw the weakness of her character. Dick/Don stole an identity to start a new life but he made it on his own. Megan lives in a dream world. She can still make dinner and go to auditions and classes. Like I said before she is entitled just like Pete. She married Don and got to be a copywriter and she thinks deciding to go back to acting means she will get parts right away.

          • She is still so young, I do believe you have to live through a lot before you develop a true understanding of what is involved with anything! How many of us thought having children would be work, yes, but how many of really understood what we were getting into? I didn’t and I had 15 years of working with children. I do think we all have “magical thinking” sometimes, as in how hard could it be to have two goats and make wonderful cheese and sell it at the farmers market? Never realizing how much work and dirty work at that, it would be. And sometimes you just have to have a goat roast and be done with it. Megan had no idea what time and effort would be involved in acting, not to mention sheer luck.

          • You are correct. Has Megan every had to work for anything ? Moved to NY, married a successful man, apartment on the upper east side, live of leisure. All by age 27. She wanted to be copywriter- bam she’s a copywriter. Wanted professional success- bam she landed Heinz and created a Cool Whip pitch. Now she wants to be an actress. Given her trajectory to date she has no reason to believe that acting success would take time. And when things didn’t immediately go her way, she leaned on Don- bam she’s in a commercial. The benefits of being beautiful, sexy and smart ?

        • In the reel he saw the “sad face” she has been using on him the entire time he did not do what she wanted him to, and together with what Marie said, he finally figured her out.

          So what did he do.

          He gave her what she wanted, in the same way he gave Betty what she wanted. And he walked away. In to his old ways.

          Their fairytale is ending. Finally.

          And why should he not do that? His new ways have not broiught him that much good. No we have the old fashioned Don back, with his mojo intact, because this brother is not creative when he is on love leave.

      • Hear, hear!

      • In my mind, the essential takeaways from the exploration and expression of the Don-Megan relationship in the season 5 finale are as follows:

        1) There is, as always in Mad Men, a great deal of ambiguity and tension running through these events and the inner workings of the characters involved. Season five leaves us with questions more than certainties.

        2) Megan is reduced to wanting work for a paycheck. There is a diminishment, if not an exhaustion, of passion for the work, of desire to do the work to advance noble ideals or give expression to something True and Beautiful. Megan’s self-loathing is so high and her confidence so low because there’s a part of her which realizes that “the struggle” has lost much of its romantic or revolutionary qualities. Yet, the alternative to abandoning the struggle is a home-bound boredom that is soul-crushing in a different way. She is utterly trapped, hemmed in by both per parents and by the two dimensions of Don: the one who is a provider/connection/insider and the one who is her spouse, the one who carries a strong set of expectations toward her, many of which have been unfulfilled.

        3) It’s not as though Betty was “content” to be a stay-at-home mom. Betty thought that’s what was expected of her, and she took her cues that way but at cost to her emotional well-being. With Megan, the trajectory is neatly – and strikingly – inverted. Megan established an appreciable degree of emotional separation from her parents and displayed a strong independence of mind, but as she goes along, she’s more affected (not less) by what her parents say. She didn’t luck into a photo-shoot gig the way Betty did, but she finds herself with the gig and trying to fight off boredom… not entirely unlike Betty. There’s a heavy dose of irony at work in Megan’s life/career trajectory, relative to Betty’s… and in Don’s realization of this reality, which is why the final scene of season five (after what was a largely forgettable episode, it should be said) struck the perfect chord of ambiguity.

        • “Megan is reduced to wanting work for a paycheck.”

          Well, join the rest of us working stiffs.

          This episode planted the seeds of satisfaction for Megan – as an advertizing professional.

          Topaz misses that feminine touch? Give ’em Megan.

          As a part-timer or even free-lancer, and with her “break”, she can pursue non-SCDP on-camera work as an advertizing actress.

          She may even choose to stop pursuing stage and film roles preferring steady work.

          • Megan does not have to work for a paycheck. That was clearly pointed out by Don, not to mention the apt, clothes and really great jewelry. The lack of need has got effect how you view things. And effect how you see yourself.

          • Donna,

            Needs and wants are too often mistaken for the other.

            No doubt you are right that having ones needs addressed affects ones POV and attitude. Therein lies part of Megan’s dissatisfaction.

            Mzemek was careful to say that Megan *wants* a paycheck. Any of us close-watchers swim against the tide when we hope for our Mad (Wo)Men to be happy – the writers only occasionally dole out shreds of satisfaction.

            We will see if Megan finds come self-worth in any aspect of the ad game.

  9. sorry i missed the party. Random thoughts and thought starters.

    I wanted to go to the top of the Chysler uiding. In the 80s. Took elevator straight up to…a dnetis office. They let me look out the window.

    Doubles: the friend who wanted the Butler Shoe gig and the blond who hits on Don at the end.

    Campbell Residence illustration: two kids in the pool — Trudys embellishment

    “Put me on your call list”. Peggy has an interesting encouter last tiime she cleared the cobwebs in a theatre.

    Line of the show ” You should never have filled a man like that with ambition!”

    She also says that Lane paid far more than his own money to come up with the fifty. Borrowed? From her family? Upon death his shares are worthless?

    Beaty and Beast: It’s about our real selves transcending our animal nature. Written by a french woman, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740

    Jean Cocteau once said that, “history consists of truths which in the end turn into lies, while myth consists of lies which finally turn into truths.” The house of the Beast is irrefutably the devil’s house. Despite his bestial character, his demeanor towards beauty is uniformly chivalrous, reflecting an old tradition which says, “The devil is always a gentleman.”

    So if the Beast is emblematic of Satan, who then is Beauty? Answer: a Christ figure. Beauty, in contrast, remains pure, and is the true servant of her father. When a handsome young man asks her to marry him, she refuses, saying:, “I prefer to remain in my father’s house.”

    The magic mirror is a favorite device of Cocteau’s. The mirror represents the other, the opposite, and Cocteau sometimes employs it as a gateway to other worlds – specifically, the Underworld. In this film, the magic mirror is said to reflect one’s true nature.

    • Everyone is going to come up with a better line of the week than I did this week. I was far too tired when I came home!

      • The line of the week to me was so obviously “Not every little girl gets to do what she wants, because the world can’t support that many ballerinas.”

        • I loved that line. I adored Marie this week. Everything she said to Megan resonated with me. I also loved how she handled Roger and Don. She’s no babysitter Boys.

          • Yes DD. She’s an older version of our Joanie.

            Her lines to Megan and Don reminded me of Joan’s line to Greg about being tired of trying to make him feel like a man.

          • Marie is a holy monster – I love the way she handles men, especially Roger, but she’s rather awful towards her own daughter. She has no maternal instinct at all, in my opinion.

          • I made it through half of last nights encore. I watched the scene where Megan was still in bed at noon closely. Marie approached her kindly and gently felt her forehead for fever. It was cool, and she new Megan was just feeling sorry for herself, she spoke her mind. Her words were harsh but true. The equivalent of a slap, so to speak.

          • I loved this scene between the two of them, and it reminded me of earlier in the season when Peggy tries to win her mother’s approval for moving in with Abe. Both daughters are seeking blind acceptance from their respective mothers, and both mothers deliver a message about the realities of life in a harsh manner. Both Peggy and Megan whine that they are not being supported for their decisions without realizing that each has been given some very valuable advice. Motherhood isn’t always about coddling, especially when the kid is full grown adult.

          • I loved “fortunately my children are not my life” right after she told Megan she should have children. It made perfect sense.

          • So grateful to you, Munkykayse, for drawing the parallel between Mama Calvet and Mama Olson. I think TV shows set in contemporary times have a lot more coddling of adult daughters; so to see these mothers play it straight and point out problems bluntly is a bit refreshing. Both of them are not afraid to say, “Maybe you’re not doing the right thing. Maybe you should have doubts. Maybe you aren’t appreciating what it took for you to get here and what you have because of it.”

        • Yes, my favorite line too!

          • I also thought it was cool how Marie so cooly rebuffed Don when he tried to jump down her throat for leaving Megan alone to get drunk. Her message was bascially please child, I didn’t come all the way to NYC to babysit your wife, but since I’m nice I’ll give you a hint as to how to wean her off her pacifier..

            I’ll say it again: I like Roger and Marie as a couple. More of them, please. She’ll humor his charming ways but also keep him on his toes. About time Roger started going for someone in his own age bracket.

      • I dont remember the exact wording but it was when Don spoke about helping people. I think it was pivotal to how Don sees Megan and Peggy.

      • Best line to me, hands down, was right after Pete left the partners’ meeting saying Don had his proxy.. Don:” I didn’t know we could do that.”

        I busted up.

    • “She also says that Lane paid far more than his own money to come up with the fifty.”

      I interpreted this to mean he put his heart and soul into the company, and paid for it with his life.

      • When Joan reported that the quarter earnings were up, part of me wondered if there was a direct correlation to Lane being gone — after all, Don had asked him “is this the only (forged check)?”, and Lane didn’t answer. I wonder how much he DID fleece before he got caught.

        • Wouldn’t it also be true if quarter earnings were up — due to the loss of the payroll of Lane?

          • Good point, but even Joan seemed boggled by the amounts.

          • And Peggy… 2 paychecks gone.

          • Could it be due to the extended line of credit? Does the board know about that yet?

          • Only several weeks had passed since Lane’s death. I find it incredible that there was such an uptick in revenues and it was not noticed or commented upon by Lane,

          • I would have to watch the first episode again to confirm, but during the scene where Lane is going over the accounts w/ Joan and he’s projecting when SCDP is expected to receive payments, and everything is pushed out later in the year into next year (1967) I believe. Could be they are now receiving the windfall for all the work done in the previous year. I don’t think Lane & Peggy no longer being on the payroll is enough to deliver their best quarter ever.

        • I think that clients finally paid their bills. The problem during the later part of 66, and Lane’s rationale when meeting with the firm’s banker was that clients were taking longer to pay. By spring 67, the clients had paid their bills. Also the first payments from Jaguar would be coming in as well.

          • Also, Mohawk returned post-strike. Probably, they’re payments started kicking in.

    • “Put me on your call list”…Noooooooooooooooooooo! Please Matt Weiner, do not have Peggy give Don a handjob. Please.

      • The Pegs hand job was subtext – providing satisfaction to ‘somebody’ as other basketcases noted – no kissing, hand job performed and

        CUT TO: Pegs washing her hands at the basin – clinical

  10. Love your observation about Joan, and I had the same reaction. It’s one thing for the partners (most of them, anyway) to treat her like a prostitute, but it’s heartbreaking to think she would slip into thinking about herself that way. And Lane didn’t think of her that way. He felt more than that.

    • I don’t think she did think of herself that way regarding Lane. She knows he had genuine feelings for her and has guilt, thinking if she only returned his feelings, he would be alive today. Of course, this isn’t true, but she does not know about the pilfered money, no one does except Don (and maybe, MAYBE, Burt) or his general malease. I have never lost anyone to suicide, but I understand that this kind of guilt and self doubt is common among those left behind.

      • I agree with you kturk. She may have just wished she had chatted with him instead of sending him away. People think of all sorts of things they wished they had done differently when they are grieving a suicide

      • Guilt is a usual part of grief, and in the situations where my friends have lost someone to suicide, they always asked themselves ‘why?’. Joan’s response is ringing true here.

  11. Loved the shot of roger standing there, tripping-awsome!
    Did Don go to see the dentist only after Joan told him to?
    As usual, I did not particularly enjoy following the “Megan wants to an actress” storyline.
    Trudie Campbell deserves better than that little bastard,Pete. I think she could have gotten more focous and made an interesting character to follow. Maybe season 6?

    • So long as it doesn’t interfere with her community college attendance, I’m fine with Trudy getting more face time. :-p

    • I wish AMC had posted the buttcheek shot of Roger on site, I would have downloaded it and used it for my wallpaper.

      • John has a nice little ass. His wife is a lucky woman.

      • That really should have been the poster for Season 5!

      • It is quite possible that Slattery’s rump could bring world peace…

      • “I would have downloaded (the buttcheek shot of Roger) and used it for my wallpaper.”

        I hope you mean at home! That would be definitely not-suitable-for-work.

        On a totally trivial note, that shot bookended the season somewhat.

        Recall that we were introduced, in episode one, to Roger’s son Kevin with a posterior close up.

        • Your comparison of the bookends (ends! ha ha!) of Roger’s kid’s butt starting the season and Roger’s butt ending (end! ha ha!) it is hilarious! I love it!

        • Good observation!

      • John Slattery is a silver fox. We lucked out with seeing him in the bathtub this season also

    • I wish Trudie would agree to move back to the city and let Tammy play in Central Park. I thought that was what she was going to say when she spoke to him. Pete getting an apartment is asking for even more trouble.

  12. The tooth!

    Throughout the episode, Don has this sore tooth – he tries remedy after remedy but finally relents and goes to the dentist to get it pulled.

    I see the tooth is a metaphor for Don’s fidelity. He’s resisted cheating on Megan throughout the season – by the end of last night’s episode, it was time to pull that tooth. I’m guessing he said “yes”.

    • I did realize that both times he and Megan had their ‘flare-ups’ (when she asked for the job and when he put her to bed drunk) he grimaced in pain. Lol. I remember when this show used to be subtle.

      • Yes…it’s had a bad case of shouting the themes from the rooftops this season. I personally preferred it when they delivered them with a whisper.

        • Thank you, SFCaramia. Damn it feels good to see your thoughts expressed, by someone so insightful. Where was the subtlety, in the midst of all that subtext. Superficial, snobbish thought on my part, but the command of the stories seemed to be cast away in favor of big gestures, preening, it just seemed LOUD.
          I’d prefer to have my chamber piece back. If I want rock n’ fool I’ll for Breaking Bad to come July 15.

    • Now I’m wondering if Megan *is* the tooth – her face is so defined by her choppers. Don is finally getting it extracted!

    • I echo the desire expressed by others to have themes conveyed with far more subtlety and nuance. That said, I think Don’s toothache as reflective of the more central problem in his life: That he can avoid facing up to his problems and the expectations that play a large part in perpetuating them.

      What season five unpacked was the extent to which Don wanted Megan to fit a certain role and mold in his life. She hasn’t met Don’s expectations, and as a result, he feels so distant from her, looking at her in the film room the way he looked at Betty in The Carousel – longing for something that either once was (and is consigned to the past) or never truly existed.

  13. Was the blond a double? My imagination got the best of me and I thought that WAS Megan’s friend…retaliating for her cheap trick. DD (image) would not be unknown to her and Megan may have mentioned his usual haunts.

    • I also thought it was Megan’s friend.
      Anyone know for certain?

      • It was not the same girl.

        • No and for a moment (had to watch the second go-round) it was not Megan all dolled up at the end of the bar pretending to pick him up – call back to both The Jet Set where Don was seeing Betty everywhere in California and echoes of Betty and Don in Italy.

      • I just re-watched and I’m almost posative that’s not the same girl. They are so similar looking, that could not be a coincidence.

    • She looked like a generic Playboy Playmate of the mid-60s. How could Don turn down the offer of her and her friend?

      Likely noted in the comments – but her leaning over to have Don light her cig – compared to Peggy, earlier, wondering “Would she light her own cigarette?”

    • Laugh if you want, but I thought the girl was megan in a blonde wig.

    • I got a very strong Sharon Tate vibe from the girl in the bar; less of one from Megan’s friend Emily, who sounded as if English were her second language.

      • I also thought the girl at the bar looked a lot like actress Heather Graham, and for a second I thought it was her.

        Since people were speculating about if the two (girl at the bar and Megan’s friend) could have been the same person, I watched the episode again last night and paid close attention to both of them. Definitely not the same person–they did have a resemblance, but also had some difference in their facial features (particularly the nose) and their bone structure.

  14. Had to say I loved Roger’s ass. Just delicious! 😉

    And I hope Nancy Sinatra checks in here – can’t wait to read her comments on her website upon hearing it!

    (ps – 3 thoughts re: the blonde at the bar at the end…one, she wanted to get even for not getting the commercial…two, she thought “hmm..the only way to get a shot is to sleep with Don so I’ll try it too”…or three, she didn’t know it was Don…any one of those options, or more, will keep me saying ‘hmmm’ all year!)

  15. At what point does Roger chuck it all, move upstate to the Woodstock area and start hanging out at Big Pink?

    • More likely that he’d move to Big Sur and lead a group of searchers for the true meaning of life … all the while being sure to have a few hippie chicks at his beck and call.

  16. This season, the show has come full’s back to Mad Men normal….peggy is alone, in bed not getting any..Roger is finally free and back as a player…Pete is getting no respect and getting his butt kicked….Don is back at the bar being propositioned (and that look he gave was a “yes” )…the company is back on track and expanding…and guess who is back running the company…

    Two lines say it all: “Are you alone” and the answer is yes…we were reminded about his brother, his friend in CA, his ex, his kids, now Megan…yes, he is alone. How many men feel they are “alone” when facing the world.

    Second: “When you help someone become successful, they move on” Don had this ache, this pain, mostly when Megan was around….and it needed extraction. It was…Megan is on her own.

    Anyway…good year.

    • Loved the Megan/tooth analogy.

    • He is not alone. He thinks he’s alone. There’s a difference. Remember what Anna told him in her tarot reading in The Mountain King:

      Anna Draper (points to the World card) : This is the one.
      Don Draper/Dick Whitman : Who’s she?
      Anna Draper: Shes the soul of the world. She’s in a very important spot here. This is you; what you are bringing to the reading. She says you are part of the world. Air, water, every living thing is connected to you.
      Don Draper/Dick Whitman: It’s a nice thought.
      Anna Draper: It is.
      Don Draper/Dick Whitman: What does it mean?
      Anna Draper: It means the only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.
      Don Draper/Dick Whitman: What if it’s true?
      Anna Draper: Then you can change.
      Don Draper/Dick Whitman: People don’t change.
      Anna Draper: I think she stands for wisdom. Once you live, you learn things.

      Has Don learned anything?

      • I think in some cases that Don has learned that even if he believes he’s alone, he cannot continue to act alone. People are no longer waiting on his word or his approval to move forward on important decisions; if they do, it’s out of respect and not necessity.

        Also, I hope Don isn’t on his way to cheating at the end of this episode. The second (technically third) divorce should be easier, yes?

      • He’s a slow study, lol. I do think he is learning as he goes along. I am one (apparently in the minority) who feel that Don is not walking away from Megan, or she from him. He has simply, finally, accepted that she is not an extension of him, that she wants something other than just being a wife and always had and he knew that when he married her. It’s not the money – and I congratulate him on NOT bringing up the fact he could give her any amount of money she wanted if that was the point of her acting. It’s not and he realizes it. After all HE has no real need to work for money either; he could walk away with enough to take care of their needs without ever delivering another pitch in his life. But it’s the chase, the nailing the delivery of the pitch, getting the client that satisfies. It’s the work, not the money – and Megan is exactly the same. It was a difficult concept for men of the period to wrap their heads around. Even younger men are puzzled, with Michael commenting in wonderment on how Megan gets to come and go as she pleases, with Pete in exasperation asking Harry, why do THEY get to decide things.

        • Its an impossible concept now. The only thing I can understand is this. If you can stay off the push-pull power dynamic, and just go along for the ride, you’ll be fine. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Melville – If you’re interested, I just wrote an overly long, overly opinionated answer that addresses this question on the Open Thread (#226). When I started writing the Recap didn’t appear to be open for comments yet. Probably ashe_phoenix and Floretta won’t think much of it though since their thoughts are quite different.

        By the way, are you Melville as in Herman?

        • Went back and read Post #226. Can’t say I disagree, but then I’ve never quite “gotten” Megan. I’ve never hated her, but there always seemed something off to me, so I tend to agree with the more negative posts about her.

          My question, though, is, no matter who Megan turns out to be, has Don grown enough that he realizes that he’s still connected to the world, to other people, even if Megan has let him down?

          And yes, The Divine Herman is my hero!

          • Melville – Your question in the second paragraph here unfortunately is unanswerable. We’ll just have to wait and see.

            Herman M. became my favorite writer in middle-age. I couldn’t get through Moby Dick as a college student, but I truly was knocked out by it when I listened to Frank Muller reading it for Books on Tape. I discovered what a great sense of humor Melville had partially from Muller’s wonderful intonation. (Muller did the same thing for me when I listened to his reading of Lolita – very funny book it turns out as well.) But Moby Dick just knocked my socks off. What a masterpiece. So I commend you for your good taste.

          • Melville:

            Very astute insights, and your question IS certainly one of the two or three foremost questions Don must address at a deeper level. (For me, the other big Don question is: “Can Don allow Megan or anyone else to live on their own terms – not only by letting others sort out their own pursuits of happiness, but in conveying full and unreserved emotional support to them?”)

            Just to magnify (and re-shape) your remarks a little bit, I’d like to offer this thought: Being alone is, essentially, feeling alone. People can be surrounded and yet “be” alone. The alone-ness emerges in the mind, in times when one’s worldview or wavelength is not shared by anyone. It is indeed a mistake on Don’s part to believe that he is alone, but I think that in season five – compared to the previous four seasons – this belief is more the RESULT of his behavior than the CAUSE of it. This is an important distinction to make.

            In seasons 1-4, Don’s belief that he was alone led to his philandering and such. In season five, it’s different: Don’s internal expectations led him to think that his actions (and his life with Megan) could take him to a different mental world, into a different psychological state. He sees, though, that for all the ways in which he has changed – for all the cheating he has (temporarily) ceased to engage in – his psyche hasn’t. Therefore, his belief that he is alone is that much stronger, in my opinion.

            The scene with Peggy in the movie theater is so perfect because Peggy is the one person whom Don understands – and is understood by – on a very deep level. Don’s line about enabling people to succeed and then allowing them to move on is not entirely true, given all the times Don smacked down or ignored Peggy over the years; however, it’s still substantially true – Don was Peggy’s foremost mentor and gave her a chance to flourish in this business. If Don could take his attitude to Peggy and apply it to everyone else, he’d be in great shape, but of course, no one else is quite like Peggy.

            I think one can see from this episode that the head space and thoughtful attention Don denied Peggy this season were devoted to Megan instead. Yet, amidst turmoil in his relationships with both women, Don is much more able (and willing) to allow Peggy to be happy on her own terms, compared to Megan. Why is this so? The answer deserves a stand-alone essay, but the short version is that Peggy is someone who has met Don’s internal expectations. She’s doing the things Don has always envisioned her as doing (and has needed to do) ever since she caught Don’s attention. Megan – on more layers than previously shown – definitively revealed in the season five finale just how fully her life path has veered from Don’s expectations and hopes. Don didn’t want another Betty, but this feels all so familiar, albeit with some underlying differences.

            It sets up a fascinating season six.

      • Melville,

        Great comment! Regarding “Has Don learned anything?” it may go back to Beth’s EST. Beth makes mistakes, gets depressed, gets EST, forgets her recent past, and then (according to Howard) repeats those same mistakes. Perhaps Don does the same thing with his “My life goes in only one direction and that’s forward.” Don married Betty after barely knowing her, was taken in by her superficial qualities, and in a couple of years realized his mistake (and started his long term affair w/Midge). Don might have repeated the same mistake w/Megan.

    • OOh, and the blonde’s query, “are you alone?” reminds me of Ana’s admonition to Don, seasons back, that the only thing keeping him from feeling happy is the belief that he is alone.


  17. Episode 513, The Phantom communicated many things and here are 10 random thoughts which it dealt with:

    1) From the two guys at Topaz pantyhose: They provide a client perspective in that Peggy Olson provided a female element to SCDP that the firm has NOT yet replaced. It’s similar to an objective sports reporter calling attention to a basketball team who is no longer able to put up as many points on the board due to a depletion of talent. I believe if not corrected, this lack of a female presence will reverberate in a loss of business and firms with female copywriters like CGC (Peggy Olson) being able to woo these clients away from SCDP eventually. Without a female presence in its copywriting department, SCDP will revert to its male roots and male PHANTOM way of thinking, which imho is a poor fit for an America who will be hearing about the Women’s Liberation Movement on a daily basis at the end of the 1960’s and dealing with firms who are sensitive to what is happening on the ground. It’s dog eat dog in the advertising industry. You’re always looking for an edge. Firms like CGC now have it.

    2) According to Bert Cooper by way of Joan Harris, SCDP had its best quarter ever (Jan 1 1967–March 30 1967) with revenues up by 34% from the previous quarter. Could this information be a Potemkin village or a PHANTOM result and portend the possibility that the partners will overlook their apparent weakness now in its copywriting department and let the wound fester. That’s similar to a team’s general manager ignoring the fact that his team is not as good as it once was talent wise because the team continues to win consistently. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. How often have we seen in sports where a team’s demise happens all at once over one season because a team lost too much talent due to retirement, being traded away, or players signing with some other team in free agency and it was NOT replaced adequately. Is the expansion of SCDP to new office digs justified? Can the growth or expansion of SCDP be sustained for the rest of 1967 and perhaps 1968 given there is no longer a female copywriter on staff or that Peggy’s talents have not been replaced with anyone of comparable talent?

    And by the beginning of season six will the firm continue to rest on its laurels that it did better than survive in season five where it was “every man for himself” and maintain the status quo or will the partners decide to do the prudent thing and launch a search for a female copywriter in order to better compete in a rapidly changing advertising environment? Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.

    3) I am NOT an expert in electroshock treatment but the fact that Beth Hewes has undergone the treatment before to set in motion a tabula rasa or to wipe the slate clean and later still becomes blue eventually (her words) tells me it is only a short-term, stopgap measure and not a permanent solution. Did anyone get the feeling that Pete was trying to play the role of rescuer to save Beth, the role in the series usually reserved for Don by offering to take her to LA? And by rejecting Pete’s offer, was Beth essentially telling Pete she did not wish to be rescued or did not feel the need to be rescued but would instead continue to delude herself in the hope that the PHANTOM shock therapy may not wear off next time. And symbolically or realistically isn’t the desire to permanently wipe away everything tormenting in one’s past which causes one to become presently sad or depressed really a mug’s game, full of self-delusion with PHANTOM overtones?

    As for Pete, he tells Beth in the hospital about his pain and the PHANTOM nature of putting “a temporary bandage on a permanent wound.” Unlike Beth, Pete realizes his time with Beth or time pursuing any future sexual conquest will NOT permanently alleviate his pain. PHANTOM solutions never solve any problem permanently.

    4) Ted Chaough asks Peggy if she smokes. She says no. He then arbitrarily tells her she does now. I call this PHANTOM thinking. It is similar to when totalitarian governments try to convince or browbeat its citizens to figuratively believe the sky is yellow while they are convinced that it is still blue. Can you imagine Don Draper telling Peggy she has to take up smoking or change her personal habits to work on an account? I’m surprised more posters have not commented on Ted’s imperious manner to Peggy and how anti-American or at least unfair his attitude to shape Peggy in his image or the firm’s image really is. “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

    5) Marie Calvet mentions that Easter weekend is approaching. For me overall the episode had a lot more to do with the pain and suffering accompanying Good Friday than any allusion to the Resurrection. Was Marie’s visit to the Draper apartment a PHANTOM visit, in that Marie wittingly or unwittingly did a lot more to bring Megan’s spirits down than to lift her up and to encourage her? Megan did mention that Marie treats strangers who she does not love better than she treats her own daughter and proves her love for her daughter by criticizing her incessantly. And to add insult to injury earlier Emily tells Megan, “She’s so elegant and encouraging. Emily has fallen for the PHANTOM reality.

    And generally are Megan’s parents PHANTOM presences in her life who have the power to continually erode any confidence she possesses or cause her to make decisions (the desire to leave advertising to pursue acting) that she might not normally make, especially when they are in her presence? Are they Megan’s Achilles’ heel?

    6) When Don told Megan that she should want to be someone’s discovery rather than her success being based on being someone’s wife (surprising a very enlightened, modern comment by Don) and Megan then acknowledged she knew he was right, Megan was then in a healthy spot. But then later in the episode when drunk she pleads to Don to help her out of her “sad” predicament of not being yet discovered which he does out of love for her. Megan has been portrayed by Matt Weiner as a modern independent prototypical woman of the late 1960’s who wants to succeed by her own devices but is her depiction in Mad Men really a PHANTOM reality? Why has Megan not gone all the way and followed every piece of her father’s advice? He not only advised Megan to pursue acting again but “to embrace the struggle” and to remove herself from the largesse of a husband who has corrupted her through his pursuit of an exquisitely decadent lifestyle. Does Megan have “the balls” to strike out on her own? Has she deluded herself to think she can make it on her own without the help of a man? Will Don’s nepotic assistance to Megan to help her land the commercial help cause her to rely even more on his infuence and leverage in the future?

    7) I love the Clint Eastwood line in one of the Dirty Harry movies that “A man has to know his limitations”. And then when you add in the line offered by Marie to Don after he has chewed Marie out for abandoning Megan when she was feeling low, Marie says this: “But this is what happens when you have the artistic temperament but you are NOT an artist.” And Marie had previously told Megan this is what happens “because you are chasing a PHANTOM.”

    And when you combine the two ideas, by taking the job advertising shoes, Megan may or may not be coming to terms with the idea she has limited talent. In other words, she may begin to gradually realize that she will never make it as a successful professional actress and will become yet another victim of The Peter Principle where one is not competent enough or qualified to perform well in acting but is competent and qualified to perform crass commercials. Remember the Cool-Whip skit in a previous episode. Will Megan settle for her lot in life and be content being a pitch woman for products (how ironic) or will she continue to seek a PHANTOM dream of “legitimate acting glory” which has no or little basis in reality due her lack of talent or abilities, at least currently.

    Or will Megan finally wake up to her God-given creative talent (during pillow talk when Megan told Don she wanted to pursue acting, Don told her she doesn’t get to decide where her talents lie and told her what she did with Heinz took him years to learn) and return to advertising where her talents and abilities will be far better utilized? I think we’ll find that out in season six.

    8) I know many posters consider the Don-Megan marriage as a PHANTOM marriage or relationship in that Don’s proposal was impulsive and that they did not know each other well enough to consider becoming husband and wife. Lest we forget, it was Columbus Day (around mid-October 1965) that Don and Megan took the kids to Disneyland and this most recent episode apparently took place just before Easter 1967 which was March 26 in that year. So Megan and Don have been together as a couple for almost 18 months. They are no longer newlyweds and one should think they would know each other pretty well by now, especially that they are a childless couple. Spending time with your step-children every other weekend is not the same as raising your own children and being responsible for them on a 24/7/365 basis.

    And some will also make the argument that Don’s love for Megan is a PHANTOM love based on his ideal image he has of her. And that once Megan shows her real colors, as many consider she did in this episode by getting drunk and becoming sad and depressed, Don may find he no longer loves her because the illusion of perfection is now shattered and that he now sees her for who she is. And from that premise they are led to believe that the 2nd Don Draper marriage is now all but over and that he will now cheat on Megan because he feels he is now alone. And Don will soon be on to wooing wife #3.

    And that takes us back to what Anna told Don in the Mountain King: “It means the only thing keeping you from being happy is your feeling you are alone.” Don believes it is so. Anna tells him he can change. And Don responds: “People don’t change.” Will Don revert to his PHANTOM belief that he is alone (again) and revert back to his old patterns of sexual dalliances or will he acknowledge Megan’s new reality and continue to accept the idea she still loves him and with that abiding love he is not alone. Can Don’s love for Megan mature or will he bail from his marriage at the first opportunity? We’ll see in season six.

    9) When Don visits Rebecca to give her $50,000 which was Lane’s contribution as a junior partner to keeping the firm afloat after Lucky Strike pulled the rug out from under SCDP she tells Don, “You had no right to fill a man like that with ambition.” Rebecca is implying that Lane was also a victim of The Peter Principle–great bureaucrat who could take and execute orders perfectly when told what to do but not partner material where he did NOT have the temperament or acumen to make good decisions on his own.

    Lane was seeking a PHANTOM occupational status that he was not suited. In addition Lane was seeking a PHANTOM existence in America where he could hide in plain sight and hide his true nature which the people in England were fully aware of.

    And we also know the $50,000 cheque cut by Joan to Rebecca Pryce was a PHANTOM decision concocted by Don to appease his conscience as well as trying in Megan’s words “to try to make things better.”

    10) And was Megan’s screen test an accurate portrayal of reality? Some folks claim that Don discovered or rediscovered her happy nature by watching her facial expressions which prompted him to change his mind and give her the gig to advertise in The Beauty and the Beast commercial? And others claim he was disgusted by her mannerisms and discovered her true nature which he had never acknowledged before. And then just before she was to do the shoot Megan tells Don, “You know I love you.” perhaps implying she would not have loved him if he did not agree to help her out.

    Was Don’s long walk away from the sound stage without looking back his way of believing her love for him was not legitimate and only based on his bank balance and that her love for him was a PHANTOM love or is Don telling himself that he should have known better not to delude himself about the existence of LOVE. After all it was Don in the very first episode of Mad Men who told Rachel Menken that LOVE was invented by ad men like himself to sell nylons.

    Will Don reject the idea of LOVE and pursue carnal pleasure and forget about how happy he has been over the last 18 months with Megan or will Don accept that Megan’s love for him is real and roll with the punches and continue to be in her corner? Time will tell.

    • “Can you imagine Don Draper telling Peggy she has to take up smoking or change her personal habits to work on an account?”

      Absolutely! How about Don telling everyone in Season 1 to wear Scholl shoe inserts while they were courting the account and then telling everyone to throw out their Scholl’s after they failed to deliver the account? When my firm tried to court clients, we always had their goods on display. Peggy’s a big girl…yeah, she’s come a long way baby.

      • It just shows me how far Peggy has NOT come. She still has a boss that is trying to define her– what she wears, what she does, even who she is (“you’re a smoker”). She still works with men that don’t know how to work with women, possibly don’t want to work with women. She wants Paris, whether for cologne or Hermes, but she gets Richmond.

        • I was about to say I don’t think you’re being fair to Peggy, but then I realized that you aren’t actually putting her down, just her circumstances. (How far she hasn’t come meaning = the culture that she works in and the people that she works for)

          Still, in a way I do think that maybe you’re not giving her enough credit. Sure, things aren’t perfect, but I as I wrote in a recent post, she shouldn’t expect perfection, just for things to be (somewhat) different. She wanted change. She wasn’t happy anymore at Don’s shop, and she wanted to move on and try a different environment. Peggy can’t control the people she works for–she can only control her own behavior and the way she responds to what they do. I’m sure she’ll have challenges working for Ted, just as she did when she worked for Don, but I don’t think she’ll be a doormat. She’s finding her way, slowly and surely, and becoming more and more assertive.

          It takes time and she’s still a twenty-something. Even the male copywriters (Ginsberg, for instance) aren’t in Shangri-La – they still have to report to a boss.

          As others have suggested, I think it’s possible that Mad Men ends with a story about Peggy opening up her own agency—or becoming a Creative Director.

          • I’m not putting her down. I find Peggy a tiring character (as I said elsewhere in the thread), but I think, in this case, she was equating different with BETTER. And yeah, in some ways, it may be better– money, title. But I wonder how she feels in the office. Did anyone resent Ted bringing in an outsider as chief instead of promoting within? Does anyone resent that she doesn’t have a college degree? Do they find it hard to see a woman as a superior?

            The guys definitely do have a boss to report to, but they aren’t making a change like she did.

          • Since the end of a season is a great time for speculation, I can imagine Peggy doing that very thing (opening up her own agency) when the series ends… on July 20, 1969. Conrad Hilton will somehow be involved, as Peggy tries to “give him the moon.”

            [“I wanted the moon, Don.”]

          • Perhaps, Linda, you were putting down Ted C.

            I read his interaction in this episode with Peggy as positive and respectful.

            Remember when he expertly pitched CGC to Peggy – saying her work reminded him of “Emerson’s Transparent Eyeball”. He was framing that same concept in the context of the matter at hand – the new cigarette for women – Virginia Slims (she even gets to name it!).

            For now anyway, Peggy is in a good spot.

        • But actually–Peggy did smoke prior to Ted walking in her office.

          Why would she lie to Ted about that? Was that something many women hid at the time (my guess)?

          Yet, lots of people can tell you smoke, even if you hide it.

          So I couldn’t tell if Ted was telling her what to be–or if he was calling her bluff because he’d seen her/smelled her smoking.

          • Lady K–we have seen Peggy smoke before, true, but it seems like she is a very occasional smoker–mostly in times of stress. Examples: calling Don to say that she needs bail money for someone associated with Sugarberry Ham, going to Joan’s office to talk about Don’s engagement (or to talk about how Abe needs to see her), etc.

    • I couldn’t read your full post, but the issue of EST with Beth really broke my heart. EST was a fairly common “treatment” used on women who deviated– lesbians, women who didn’t want children or marriages, women who had affairs, and on and on. Howard mentions that she’s “spread” for other men, so her abhorrent behavior “needs” correcting. EST was a brutal, difficult procedure, but it had certain “advantages” for those involved. It didn’t require (though it could accompany) long hours of talk therapy (so women weren’t taken away from the responsibilities at home). The side effects were much shorter and more predictable than drugs. And for a period, EST was a game changer– people really did forget. Whatever made them unhappy or anxious. Whatever made them stray or doubt. That Howard suggested it suggests this was as much about his desire for her to be the compliant good little wife who took pleasure in getting the whitest whites in her laundry and making a ham. She went along with it, and at some point even started to find it acceptable, because she was miserable in suburban cage, living with the “problem that didn’t have a name,” knowing that her husband didn’t think she was enough.

      With “Mystery Date” and “The Other Woman” this episode forms a triad of the brutality of the female experience– violence (often sexualized as in Speck and the reference to Joan’s rape), women as body or sex (Joan’s path to partner), and the punishment of “deviance” (Beth’s EST). Of course women’s issues have been a major part of the show episode 1 season 1. But this season has really hammered home the idea that woman is prey and commodity.

    • I’ve theorized that Don has set Megan up to fail as an actress. Her limits as an actress will be pointed out by those making the commercial and that she will return to where her true talent lies, writing advertising copy at SCDP which is what Don wants..As Ginsberg has noted, “She comes and goes as she pleases.”

      • I agree with your theory but Don did not know that Megan would accept a role in the word of commercial advertising. In fact he thought she would pursue legitimate acting a lot longer than she has.

        But she opened the door and although Don took a little while to think through Megan’s decision to essentially ask him for a job because of his toothache and his own personal battle seeing Adam Whitman everywhere he goes, he finally realized after seeing her screen test that she is extremely competent in this specialized field.

        And she is now one step closer to returning to the firm as well. And it will be her own doing which caused it to happen. If she did not insist that Don help her out, he would never have considered her for the part.

        • Don said it wasn’t his decision, but the client’s. Megan auditioned under her maiden name, so there there was no overt connection with Don. But as he said, boys from the firm would be there who knew her. Thus, Don put her name in the bin, but she won the job on her own talent. That seems to be the obvious, but what is always obvious often conceals.

          • Am I the only one who DIDN’T think Megans screen test showed proof of her talent? True, she looked very beautiful, especially in certain lights, but she seemed extremely nervous and not really able to convey a wide range of emotions. I think there was love and affection when Don saw her reel, but also a certain rueful quality as well. As he told Midge years ago when he saw her posing with her beatnik boyfriend Roy, he knows true emotion (in their case love) when he sees it, and I’m not sure what he saw in Megan’s screen test was the genuine article or not. On the contrary, I think he had a very complicated reaction to it, and decided, for a host of reasons, of which love was one, to open a door for her that she so desperately wanted to open. But I’m not convinced he was sold on her acting ability alone.

          • SFC, you are definitely NOT the only one who thinks that Megan’s screen test does NOT show “proof” of her talent. I thought it did the exact opposite. And I believe Don knows talent when he sees is. He chose to go ahead with this for other reasons entirely.

            Woodrow: Megan auditioned under her own name, yes, but there was NO WAY there wouldn’t be overt connection directly to Don. Megan got the gig under her own talent? Ya think? Not in this world. It’s just as obvious to me that Daddy Don got his childbride this gig as it was to everyone else in that room. Including the client.

          • I think so, too.

          • If you are right, then Don is no longer pursuing his phantom

        • Techno,

          My reading of this episode turns on one specific aspect of Don’s and Megan’s dialogue with each other: Don points out to Megan that this is not a particularly passionate or artful endeavor, and Megan defends herself by saying it’s a paycheck.

          This portion of the Don-Megan dialogue establishes what is – for me, at least – the notion that Megan is not “struggling” for her art and her passion, yet not working in advertising, where she has demonstrated evident gifts. Megan is in an in-between place, a trapped place strikingly similar to what Betty experienced when she returned to photo-shoot work while being married to Don. If anything, Betty relished her gig more than Megan currently does, the pain for Megan coming partly from the fact that she had to ask Don for some leverage in securing her gig.

          I find it hard to believe that Don’s viewing of Megan on film is therefore positive. It’s poignant, but not in a good way. Like “The Carousel,” it speaks to nostalgia and to longings either lost or unfulfilled. Megan’s talent existed at SCDP, and this is not where Megan is talented. The writing, crafting and flow of “The Phantom” strongly point to such a reading. Megan has never been weaker, less confident, or more self-loathing in nature, and that’s why THIS season finale – compared to the glow of “Tomorrowland” in all of its adulatory excesses toward Megan – struck a very thoughtful counterbalance for the arc of the series. This season began with Megan being portrayed as the person who could do no wrong, the person who carried this overpowering glow bereft of any negative energy. At the end of season five, Megan is a deeply wounded, doubting and humiliated person. It’s entirely in the character of Mad Men to flip characters upside-down and reveal their very contradictory selves.

          • Yes, Megan said she wanted a paycheck but she also said she wanted to work. Since Chinese Wall that is one of Megan’s chief themes in her life, the need to be a productive human being.

            My theory about the paycheck comment: She wanted to tell Don that she was not a freeloader and understood the need to pay her own way. I don’t think she was being materialistic here.

            Remember Julia’s comment about Megan “sitting on her throne from Park and 70th” and Emile’s comment that had basically not earned the right to enjoy such an exquisitely decadent lifestyle.

  18. Seeing how it was Virginia 1967, the two dogs copulating outside of Peggy’s hotel room were of the same fur color, right?

  19. Edited. Michael Robertson Moore – comments labeling other commenters are not allowed. -Mad Chick

    • This is the reaction to “Megan”: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      Bonne nuite.

      • What’s a “nuite”?

        • Good night???

          • Oui.
            The reason for the Megan ‘hatred’ (foolish term) is that she is so uninspiring, dull, the text is stale when she is onscreen. I can not remember a great, or semi-great line out of her mouth. The scripts are damn-near symphonic with their precise, lyrical prose. Into this mix comes a ValleyGirl from 1965?!?! Aw man, it hurts.
            Makes not a lick o’ difference who she’s shtuping.
            Add a dash of poetry to the character, or please, please, make her go.

      • Agree Tilden

        I went with the whole S4 story arc that ‘events’ consummated Don and Megan relationship, however, her character just hasnt done it for me this season. I think Jessica Pare has nothing to work with and/or this is deliberate from MW…??

        Is she just ‘eye candy’ and another dependent woman in Don’s life…and Don now realises it? Hence that mischevious boyish grin at the end of the ep??

        What was Faye’s comment (paraphase); You always like the beginning of things??

      • (Edited. Please do not talk about “Megan’s critics”–this kind of talk gets us offbase. Talk about the show, not about the people here. Avoid the negative tone. -Mad Chick) …the Zou Bisou Bisou charmer, this person with bubbly optimism and a hatred of cynical Debbie Downers, this person who scooped up little children and cleaned up spilled milkshakes, is so much better at the hard sell – the creation of an image – than at the performance of everyday work in an everyday life? (edited) that this unmistakable dullness is in itself a powerful commentary… not on the 1960s or Emile Calvet’s socialism or the value of being countercultural, but on the ultimate Mad Men truth — that happiness must be found from within, and that certain moments or realities (being married to Don Draper) don’t automatically ensure happiness?

        It’s also very much worth noting that the construct underlying Mad Men’s central truths is that people are rarely (or anything close to fully) what they first seem to be on the surface, far more layered and complicated than appearances or positive attributes might first suggest.

        Megan, due to her emergence on Mad Men in the middle of the series (season four of seven), is not as wholly developed as other characters, without question. However, she’s no longer the hologram/cipher she was in the first third of the season, and now, she’s not even the demanding, emotionally strong person she was in the middle third of this just-completed season. She’s been brought low, her confidence utterly shaken, bringing her through the full gamut of emotions and – instructively – becoming far more like Betty than Don ever could have imagined.

        Different person, different background, different outlook, but the same central weaknesses. Don thought he had found such a distinctly different second wife, but he hasn’t.

        It makes season 6 quite fascinating.

        I think we’ll see this late-arriving character get developed more deeply in 2013, enabling us to see that the undeniable flatness and dullness of this character (well, when she wasn’t Zou Bisou-Bisou-ing or raging at Don outside a HoJo…) were and are quite intentional.

        I could be wrong, but I still trust Mr. Weiner enough to see what he’ll do with Megan. As a fierce critic of “Tomorrowland,” I think “The Phantom” has done something(s) far more constructive, reasonable and – most of all – honest with Megan’s character.

  20. Couple things:

    Roger at the open window, nude: the guy just wants to feel something, anything, don’t you think? He’ll expose every bit of his skin to do so.

    Ballerinas: the world seems to need Peggy more than it needs Megan. Maybe. Anyhow, Peggy’s dance does seem to be portrayed as more practical and useful, and she learned on her own. Megan’s still learning the steps.

    • Megan is not learning anything, she does not want to work hard for things, she wants to recieve it.

      • I’m not sure Meghan doesn’t want to work for things. She wants success, even if it’s not in Art (she is realizing). She’s ambitious, and if working hard does the trick, fine; if getting a shot through Don works, fine.

        • Don has been her stepping stone from the very beginning..

          “I want to do what you and Miss olsen does” and then she slept with him, then she married him and he made her copy writer…

          She wants a sugardaddy/rich husband to hand her the world on a silver plate.

          But when he watched her video and her faces, I saw disgust in his eyes, so he gave her the opportunity to get rid of her.

          My theory.

          • <>

            Disgust? Not at all. I watched a video of Matt Weiner about this episode.
            When Don watches the reel he realizes Megan does have talent. He also
            ‘falls in love with her again.’
            This was a beautiful scene. I see longing, love and nostalgia in his eyes.
            As so many other saw this was a call back to “The Carousel” which was an exquisite piece of work. Don used photos of his family for it
            and again, he is filled with love.
            John Hamm has got to get an Emmy for all his years as Don – it’s way overdue

          • I also didn’t see disgust there at all, just a reawakening of his love. I sensed tears in his eyes, like there were with the Carousel presentation. And she did look astonishingly beautiful and (to quote Betty) ‘fresh’ in those black and white films. There were many moments in this episode that were quietly heartbreaking, this was a major one.

            However nostalgia and adoration aside, when he walked away from the bright fantasy of the Topaz commercial and into the darkness beyond, and when he was propositioned by the girl at the bar, I was thinking, he’s going back to where he felt in command. (read: lots of affairs)

    • On ballerinas: how could I forget Peggy’s bean ballet? Were there other references to ballet this season that I’ve missed?

      • Kathy, “Ballerina” is Freddy Rumsen’s nickname for Peggy.

        • I know, I know, you silly geese! That’s why I made the comparison of Peggy to Megan! 😀

        • When else has Freddy called her that? I’ve rewatched parts of season 2 and can’t find it.

          • I think he might have referred to her as that sometime in S1 after she created ‘basket of kisses’, and he definitely called her that when he first came back to SCDP — “Ballerina!” he calls, and Peggy cries “Freddy!” and they have a big hug. Fred is the father figure in Peggy’s life, sometimes more that Don.

      • Didn’t Elizabeth Moss also study ballet in real life?

    • Freddie’s nick name for Peggy was ballarina:)

      • Huh. I thought I could always recognize a dancer by her posture. Wrong again.

        • Yes, Peggy is not very graceful. Maybe that’s why EM is a former dancer; or, maybe that’s some more of her amazing talent.

  21. Megan…for the first time in the show, I feel she has transgressed in a moral sense, and in doing so I think this changes her status in Don’s mind, but maybe not his heart.

    She Did backstab her friend (whether or not Don knows it we do)
    she pouted, she maybe was even suicidal and used emotional blackmail
    and she cannot see beyond what she wants–which kind of made her like Betty or the old DOn.

    Her parents are poisonous in many ways and perhaps she is finally infected with it–if she had kept them away maybe she would have a chance to succeed at doing something that is good for her.

    This was the first time I didn’t really like Megan–a manipulative, desperate, vain Megan.

    I don;t know if Don at the end was saying Yes…or if he was enjoying the irony that yes, he was indeed alone.

    He was alone with his phantom–no one could see or understand his vision of his hanged brother; he was also alone with his wife where she barely acknowledges his existence at one point…she can’t see beyond her own needs but maybe Don understands that as he is older and needed to succeed too.

    • I had a similar reaction. This was the first time I really disliked Megan. But because I have both liked and disliked every other character on the show, it felt right.

      • What have you disliked about Peggy?

        • I understand why people admire Peggy, who has worked hard to succeed in a male-dominated world. But she likes power a little too much (a trait I find repellent in men AND women) and seems to enjoy putting her “inferiors” in their place; witness her treatment of the (admittedly incompetent, though not yet foot-mangling) Lois in “For Those Who Think Young”, and now the junior copywriters at CGC. She is single-minded in her obsession with advertising (“Do you read what’s between the ads?”) and not someone with whom I can imagine having an interesting conversation, despite her obvious intelligence. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to work for Peggy OR Don. I’d be curious to know what people actually like about Peggy, beyond identification with her struggle.

          • She was assertive.
            You would not have noticed it either if it had been a man talking.

          • I’m with you. I’m not a Peggy fan, though I don’t really dislike her either. I didn’t mind how she spoke to Lois (because Lois was such a bungler), nor do I have a problem with her focus on her career. I know lots of people– male and female– who are singleminded in their pursuits of professional success, even to the expense of personal relationships.

            What I have an issue with is that Peggy seems to be in denial about her focus, her politics, and even how she became successful. She thinks she should do Jewish products because “that shouldn’t matter,” without acknowledging that she got her break and landed business by being a woman dealing with women’s products.

            She often talks about how no one wanted her in the job and how hard she had to fight to get it, but Freddie encouraged her, as did Ken and Don (who promoted her because she had 2 good campaigns AND to spite Peter), as did Kinsey until he realized she was better. Until Joey and Stan, she actually experienced very little resistance or poor treatment. That doesn’t mean Don didn’t often treat like her crap, but his treatment wasn’t driven by her sex. he treated Kinsey in a similar fashion at times as well. And he’s been nasty with Pete as well, though many people excuse that because they hate Pete Campbell and determine he deserves to be mistreated.

            I also find it frustrating that she wants to be taken seriously and successful but can’t handle any criticism. Whether it’s about a church dance, a campaign for beans, or how she understands the differences between the Black experience and the Female experience, she can’t deal with someone questioning her in any capacity. Developing professionally– in any profession– is often about getting criticism and growing and improving over time with feedback and experience.

          • Peggy is in a very awkward position, though. When she doesn’t assert her power, she gets treated like the kid secretary.

            I think even Peggy knows she has an awkward handle on power, and it isn’t entirely comfortable even for her (hence her conversation with Dawn at her appartment at trying to act like a man).

            I think she often feels she has to over-assert to compensate for the way men tend to brush her off as a woman. This isn’t entirely in her head, and in certain circumstances this still goes on in 2012. Anyway, I don’t think “asking nicely” has paid off for Peggy. She is doing what she feels is working.

            And while Peggy doesn’t ALWAYS handle criticism well (see Linda), I do not think it fair to say she cannot handle ANY criticism. She’s been yelled at, she’s been sent back to come up with better ideas, and she’s still working years later with some success. If she never took any criticism ever that wouldn’t be the case. Also–to single Peggy out seems to ignore the way Don got mad at Jantzen, and all of Don’s frustration with Connie Hilton. Don doesn’t always take criticism well. And Pete gets hyperfocused on criticisms. Peggy certainly could have handled certain situations better, but enough of what she is doing has worked out.

            True–the other men in the office get criticized at times, as does Peggy, and she shouldn’t expect to be treated a lot better than the others. But the men have a buffer to the criticism in that (1) they get paid more; (2) they more naturally fall into commeraderie and friendship in a way that Peggy routinely feels outside of in a way that eases the sting of the crticism when it is there; (3) they have better chances of being recognized, promoted, and given raises when they succeed; and (4) they can get more assertive/angry without it being held against them.

            Peggy does not feel like she really can relate to the secretary/receptionist girls. Nor can she really be one of the guys. She probably knows she’s underpaid compared to men. Don didn’t share any credit with her for Glo-Coat, and Ginsburg was going to get all the credit for her Godiva save. On the phone, Harry wanted her to pretend to be Ginsberg’s junior.

            And with Heinz—I could not tell if the writers wanted us to think her idea was bad, or if the Heinz-guy was hankering so badly for Don that he couldn’t get satisfaction from anyone else. It was quite possible that if Don had waltzed in and pitched her idea the guy would have eaten it up.

            So some of her anger was not being able to take crticism, but some of her anger has always been the feeling that she’s being dismissed too easily because she’s a woman–when it comes to her ideas, when it comes to her value, when it comes to her chance to fly on business trips, when it comes to getting real credit for her contributions, when it comes to how her boss throws money in her face.

            She is not in an easy position.

            Faye was not in an easy position, either. Taking her wedding ring on and off, baking cookies, dressing powerfully–trying to turn it all on and off and on again at just the right times.

          • To repeat, since the reply button isn’t always there when you need it:

            >a trait I find repellent in men AND women

            >I wouldn’t want to work for Peggy OR Don

          • I’m not sure if you were responding directly to my post, Michael, but I was actually responding to what you said about how

            “she likes power a little too much (a trait I find repellent in men AND women) and seems to enjoy putting her “inferiors” in their place; witness her treatment of the (admittedly incompetent, though not yet foot-mangling) Lois in “For Those Who Think Young”, and now the junior copywriters at CGC.”

            I am not as convinced as you are that she “likes” power too much, or that she “enjoys putting inferiors in their place.”

            I got the feeling from her conversation with Dawn and from watching her struggles that she doesn’t “like” acting that way — but feels pushed to do it because otherwise she is not respected.

            I got the impression that she feels insecure about her position and her role (for REAL reasons, because she isn’t automatically respected) , and that she is over-compensating a bit out of insecurity. This is different from liking power or enjoying putting people in their place.

          • I wasn’t responding to your post, Lady K. For what it’s worth, I have no problem with your different and entirely fair interpretation of Peggy’s behavior. My point was that I would interpret the same behavior from men in the same way. Go back and look at her scene with Lois in “For Those Who Think Young”. Gratuitous, in my opinion.

            I like Peggy when she’s butting heads with Don or Roger. Her “shut up!” to Don in the test kitchen was one of my favorite moments from season 5. I like her for sticking up for herself when dealing with abuse from people who are as powerful or more powerful than she is. That’s the sort of thing she needed to do to succeed.

        • She often talks about how no one wanted her in the job and how hard she had to fight to get it, but Freddie encouraged her, as did Ken and Don (who promoted her because she had 2 good campaigns AND to spite Peter), as did Kinsey until he realized she was better.

          I don’t know if I agree about Kinsey, since he often showed animosity (I’m thinking about his comments “Don’t be so surprised,” when she got upgraded to junior copywriter, and later his, “Why don’t you put on Draper’s pants while you’re at it?” when she snagged Freddy’s office.). But yes, Freddy, Don, and Ken were encouraging to her, and she also seemed very amicable with Kurt and Smitty. I remember them laughing together in one of the Hilton meetings. (After Don had criticized Kurt)

          I think the “Nobody wanted me here” was her coloring her story for Abe. I’m not saying she hasn’t struggled, but she exaggerated her struggle somewhat when she was talking to him (about civil rights) in the bar.

          • but remember Freddys comment when she came up with basket of kisses- that its was like seeing a dog, talk? pretty amazing . And it was like that . it was. I remember seeing it – like the racism. there really were signs saying white only. greenville texas really did hava a BANNER over main street saying ” The Blackest land, the Whitest People”.

          • Bev: yes, good point, Freddy’s remark was questionable. I remember the earlier scene too, when he and Ken (and someone else–Sal, iirc) were discussing the Belle Jolie lipstick campaign. Freddy pretty much said it was a hard account to work on because, “I don’t speak moron–do either of you speak moron?” and that’s when they decided to call in the secretaries for a focus group.

            To be honest, most of the secretaries came off fairly vacuous in that scene–just sitting there, trying on lipstick, and Allison in particular seemed most confused. (In later seasons, Allison appeared much more intelligent!)

            So yeah, Freddy wasn’t expecting much from the women, and then Peggy delivered this little nugget. Even Don didn’t appear to take Peggy seriously at first–mentioning her extreme earnestness and seeming genuinely surprised when Freddy told him that Peggy had expressed some insightful thoughts.

            Freddy is sexist at times, but I also loved the way he helped/directed Peggy about where to sit and what to do when she first came in to present for the Relaxaciser. No one else really showed that willingness to help! He was also the first one to let her know he liked her pitch ideas, and I loved how he said he “wasn’t going to wait for Don.” That showed a certain bravery and integrity.

            I like Freddy. Peggy’s right, he does come across old-fashioned at times, and that extends to his ides about women, but I think he’s also somewhat of a father figure to her. I can relate to that–my own father sometimes seemed old-fashioned or overprotective at times, but then at other times, he had valuable advice for me.

        • Lady K, I agree with you. Don can’t handle criticism either. And since Peggy is, in many ways, a version of Don, it makes sense that she doesn’t either. I’ve thought one of the most poignant and frightening examples of how Don CAN’T handle criticism was when Betty tried to get him to share in parenting responsibilities. Instead of actually trying to parent, Don yelled, threw a toy, and stomped away.

          And she has definitely dealt with sexism– most clearly seen from Heinz. While it is possible that Bean Man just wanted to work with Don, I’m actually inclined to see him as an old-school sexist– women are the decoration to be silent– given how he initially treated Megan and how he shushed his wife. He insists he wanted the future but the campaign he eventually gave a thumbs-up to was pure Cult of Domesticity woman in the kitchen imagery. This was not a man who could work with a woman in a role beyond “mother, child, dinner.” His response to her was very different than Kinsey’s, who encouraged her until he realized she was better. And then Paul treated her in much the same way he treated Ken when he realized Cosgrove had writing talent that he himself lacked. Kinsey’s envy of others with talent he lacks is beyond sex, unlike Heinz– who couldn’t fathom a woman like Peggy.

          And of course, there are other expressions of the sexism and looksism she’s encountered, often from other women (Joan’s response to her weight gain or wardrobe).

          She is in a difficult position, and as a feminist and women’s historian, I respect that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find her a tiring character in many ways.

          • Linda, bfq – Are you referring here to the scene in which Don refused to hit one of their kids? I may be presumptious in assuming that, but for me that scene demonstrated tremendous character strength on his part. Correct me if I’m thinking of the wrong scene.

          • SDAgemate:

            Yes, same scene (or so I recall).

            Later, Don had a tender moment with Bobby – which served to reveal a little about Don’s past. And yet later, he told Betty a little about his past. Betty’s reaction told us that Don was mostly a closed book to her.

            OTOH – throwing the toy against the wall – showed at least a lack of self-control if not a lack of character. It served very well to illuminate those later scenes.

          • Jahn Ghalt – I guess my expectations for the parenting skills of a man who was beaten, emotionally abused, and constantly denigrated as a child are lower. I’m new here, but I wrote about this subject and generally about this scene last week in The Other Woman Recap comment #57. If someone like me, who had wonderful parents behaved as Don did in this scene, I would say the comments above are right on the mark about his emotional weaknesses. If you read my comment from last week, you might get what I mean by strength of character. I don’t want to go back over it in detail again. I didn’t find his behavior frightening, but the beginnings of an explanation of who he was.

    • Yes, Megan backstabbed her friend, but I also thought it was rather inappropriate of the friend to make a joke about having to sleep with Don in order to get the part. I’m of the opinion that when people joke, they’re telling you the truth without having the guts to actually do so. That was a very loaded comment in so many ways. Not only did it put Megan on notice about her friend finding Don attractive, but it also was a comment about how Megan herself obtained everything she got by sleeping with Don. If I had been in Megan’s shoes, I wouldn’t have done the friend a favor either. Especially after knowing Don’s roving eye. That’d just be dumb.

      I think it’s also interesting that the friend and the girl at the bar looked so much alike, whether or not we were meant to remember that comment.

    • It’s instructive to point out that Megan has never felt more like a full, whole character than right now, after the completion of the season. She’s finally experienced the feeling that was hinted at in previous episodes, but never as fully as in “The Phantom”: self-loathing. This is the other side of the “Zou Bisou Bisou/Tomorrowland” person who fit multiple fantasy images and was relentlessly positive about everything around her.

      Because Megan feels this way, Mad Men has retained its honesty and its textured, multi-dimensional, “appearances are deceiving” quality. The development of Megan’s character was always going to, in a certain sense, “slow down” the progress of season five by forcing a comparatively new character to get more screen time as Don’s wife, thereby taking screen time away from other characters. Yet, when tasked with developing Megan’s character – a task that must be done much more forcefully next season – Matt Weiner did a superb job in peeling back the onion and showing us new layers of this person, who is now far more complicated than we first thought.

      When Mad Men shows us new dimensions of darkness/sadness/ugliness in a character, the show so often – if not always – feels more right and more honest.

  22. When did the camera crew come out? Before or after the finale aired? I missed it! I left right after the finale! =(

  23. I was really disappointed with Megan. Last season, I didn’t like her because she came off as conniving and manipulative. I thought she was just trying to sleep her way to the top. However, in the beginning of this season, I thought I just didn’t know her character that well. She seemed sincerely interested in making her own way. I remember Don telling Peggy in the Season 4 finale that Megan reminded him a lot of her, and I thought maybe he was right. Then, over the past few episodes I’ve realized my initial opinion of her was in fact correct. She’s not much different than Betty. She may not be as selfish or mean-spirited, but she wants everything the easy way. She’s not as ambitious as Peggy. She’s not willing to work hard for it. She can’t deal with failure. She has to be the center of Don’s universe. Everything must revolve around her. In that last sequence, Don treated her exactly like he would’ve treated Betty. He gave her what she wanted and left.

    • Joan slept with a client for the good of the agency. Megan used the agency for her own good. Perhaps Don was sensing that juxtaposition after seeing Megan all dolled up and entranced in the commercial role.

  24. Seeing Don and Peggy at the movies was great. She’s not going anywhere, as so many people seemed to think after their long goodbye in Don’s office.

    They ought to meet for a movie a couple times a month. It would do them both good.

    By the way, does anyone know what exactly Peggy meant by saying Don should keep her on his ‘call list’?

    • re her ‘call list’ I took it to mean a straight-forward ‘keep in touch.’

      • Morgan – Thanks. I thought it might have some specific meaning that I just wasn’t getting, but you’re probably right.

  25. I was dozing on and off so I missed a portion of the middle, but woke up to the theater scene with Don and Peggy and was mesmerized but all the red, including Peggy and her hair, yet Don was bathed in what seemed to be “true” light – he stood out to my eyes anyway. Then, not sure if I had dozed off again, but the next thing I recall seeing is Joan in red.

    Was there a significance to the red or was is it just my perception of the light/filming and I am just making stuff up outta nuhin’???

  26. I must be alone (or almost alone) in this, but my take on Don’s viewing of Megan’s screen test was this:

    (1) Thanks to her friend’s innocent request to help her get an audition with SCDP, Megan saw a rare opportunity “they’re looking for someone European”. Its rarity was underscored by the discussion with other actors early in the episode, wherein they wonder if dying their hair red might be the thing that gets them in the door, since it had happened for Megan’s friend (the Dark Shadows part); then Megan reminds them that she’d only had the part for a little while before they wrote her out.

    (2) Megan was not being a good friend to the blonde actress “friend”, but since this was the first time we’d seen that particular actress on the show, we are to assume she was more of an acquaintance than bosom-buddy. Megan was doing what all struggling-to-break-in actresses do: looking out for herself. It was also putting her needs before those of anyone else at that moment–something every single character on Mad Men has done, and continues to do.

    (3) Don told her “you don’t want it like that”, because he was also, and primarily, speaking for himself (and looking out for himself). There is no way on earth Don Draper, Ad Man would have agreed–even to just giving Megan an audition–if there had been any doubt in his mind. To do so would’ve crushed his reputation, such as it was. And he definitely had doubt in his mind–he has not, to date, watched Megan on film. He’s only interacted with her when she was a copywriter play-acting at acting (Cool Whip). He would need to see her screen test with a neutral eye–after he’d already removed the expectation from Megan’s mind.

    (4) Don watched the screen test. If you pay attention to his facial expressions, you can see exactly what an adman would want see on the faces of his audience when watching an ad he’d created with a woman he’d hand-picked: a delighted, and most importantly captivated, man. Don had to run Megan-The-Actress in front of his own variant of the Male Gazetron 2001 to check for X-Factor. Turns out Megan has plenty of it.

    In that moment, we saw Don the Businessman, not Don the Husband and Father, and while we got to see Don’s realization that Megan did indeed have that ineffable “something” that could launch a thousand ships and sell a few million viewers, we also got to see Don’t final objectification of Megan, the Person. This time, he was not shown observing her in the office or home, or out at a restaurant or in the back of a cab, his face glowing with love.

    Rather, he was shown viewing Megan in total silence, in black and white, as projected onto a screen. Megan is reduced to a beautiful image. Objectified, probably irrevocably so. (Cue Don’s wandering eye.)

    Ironically, I think that in that silent-film sequence, Matt Weiner was also trying to show viewers what he initially reacted to about Ms. Paré and why he hired her for the role in the first place. She does leap off the screen, and her overall look does project something beautiful as well as very 60’s-specific.

    • Great point about Weiner’s reaction to Jessica Pare. And I’m with you on (2); not nice, but not a mortal sin. I was with you on (4) until I watched the scene a second time and found Don’s expression somewhat less scrutable.

    • If they could only get Jessica Pare into the dentist’s chair…

    • I thought about the irony of Megan/Jessica Pare, too, but wondered how intentional it was. It’s hard for me to believe that Matt Weiner would know that so many of us would take a dim view of Megan’s character and/or Jessica’s talent, and use that for the climactic scene of the season. Also, I’m still not sure of just what Don’s reaction was (did he finally see her talent? Or realize that Mother Marie was right about her lack of it?) or means (He fiinally has the faith in her to let her try to succeed, with his help? Or he knows she’ll get nowhere on her own, so he might as well let himself be used, while absenting himself emotionally again?). I honeltly don’t know. We’ll have to wait for next season to know.

      • “honestly”

        Typos make me crazy!

      • I have always believed that one of the hardest roles for any professional actress to play is that of a budding actress who is limited in her ability and defined by her mediocrity.

        And the reason why that is so difficult is that viewer may have a hard time distingushing between the actress and the role she has been given to play. In other words is Jessica Pare a mediocre actress which makes it easy to believe how inadequate Megan also is? Or is she a good actress who is able to provide nuance to the mediocrity she portrays on screen as Megan Draper.

        I am no expert in acting but I believe there is an art in projecting mediocrity. As the old saying goes, I don’t have to own dogs to know which dogs Iike at a dog show. And likewise I don’t believe one has to be mediocre to understand what the world of mediocrity is like.

        • I believe that MW picked Jessica Pare just as he picked January Jones. Knowing their limitations as actresses, but convinced that they could nail the character they are supposed to be. And…. I believe he has been correct in each instance.

          I have read that JJ auditioned for the role of Peggy, but that after seeing her; MW decided to greatly increase the role of Betty and the storyline about Don’s homelife.
          My guess is that he went through a similar process with Jessica Pare. Didn’t she originally audition for the role of the prositute that Don sees in Season 4?

          • But JJ is brilliant as the introverted, isolated and passionate Betty Draper.

          • JJ does not get nearly enough credit for her work as Betty Draper.

          • I agree- JJ is mesmerizing as betty , i think shes a wonderful actress – and Ive never understood the betty hate but i think its a testament to her skill in stimulating such an extreme response

          • (Edited. You can give your opinion, but you don’t know for sure what Matt Weiner or Jessica Pare intend, so please don’t present it as fact. – Mad Chick)
            Megan’s dullness/flatness/hesitancy….(edited) seems very much intentional…Megan ending season five acquiring a gig and/or life trajectory far more similar to Betty than previously imagined creates a terrific storyline and set of tension points heading into season six… especially for Don, the center of the show.

            On a less ordinary, less thoughtful television show, a character like Megan would be patently non-entertaining and unambiguously disappointing. On Mad Men, the intentionality with which Betty Draper portrays unspoken confusion, with which Megan Calvet Draper conveys a surprising degree of flatness and dullness, is unmistakable and subtly powerful.

    • Actually, Megan being reduced to an image that he could commodify was precisely what bothered me in taht scene. I know many people have seen it as a reference to “The Wheel,” which makes sense. But those stills had a quality that was warm and inviting. I had a sense that Betty may have taken some of them, giving her agency. Many were candids, capturing a real life…

      Megan’s reel reduced her “acting” to pans of her body and face, and she was complicit in turning herself into a silent image.

      • Interesting contrast.

        I, too, thought about “The Wheel” when I saw Don watching Megan’s audition tape. I started to think: ‘What did the Wheel mean at the time?”

        Why did Don get so choked up about the images in the Wheel? Because he felt nostalgia for “the good old days.” And why did he feel nostalgia? Because the good old days were gone–something was gone or missing. He used to feel good in his marriage with his chidlren, but he’d lost that. I think he realized it very clearly when he watched the slides–slides he had brought along to sell a product, not because he’d really thought about Betty or the kids.

        Then we saw his “fantasy” return home–where he was greeted by Betty and the kids. But then we saw the second return–the real return–to an empty house in which he was entirely alone. And we knew he COULD have gone with Betty and chose not to, and we can see something is terribly wrong with the marriage, and yet we suddenly saw that it was not ALWAYS that way.

        So it makes me wonder if Don felt something similar watching the footage of Megan. Did he feel that the good old days were gone? Was something over?

        Or did he somehow remember that Thanksgiving he didn’t go with Betty and the kids, and did he realize that he still had some sort of opportunity with Megan?

    • Despite this season’s heavy-handedness at times, this is what I love about Mad Men: we can all watch the same scene and come away with many different interpretations.

      This is what I “saw” when watching Don’s reactions to the screen test: the Megan he watches in the first half of the test is bubbly, alive, determined, but also somewhat vulnerable. This is the Megan that he loves and it shows on his face. When she goes through her “range” of more negative emotions (sadness, disappointment, the light going out of her eyes, etc.) towards the end of the test, his expression changes. I think he realizes that this is the Megan he will be seeing more of in the future if she can’t find success in acting, and he determines to do whatever he can to help her find her happiness.

  27. My brief take: As finales, go, “The Phantom” was the dark mirror image to “The Wheel.” The “big event” of the season (Pete outs Don to Bert vs Lane kills himself after the firm lands Jaguar) occurs in the work world and transpires in the penultimate episode. The finale is thus a denoument in which Don considers the state of his marriage, reaching some sort of epiphany in a dark room lit by a projection . In “The Wheel,” working up to the Kodak pitch causes him to recommit himself to his marriage. In “The Phantom,” the circumstances of Butler shoe ad — and Don’s assessment of Megan’s screen test in light of her behavior — may have caused him to decommit.

  28. Two phantoms:

    Beth in that gauzy nightgown

    Jesus at Easter

  29. Tidbits: in keeping with the Asian theme of “You Only Live Twice” and the bar at the end, there are copies of Tai-Pan and The Sand Pebbles on the shelves in the Drapers’ apartment. (I love the pause button.) (Also Tom Wolfe’s The Kandy Kolored Tangerine Streamline Baby, which reminded me of Don and the hot rods in The Mountain King.)

    • Make that Tangerine-Flake.

      • Great eye! I’ve always thought the Wolfe book would make an appearance.

        I almost think the whole series will end with Radical Chic.

        • Our Mad Men friends are neither radical nor chic. Doubtful.

          • Well, I don’t mean directly. What I mean by that is that the 60s opened it was the stodgy, hierarchical, patriarchy of the first season.

            Radical Chic is about the elite–Leonard Bernstein and others–hosting a fundraiser for the Black Panthers on Park Avenue.

            That’s quite a difference. And that’s where the decade went, whether you are radical or chic or whatever.

  30. The line in the show that made me gasp is one that I haven’t seen pointed up in any of the recaps I’ve read. I think it got overshadowed by what immediately followed, but it’s been haunting me (no pun intended, truly). When Don was under the nitrous oxide and saw Adam. Adam turned away, and Don grabbed his arm and said, “Don’t leave me.” Adam’s next line, “I’ll be hanging around,” instantly drew attention away from it. But I heard so much in Don’t three-word appeal. I heard him saying to Megan after the HoJo contretemps, “I thought I’d lost you.” Don has been losing people since Season 1. Even making a list of them all isn’t easy (in no particular order). Adam, of course. Betty. His real mother. His adoptive mother. His father, when the horse kicked him right in front of Don/Dick. The Glo-Coat people, after he won a Clio for their ad. Rachel. Connie. Anna. Most recently, Peggy and Lane. You could even make an argument that by becoming Don, he abandoned Dick.

    “Don’t leave me” has probably been subtext for his entire life, and the futility of his saying it to a phantom of Adam is heartbreaking. He may not even recognize what a seminal appeal it is, how it’s at the very heart of his character, how he walks away from things (like Faye’s love) because there’s a self-fulfillling prophecy quality to abandonment. It fits in with how he reacted to being fired by Lucky Strike – he struck back. His defenses against letting in the recognition of how much he needs not to be abandoned, which manifested in anger in business issues (Lucky Strike, Glo-Coat, Connie), his more gentleness in the personal abandonments (disappointment, rather than ire), became much less controlled this season. But his naked appeal to Adam’s ghost seemed to me to be a recognition of everything that has been happening to him in a way that he couldn’t have done without the gas, the way Roger couldn’t have confronted the demolition of his marriage to Jane without the LSD.

    So, to me, that was another area of the doubling in this episode. Both Don and Roger needed hallucinatory substances to pull awareness of an issue into the forebrain. Roger wanted it, but Don fought against it, refusing to deal with the need for a dentist until he couldn’t ignore it any longer. “Don’t leave me” is a cry of vulnerability, and the relation between Don’s awareness and Don’s vulnerability could be the subject of a dissertation.

    It’s also possible to think that, in reality, Don (Dick) left Adam. That’s the thought that makes me really uncertain as to what Don’s response is going to be to the two girls in the bar. Some people are convinced the old Don is back, and that he’ll say yes and cheat on Megan. I don’t know. I keep thinking of MW saying that at the end of Season 7, Don will be a happy man. I believe the old Don can’t get there. The Don who recognized that he needed Adam has a chance.

    • Beautifully said.That’s why I think the scene right after the dentist’s office is so important: Meeting Peggy at the movies (Don/Peggy scenes are always so important). Peggy is someone who left him. Except she hasn’t. Though when Don makes the comment about helping people who then leave it has a bitter undertone, Peggy doesn’t react in kind. She’s still hanging around for real. He’s not alone. He, as Anna told him when she read the tarot, just has to realize it.

      • …and if he can realize it, he’ll say ‘no’ to the girls at the bar. My sense of that bar scene was that Don was on the edge of drowning his sorrows, his sense of abandonment, his feelings of loss, his self-loathing, to an anonymous sexual encounter. If he realizes he’s not alone, if he can be emotionally present in his own life (and Peggy’s desire to still be present in his life was a signal, if he can pick it up), he’ll get beyond this – but that’s what’s unclear at the end. Which direction is he going in?

        I knew a man who reminded me of Don in some ways – a self-made, very hard working businessman who was good at many things in the work world but had no friends, no interests, no emotional presence in his own life or the lives of the women he saw. When he felt out of control, or sad, or dejected, or self-critical, he’d have sex with some attractive, available woman. Something about the physicality of those encounters, the sense of adventure, the anonymity, the intensity of that kind of connection, seemed to assuage the demons for awhile.

        But not for long.

        I wonder where Don will ‘be’ in his life by next season.

        • Agreed 100%. We don’t know if he said yes or no. Or why.

          • I agree entirely, jzzy. It is WAY too soon to sound the death knell of Don & Megan’s marriage or of his fidelity. That last scene of Don was meant to be ambiguous. “Are you alone?” can apply to Don right at that moment and to him in general as season five ends. It’s meant to tantalize us and keep us wondering, keep us hooked.

    • And I believe the way Don sees it is that as long as Megan is connected with the advertising industry in some way, shape or form she will never leave him. It is only when she strikes out completely on her own that their marriage would be in jeopardy. And that now appears less likely as Megan is coming to terms with her lack of talent.

      And the one thing to always remember Megan has never told Don she does not love him. Until she does, I dont see Don going anywhere. The love that Megan has for Don doesn’t grow on trees.

      • but megan doesnt lack talent ! her ability to observe the very subtle nuances of what the cool whip wife told her, come up with a plan to resurrect the pitch and FEED THE CLUES to Don at the dinner and Ad-Lib like they did- nobody ever did that for Don before- and he wont forget it, not with the abysmal replay with Peggy so soon after in the lab. And for Don not to pressure Megan to keep o doing that , to let her walk away , no strings attached ?
        was very classy. James Garner and a gorgeous red-haired actress ( picture Connie Britton ) did a series of ads for – a car ? in the 70’s? and TV audiences ATE IT UP- anybody else remember ? thier chemistry was palpable-people thought they were married-
        sorry for getting off topic , but the ad serires ran for years

        • Bev, are you thinking of Mariette Hartley? She and James Garner were the It Couple in the ads they did for Polaroid. My family loved that ad! And back in the the old days we actually watched the ads. Totally off topic but another fav of mine was Brenda Vacarro.

    • Don saying “Don’t leave me” to Adam was an entire season of character development summed up in one line line. I loved it

  31. Butler shoes will likely feel they have to hire Megan for their ad, unless they want to risk upsetting their big-shot ad guy. Unless this is just the springboard she needs to start her career in earnest, this will come back to haunt her in the form of self- hate. “The only break I ever got was because I asked my husband to pull some strings.”( Emotionally blackmailed is more like it.) Vincent VanGogh turned out an insane amount of paintings in the last 10 years of his life, yet only sold one in his lifetime. And his beloved brother owned a gallery! That’s some dedifuckincation, right there.I’ve sold dozens of origional paintings in the last few years but putting new tires on my car is like giving 3 pints of blood, because the occasional sale is not enough. “Working hard” for Megan means going to class (fun) going to auditions (fun, scary) reading lines with friends from class (fun, boring?) Megan has been working hard for, what, a few months since leaving SCDP? I understand the doubt and frustration in persuing a career in the arts, but I know that “why can’t I have what I want when I want it” does not fly when you’re trying to find work and earn money in a field where the is virtually no security and “good work” is subjective. Her father, who btw is no picnic, was right. She is not really willing to work for it, or even learn thru experience. I’ve been on the fence about Megan, trying to overlook annoying traits, etc. and get to know her. I know her now. She’s not a bad sort, but she’s a tourist.

    • Agreed.

      Her father’s comment about abandoning the struggle which presumably triggered her quitting to “pursue” acting was abandoned mightily quick. I always laugh out loud when Megan talks about how hard it is or hard she works because with every action of hers it becomes more obvious that she doesn’t know first thing about working hard. She’s been at it for what, several months?

      Her mother tried to steer her in a more realistic direction (years too late) but Megan is at this point too old to change her ways. She grew up as the youngest child who seemed to have been a bit of a daddy’s princess and now she is a child bride to a rich husband who can pull strings for her.
      Don’s comment about wanting to be someone’s discovery was absolutely on point but Megan has swept it under the rug because her main ambition at this point is to not be a failure. It is amazing how much delusion a human brain can spin in order to justify the person’s actions.

  32. In some ways Roger is becoming Bert… semi-retired, but there when it matters; the naked dancing in the window….his quips containing philosophical insight.

    Don is becoming Roger….”You mean we can do that?”… “Congratulations”, recognizing his mistake in marrying Megan and helping her to move on.

    Pete is becoming Don. Driven and never satisfied… hating the suburbs… wanting a relationship with someone other than his wife…proposing to run away with his lover.

  33. Another brief take: The season opened with Don not wanting to watch Megan perform in front of his colleagues. The season ended with Don not wanting to watch Megan perform in front of his colleagues.

    • And we started the season with Kevin’s backside and ended it with Roger’s! Bookends, literally

    • The season began with confidence coursing through Megan’s veins, and with Don feeling substantially nourished in and by his marriage to Megan, partly because she was in the workplace with him.

      The season ended with confidence rapidly leaving Megan’s veins, and with Don feeling substantially alone amidst his marriage to Megan, partly because she was no longer in the workplace with him.

      • I would add thought based on what Jon Hamm said in Inside Mad Men, Don is a lot more confident at the end of season five regarding his work than he was in the first half of the season when he was on love leave. As for feeling more alone, I think Don feels more alone because he cannot share the pain he feels from Adam’s suicide rather than feeling abandoned by Megan at this very moment. But I could be wrong.

  34. Brilliant Karl….simply brilliant.

  35. Remember Greg Harris and his number one complaint about his life: Since he was a little boy he had wanted to become a skilled surgeon but according to his superiors or peers did NOT have the “hands” necessary to perform intricate operations in civilian hospitals.

    So what did Greg do? He studied up to be a psychiatrist in which the use of hands was not necessary and when that didn’t pan out he had a brain wave to join the US army and finagled his way into a position where he supervised 20 surgeons and placed himself presumably in an administrative position where he was required to do only a few boilerplate operations if that, while leaving the more intricate operations to his staff.

    Nevertheless Greg is still incompetent. But he is now in a unique situation (a war zone) where he can hide it because he can assign which operations each doctor will perform and in a war zone most operations are war-related such as gunshot wounds, amputations, or explosion type injuries etc.

    And likewise for Megan Draper she told Don from a little girl she wanted to become a professional actress. And like Greg she apparently doesn’t possess the necessary talent or ability to become one in terms of working full-time and being widely acclaimed as one. It doesn’t matter how hard Megan works at her craft, how many acting classes she takes, how many auditions she attends or who she knows in the industry she will never rise to the top of that profession. She will be mediocre at best on stage, screen or television as Greg would have been a mediocre surgeon in civilian life.

    And it is in that realization that she can never rise above the level of mediocrity, that torments Megan, and has caused her to become sad, drunk, and pathetic as the same idea tormented Greg in his toxic behavior while in Joan’s presence.

    I have never liked Greg since the time he raped Joan, but I would never think of criticizing him for God not giving him limited talent or ability to become a good surgeon. That’s like criticizing a man for only fathering two children instead of three, and not taking into account the limited means he has at his disposal to look after his children.

    And I would never think of criticizing Megan Draper for God-given lack of ability either. Since Megan’s confession to Don during pillow talk in episode 8 Lady Lazarus, I have consistently maintained that Megan has lacked the burning desire or innate passion to become an actress. The words to Don come out of her mouth but they are NOT spoken by a person with heartfelt, deep-abiding conviction but a person who feels a deep guilt that she has strayed from the path which apparently she laid out for herself as a young girl according to her father. Megan is more about process than execution.

    If I were to criticize Megan for anything in the past, it was her stubborn refusal to accept the limitation of her own talent and ability and to move on from that fact. But by Megan taking a job pitching products on television or elsewhere, Megan may be able to eventually come to terms with her limitations as an actress but also thrive in a specialized part of the acting industry which she can become good or proficient at, especially with her background in advertising as a copywriter.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day but it has been months since Megan has been away from advertising. Could Megan unbeknowst to herself be setting the stage for her re-entry into the word of advertising copywriting and could Don have been smart enough to recognize that by using his pull to get her this gig?

    Finally in relation to Don, seeing his wife sad, depressed and drunk, you have to ask yourself do you want to come home consistently to a woman who feels or acts this way because of her shortcomings as an actress, or would he rather come home to a woman who feels decent about herself for her work in commercials? Don is NOT a masochist. But what he does is solve problems.

    Now the argument has been posed that Don and Megan will eventuall drift apart. On what basis? They will now again both be connected to the world of advertising. Isn’t that what Don wanted all along? Is it now impossible to envision a day where Megan rejoins SCDP? How many copywriters also were competent pitch women? That is a unique talent. And we have it from Don’s own lips that Megan is extremely talented as an advertising copywriter.

    • You make several good points, and you got me thinking: nobody goes into acting with the thought “Gee, I’d really like to be the spokesman for Cheerios!”. After years (yes, YEARS, Megan!) of training, you lower your expectations to a gig like that, because it’s what you can get. It ain’t Ophelia, but it pays the bills. Megan’s bills are already paid, so it would take some big time mental jockying to derive satisfaction out of ad work, but it’s possible.

      • Sure, by today’s standards — all penetration is rape — Joan was raped in Don’s office. But I just reviewed that episode and it is unlikely that Joan would have won as a complaining witness. After all, she did not cry out when there were many rescuers available. I am a criminal defense trial attorney and know what I have won in those days compared to the draconian laws nowadays, most of which are necessary of course. Most men got away with date rapes in those days. That’s a just a fact of evolving attitudes.

    • I don’t feel either Greg or Megan are being critized for their lack of respective talents.

      They are being critized for their behavior stemming from their issues, and how they deal with their respective lack of talent. The problem is not in them not having talents, but in them both insisting to be given opportunities DESPITE their lack of talent and how they treat anyone around them who tries to point out that it might be time to move on.

      Megan and Marie interaction is a perfect example. Megan is still in bed at noon in her expensive apartment because “she’s sad” and the best she can muster as a response to her mother’s comment about ballerinas is to childishly lash out about how her mother is never on her side.


  36. maybe Megan will step back into the Agency as Peggy has left because the alternative may be losing Topaz or other accounts where a quick mind and female point of view is important. (re. Techno)

    I don’t fell like Don has kicked Megan tot he curb and he is trying way harder with her than he did with Bets.

    • I wondered about whether they would consider asking Megan back with the gap left by Peggy.

      I think Ginsburg is good in his own way, but they are beginning to discover that Peggy was also good in her own way.

      Of course, just because Megan is a woman does not mean she would be a perfect substitute for Peggy.

      • From what the Topaz guy said about having his needs met by a female copywriter in the past (Peggy Olson). Consider that comment perhaps the tip of the iceberg. Look to more firms in the late 1960’s to hire female copywriters to compete for clients who specialize in selling products to females. And SCDP will fall behind and lose clients if it does not eventually replace Peggy.

        Sure Megan may not be a perfect substitute for Peggy but if SCDP is losing a substantial amount of business to its competitors due to this issue, desperate times do call for desperate measures.

        And regarding Megan’s talents, just because Don is married to her doesn’t mean he can’t judge her talent. After what she did with Heinz, Don is sold on her talent and does anyone really believe that if Don and Megan put their heads together on any advertising campaign that they wouldn’t come up smelling like roses? Let’s not forget Don is a creative genius and Megan just being around Don in the office will make her better as well.

  37. I have often referred to Joan Harris as a cynic. I have criticized her for such behavior but I will say cynics are realists. They call it like they see it.

    After Megan announced she was pursuing an acting career, Peggy jumped on the bandwagon to proclaim that Megan was multi-talented and she would succeed in acting as she had done in the world of advertising in her limited time as a junior copywriter.

    But it was Joan who pronounced she would become a mediocre actress married to a rich man. And I think we now know Joan was right.

  38. The inside mad men clip on AMC’s site is revealing- When Matt says that the audience sees that longshot of Don walking away from Megan as ‘knowing she is gone’. I was surprised by this, and glad that Matt Weiner did in fact have a purpose for all the megan- ness this season.That look on Don’s face in the final scene at the bar will be enough to hold me over for next season!

    • I noticed that too! I would be shocked if that “look” meant anything other than… “the OLD Don Draper is BACK!”.

      Just curious if you were as confused on the whole is Megan a good actress or not theory? Matt Weiner was saying Don’s reaction to her reel was that she has talent, but then her Mom, and the fact she hasn’t worked seems to point to she is not. Kind of confusing…

      • Not sure that Megan is gone, but Don’s fantasy of Megan is gone. Two different things.

        I’m quite confused about whether she’s talented or not. She got good tips because she was “good” according to her friend. However, she hadn’t been good enough the first time around to support herself on it, so she paid her bills with a job a SCDP. On the flip side, her dad is an intelligent man–a professor–who seems to want her to pursue her dream. However, parents can idolize their beloved children, and he may not know anything about acting. Her mother does not think she is immensely talented, but then her mother might be jealous or negative. Or she might be honest.Or she may have old fashioned ideas and not recognize Megan has what the modern world wants?

        I guess the reality is that many, many, many women want to be actresses, models, singers, and performers. (Marie knows this). Even if Megan has some talent, that is absolutely no guarantee she will get a part she likes. There are so many people who are auditioning for the same parts, and some of them will have connections.

        There are a lot of talented people who are never discovered or who never get a big break. Or maybe most who do succeed wind up succeeding because they know someone? Or they happen to be in the right place at the right time?

        The fact that Megan hasn’t gotten a part–in NYC of all places–hardly means that she has no talent.

        But it doesn’t mean that she isn’t talented, either.

        Anyway–Joan may have always had all of the skills necessary to make it to a leadership position at the firm. But in the end, she didn’t get made partner based on her work skills, she got a 5% partnership because she bargained for it as a condition of her sleeping with the Jag guy.

        Rodger may have always had some people skills that were of use to the firm, but he got his partnership because his dad was the original Mr. Sterling who set up shop with Bert Cooper.

        Pete was kept around because of some of his family connections, even though he wasn’t wildly impressive when he was young.

        Don turned out to be good at creative–but he got Rodger drunk and tricked him into giving him the job.


        • Quite often posters in the past would comment “wait until the honeymoon is over” implying Don would discover the true Megan and he will grow increasingly disenchanted with her.

          Well, the honeymoon is definitely over. But as adults, we know there is a major difference between walking away from an affair (eg Midge, Suzanne) than walking away from a marriage.

          Imho, Megan is now more dependent on Don and not less dependent in terms of helping her land commercial gigs. As such she is in no position to leave him unless she becomes ultra-successful. And even then why would she leave a man who she loves? Doesn’t Megan owe Don at least her loyalty?

          As for Don, has he forgotten how deep he sunk into the abyss in the first half of season four after his divorce from Betty? Is Don more unhappy being married to Megan than he was then? The grass may not be greener on the other side.

          • There is a huge difference between saying “the honeymoon period is over” and saying “the marriage is over.”

            It is really hard to evaluate any marriage during the honeymoon period–because it isn’t always indicative of the long-term patterns the couple eventually establishes.

            Now that the honeymoon period is over, there will be a period of negotiations, compromises, and an eventual decision made by each of how they are going to proceed. Many choices have not yet been made–but they are going to start to shape the long-term relationship patterns. So what happens now is more important than great sex in the first happy months.

            I agree that Megan seems more dependent now than before, but I also think she could still get receptionist/secretarial/waitressing/ad-gig work if she really wanted to or had to. She has experience as a waitress, she has experience as a receptionist, she has experience as a secretary, and she has experience in advertising. (Betty had little relevant job experience, and I think working in waitressing would be “below” Betty’s status and outsider her comfort zone in a way it would not be for Megan; also Betty has 3 kids).

            You ask if Megan “owes” Don her loyalty? If Don is actually cheating on her with those girls at the bar, I hardly think she “owes” him loyalty. And you cannot owe someone everything forever based on one favor. Megan’s favors to Don have been different, but marriages are exchanges of all kinds of gifts and favors. Peggy felt like she owed Don loyalty for a long time. And she did, in a way. He came and found her after the baby. And she worked hard and loyally for him for a long time. But eventually, she is her own person, and she needn’t live forever in his debt.

            I don’t think Don is quick to divorce, but if he takes up a string of affairs again, that is a way of “leaving” a marriage without actually leaving it. It could start a pattern away from the marriage.

            However, I think it is premature to decide either way. They might work things out, they might not. Depending on choices made by each, they could be together a long time or over pretty quickly. (Rodger and Jane didn’t last all that long.)

          • You’re right about DD being a miserable bachelor — well, at least until he began to clean up his act (swim laps, keep a journal, cut back on the drinking, etc.). But I don’t know if he’s entirely happy being in a monogamous relationship either. My suspicion is that DD’s ideal — even if he doesn’t want to admit it to himself — is to have some of both; that is, stay married but juggle a few affairs on the side. And my sense is that is where we could be heading with Don/Megan nuptials in S6, except that because there are no kids involved and Megan is cut from a different cloth than Betty (even if both are somewhat spoiled children), the marriage will be shorter lived. Plus, being younger himself at the time, Don was probably able to cling to the princess illusion a little longer as it applied to Betty than with Megan.

            For the record, I had always hoped it would be Megan who would cheat on Don as I think it would have provided an interesting twist to the show’s masculine dynamic — you know, Megan as some agent of sexual revenge for all of Don’s past philanderings, offered up with MW’s trademark subtlety, of course.

            But we still have some episodes to go with these two. I highly doubt S6 will start with Don flying to Reno. Even if they separate and/or divorce, I suspect it will take up a good chunk of next season. And I could very well see them staying together, especially if Don is able to keep Megan in the dark. But I would be surprised if Megan is the last woman he sleeps with. Could happen, I suppose, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I can’t imagine his walking away from her at the end of 5.13 wasn’t meant to connote something larger.

      • We simply haven’t been given enough information to judge Megan’s acting talent. She’s only been going to auditions for a few months, so it’s no surprise she hasn’t had a job yet. (Her “friend” in LA was probably right in noting that her teeth alone would be a hindrance.) As for Marie, I’m not sure if she would even notice whether or not Megan has any talent. Her remark about Megan not being an artist could just as easily reflect a highbrow disdain for acting, or contempt for Megan, or bitterness, or all of the above.

        • With all due respect, Marie Calvet is Megan’s mother. She told Don referring to Megan being drunk and in a funk, “But this is what happens when you have the artistic temperament but you are not an artist.”

          And we have the evidence of Megan over several months since Lady Lazurus attending acting classes, audition classes (how to act during an audition), attending auditions and searching through the newspaper for casting opportunities with Emily. And yet no cigar.

          And finally we see Megan herself getting unaccustomly drunk and depressed. Why? It’s obvious. She is not successful. She confesses to Don, “It’s been so hard.” And that in turn prompts her in the most crass terms to “sell out” her dreams possibly to take work as a commercial female pitchman. And don’t forget Megan doesn’t need the money.There is absolutely no reason for her to give up her dream of being a legitimate professional actress unless she has had a revelation that she may not have what it takes.

          And finally you have Megan’s own words to Don in Chinese Wall when she described to Don her educational background: “I majored in literature and dabbled in painting and acting.” Think about it, why didn’t Megan major in acting? Why did she only “dabble” in acting?

          Yes, it is possible that Megan could make it as a professional actress but the prospects do not look good.

          Oh by the way here from Matthew Weiner on Inside Mad Men about Megan:

          “She’s chasing this dream and she’s failing at it.”

          From Jessica Pare on Megan:

          “She’s hit a real dry spell. It’s brutal. She’s not getting work. Her friends are getting work around her I think it’s real discouraging. She reaches a point where she thinks I made a mistake and I was wrong…”

          From the horse’s mouth.

          • If going a few months without work and having doubts about one’s own ability are evidence of lack of talent, then most actors have no talent.

        • I actually think Megan’s level of talent is beside the point. The show is trying to make a point that Megan is unwilling to work hard at anything, acting included.

          You and I may agree that a couple of months without work is normal, however from Megan’s behavior and comments it is clear that she believed she will be working by this time and now that that is not the case she is sad, drunk and only “somebody’s wife”.

  39. Did anyone else notice the part where Don and Lane’s wife were talking and he mentioned how the funeral, memorial and all that was in England. I thought that was interesting considering how much he loved America, and New York in general. I took it as it was kind of like one final blow to him that he never fulfilled the “American Dream”. Kind of random, I know, just something I was thinking about at 2 am last night after dissecting the finale. Can’t wait for Season 6. Anyone know when it will premiere?

    • the memorial information struck me too…i was surprised to hear it was there, and i was surprised that rebecca was still in new york…

      • I was surprised about that also, I thought she may have just been settling their affairs but there was the line that she waiting for a bed to be delivered for her mother, that was strange . Rebecca didn’t want to be in the US at all. I didn’t understand her blaming Don and the firm for Lane’s suicide at first but then I thought about how when they got the idea for him to fire them and join the firm Lane sounded like a little kid getting to play with the cool kids. We know he felt that way about Don. They took advantage of Lane’s skills but he took a big financial risk and wasn’t secure enough to speak up for himself.

        • all those mother references in the episode….

        • It’s also worth noting that Lane was providing Rebecca with a much bigger, more heroic version of himself and his role in the workplace: as evident in his lies used to stay in the US over the holidays.

          She is likely still under the impression that they took advantage of him — overworked him to death — from his versions of various stories.

          And as others have mentioned on here, who knows if the fleecing had been going on for sometime and this is simply the first that we (the audience) saw of it.

          • He told Rebecca that they could not travel because Jag contacted him and work was starting so he needed to be in the US. He made himself to be crucial to the Jag account when he had nothing to do with round 2. Major lie.

          • I listened three times now to Rebecca’s closing words to Don. I got the gist, but I don’t think she is the type to mince words and exactly how she phrased it (and forgive me I can’t paraphrase it) was very specific.
            Can someone comment on this please?

            Also, so sad that Lane forgot to do some housekeeping in his wallet. My heart was heavy for Rebecca.

      • I understood that Rebecca had the funeral in the UK and that the firm offered to hold a memorial in the US but she declined their offer.

        Wouldn’t Rebecca be embarrassed to go back without financial security and with the cloud of her husband’s suicide hanging over her?

  40. Maybe Megan is “gone” because she doesn’t feel important to anyone really–not her Mother, not her Father and not her husband.

    I don;t know if Joan is right or if Peggy is right. They have both have made mistakes, not as many as Pete or Layne…

  41. Might be stretching here, but with all the “repetition” and “rotation” the whole episode reminded me of Walker Percy’s the Moviegoer. Then when Peggy and Don “met” in the theater it seemed to confirm it to me.

    • I wonder if Don thought the way Woody Allen butchered the James Bond mythos in that movie was funny?

    • I thought of that too, but I can’t remember whether the main character in that book evolves– if he ends up alone or if he makes some kind of human connection after all. Somebody go look on Wikipedia.

  42. The theme for “everyman for himself” showed through once more when the ep ended and all the characters were alone. Peggy alone (happily) at the hotel, Pete alone wearing headphones, Roger alone, naked on LSD even though he said he did not want to be enlightened by himself, and Don complemplating if he is alone.

    • How haunting is the image of Pete wearing headphones (even though we’ve seen him wearing them before)? The look on his face. For he’s truly alone in the midst of (and at the end of) a love affair, as Beth no longer remembers their trysts, their longings.

    • Great observation!

  43. I just watched Inside Mad Men with Matthew Weiner and read his interview today online in the NY Times. So in spite of what he said in both forums here is my take on the last scene. Let me also say I am not questioning Weiner’s take on the final scene of the episode but for obvious reasons he doesn’t want to give too much away because he doesn’t want you or me to know what plot lines or story developments he is contemplating in season six.

    Earlier in the episode when Megan first broached the idea to Don that he put her name in for the Butler shoe commercial since the shoe manufacturer was looking for a girl with “a European look.” This was when Megan was sober.

    Instead of giving in to Megan, Don did a very savvy thing. He brought up Megan’s recent past, that she wanted nothing to do with advertising and that it was better for her that she was discovered rather than become successful due to being a powerful man’s wife. And Megan even agreed with him. Don did not give in to Megan.

    Then when lying in her bed drunk, Megan again broached the subject and Don now understood completely that this is how Megan truly felt (drunks have a habit of being completely and brutually honest more often than not) and he finally begins to see that Megan may have had a revelation based on her being rejected for acting roles and she was now prepared to at least consider the possibility of hedging her bets regarding a professional acting career..But to make absolutely sure she was right for the part, he watches her screen test and perhaps thinking back to their interchange in the office during the Cool-Whip skit,and realizes that Megan indeed has talent in this artistic speciality.

    Then on the sound stage before doing the shoot, Megan tells Don that she loves him using the same words she used in Tomorrowland, except she reverses the order of the words. In Tomorrowland, she says,” I love you, you know.” In last night’s episode she says, ” You know, I love you.”

    Don walks away thinking to himself, “I’ve got you babe” which happens to be the song sung at the end of Tomorrowland. He doesn’t need to look back. He is now part way to accomplishing his goal of bringing Megan back into the advertising fold. Megan in her desperation to work has now given Don a tangible foothold, although on the periphery, which he can over time use to get her more involved in advertising. And because of the debt she feels she owes Don for her “big break” she will be a lot more open to listening to whatever Don has to say about advertising in general or in particular what is happening at SCDP.

    Don’s drink at the bar was for him a celebatory drink. Now why was Don drinking alone? Because he not dare share with anyone how he had just manipulated Megan to get her back into advertising. He will take that secret to his grave.

    Now Inside Mad Men Weiner argues that Don may have made a sacrifice to allow Megan to do the commercial and that she might become so famous as a female pitchwoman that she decides to leave Don for greener pastures. I am NOT naive and I think the thought may have crossed Don’s mind as well. But here is how I see the bigger picture. If Megan had become a successful professional actress or a young woman constantly wallowing in despair, Don would have virtualy no control over her career or would be at his wit’s end with Megan and there would be a much greater chance they would end up divorced. By Megan now being connected to advertising he can now act like her professional manager (similar to a husband to his successful actress wife) and have some influence over her gigs and the arc of her career in this field. And of course if she ever tires of her career here or if companies no longer feel compelled to hire her, Don can always bring her back as a copywriter, which has been his intention all along. And Don is a gifted storyteller. Could he make Megan an offer she cannot refuse in a few months to return to SCDP in order to be better able to compete with firms who have female copywriters on staff?

    Don’t forget that Don fully realized by saying no to McCann, he was also putting the kibosh on Betty’s career for good. Don is not a choir boy. He has Megan where he wants her and has always wanted her. With Betty it was home with the 3 kids. For Megan it is to be directly involved in the advertising industry.

    • Wow.

      What we as the audience get a glimpse of in these final scenes is what Don also sees and it hits him squarely between the eyes: Megan’s ordinariness. Yes, Megan is just ordinary.

      Megan is going to become a famous female pitchman/woman based on one glimpse of Megan beaming like a little girl being dressed up for a 5 year old’s birthday party?

      Don finally sees how ordinary Megan is and realizes she is not going to change his life and that she is not what she told him she was — nor is she the “wife” or “woman” he dreamed she would be. Don also wonders how much “acting” she’s been doing with him since that scene in his office when Megan tells him she wants to do what he and Peggy do. Poor sucker, he actually fell for that.

      Don should instead have paid more attention in that same scene last season to Megan saying that she “dabbled” in acting and writing and the arts. Megan is nothing more than a “dabbler” with no patience, persistence and minor ability. She dabbles and then she runs when the going gets a little tough.

      Ordinary. Nothing special. And Don sees it clearly for the first time. He’s been starting to suspect it — and now he knows for sure.

      • BJ:

        Megan is ordinary or I call it mediocre as an aspiring professional actress.

        But according to Don, Megan is extraordinary when it comes to the advertising game. In his own words, “You got down with Heinz what I took years to learn.” In other words Megan is a natural.

        Jessica Pare in Inside Mad Men claimed that Megan is now realizing she made a mistake to pursue acting as a career. Just because she was wrongheaded about acting, it doesn’t necessarily follow she is ordinary in everything she will ever pursue. In Don’s words to Megan: “We don’t get a choice to decide where our talents lie.”

        • I think this has come up in other threads, but it seems premature to say she is a “natural” at the ad game. She got one pitch to one client. A “natural” will have more, and even Megan said she had to work hard for the one she got.

          I don’t watch Inside Mad Men, so I don’t know why she said that this episode marked her realizing acting was a mistake, by the end of the episode. We haven’t seen enough of her as an actress to know if she’s good or terrible (at least I haven’t). She could be the best or worst, but a minute of silent footage isn’t enough for me to know.

      • He will see the contrast between Megan and Peggy very clearly: Peggy worked hard to get where she is. Megan doesn’t want to work for anything

        • I never got the impression when Megan was working at her various roles at SCDP as Joan’s assistant, a receptionist at the front desk or Don’s secretary in season 4 that she was a slacker. And in season 5 up to Lady Lazurus it was Don who was on “love leave” and not Megan. It was Megan who objected to Don whisking her away to HOJO in Plattsburg and not allowing her to help the team to put Heinz across to Raymond.

          • Being a slacker and working hard at something are two different things. Megan is not dumb, and she’s quite capable of following directions. Landing a job as a receptionist based in a great part on your looks and managing to not screw up badly enough to get fired is one thing.

            Working hard to get what you want, is quite a different matter. If you want to be an actress I would think you would need to engage yourself a bit more than just take a class and go to auditions. Why doesn’t she have an agent? She paid for a screen shot and expected someone else to send it to agents, why isn’t she knocking on doors dropping ti off, for example.

            I have no idea how the acting industry works so I could be talking out of my ass here but I define working hard at anything as a process where when you ask yourself “Have I done everything in my power?” your answer should be yes.

            She got the copywriter gig because Don made it happen. She had one successful pitch, which isn’t saying a lot. Ginsberg is presented as boy genius and he is still having trouble with landing a successful pitch every time.

            So yeah, Megan doesn’t work hard nor does she want to work for anything.

      • I get the impression from her attitude and statements by both of her parents that, to borrow Dr. Faye’s line, she “never finishes anything”. Maybe she and Don do have something in common in addition to being good in bed.

        • Old Fashioned – Yes, I’ve been flashing on Faye’s line. I get the distinct impression we are coming to the end of the beginning that Don only likes. Maybe that’s true for Megan as well as you say.

      • Yes, like I wrote earlier, in the reel he saw her sad face she puts up when he does not give her what she wanted.

    • Of course, this analysis assumes the Megan won’t be discovered by a Hollywood mogul lusting after her after seeing the commercial. Beauty and the Beast has always captivated audiences. Megan is the Beauty, the world of Ad Men is the Beast.

    • This is a FANTASTIC unpacking of the ways in which “The Phantom” is an inversion of “Tomorrowland.” Simply brilliant, Techno!!!!

      Brooklyn Jan, you provide an equally deft and thoughtful follow-up!!!

      I love the great commentary here.

  44. There has been some speculation that Megan may have won the gig honestly and that she was chosen by Butler shoes or the decision-makers on merit.

    I am NOT naive. Butler shoes is a client of SCDP. SCDP has a huge say in what is produced for any one of its clients that is broadcast over the airwaves. Do you remember the scene in an earlier season with Peggy and Ken with a young woman who could never could never get the pitch down correctly? Do you remember what happened to her? Peggy fired her.

    So don’t think a powerful man like Don Draper wouldn’t have used his power to get Megan the gig\/ He could have done it in a variety of different ways; Don knows all the tricks of the trade. But Don clearly did something. And to boot Megan knows Don did something. As I mentioned above, Don will eventually collect on that debt.

    Bottom line: Powerful men are experts in wielding power and getting their way in the end.

  45. With all of the “doubling,” I was starting to get a feeling of deja vu. Was this really the end of Season 5, or were we back to seasons 1 & 2?

    So are we supposed to think that Don has returned to the same Don he was in Season 1? Or is Don being given a second chance–a “do-over”? A chance to relive the past and do things a little differently so things work out better?

    Some subtle things I noticed:

    1. Joan’s concern that Lane committed suicide because she rejected his romantic advances leads me to believe that Don did not openly discuss the fraudulent check, Lane’s financial trouble, or the fact he’d asked for Lane’s resignation with Joan. Also, Don knew Rebecca might need the money, Joan didn’t seem to be aware. This probably means that Don did not tell the other partners. So –like season 1–Don is living in the aftermath of a suicide he feels strongly connected to, and he isn’t telling other people about it. He’s back to lots of secrets.

    2. Don went off driving with Glen instead of discussing the suicide with Megan. I’m sure he eventually mentioned it to her, but he didn’t rush to confide or share all of his feelings. This seems like distance he is putting up between himself and Megan.

    3. Don is obviously having connections between Lane’s death and Adam’s death. We haven’t seen any significant sign of Don feeling haunted by Adam in years and years and years. But the incident with Lane has re-opened that past wound. I wonder if Don ever told Megan about Adam? It seems like –if he had–he could have opened up to her more about Lane and Adam. I get the impression that this part of his story and this part of his grief is something he has not and does not want to share with Megan. But not sharing this part of himself–that makes him feel more and more alone. He couldn’t share Adam’s death with Betty–not without completely spilling the beans on his secret. He preferred to suffer in silence than share that story with her. That whole secret–that whole story–may have been a huge wedge in his relationship with her–something that made him feel very alone. I think he also is not feeling good about himself–he feels guilt that he is ashamed of and does not want others to know about. He is not openly processing his feelings about Lane’s suicide or the “Adam sightings.” One way of reading this is that –for all the growth Don showed in sharing his secret about Dick Whitman—Don still didn’t go all the way and tell Megan about all the nastiness. He wanted to believe that he’d told her enough to come clean. Maybe he thought he did. But it is like Don’s temporary “cures” for his toothache–and like Pete’s bandages on a wound that won’t heal. They are short-term methods that do NOT get to the root of the problem. When Don finally goes in to see the dentist to get to the root of THAT problem (the tooth problem) the dentist chides him for waiting for so long–for how bad it could have been–advising him that his temporary fixes could have led to very serious consequences. The hallucination with Adam said something along the lines of Don’s soul being infected. So, yes, Don finally took care of the real problem when it comes to his TOOTH. But has he addressed the real problems–in regards to Lane, Adam, and the challenges with Megan? Or is he grasping at temporary bandages that do not heal the underlying hurt? Offering money to Rebecca didn’t fix it. Hiding the story about Adam hasn’t fixed it. And will getting Megan one temporary shoe commercial deal with the root of the problem?

    4. It was obvious to Megan that Don should see a dentist to fix the larger problem. Megan’s problem (the lack of acting success) is a stickier problem than Don’s. There isn’t a dentist she can go to to fix that problem, but it throbs up and it hurts her all of the time. The real pain is that–at the moment–she doesn’t feel self worth if she doesn’t get an acting gig. The root of the problem is finding a way to value her worth –regardless if her first dream come true right away. We cannot know until next season if the problem is merely the fact Megan needed a chance to get her foot in the door, or if there is a deeper issue with her talent.

    5. Don was not particularly honest with either Betty or Megan when it came to his feelings about their desire for work, or his feelings about their CHOICE in work. Don is pretending not to be mad at Megan for leaving SCDP, but he does have some anger.

    6. If Don has evolved, this last part won’t make sense. But if he hasn’t evolved? The old Don liked that other men admired and wanted Betty. Connie was impressed with Betty. Rodger was impressed with Betty. Other ad agencies pursued Betty, even as they were using it as a chip to try to win Don. He wanted Betty to be HIS, but he wanted other men to be jealous of what he had. He was that way about Betty, but also about his status, his car, etc. But he wanted to take her home and away from the ad world, because he knew there were guys like Rodger and the Jag Exec and others–who used casting calls as a route to sex, and sometimes awarded parts based on sex. He wanted Betty to be admired, but he didn’t want anyone laying a finger on what was HIS. Earlier in this season, we saw all the men jealous of Don’s relationship with Megan. Even as Don was embarassed by the party and the singing, he was still immensely proud of Megan’s beauty, the buzz she created, other men’s desire for what he had, and so on. Her success in the ad business only increased that. But towards the end of Season 5, we do not see Megan as someone who is heavily sought after–at least not in acting. Don sees her rejected and rejected and rejected. She is not being pursued–she is chasing the jobs. And failing. Getting rejected is a normal part of the auditioning process, but Don doesn’t seem to know how to buck her up. And so I wonder if Don feels strange that Megan is begging him to help her get something that Betty was able to get all on her own?

    7. Mostly, though, I think it has always been challenging for Don to accept that people have lives and emotions that matter to them–things beyond what he wants them to want and do. Megan wants things that he wouldn’t want for her. And she is a bit inconsistent about what she wants (high art or selling shoes?) However, I think that Megan was willing to do the ads on the path to being something more. At the end of it all, though, we’re left wondering if Don can really accept the Megan he is married to. He didn’t seem to want Betty to be Betty–he wanted her to do, want, say, and be what he wanted her to be. And he couldn’t see how that hurt her and in the end him. And while he has accepted far more personality in Megan than he ever accepted in Betty, he seems to struggle to accept Megan when she is pursuing something that she wants but that he doesn’t want for her. If he truly does stray with the girls at the bar, it seems to be some version of “Fine, I’ll help you be what you want to be, but it isn’t what I wanted and so I’m going to go do something YOU wouldn’t like that I want.” It’s like he cannot love the complicated, flawed, messy Megan–he can only love the phantom Megan who only does what Don wants.

    • I thought what was fascinating with the scene in the Draper apartment was where Don tells Megan that he will drive Glen back to school with Megan asking Don if he was sure he wanted to that (Don a moment earlier said he needed to lie down) and not arguing the merits of the decision and then Don kissing Megan goodbye before departing with Glen.

      Glen probably couldn’t remember the last time a married couple showed that kind of affection and love for each other in front of him. I think it may have had a profound effect on him. Perhaps when he grows up he will not be totally cynical about marriage.

      And then to top it off, Don lets Glen drive his car back to school. Imho, this will pay dividends for Don and Megan in season 6 when Glen talks to Sally over the phone. He will always have nice things to say about Don and Megan.

      As for Megan’s love for Don, how much clearer can it be shown by Megan insisting Don see a dentist to alleviate his pain. She is not an innocent bystander. She really loves him and cares about his welfare. Where is Don going to find a woman who really care about him as much as Megan cares about him? In a bar?

      I beg to differ about Don and Megan when it comes to her rejection of advertising. After Don and Megan returned from that absurdist play which mocked consumerism Don did get upset at Megan for supporting folks who decided to mock his profession. And in this past episode Don did remind Megan of what she had said about advertising when she broached the subject of Butler shoes using her. If there is anything that is healthy about the Don-Megan marriage it is how they communicate how they really feel about various matters.

      And finally if Don divorces Megan what are his choices:

      a) Commit suicide

      b) Marry another version of Megan (who has the potential to end up being a Jane Sterling)

      c) Marry an older woman like Faye Miller who wants him to be like everyone else

      d) Marry an older women who already has kids.

      e) Be a philanderer for the rest of his life

      Obviously Don won’t commit suicide. So if he leaves Megan what does he do? Marry someone Megan’s age who he risks being incompatible with because they come from different generations (eg Bethany Van Nuys), be someone he doesn’t want to be, not only have one set of kids to look after but another set of kids as well (can you really see Don domesticated in this time in his life) or remain unmarried for the rest of his life and sleep with many women who don’t really love him.

      It depends on what Don needs going forward. If he doesn’t feel he needs Megan’s love in the future he will reject it and move on. But as the saying goes if you do feel the need to be loved and to express love you better have someone waiting in the bullpen warming up. Would Don really dump Megan without any backup plan? I don’t see it.

      • There have been quite strong hints that Peggy/Don might be the endgame for the series…

        • I would be enormously disappointed if that happened. It would feel way too engineered and artificial. Don has to be able to feel comfortable in his own skin with anyone and everyone other than Peggy. He is less unsettled or uncertain about himself when in Peggy’s presence than with any other living character. (Anna, of course, being the one who made him feel more at peace than anyone.)

          Calling Don to a place of greater maturity and wholeness would demand that he not end up with Peggy in a romantic context.

    • Don driving Glen back to school instead of talking to Megan showed that he doesn’t fully trust her or want to share with her. She is too self-centered to be supportive.

      • I just thought that Don needed time to process the day’s horrible events. He couldn’t sit down and tell Megan the whole story with Glen there. He also probably didn’t want to just leave Glen alone in Grand Central and felt responsible. to get him back to school safely.

      • I guess my main point is that Megan seems unaware that Don is walking around troubled. She doesn’t know he’s having Adam sightings. She may not have ever heard Adam’s story. If Don is in a funk about Lane, Megan and Don don’t seem to be talking about it.

        To the extent Don is discussing Lane’s suicide at all, he doesn’t seem to have been open about it–and arguably he is experiencing some guilt. Enough guilt to give Rebecca 50K, but not enough for him to ease Joan’s conscience by telling her he’d asked Lane for his resignation.

        And the result? Don is having painful flashbacks of dead family– telling him his soul is sick.

        Perhaps drinking and flings are more about his unshared private demons than about the women in his life.

    • Lady K:

      Point #7 in your list is so central to Don’s struggle and, by extension, the show. Terrific insight! Thank you!

  46. I haven’t seen this discussed–feel free to point me in the right direction if it has been: in the course of Marie delivering her home truths to Megan, she suggests that Megan is ungrateful for all Don has given her “especially since she hasn’t given him a family.” Megan flashes an amazed, hurt, look at her mother and the conversation ends up with something like “I’m glad my life is about more than my children.”

    This may be just projection but, that was a whipsaw that I remember very well growing up in that time period. Contempt no matter which way you turn. Want a career? You’re an ungrateful wife who won’t give your husband the children he should have. Want to make home and children the center of your life? You’ll end up alcoholic and bitter. You should aspire to make something of yourself in the world. Your world should be your family. Etc.

    I was talking about various characters and why so many people dislike both Megan and Jessica Pare so much. I started to think about the fact that I wouldn’t want to be friends with or family members of ANY of these characters–except possibly Ken Cosgrove, Megan Calvet and Henry Francis. I’m thinking that because the show has such appeal, we feel as if we should like these characters. But you can’t really without blinding yourself to pretty obvious faults. In my view (obviously I am in the minority about Megan) those three characters kind of provide a much-needed “decent relief” to the cast of characters.

    • Karen:

      Each of the lead female characters is defined by one emotion or characteristic. For Joan it is her worldly cynicism, for Peggy her naivete or common decency, for Betty it is her uncomfortability and sadness of living life an adult and harboring child-like emotions, and for Megan it is she is guilt-ridden.

      Megan wants to live life as a modern woman but is told by her mother that she is an ungrateful bitch that she is chasing a phantom. A double whammy if you will. In other words, Megan is made to feel guilty for living under Don’s roof and his largesse but at the same time pursuing her own goals independent of his.

      But on the other hand her father wants Megan to break away from the exquisite decadence provided her by Don and to “embrace the struggle” as she pursues an acting career.

      Who does Megan listen to?

      And then she bears her own guilt by now realizing she may have made a mistake in pursuing an acting career.

      Season 6 may see Megan coming to terms with her guilt. If Don cheats on her will she blame herself?

      • Stay tuned for next season of “Our The World Turns”…ye gads.

      • So the Megan Draper show is continuing for season 6 is what you’re saying? Ruh-roh.

        Kidding aside, I don’t think Megan has quite the guilty consience you profess she does. Maybe with her daddy but that’s about it. Mostly I think she’s a child bride, albeit one with some theatrical, manipulative talent, and her spoiled baby side was sort of laid bare last night.

        It will be interesting to see where she and Don are beginning of next season. I tend to think this is Roger and Jane Sterling all over again, though with a potentially much uglier ending. She could stick around for the final two seasons, though, and even if they separate/divorce I expect it to take some time. But I can’t see MW continuing to follow her acting pursuits for that length of time w/out the risk of MM becoming a compromised show.

    • Karen,

      I can see the attitude you are talking about, but I saw the interaction between Marie and Megan a bit differently:

      Marie started off kindly saying it’s noon (?!) and she should get up.
      Megan comments how she’s sad. (What are you 12?)
      Marie then pointed out the whole ballerinas comment, and true she did point out that Megan is not giving Don a family but I saw it as her pointing out that maybe it’s time to move on from chasing a phantom. Besides, Megan had a career that she walked out on and she walked out on it in a very personal way since her husband was so closely involved.

      Megan reacted like a petulant child (paraphrasing) You are nice to everyone else, why can’t you be nice to me. Marie was trying to be a parent in a nice way. I may be injecting my personal beliefs here but Marie’s comment on family was more about saying that it’s not just about you and what you want when you are no longer by yourself. Megan had a career she rejected for the sake of chasing a phantom and now that she is failing at that everyone is supposed to be nice to her because she cannot handle the harsh truth.

      Marie’s comment to Don about it now being his job to take care of Megan was very telling. Marie, as a parent, did her part – at some point kids do have to grow up and start acting like responsible adults. Hint, that doesn’t mean sleep until noon and drink the rest of the day cause you are sad.

      There are people battling depression for whom it is a daily struggle to function, which makes Megan’s bratty drunken “sadness” of not having an acting career after a few months of half- assed trying even more obnoxious.

      • Ivona,

        I agree with your assessment. I think Megan is used to being the “golden girl” – pretty, smart, probably daddy’s “princess”, so she’s used to things falling into her lap (look how easy it was for her get Don and move up in the world). I’ve seen first hand how people of that ilk get knocked for a loop when things don’t go their way. I got the impression that Megan’s histrionics are nothing new, and Marie’s tired of them. Her exasperation was pretty realistic – Megan is a married adult after all, and I wasn’t surprised at her comment to Don.

  47. I need to watch the episode again, as usual, but right now here’s what bothers me:

    If I have the timeframe right (from the time that Megan told Don she wanted to leave SCDP), it’s only been a couple of months that she has been pursuing acting, right? Or maybe a few months? But certainly not more than that, as far as I can tell.

    (Please let me know if we have gotten any seasonal cues or news/pop culture cues that indicate that more time has passed)

    Acting takes WORK. And time. You don’t just become an overnight success….and it’s rare that overnight you start booking regular work. Getting the first job can take a while.

    I haven’t yet watched the Inside Mad Men video (I’m about to), but you guys said that Weiner says she’s “failing” at it. What the heck? Didn’t she get a callback not that long ago? Getting a callback indicates that you are doing something right, even if it’s not booking a role. So if she’s so discouraged just because a couple of her friends got a role before her….it doesn’t necessarily indicate she’s not talented. What it does show is that she may not have the fortitude and motivation that it takes to stick with the career choice for the long haul.

    • It has been 5 months (Mad Men time) since Lady Lazurus and The Phantom. Yes, an argument can be objectively made that Megan has not given herself enough time to succeed but here again is what Jessica Pare said about Megan on Inside Mad Men:

      “She’s reached a point where she thinks she made a mistake and she was wrong…”

      And when Matt Weiner the creator and main writer of the show echoes the same sentiments one is forced to take them to the bank I believe.

      Yes, I agree if Megan was dead serious about acting she would give it more than 5 months. But I have always believed she decided to pursue acting for the wrong reasons. Megan is NOT passionate about acting and besides that she is tired of being miserable and frankly is scared of the toll it could take on her marriage to Don.

      And this begs the $64,000 question: Would Don rather be married to a quitter” who is again happy in a different venture or a perpetually unhappy woman who resolves never to give up pursuing her dreams as an actress?

      • Thanks for the five months info, Techno.

        I think Megan has an idea in her head about acting-as-a-career. I get that she’s always dreamed about it, and I think to some extent, she realized she’d have to deal with rejection, but it also seems she’s been quite starry-eyed about it. Which, I hate to say it, could indicate that her mother was right. (Could, not definitely)

        • What I find fascinating is the reasons given by the Calvets for Megan to pick up the pursuit of acting again and then to reconsider the decision. I think it tells us a more about Emile and Marie than it does Megan.

          For Emile, Megan needed to pursue acting to escape from the exquisitely decadent lifestyle that Don had provided her in order to embrace the struggle and save her soul from being polluted by the culture of advertising while Marie believed Megan had to take stock of what she enjoyed while living in a lap of luxury and to face the hard, cold reality that she was not talented enough to succeed in acting and to remain stubborn could jeopardize her marriage to Don.

          Yes, performing in commercials was a compromise but fortunately for Megan a choice that was available to her because of who her husband is. Will Megan be totally fulfilled by consisting pitching products? Perhaps not. But I would bet she will be a lot happier in the future than in the last 5 months while she was being rejected.

          As Marie told Megan, “Not every girl gets to do what they want. The world couldn’t support that many ballerinas.”

          • I’ll look again, but I’m feeling like I’m the only one who sees Marie as a very bitter and rejected woman at the moment, and her comments to both Megan and Don were just horrifically mean-spirited. To me, the turn came when she intimated to Don that Megan was untalented. Now, Don knows she isn’t that, because she’s so good at helping with the pitches. The look on his face then said to me, “wow, is her mom a total bitch” and, figuring she couldn’t get support from anywhere else, felt he should at least give her that. Checks the reel for on-screen confirmation and helps her because he can. From there, it’s up to her…

          • I think it’s a classic case of a mother pissing all over her daugher’s dreams. Meanwhile, Megan’s dad wants to salvage what spark is left of his poor, cuckolded life by ensuring his daughter doesn’t lose her spark. But Ms. Calvet couldn’t stand seeing her daughter do better than her. That’s my take on it, anyway…

          • I didn’t see it that way. I sort of thought Marie just got tired of babying her daughter and once Megan took a swipe at her she sort of snapped. Remember, different times back then. Not all children were sold on the illusion of their own exceptionalism for as long as they are today. As Don said, his “dream was of indoor plumbing.”

          • I didnt think Marie was saying she was untalented at everything, just acting.

          • I would love to know the ages of the commenters…… (Edited: although you might be curious, speculating that people who are plus or minus a certain age believe something particular about Megan, or don’t feel that way, is too generalizing. Not everyone here who is this age or that age feels the same way about things.) – Mad Chick

          • That’s a great question, Donna! Different generations ideas/styles on parenting are very different on defining happiness, success and things like following your dream, or your “bliss.” There has been a BIG emphasis and focus in the past 30 years on the importance of developing and “safe guarding” of a child’s “self esteem.” (For better or for worse, depends on your age, imo, and your point of view.)

            On the other hand, I think there is something important about pursuing dreams that has been touched on, but not enough. I’ve taught classes and workshops over the past 20 years as a counselor and coach on “rediscovering your dreams.” I’ve facilitated support groups of “graduates” of these workshops and classes for hopeful playrights, authors, musicians of all types, composers, people wanting to find their perfect mate, find and buy their dream house — basically people who want to reach their “dream,” whatever that dream is. And there are a couple of really important things to keep in mind when you’re pursuing your dream, that makes or breaks the process and has much to do with reaching your dreams/goals and how you feel along this journey:

            **You’ve got to be very clear on what you want, to be able to see it in your mind, to smell it, hear it and FEEL it. It’s got to be very, very real to you.
            **You’ve got to be willing to work, and work HARD.
            **You’ve got to be willing to be endlessly persistent.
            **You’ve got to LOVE it, whatever it is.

            And the most important thing, again imo, is that you’ve got to want IT more than you want to eat/sleep/breathe.You’ve got to want it and feel it almost a cellular level, in your mind, heart, spirit, your very gut. And not give up when you don’t succeed, after a month, year, decade, more. To keep picking yourself up, after every time you’ve failed or not reached your goal. To be willing to write a book(s), like I’ve done, late at night after working a full day, to write instead of going out for a night of fun, to write even when you hate the thought of sitting down one more time to write with “writer’s block.” To then send a query letter to every single agent who handles your type of book — and be “rejected” — one by one. And then pick yourself up and send a query letter to every single publisher (for this type of book), one at a time. And be rejected. But not give up. Because I believe in my book. So I put it aside for awhile and will dust it off and try again. 🙂

            Something else very important: There are what I call “dream killers” out there, and often they’re the very people you’re closest to, your family and friends. Often the people who love us the most are the very people who have themselves been disappointed and early on either gave up their own dreams or never had the courage or strength to go after them, and “settled” for something much less. And they’re afraid you won’t succeed or you’ll be disappointed and unhappy in the end. And they believe it’s better to never try than to face the disappointment and potential unhappiness of trying and not reaching or succeeding. So I’ve advised peoople to be very careful who they share their dreams with. Your dream is like your baby, it’s needs tender and gentle care as you’re “growing” it. You need to protect it. You want to surround yourself with other “dreamers” who are working toward their own dream. To give and get support. Because you’ll need it.

            Megan’s mom is a dream killer for all the best reasons, as she sees it. It’s about a lot more than whether or not she believes Megan has what it takes to be an “artist.” Of course, if she’s seen evidence in the past that Megan doesn’t stick to things, has little drive, is easily disappointed, or has very mediocre talent, she’ll be more apt to discourage her. But even if all those things are true, there are parents who will encourage their children to go after what they want simply because many of us believe it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried. The older you get the more you realize that people are more apt to regret what they haven’t done, than what they did do, to regret more that they never tried, than that they tried and failed.

            I said in another post that Megan is a “quitter.” I said that because Megan herself has said, and shown, that she gives up much too easily. And most people who are pursuing dreams don’t have a convenient daddy or husband who can open doors or pull strings for them to give them a foot up. It’s certainly wonderful to have those first doors opened for you, but it doesn’t guarantee success. If Megan doesn’t have talent, she won’t get past this first commercial. And the idea of “acting” in commercials was quite a few steps down for her from what she herself said she really wanted. If she does have talent or the people who count like what she does, this commercial will open the doors wide open for more for her. And that’s really great. But commercials are not plays on or off Broadway, or movies or TV shows. If she can be happy with what she does, wonderful. But will she be? Or will she herself see “acting” in commercials as “quitting” on her true dream?

            Sorry about the long post. This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.

          • Sorry,,, I have a stat background and love to see data, but I think I was thinking along the lines of generational differences and age based differences such as those displayed by Marie vrs Don vrs Megan and friends. Not to mention Henry(there are no new beginnings ).

    • Yes, it’s been no time at all. I was involved with the Actors Studio, West (not as a potential actress) for three years. It’s astonishing the number of hugely talented people who didn’t get work and didn’t give up. Megan has to be showing an incredibly well-developed sense of entitlement to think that less than a year of trying to get work means she is failing.

      It’s as if she expected instantaneous success because she succeeded so easily in SCDP, but that’s entirely unrealistic when it comes to acting. The fact that she doesn’t have work doesn’t in any way even relate to whether or not she’s talented.

      • Pele:

        I agree. But Megan is a self-admitted dabbler. And she has the luxury of thinking of her options in different terms than most actresses do who either have to stick with the pursuit of acting or getting a regular job to pay the bills.

        Megan told Don, “It’s been so hard.” Don’s response was, “I know, but would you rather be discovered or would you rather be successful because you were my wife?” And then Megan said, “I know you’re right.” And then Don said, “I would if I could.” (regarding the Butler shoe commercial)

        To me this is an extremely honest discussion between a husband and his wife.

        Now why did Megan move off this position? This has been talked about much but it was not because of financial considerations but I believe that she did NOT like what she was becoming. Megan had been successful working at SCDP. The success of her Heinz pitch was not so far in the past that she could not remember the good feelings associated with it and the recognition she got from SCDP holding onto the account.

        Instead Megan was beginning to act like a loser, feeling sorry for herself and negatively affecting Don. Don didn’t deserve that. So she reached out to Don again when she was drunk and asked him again to help her land that gig at Butler shoes. And Don complied.

        But in complying was Don’s love for Megan weakened due to him losing respect for her lack of persistence and giving up on acting so soon? Perhaps in an abstract sense one can make an argument that it was but do you remember when Don blew up about the prospect of Megan living on the road for 3 months if she landed a part in Little Murders?

        Don has definite priorities when it comes to Megan. She must wake up with him every morning and help him to take care of his kids every other weekend. And she must love him and satisfy him in bed.

        For that he will take care of her in the lifestyle she has grown accustomed. And Megan imho realized she better focus more on taking care of her man before it was too late. Doing commercials in NYC shouldn’t affect her being at home every night.

        • “…taking care of her man” brought back fond memories of Hillary Clinton’s comment on 60 Minutes “I’m not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.”

    • summer of 1966 to Easter 1967 is the time frame: Coming up, the Summer of Love

      • But wait there’s more. Mid ’67 to Late ’68 is a very eventful period, as the bubble truly bursts. For season 6 events during this period might be unavoidable. Or rather why wouldn’t the writers use some of the many events like they did with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy Assassination? MM is great at making the history personal.
        It’ll be a good while to wait for season 6, but some of us are glad that Breaking Bad is heading for a climax. Would some you like to start threads about BB here?

  48. I think we saw the lead characters in unaccustomed roles:

    1) Pete as an idealistic rescuer who sought to save Beth from the monster of a husband.

    2) Joan telling Don she would have slept with Lane if that could have saved his life. I never saw Joan as the sacrificial type.

    3) Marie Calvet wants to celebrate Easter with Megan because it is a religious holiday. (Calls Emite an atheist)

    4) Don the sober one, comforting a drunken wife.

    5) Megan willing to backstab a friend to land a commercial

    • At the same time, everyone appeared quite needy at the same time they were fighting different battles

      Don… fight–toothache & MEgan’s request; needy–guilt about bro

      Pete… fight–husband more loathsome than himself; needy–needing her to care/love him and realizing he’s not even a memory post-shock!

      Roger…fight–relevance (maybe I am reaching there); needy–actually asking Marie for some sort of committment beyond roll in the sack

      Megan…fight–for acting success/to be taken seriously; needy–taking an opportunity a friend/acquaintance wanted badly in order to promote herself due to her powerful feelings of failure after only a brief time of attempts

      Peggy…fight–to become a success (she’s become Don); needy–she still expresses a need for Don (‘don;t be a stranger’ from penultimate episode; then asking him for his digits in the theater)

      set up for the next season i hope

  49. I’m not trawling back up to see, but does Marie Calvet seem to anyone else visually like a mix of Jane and Mona?

    • Not really, IMO. They’re all lovely women in their own ways but I don’t see much phsyical resemblance.

      • Oh. I thought that Marie’s age was more like Mona, mature and sophisticated, but her features seemed very like how Jane might look in time.

    • Marie Calvet is supposedly a woman of about 50 so she would have been born around WWI or just after it. She would have most certainly have been raised a Roman Catholic and raised with the liberal French attitude towards sex. For me Marie is Megan but jaded and cynical due to her husband’s philandering. In an odd way she wishes that she had the marriage that Megan has with Don. He gives Megan everything she wants and Marie calls Megan “an ungrateful bitch” for not realizing that. And deep down Marie doesn’t want Megan to end up like her, a bitter middle-aged woman sleeping with men like Roger Sterling. And Marie hopes to shake some sense into Megan by showing her some tough love which she doesn’t get from anywhere else.

      Would Megan have even considered doing commercials if her mother hadn’t continually harped on her for being ungrateful?

      • I think Megan will do anything to be on stage

        • Perhaps at one time that was true. But she told Don in an earlier episode if she had to make a choice between acting and Don she would choose Don. And that idea was reinforced consistently by Marie last night.

          Imho, for Megan there is no turning back. She has burnt her bridges to acting professionally. Her life instead will be spend as a mother or in some form of advertising. And she will NOT be unhappy because she knows what is like to be unhappy and she never wants to return there.

    • I’m glad you asked this, because I was having TV problems and didn’t get reception until the scene when Roger was asking Marie to take LSD with him. I was completely flummoxed as to who she was at first..Mona? No, not that actress…too old to be Jane, but did kind of look like her. Then the woman spoke and I realized it was Marie. Definitely confusing.

    • Her attitude is Faye/Joan.

  50. The BEST line of the night (in French no less):
    Megan’s Mom : ” You ungrateful little bitch. Thank god my children aren’t my whole life”.
    I’m going to practice that one… It sounds much classier in French. C’est la vie.

    I have a teen daughter– it just rang so true to this phase of motherhood 😉

    • I agree. I think Marie really hit home with that remark.

    • Yes! I thought that the little bitch part was a little harsh but I cheered when she said ” Thank god my children aren’t my whole life”.

      Mother of a teenage son here 🙂

      Sadly, Megan is no longer a teenager at least not according to her age 😉

  51. What if you could erase your problems like an Etch-A-Sketch? But that doesn’t help, does it? It’s just a temporary bandage on a permanent wound.

    What if soul pain could be yanked out like a hot tooth? It can’t, as Adam Whitman told his doped-up brother. The wound stays fresh, and digs at you, and you navigate around it, switching the metaphoric phone to the other jaw, but it won’t go away.

    What happens when people become too full of ambition for their own good? It causes lots of heartache; sometimes when you taste it and have it yanked away, you kill yourself … or end up getting your ass kicked.

    Pete’s reflections in the hospital rivaled Peggy’s speech about giving up her baby and losing part of herself. It was amazing. What’s to become of Pete’s dreams? For now, looks like things are back to good old lame; he’s slapped that bandage back on the wound and is suffering through the toothache, finding what little bits of romance he can in his headphones.

    I think the advice Mrs. C gave to Don — nurse her through the crushing defeat and allow her to settle into becoming Betty Draper Brunette Barbie — was the very thing that prompted him to give her the acting opportunity, despite his fears that you do nice things for people, only to see them prosper and leave. Dick Whitman grew up with people pissing all over any sliver of a dream he might have had; and then he turned around and did the exact same thing to Betty and her modeling career. This time, he did the right thing. Or did he?

    The final song was about dreams, phantoms, and the price you pay to chase them. But we follow them anyway, pining for our version of happiness. To do otherwise is to resign ourselves to becoming our version of a failure. For Lane, that meant not being a part of SCDP and America. He was living his dream — but that’s a risky business. When that dream ended, all the doubts that had been placed in his head by his sadistic father and shrewish wife were confirmed. He just knew he was the failure everyone said he was.

    Should he have not had that dream in the first place, as his widow suggested? Would he have been better off had he remained a mid-level nobody, slamming against the hull of some big ad firm’s ship in Bombay?

    In the end, Don couldn’t stand seeing Megan become like Lane or Betty, despite the sage advice of Megan’s slut of a mother. So Don escorted his wife into her fairytale land, with colors reminiscent of the Coca Cola ad — which also featured a “European woman” –. then Donny-Boy squared his shoulders, marched to the nearest pub, fired up a smoke, ordered an old-fashioned … and then what? There are so many possibilities.

    So what’s the moral of the story? Stop chasing the phantom because there’s too much heartache in it? Of, if you do choose to chase your dreams, you’ll compromise yourself, manipulate, and totally screw over your bff.

    As we neared the end of the episode, we saw that, from an outsider’s point of view, SCDP has made a huge leap. They have another floor, which is big doin’s when you’re trying to impress clients. But Don and Joan know there’s bad juju; that extra floor was paid for by Lane’s suicide. The stairway to heaven was marked with a big red X.

    Well, at least Roger seemed to enjoy himself! Or maybe he jumped?

    • Wow! I wish my middle-of-the-night thoughts were this good!

      By the end of the episode, the happiest people were Meagan (deep amidst her fairy tale), Roger (tripping on LSD), and poor Beth Dawes (electroshocked into amnesia). I’m reminded a bit of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, where Hickey the salesman figures that the only way for the poor denizens of Harry Hope’s Saloon can be happy is if he destroys their “pipe-dreams” so they can face reality and be happy once they realize that dreams will never come true. The result, of course, is that they’re miserable once they face the truth of their failures and hopelessness. All they want is to be restored to their previous illusions.

      In this episode, Marie Calvet and Rebecca Pryce (both non-Americans, interestingly) share Hickey’s view. And, at the end of Iceman, there is a suicide by one of the characters who has been stripped of his illusion and can’t go back to drunken fantasy.

      • Melville,

        Great observation about the only ones who are happy. And they’re all happy from outside, artificial and often temporary means. Roger uses LSD and once a trip is over he needs more to stay happy. Beth needs EST and eventually it wears off and she needs it again. Megan’s fantasy is sustainable only as long a Don supports it. But no one is happy in a self generated way.

        Thanks for the insight about “The Iceman Cometh.” Could Harry’s treatment of Paul (pretending that NBC liked his script but couldn’t use it for legal reasons) be an example of keeping people in their illusions for their own benefit?

    • Wow. This is the best thing I’ve read about the S5 denouement. Well, to the extent we have one at all. Really good stuff here – well done.

    • On re-veiwing I notcied Don under the nitrous — he looks lik the elephant trunk….elephants never forget

  52. When Megan told Don in a previous ep that he should not get used to her being home, happy and cooking and to be ready to see tears of rejection, I thought Megan understood that acting is a hard profession to be successful in. But here we are several months into her being devoted to acting and she is already depressed that it has not turned around for her. What happened to the woman that said (parapharsing) she is happier failing in acting than being successful in advertising?

    • Aaaah, but that was when she thought she would succeed in acting

    • sr:

      There are always at least two ways to look at any decision one makes especially when it comes to one’s career choices–from a short-term point of view and a long-term point of view.

      But let me present a pending marriage analogy. A potential bride is NOT absolutely sure she should get married to her fiance but nevertheless accepts his proposal. The wedding planner is hired, all the arrangements are made, the invitations are sent out, the bride’s entourage is chosen and wedding presents are purchased And then 48 hours before the wedding is about to occur the bride cancels the wedding.

      Now if you are a wedding guest you will probably have one of two reactions. The first would be, “How dare she cancel the wedding giving such short notice? How inconsiderate, flighty to do so! She should be so embarrassed or ashamed of her behavior. That is the short-term response.

      There there is the long-term response. If you are not absolutely sure or committed to marriage with you fiance, it’s better to bail out before you get married. It sure beats a messy divorce later on.

      My take on Megan perhaps bailing on acting is that I take the long-term view. Why spend one moment longer pursuing a dream which you are not totally convinced you can ever achieve. There is an expression: Why throw good money after bad! Accept your losses and move on to something more profitable is my motto.

      Now many folks adopt the short-term outlook and feel Megan has NOT given professional acting enough time in order to really find out if that is her niche or not, and thus are apt to label her a quitter. But that begs the question how long should anyone devote to a dream if results are not forthcoming? Six months, a year, two years, five years or whatever. I don’t think there is any one definitive answer but I do know this much about pursuing a dream: Most people need to see a little bit of progress as time moves along. If you are a professional golfer and finish near the bottom of the money list during your first two years on the PGA tour and never finish in the top 10 in any tournament you might get the feeling you should take the job of a golf pro at your local country club and give up your dream of being the next Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. In other words there are certain yardsticks along the way that indicate if one is making progress or not or succeeding.

      Megan Draper is NOT stupid. She knows she is not making ANY progress in her dream to becoming a professional actress. And she is beginning to realize (Jessica Pare in Inside Mad Men) that she may have made a mistake. Some people might interpret that conclusion as Megan losing face and as a result believe she should hide her head in shame. But I am not one of those people. Megan is an adult. She is NOT happy or comfortable pursuing her dream and bottom line she is not seeing any success. Instead she turned to Don who may have helped her to launch a successful career as an advertising pitchwoman. Perhaps Megan will fail at this as well. But what if she doesn’t? What is she becomes successful? It’s so easy to second-guess decisions of this sort but I learned a long time ago unless you have lived in the skin of the person making the decision to change course, one can’t comprehend how difficult the decision was to come to and the courage it takes to admit you made a mistake knowing the world is ready to deem you a quitter or a coward.

      • But it is ironic that the woman who said she would be happier failing at acting than at succeeding in advertising is in bed at noon several months later “depressed” that she is failing in acting. It is ironic that she said she gave more time to advertising than acting which may still be the case yet she has determined she has already failed as an actress. She was not buried under a pillow when she was succeeding in advertising which apparently is not much of an accomplishment to her.

      • Megan is a quitter. And quitters don’t end up really succeeding at anything.

      • This point was made by someone else, but I am repeating it here. Don had gone to Faye for help to get in the door with Heinz. Eventually, at the 11th hour, Don and Megan won Heinze on the merit of their pitch. But Faye gave Don the foot in the door and it was even more sketcy. Don giving Megan a foot in the door with this commercial is not, to me, Megan selling out or anything nefarious. People work their connections to get jobs all time. Short courses are given on how to network. My take on watching Megan’s reel was that Megan did have something special, Don saw it, and a combination of her having something special, his love for her, his desire not to repeat past mistakes as with Betty, caused Don to change his mind. I can see how some viewers could read don’s facial expressions as also seeing Megan as insincere, but I don’t think that was Don’s overwhelming reaction. Perhaps a bit of that but mostly hey, she has something special and I love her and why not help her see if she can reach her dreams. We’ll see but I wouldn’t be surprised if Megan runs with it and does have some success. I also wouldn’t be surprised if, with some bumps, Megan and Don manage to have a successful marriage. This was one of the rare episodes where I really felt for Don. I hope this character doesn’t decide he is the sum of his worst moments but rather realizes that he can be a good person, that he has done bad things in the past but doesn’t have to keep doing them, and that he has value and is good as well.

        • great response, I agree completely
          I know it is hard to believe, but this tv show can be overanalyzed.

      • I also completely agree with you that if Megan does fail at acting, so what. She should not hang her head in shame if she fails at acting. She has already shown some promise at advertising, she could give advertising another try. Or any number of jobs given that she is a bright, vibrant young woman.

    • Joan was not at her best the day she received the divorce papers from Greg. Peggy was not at her best when she got rejected by Heinz. Don has not been at his best when rejected by clients or by women. Betty was not at her best when she lost the Coke commercial. Pete was not at his best when rejected by Beth earlier in the season. And remember how Pete reacted when he couldn’t sell his story? Lee Garner, Jr was not at his best when rejected by Sal. And poor Paul with his beloved TV script.

      Megan’s dream is not entirely a reality. It is a dream. Whether or not her dream can grow legs and become a reality is still an open question.

      But most people get a bit upset with rejection. Not to mention repetitive rejection when it focuses on one’s ability to achieve one’s most cherished dream.

      I’ve had lots of friends audition for things (heck, I’ve auditioned for things). Or they’ve tried out for the team. Or sent off a manuscript. Or tried to sell something to strangers. Some of these people turn out very successfully, but does that mean they NEVER cried when they didn’t get the part they wanted? Or didn’t make the Varsity team the first season?

      The real question is not “does Megan ever break down and have a bad day/week?” The real question is what happens over the long-run. If Megan’s talents do not truly lie in acting, she needs to work through these bad times so they can push her toward more realistic opportunities. But she cannot move on to other things (advertising, other reception work, interior decoratiing, starting a family, who knows???) until she either succeeds at acting or fails so badly that she sees it–and can make a break with it.

      Some of that involves having very bad days.

      And if she does succeed due to the shoe commercial (she gets noticed, it leads to more things based on her real work), Don and Megan will look back on her struggle as growing pains.

  53. The season promo poster was based on surrealist painting (as per MW).

    I found the combo of the new office floor shot (the previously “phantom” second floor).

    And Roger facing the window with his arms outstretched (I know someone will eventually get a screen cap of that!) combined are a backwards version of Salvador Dali’s “The Last Supper”

    It would fit with the Easter theme of the episode. Also, during Roger’s first LSD trip he heard two pieces of music playing simultaneously. That could connect to two separate images in the episode being combined in one painting (Dali’s). And Roger’s trip was surrealist in essence.

    Also, there’s the resurrection of Roger (enjoying life again) and the Don on S1. And the “phantom” second floor and the phantom of the resurrected Christ.

    • Celina – You reminded me that I need to go back and really take a look at that promo poster and see what I can get from it now. I liked your comment about the ‘phantom’ second floor.

      • Thanks! Surrealist themes played out in Roger’s trip, Betty’s dream out her family after her death, and Don’s hallucinations of Adam. Also, Surrealism deals with dreams and dreams permeated the season.

    • Here’s a Youtube version of the painting. The person who uploaded it has “worked with it” (made it almost 3D), but the first shot is the original painting.

  54. For those who consider Don Draper UNHAPPY while walking off the sound stage, sitting at the bar in the final scene up to the moment he is asked by a blonde woman if he is alone, I would invite you to rewatch the final scene with Don Draper in the first four seasons and his facial expression and mannerisms and what he says to properly evaluate his level of UNHAPPINESS.

    Here is a comparison:

    Season 1: The Wheel

    Don arrives home to an empty house because Betty has taken the kids to Gene’s place for Thanksgiving Dinner. He sits at the bottom of the stairs very UNHAPPY and alone. This is the touchstone I believe one should judge Don’s level of UNHAPPINESS. Clearly the Don’s final scene on Sunday comes nowhere close to matching Don’s UNHAPPINESS at the end of season one. As viewers we get the feeling that Don really feels he is alone and he is now forlorn as a result of this realization.

    Season 2: Meditations in an Emergency

    Don sits down at the kitchen table and Betty surprises him with the news she is pregnant. Prior to the news both Don and Betty were looking very seriously at each other. After the news Don becomes grim, which can be defined as being stern in a frightening or unnerving way that portends possible gloom. But in the strict sense of the word Don is not UNHAPPY at the news but I believe PENSIVE as he tries to sort out in his mind what the pregnancy means in terms of moving forward. One could also argue Don is slightly pessimistic as well. As adults, we should realize there are times in our lives in which we are neither happy or unhappy. This is one such moment for Don imho. And compared to Sunday, Don is not nearly as PENSIVE sitting at the bar as he was at the end of season two.

    Season 3 Shut the Door, Take a Seat

    Don is seen standing proudly and optimistic in the large living room at The Pierre watching his colleagues busy at work trying to get the new firm of SCDP off the ground. He has just phoned Betty and told her she can have her divorce and he will not contest it. The scene quickly moves to Don getting his suitcases from the back of a cab and then shows Don with back to the camera walking towards an apartment building where he now will be living. Clearly Don is not UNHAPPY in this final scene but if I could summarize his feelings at this very moment it would be the feeling of relief that he can now move forward with his personal life, whatever that may entail but at the same time being slightly apprehensive with his business life as he wonders if the initial optimism of starting a new enterprise can translate into long-term success for SCDP. And imho Don’s facial expression and mannerisms were not much different at the end of season 3 than they were at the end of season five.

    Season 4 Tomorrowland

    We witness Don seeing Betty at the Draper house and giving her the news he is engaged. Don is NOT overjoyed but he is clearly happy under the circumstances. How is an ex-husband supposed to act or appear when he tells his ex-wife he is about to remarry? Serious but upbeat. I think that would describe Don. In contrast it is clearly Betty who is UNHAPPY at the surprising news and if you compare Betty’s UNHAPPINESS to Don’s attitude, facial expression and mannerisms as he walks out of the sound stage and bellys up to the bar counter at the end of season five you will realize Don is nowhere close to being as UNHAPPY at that moment as Betty was, if he is in fact unhappy at all.

    Then the scene quickly shifts to Don’s apartment with Megan sleeping and Don holding her in bed. They are clearly now a couple. Don stares out the window apprehensive but their physical embrace in bed indicates something else. Don is again PENSIVE but and I would say neither pessimistic or optimistic but unsure or apprehensive that he may have made a mistake marrying Megan without knowing her longer but grounded in the reality he has now made his bed and now he must lie in it. But lying in bed Don is not UNHAPPY.

    Season 5: The Phantom

    Let’s start with the scene on the sound stage. Megan is dressed in costume with a smile on her face. Don is watching her standing a few feet away. They are alone for a second before Megan is to take the stage. Megan tells Don that she loves him and gives him a quick kiss on the cheek and then takes the stage. Don then stares at Megan, turns around and takes a long walk off the sound stage. I’m sorry but I did not see an UNHAPPY man at that moment. Again I take you back to the end of season one if you really want to know how Don looks when he is unhappy.

    And after Don takes his seat at the bar and assertively orders an old-fashioned, he is shown in thought but I wouldn’t say deep thought. Obviously I can only speculate what Don is thinking at that very moment but I don’t think it is about business since the firm had its best quarter ever and he fully realizes he has his groove back and is ready to really focus on business (In Inside Mad Men Jon Hamm comments that Don is “now completely invigorated in building this company”). So I do think he was thinking about Megan and what the Butler shoes commercial could trigger in terms of her career and what changes could occur in their marriage as a result. But in considering these things watch Don’s facial expression and mannerisms. He is definitely not UNHAPPY. For me Don is more bemused as he sits there and imho this last scene has more in common with the ending of season three than it does with season one. Optimism and change is in the air. But there are two keys differences between the end of season three and the end of season five. In the former, it was not a certainty that SCDP would thrive, at the end of season five that is more of a certainty and at the end of season three Don was rejected by Betty (symbolized by the divorce and the very last scene of Don walking into his new apartment) while at the end of season five Megan tells Don that she loves him (using virtually the same words she used at the end of season four). Frankly if Don was not UNHAPPY at the end of season three with divorce pending, why would anyone think he would be or should be UNHAPPY now with his personal life.

    And when the blonde girl asks Don if he is alone and when Don looks at her in an enigmatic way, I get the impression he is about to say, “Are you kidding?”

    And finally on a personal note, I have sat at a bar counter alone and I have sat at a counter with friends. They are two different experiences. Suffice it to say there is more cheer and laughter present in the case of the latter but honestly unless you were drunk, would any sober person belly up to the bar alone smiling like a Cheshire cat. I think he or she would look exactly like Don or even Betty at the end of season two when she sat down at a bar counter alone. Neither happy or unhappy but absorbed in their own thoughts. Of course that would instantly change if someone began to talk to him or her.

    In conclusion, I realize this is a minority position but I don’t think Don was UNHAPPY at all in the final scene. I’m seen enough of Don on screen to know when he is UNHAPPY or pissed off.

    • Techno,

      I think Don is more thoughtful and contemplative at the end of season five – and not as deeply disturbed or unsettled compared to seasons 1-4, as you rightly note – for a very simple reason that’s not particularly connected to visual cues: He’s been brought back to the beginning of another cycle.

      After all he’s been through, after being paralyzed with fear over the prospect that he might one day be unfaithful to Megan, he now realizes that his marriage is not the fantasy it originally seemed to be. Even with Megan, this person who is different in temperament from Betty on many levels, he finds a situation which carries with it all too many echoes of what he went through with Betty. Don finds himself in a most unexpected psychological position, with a wife whom he thought would be so refreshingly, positively different for him… but hasn’t proved to be.

      He has to give this matter some honest thought… the kind of thought he hasn’t had to devote to his life since his pre-Megan days.

      I think he’s not ready to make a decision as season five ends, but he definitely does feel alone, or at least, far more alone than he has ever felt as Megan Draper’s husband. He is in a place that demands a lot of reflection on his life, chiefly: 1) Who he is, and 2) how his expectations should/n’t govern his attitudes and behavior toward other people, especially Megan.

      • Exactly Mzemek. The problem with Mad Men or any TV show is that it is extremely difficult to show nuance which includes an individual neither being happy or unhappy but as you say reflective. I am NOT criticizing bloggers or posters but just stating a fact: So many folks have bought into the premise that Don was unhappy as he walked off the sound stage or bellied up to the bar counter. I have watched that last scene a number of times and I just don’t see it.

        I guess the argument could be made that Don could have been more engaging with the bartender or sought out to converse with his neighbors on either side, but can it be argued because Don did not do that it then follows he is UNHAPPY?

        And I really believe that on reflection, Don will come to the conclusion it is better to have Megan involved in the advertising industry in some capacity where he can oversee her activities, progress or gigs (companies affiliated with SCDP) rather than her pursuing an acting career and in the process making herself miserable or being forced by circumstances to work out of town for long stretches of the time.

        Frankly I just don’t see Don leaving Megan because she is successful in the advertising industry in some capacity. Jon Hamm said in Inside Mad Men that Don is now reinvigorated and ready to play his part in growing the company in season six. He won’t have as much time to think about what Megan is doing except to realize she is happy in what she doing.

        And I was frankly surprised at Inside Mad Men for Matthew Weiner stating that Megan was failing as an aspiring actress and Jessica Pare for commenting that Megan was beginning to realize she may have made a mistake in pursuing an acting career.

        If Megan is back in season six, look for her to either become one of the most prominent spokespeople for products or back at SCDP competing with Peggy for accounts who insist on a female presence in the copywriting department.

        • Techno – I agree with you that Don is not unhappy at the end of The Phantom, what he looks to be is confident, powerful. He exudes that as he sits at the bar, and that is why younger attractive women are drawn to him. He doesn’t say yes to them, or no, but they are drawn to him. He is a much more attractive man than he has been through much of Season 5 and it shows.

  55. Don is attracted to independent and powerful woman, but Megan showed him in the reel that she is not that, she needet him to succed, even if he told her this is not a smart move.. So he walked out of her and his phantoms (Pryce, Adam, Betty and maybe his marriage), and return to the old Don Draper, with the drinking and the women.

    He got his mojo back because he is useless when he is happy and thinks he is in love.

  56. Does it seem to any of you odd that any serious discussion that Megan and Don may have had regarding important events not directly related to their marriage is never shown? We have never seen Megan and Don discuss Don’s childhood, Don’s extacurricular activities, Adam’s suicide, Adam’s reappearance, or Don’s role and the after effects of his first marriage failing. We have never seem them discuss what Don thinks his role in Lane’s suicide was or his meeting with Rebecca. Nor Peggy’s leaving. Nor his moment with Joan and her partnership. etc. There have been moments that have deeply affected him but he is never shown explaining it to Megan. With very few of this list, we have gotten some clues that some mention was made to Megan but even with those, we do know the extent of what she was told. For the remaining list we dont know if he just internalized it like he did with Betty or he is telling her but we just dont know about it. I am assuming he is not telling her but that may not be correct.

    • Don told Megan about Lane embezzling money from the firm and he told her before he left with Glen he would speak to her after he returned. I can’t see him hiding something so significant as Lane’s suicide from Megan.

      As for Peggy leaving the firm, Don may have not told her.

      And we know Megan knows about Dick Whitman and Anna Draper. Thus she knows about Korea and the switch of the dog tags. I would say there is a good chance she knows that Betty knows about Dick but I think it is less likely she knows Pete knows about Dick.

      And lest we forget, Megan from her receptionist’s desk could size up Betty when she picked up Sally at the office after she had run away, and she knows Sally is angry at her mother–why else would she run away? And from that quick observation of Betty, Megan could figure out why Don and Betty’s marriage broke up.

      In Tomorrowland Megan while in the pool in CA holding baby Gene did comment that Don swims all the time in NYC.

      And finally do you remember in the last episode that Emily brought up the possibility of doing a commercial for Butler shoes and Megan knew right away what she was talking about.

      Bottom line: Megan is different than Betty. Betty cared little about the specifics of Don’s day or clients. Megan wants to be keep abreast of what is going on and the clients Don is dealing with. Yes, Don is upset that Megan per se had given up being involved in advertising herself(till recently) but that has not stopped her showing interest in what Don does for a living.

      Megan knew about Jaguar and in episode 12, she watched Don prepare his presentation to Dow Corning.

      • techno – my point is that we never actually see any of the discussion that Don has with Megan concerning important/major events in his life that are not directly related to his marriage. We have been given very small clues that Megan knows some things but we never see the actual conversation and do not know the extent of what she has been told. I was not saying that Megan does not know anything. I was saying that we never see her being told.

      • You are way putting too much blame on Betty for the dissolution of that marriage. Betty knew what Don wanted her to know. The reason Megan has such an attentive, loving husband is because Don was intent on not making the same mistakes he made in his first marriage which led to Betty leaving him. It is evident how much you love Megan and that is fine, but Betty deserves some of your respect as well.

    • Yes, I wonder about this a lot. I think that has been one of the hardest things for me this season–we catch these snippets of events. Some of them are huge, some of them are tiny.

      Some of them we can assume don’t need a full discussion.

      But there have been major events that certainly merit some discussion between the characters involved, and for some reason I think we ought to be given more hints of the real discussions that must have happened.

      I have to leave it up to the writers, but I was not overly interested in Pete’s storyline this season, and I could have handled less Megan (though obviously she needs a chunk of time). I think they could have alluded to a lot of the Pete/Megan stories without taking so much time showing so much of it. Also–having Henry’s mother be creepy grandma was kind of spooky fun, but in the big picture I’m not sure what it added. Emil, Marie, Grandma Francis, Glen, Mona, Jane, Beth, Joan’s mom, Dawn, Ginsburg, Paul, Dolores photo girl…

      I don’t want the writers to weed out side characters and side stories, especially when it helps us understand our major characters better. But when it comes to the amount of time spent on any given side story, I think some side characters and side stories were developed at the expense of major characters and big picture issues.

      We didn’t get to see Don and Megan talk much about Don’s past (Anna, Betty, Adam, his childhood), we are only left to infer from what we did see. We didn’t see Don and Megan really have time to discuss Sally’s sudden appearance, Sally’s disappearance, the surprising appearance of Glen, the suicide of Lane, and so on. We haven’t been shown serious discussions of the parenting/step-parenting struggles, and we’ve only been shown minimal signs of any tension between Megan and the kids.

      At the office, we were not really shown any reaction at all to Peggy getting hired elsewhere. We didn’t get to see anyone at the firm’s reaction to Joan being made a partner (even though we know this would have been unusual and at least Kenny knows about the shady deal). We are left to assume that Joan’s mom is doing all the Kevin childcare, that everything between them is working out well enough, and that Joan has had absolutely no visible struggles returning to work after becoming mother (just struggles with Greg, a divorce, Jag exec, refusing Rodger’s attempts to give money, and feeling guilt about Lane–no mother/work conflict struggles are shown). After all the drama in the first episode about civil rights and hiring a person of color–we get almost NOTHING about the drama Dawn must be experiencing. We do not know what sort of story the office and the world was told about Lane.

      It’s okay to not spell everything out for the audience. But some of the issues that were not shown seem more interesting to me than some of the things that were shown in great detail.

      For all of Don’s struggles last season–his descent to extreme lows from which he arises to sober up and marry Megan–the ascent seemed too easy, and very little of it was shown.

      I enjoyed much of this season, but I feel more at sea and the season seemed a bit more disjointed.

      My take-away is that last season ended with a “Tomorrowland” fantasy. This season ended with Megan falling off her pedestal. Perhaps she should never have been placed on a pedestal to begin with–she was always ever just a mortal human being.

      I think we saw Don make more of an effort on his relationship than we’ve seen in the past, and yet I don’t know that we can all agree whether he tried hard enough or worked at his relationship enough. If Megan is going to be called a dabbler when it comes to work, I think it fair to call Don a dabbler when it comes to relationships and women. If we are going to say “real work is hard and imperfect, and Megan doesn’t seem to want to settle or to work” — I think we can say “real marriages are hard, and Don doesn’t seem to want to settle or work.” (if he has stopped discussing difficult issues with Megan and has resumed his cheating ways, which is hinted at but is not fully shown).

      Anyway, the whole season has been an unraveling of fantasy. Also–it seems that nobody gets to be “a good little boy” or a “good little girl” and remain in the game. I think that is why I cringe at some of the reaction to Megan. Nobody else got to stay a “good little girl” or a “good little boy.” So did we really expect Megan to both remain a “good little girl” and succeed?

    • My big question too

    • sr,

      I think that Don has told Megan the broad outline and most of the general details of his backstory, but not everything in its most minute detail. I’m of the view that there will come a time in season six when one of these minute details will surface, and it will carry powerful storytelling resonance for the series, not to mention a great deal of weight for Don’s and Megan’s characters.

  57. For those who think the last scene on Sunday indicates a break-up of the Draper marriage I would like to examine the primary reasons for any marital breakup between a man of 41 and a woman of 26.

    a) Financial problems/problems paying the bills

    Emile Calvet called the Draper pad exquisitely decadent. Don is doing well enough financially that he is able to replace the $8000 Lane embezzled from SCDP. And Don commented at the end of season four talking to his accountant that he was doing well. And lest we forget, Don received a half a million dollars from the sale of SC to PPL according to Roger Sterling. And in season five we have NOT heard one word that has even hinted that Don is in financial trouble. Sure SCDP could go belly up, but would anyone who has watched Mad Men for any length of time really believe that Don’s services would not be in high demand if he hit the open market as a free agent?

    And Megan loves her lifestyle that she has grown accustomed to. Why would she leave Don unless he became abusive towards her?

    Marriage counselors will tell you the #1 cause of marriage breakup are financial reasons. At present this will NOT be the reason Don and Megan break up.

    b) The wife spends too much of his money and the husband grows increasingly more outraged at her extravagance.

    Have we witnessed that with the Draper marriage during season five? Yes Megan wears nice clothes and goes shopping but have we ever seen Don raise a storm over one of Megan’s shopping excursions or accuse her of wasting or squandering his money? After the surprise party in episode 1 Don was upset at Megan for spending money on the party but she then reminded him it was her own money she was wasting and not his. But after their makeup sex on the white rug Don did say he wanted to give Megan everything she wanted. If Don divorces Megan, this will not be cause of their breakup.

    c) Incompatability because of their ages or ideas (generational/cultural outlook, not on the same wavelength)

    Sure Don is 41 and Megan is 26. But except for Don’s lack of knowledge of modern music and perhaps modern plays, have we seen Don and Megan at odds with each other because of their inability to communciate about present times and world they live in (the 1960’s)? Sure Don’s tastes may be different than Megan’s in some areas but except for the absurd play criticizing consumerism, have Don and Megan had a major argument over philosophy, politics, cultural issues or perception due to their age difference? Sure in Tea Leaves, Don tells Megan that the reason he didn’t tell her about Betty’s cancer was because Megan was 26 but Megan quickly reminded Don as the kids step-mother she had a right to know and the issue was then dropped as a bone of contention.

    d) Husband works too much and ignores his wife

    Megan has encouraged Don to become more focused at work and to work longer hours. For many wives, they would be extremely angry at being ignored. Megan is not wired that way.

    e) Sexual problem in bed

    As adults, from what you have seen so far in the Draper marriage, will Don and Megan divorce each other because they can’t or won’t satisfy one another in bed? I would be willing to bet my house that will not be the reason they split up.

    f) Spousal abuse

    After what we saw in Far Away Places anything is possible. And Megan was pissed off at Don for leaving work and coming home drunk in Christmas Waltz and threw the plate against the wall. Yes if Don beat Megan up or Megan got violent with Don I could see their marriage disintegrating. But what is the likelihood of that happening with both Don and Megan being successful at work?

    g) Past baggage of either party (Don’s hangups with Adam Whitman, Dick Whitman and his birth and upbringing)

    In the extreme Don could become completely neurotic, irrational, drug-dependent I could see Don driving Megan away but Don has apparently told Megan about Dick Whitman and his baggage from the past although we don’t know the extent of what he told her except Megan knows about Anna Draper.

    If Don had not told Megan about Dick Whitman I could envision the same scenario that occurred when Don told Betty about his past–Betty no longer wanted to be married to Don any longer. But since she knows objectively I believe this scenario is a lot less likely.

    Now what if Megan was a hooker before she met Don? What if she had a shady past? Then yes I could see Don leaving Megan after learning this. But so far we as the audience have not learned anything about Megan’s past to make us believe she led an immoral life. And Matt Weiner in his interview with Inside MM has never even hinted that Megan has a sordid past.

    h) The wife’s refusal to have children when the husband wants them or vice versa

    Don already has three children. In Signal 30 while drunk he suggested to Megan they make a baby. She said that was impossible. And then in Lady Lazurus Don mentioned to Roger that he broached the idea on their honeymoon and Megan put the kibosh on it then. Objectively was Don really upset at the idea of Megan not having his children? If you think he was, then you must be watching a different MM than I’ve been watching. Again in season six or even beyond that I don’t believe Don will break up with Megan because she refuses to get pregnant. Don has become reinvigorated at work. He doesn’t need the patter of little feet to make him happy.

    As for Megan getting pregnant and Don leaving her because he doesn’t want to start another family I just don’t see it. Don is a traditional man who understands his responsbilities as a new father.

    i) Megan becomes an alcoholic or drug user or goes into a deep depression where she requires electroshock treatments etc.

    If Megan becomes extremely depressed or neurotic and abusive towards Don, yes I could see Don leaving her. Don is NOT a very patient man when it comes to other people’s problems. Remember how he was with Betty when she was in the process of deciding whether to go to a psychiatrist or not.

    In fact I will predict if what we saw of Megan on Sunday lying in bed feeling sad and sorry for herself becomes permanent, Don will eventually leave her. But what are the two last scenes we see of Megan? First her screen test where she is happy and then on the sound stage with a smile on her face. I suppose anything is possible in the word of Mad Men.

    j) Different career paths, not spending time with each other nurturing their marriage

    I think if you polled all the Mad Men viewers, a great majority of them would cite this reason why Don and Megan will eventually split.

    First let’s create the worst possible scenario that would almost ensure a marriage breakup. Megan becomes a successful movie or TV star and is forced by work to relocate to LA on a permanent basis and as a result Don and Megan rarely see each other. This is an instant formula for marriage breakup.

    But how likely is this scenario likely to come to pass given what has happened in episode 13? Objectively I would say not as likely but still possible (if Matt Weiner wants to go in that direction and end Megan’s time on MM). Based on what I saw at the end of episode 13, I would speculate that Megan will have success in her Butler shoe commercial which in turn (with Don in the background) will lead to more gigs. And because no one can be two places at once, Megan will no longer be a regular attendee at acting classes or go out on casting calls. As a result Megan will be back in the advertising business. Now seriously think about the major bones of contention in the Draper marriage you would have to agree one of them was Don was annoyed that Megan had forsaken advertising and spoken negatively about it. In episode 13 we see Don reminding Megan of her desire never to be involved in advertising again.

    So Megan is back in advertising. And her work in commercials pretty well ensures she will do all or most of her work in NYC since Madison Avenue is the mecca. And it is most likely she will be home every night as a result. And Megan’s success as a female pitchwoman is supposed to cause a severe strain on the Draper marriage. Why? Megan is working when Don is working. She is at home in the evening when Don is home. She probably can arrange not to work weekends when the kids come over.

    Yes, there is an argument that can be made that Don won’t be able to live with Megan’s newfound success and that she will steal his thunder. And perhaps they will clash over her success. Imho, it will only affect their marriage if she decides not to be home when he is at home. But Megan owes Don for her big break. Why would she not want to accommodate him?

    But I am NOT glossing over the possibility they could go in different directions because of different career paths, especially if Megan takes her career to the extreme. But I think Megan has learned her lesson. She now knows the boundaries of her career and how far she can push it. Remember how angry Don got when Megan told him she might be away for 3 months. Megan took that to heart.

    And of course there is always the possibility Megan returns to SCDP. If that happens does anyone really believe Don and Megan will end up divorced?

    k) Infidelity/Adultery

    The obvious one which will break up any marriage. People keep suggesting Megan will have an affair. What evidence is there of that? Megan doesn’t even flirt. If there is a one-man woman it is Megan Draper.

    And that leaves Don. Why would he cheat on Megan? Perhaps because he is an alpha male and loves sex.

    I guess anything is possible.

    • I dont’ see the marriage ending any time soon but I wanted to comment on point:

      d) Husband works too much and ignores his wife

      Megan has encouraged Don to become more focused at work and to work longer hours. For many wives, they would be extremely angry at being ignored. Megan is not wired that way.

      She got pretty pissed when Sally showed up without Don telling her. More specifically, at the assumptions that she doesn’t do anything during the day. Megan will not get angry at being ignored as long as she’s allowed to do what she wants (be it acting or something else)

  58. There is clearly a school of thought that Megan Draper is NOT a hard worker because of her inability to break through to becoming a successful professional actress but I would remind you that Megan was capable and diligent during the time she worked at SCDP in her various capacities.

    So how can you reconcile these two ideas? You can. It’s called The Peter Principle.

    The idea was coined in the late 1960’s to indicate a situation, role, job, or occupation in which one was engaged in at a given time and little or no useful or productive work was being done by an individual.By the same token the principal argued that if an individual was smart, he or she would remain in a certain position where he or she was extremely capable and productive and either refuse to be promoted or to sell oneself as not qualified to be promoted. Or one would be smart enough to realize one’s limitations and not venture into territory where it would be questionable if one could succeed.

    There was various ways to look at the phenomenon but I want to focus on two key ideas:

    Within the same industry, just because one is a successful baseball player doesn’t mean he will become a successful manager after he retires. Just because one is a successful school teacher doesn’t necessarily mean one can fulfill the duties and responsibilities required by a school principal. Just because one can lay drywall doesn’t mean one is qualified to run his own drywall company. And just because one was a receptionist or secretary at SCDP doesn’t necessarily mean one will be productive as a junior copywriter.And according to Rebecca Pryce Lane Pryce was an able bureaucrat working for an advertising firm and under the direction of a superior but not qualifed to be a partner where he had to make decisions on his own and dealt with the pressures of keeping the firm afloat.

    Reflect as adults on the number of people you have known personally or read about in the public arena who appear to be really good at one thing in an industry and suddenly come a cropper in their new endeavor in the same industry. Anthony Quinn was a great actor but as a director was a complete bust directing his one and only film. Mark Twain was a great writer but after he got into the publishing business he went bankrupt. Mary Martin was a great star of Broadway but bombed out making movies in Hollywood.

    And finally just because one is a successful Congressmen or Senator it doesn’t necessarily mean they are qualified to President.

    And the second way of looking at The Peter Principle is based on a leap of faith because one is talented or able in one endeavor means they will be automatically successfully in an entirely different endeavor that requires different abilities or talents.For example when Megan Draper told the world she was going to pursue acting, Peggy Olson at once proclaimed because Megan was good at copywriting it would automatically mean she would succeed at acting. We know that is not true.

    But the converse is true. Just because one is poorly equipped to handle the job or role in one occupation does not necessarily mean he or she will find himself or herself as incompetent or unqualified in a different job that has little connection with one’s previous job.

    Jacqueline Susann was a failed actress who became a very successful writer. Paul Gaugin is not remembered for his failed career as a tarpaulin salesman or his stint as an innocuous stockbroker in Paris but for moving to Tahiti and becoming a famous painter. Perry Como once had his own barbershop but arguably a far better singer than he was a barber.

    But it works the other way as well. Meg Whitman by all accounts his a great CEO of Ebay but a total bust while running for Gov of California. Athletes galore have been successful while playing but when they retire so many lose their shirts because of poor business investments. And Megan Draper was successful working at SCDP as a junior copywriter but arguably a bust when attempting to become a professional actress.

    And again what is the basis to judge whether one is a victim of The Peter Principle or not: That they are currently churning out productive work. And based on the principle it has little to do with one’s actual abilities or talents but whether those abiilites and talents one possesses meshes with or is a fit for one’s current job or role.

    And while the Megan Draper scenario of abandoning success to embrace failure is not as common as the other way around, it does happen in real life. And imho the #1 reason for this phenomnon is hubris which is defined as excessive pride or excessive arrogance or an excessive ambition that leads to one’s downfall. And when you add in a sense of guilt, you have what you saw in Megan Draper since Lady Lazarus.

    One of the most profound statements ever made by Don Draper occurred during the conversation Megan and he had regarding Megan’s desire to pursue acting. Don said, “We don’t get to decide or choose where our talents lie.” If I could wave a magic wand I would teach this concept to every child in America. So much unhappiness lies in the belief that one’s talents or abilities are transferable to any job or role whereas the truth is there are many more jobs or roles one cannot be productive at based on one’s God-given talents and abilities.

    At the time Megan made her decision to pursue acting I immediately brought up The Peter Principle. And as it turns out I was right. Fortunately for Megan, because of the tough love shown to her by Marie Calvet and her own sense of self-loathing in not succeeding as a professional actress, Megan has decided to reconnnect with the advertising industry where she will NOT become a victim of The Peter Principle. The silver lining for Megan is that she abandoned her dream of acting sooner rather than later.

    If Megan is around in season six and connected to the advertising industry in some capacity look to her to being productive again. She will no longer be a vcitim of The Peter Principle. And for someone who values productive work as much as she does, it can only bring her peace of mind because Megan will no longer delude herself that she can be something she can never be.

    • Megan has not abandoned her dream of acting. She is now acting in a commercial, and still hopes that it will get her noticed and get jobs in the theater or in movies. Whether she is right or wrong remains to be seen. But she has not decided in the least to work again as a copywriter.

      • If I were a betting man and if Megan is back in season 6 and given what both Matt Weiner and Jessica Pare said about Megan’s failed pursuit of an acting career in Inside Mad Men I think Megan has abandoned an acting career for good or at least put it on hold.

        Let’s be clear. There is a major difference acting in a play, TV series or a movie as opposed to doing a commercial shoot for a 30 or 60 second spot pitching products. And the part about pitching products is what I believe a lot of people are missing. Megan is back in the advertising industry, where in episode 8 Lady Lazurus she told Don she did not want to involved in it any longer.

        And no one can serve two masters. If the Butler shoe ad launches Megan’s career as a female pitchwomen more gigs will follow and common sense tells you she cannot be two places at once, dedicating herself to her new role as a commercial spokeswoman and at the same time attending acting classes or auditions and studying her craft.

        Make no mistake about it. Megan made a huge game changing decision to ask Don to help her land this gig with Butler shoes. She fully realizes she is now back in the advertising game and in Emile Calvet’s words again “selling her soul” to the God of consumerism and the capitalist system.

        And as Megan becomes more prominent in her new role and more successful (I was realize that is speculative), I simply don’t see Megan making the same mistake as she did in Lady Lazurus by abandoning the advertising industry again. There was simply too much pain when she attempted to do that before. Regardless if Megan stays married to Don or not I now see Megan involved somewhere in the advertising industry for years to come, barring getting pregnant. Even if Don leaves her, he will never imho avoid her presence in the industry.

        • Sorry but no. Actors do commercials all the time. Jon Hamm and John Slattery do commercials. As a child actor Vincent Kartheiser did commercials. That does not make any of them a member of the ad industry.

          • This may be the case in 2012 but in 1967, performers, actors, entertainers or whatever you want to call them were categorized. No big time movie star would consider doing TV and very few TV stars ever made it big in movies. And being a TV pitchman or woman was another separate category that prominent actors avoided for fear of losing prestige as a legitimate actor or actress. Call it a caste system if you will but 45 years ago people looked at performing differently than they do now where there is no decrease of respect or loss of face if a movie actor becomes a pitchman.

          • Actually, there were far more possibilities for actors to do both commercials and more creative work in the 60s than you acknowledge. To give just one example, Farrah Fawcett did lots of ads for shampoos, face cleansers, toothpaste in the late 60s and early 70s, at the same time that she was doing guest appearances in TV shows and in movies, before hitting the big time in 1976 with Charlie’s Angels at age 29.

        • Why wouldn’t Megan be back? She was one of the main characters of the show. The more pertinent question regarding Megan’s longevity will be if she is back for S7, as I can see her and Don separting/divorcing in S6. But who knows, given how irrationally enamored of the character (and Mr. Pare) MW is, she very well could be there when MM finally shut out its lights.

          Though one potentially funny irony would be if Roger and Marie became serious and ended up outlasting Don and Megan. Can’t say I see it happening but would be amusing..

        • People who are serious about becoming actors take the work they can get, especially in the beginning, as Bling says. There are constant reminders on the internet, on talk shows, etc. of the commercials and bit parts on TV that now successful and/or famous actors did before they made it. This was every bit as true then as it is now. Some actors may end up mainly doing commercials, but it’s rare for someone to simply decide to make a career in commercials unless it’s as a voice-over artist or the like. These people are in the acting business not in the advertising business.

          • A lot of the real paid actors in an Emmy-winning show have done some form of commercial–or struggled for a really long time before landing a significant gig. That’s why it doesn’t seem fair to chide Megan for “selling out” so soon, or for taking something small. It is an actual fact it could lead to something else.

            January Jones was an Abercrombie & Fitch model, but wanted to act. She eventually got bit parts in movies like “Love Actually” and then landed the role of Betty Draper. Before starring in movies.

            Jon Hamm struggled for years and years and years before become famous as Don Draper.

            Didn’t Elizabeth Moss do headache/pain reliever commercials?

            And John Slatterly sells cars right during the show.

            So please be kind. Most people do not start out landing the part of Cleopatra. They need to get noticed. Getting some sort of paid work is SOMETHING you can show on your audition form the next time around.

            I agree–it isn’t comfortable that Megan seemed to use her husband to get noticed, but I’ve been to enough workshops on networking your sources that I know the world often works this way, even if it doesn’t seem fair. Not that it makes me like it better, but lots of people get their foot in the door based on who they know.

          • Yes, you have too, to stay relevant.

          • Anything is possible. But when you get typecast doing commercials it is less likely one will be taken seriously as a legitimate actress, especially in 1967.

            Sure Farrah Fawcett is a glaring exception, but there are exceptions to every rule. And in the case of Farrah it wasn’t till many years later she became successful in TV and movies after specializing in doing commercials. Does Megan Draper have years to wait before being discovered? Or is it more likely with her husband being involved in advertising that Megan remains involved in advertising in some capacity?

            I just don’t see Megan Draper thinking she will be discovered at least immediately by getting her foot in the door with Butler Shoes. After all she told Don, “I want to work and besides it’s a paycheck.”

            In other words, Megan imho is under no illusion of what the gig at Butler Shoes means in terms of her career. And if Megan is offered more gigs by clients of SCDP to promote their products will she say no? I don’t think so. The deeper she gets, the least likely she returns to the pursuit of legitimate acting and the pursuit of a phantom.

            And finally Megan will prove to her mother that “she is not an ungrateful little bitch.” She will no longer bad-mouth advertising again. After all she is again a part of that world.

  59. I don’t think the adultery thing would play too well with Megan Techno…particularly for example, if Don ends up bedding one of Megan’s aspiring actress friends inadvertently.

    I think Don is starting to see a lot of Betty in Megan…we know how that ended up.

    Don seemed happiest working with Megan and her talent can’t be denied here. If they stay together IMO, it is because she comes back to work at SCDP. I don’t think Don will well tolerate Megan auditioning for competitors commercials and I don’t see her succeeding in “acting” otherwise.

  60. Marie Calvet’s line regarding the difference between “artistic temperament” and being an “artist” tells us so much about Megan’s difficulties becoming successful as an actress.

    Artistic temperament can be defined as having an appreciation or sensitivity for artistic works and how much effort and talent one had to muster up to creative such a work of art. Megan definitely has that.

    That’s like watching Tiger Woods swinging a golf club and understanding why he is one of the greatest professional golfers of all time.

    But there is a world of difference of having an acute appreciation for Woods’ talents on the golf course and being able to play golf like Tiger Woods.

    And for Megan she can cultivate a top-notch artistic temperament but it does NOT follow she will become or has the talent to become a top-notch artist herself.

    Where Megan got into trouble was confusing the two. I don’t think she will ever make that mistake again.

  61. I find Beth Hewes to be an interesting character in that she brings out in Pete Campbell something that I not seen any other woman bring out in him which is his humanity and his capacity for empathy.

    Really startling he is playing an idealistic rescuer in this episode.

    • Pete showed his good side when he finally got around to confessing his love to Peggy at the end of S2, even if it was too little/too late. Very moving scene, though, and led to that wonderful “there he goes/there she goes” glance they exchanged in the SCDP lobby during S4.

      I think we have seen the last of Beth, and for that matter, Howard, but yes she was a heartbreaking character.

    • For some reason I se him together with Dawn…

  62. I know there is a school of thought because Megan asked Don (perhaps begged is more accurate) for a job pitching products for Butler Shoes that she is now somewhat compromised or less noble in Don’s eyes, that because Megan has finally revealed her true nature and Don has been able to peak through the curtain, he is now in the position of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and realizes he married a phantom who he no longer respects and loves.

    First let’s deal with Megan’s decision to ask Don for the gig. I think what helped Don make the decision to agree to Megan’s suggestion notwithstanding her screen test was that she made her request once when she was sober and then the final time when she was drunk and she was consistent. Think about it: How often do people say one thing when they are sober but then reveal their true feelings on a subject or person when they are drunk. Here Don had evidence that Megan was earnest and sincere. And on the subject of sincerity in Lady Lazurus when Roger brought up the idea that perhaps actresses had to fake sincerity to succeed Don immediately told Roger that Megan was “very sincere.”

    Now some may argue that Megan abandoned the struggle way too early and by telling Don “It’s been so hard” she is simply a petulant or whiny child who was not serious to begin with about going through the hoops and paying the price to becoming an accomplished professional actress on stage or screen, but simply a flighty dabbler or a dilettante not to be taken seriously and who Don should have disdain or contempt for.

    Many folks who are or have been connected to acting have pointed out that it is unrealistic for Megan to believe she could attain even a modicum of success in 5 months (see above in episode section between Lady Lazurus and The Phantom) and furthermore believe Don now sees Megan as a quitter and as a person who lacks character. And in turn he no longer respects her or loves her

    Well, let’s look at this from Don’s point of view. Don has little tolerance for other people’s problems. He lacks empathy. For example, I don’t think Don had any appreciation for Lane’s position and what forced him to embezzle money from the firm (which Lane expressed to Don). Don is all about his own needs and he is a problem solver. For example at the end of season one Don promoted Peggy to junior copywriter to work on Clearsil. He did that to spite Pete Campbell and to give the firm a female presence in the copywriting department that it sorely needed to address the need of clients who specialized in female-type products.

    Don sees Megan drunk, depressed and brooding. He criticizes Marie for “abandoning” her daughter and after Marie tells him she is now his problem Don realizes that he must take action if he can. And why must he take action? For selfish reasons. He wants Megan whole again for he cannot love her the way he is accustomed to in bed if she remains in the above state. And he needs her talents as a step-mother. And he fears that this inebriated episode is a preview of coming attractions where Don comes home and Megan is always drunk and very sexually unattractive or an embarrassment to his kids. So Don finally takes Megan’s request seriously and after watching her screen test to make sure she is qualified to do the gig, he gives her the job. Megan’s smile at the commercial shoot told Don all he needed to know. He had made the right decision for now.

    But one may ask will Don respect Megan less for giving up so soon. Don’s train of thought to Megan in bed in Lady Lazurus imho provides insight into Don’s line of thinking toward Megan’s decision to pursue acting. During their pillow talk, Don rationally tells Megan that it took him years to get down what Megan was able to do to close the Heinz account and that “We don’t get to decide or choose where our talents lie.” Megan was absolutely right when she told Don that he didn’t think she would make it. Don is NOT stupid.

    As it turns out Don was right. Right from the get-go Don knew that Megan did not have what it took to become a professional actress, whether it was because she is a dabbler, because she had never told Don of this desire before (manufactured rather than genuine), or simply she was not self-confident enough to pull it off (Megan commented when she joined SCDP she lacked confidence). So when Don made the decision to offer her the gig, he did that not only to satisfy his own needs but also felt relieved that Megan had decided to take a major detour and become a female pitchwoman. It was no surprise to Don that Megan would eventually give up her pursuit of acting. He had expected it. Better now than later. End of experiment.

    So put yourself now in Don’s shoes. Your wife is now back to pitching products and back in the advertising game which she had previously rejected. She is back in an industry in which Megan is competent in. She is no longer a fish out of water as she was when she pursued acting. Megan may not be totally fulfilled pitching products for a living but from Don’s point of view it sure beats the alternative which Don wants no part of . Here is how Don sees his marriage to Megan: I don’t care what she does with her time during the day when I’m at work unless she self-destructs so if she goes on commercial shoots, especially if the clients are affiliated with SCDP, I have no problem with that. But Megan needs to be there for him at night when he gets home from work and especially when it is time for him to go to bed. She must perform as a loving wife should. That is the price Megan must pay if she wants a happy husband and for Don to give her everything she has ever wanted.

    And finally what a lot of people have missed is Don now has more leverage over Megan and not less. Remember the first scene in The Godfather where the funeral director asks the Godfather for help to avenge the rape of his daughter and the Godfather tells him basically you now owe me a favor and eventually I will collect.

    With that in mind Megan realizes she is beholden to Don even more than before. If she felt completely autonomous or free agent before, she doesn’t any longer. In addition I do believe the words voiced by her mother got through to Megan–“You are an ungrateful little bitch”–hit home. I believe Megan is now determined to prove she is not one and I think she now realizes she must play on Don’s team, and if that means remaining in advertising for the rest of her life, so be it.

    And Don would have thought this all out and if Megan does indeed attain success as female piitchwoman, Don would have solved this problem for good.

    But of course if Megan becomes too successful, that could create another problem. But for Don closing the previous chapter is good enough for now. Tomorrow is another day.

  63. The festering toothache like Don’s fever in Mystery Date are symbolic of Don’s pain or suffering as a result of his past. For the latter it was dealing with his “careless appetites” (Megan’s apt description of Don sleeping with many women) and for the former I believe the toothache represents the pain and suffering he is now undergoing dealing with Lane’s suicide which has compounded the problem he has had since 1960 in dealing with the Adam Whitman suicide.

    Think about it, was Don really tormented by the Adam Whitman suicide to the point where he was completely off his game? Did Don see Adam everywhere he went? I don’t think so. It is only with Lane’s suicide that Adam makes an appearance, and especially an apt appearance when he is at the dentist’s office.

    And for those who equate the toothache to Megan, the Mad Men writers imho made it abundantly clear that Megan wanted Don to get the tooth looked after as a loving wife would. And now we are to believe by having the tooth extracted that means Don does not love Megan any longer. Doesn’t make any sense.On the other hand it would have made sense if Megan had told Don to tough it out or if she had been indifferent to his plight.

  64. I would like to explore the idea or concept that Megan has not really given up on her pursuit of a legitimate acting career, that her gig with Butler Shoes is only a rest stop or a slight detour, that she intends to get back on the acting thoroughfare again.

    You are now a golf pro at a country club. You have attended Q-school for 5 straight years and have not earned your PGA card. You now realize that unless something fortuitous happens like playing out of your mind at Q school in subsequent years the likelihood of you ever touring America as a golf pro making millions of dollars is not very good. Your gig at the country club is not a rest stop but actually a prison cell.

    And imho this is the position Megan now finds herself. She never gained a foothold in legitimate acting and the likelihood she would by becoming a commercial pitchwoman is also remote. There are plenty of actresses to choose from who have dedicated themselves to acting and who have paid the price to perfect their craft. And these are women who show up at auditions consistently and eventually get noticed for their persistence.

    And the idea that Megan now owes Don big time cannot be discounted. Will Megan be more likely to prove her loyalty to Don in the future or less likely to? Will she be more likely to listen to his advice pertaining to her career than before? Will Don cut his own throat and recommend Megan pursue acting again? I don’t think so. In other words, Megan will abandon her dreams because that is what Don will recommend she do. Besides that Megan has also come to realization she may have made a mistake to pursue acting. I predict that will not be a hard decision for Megan to make at all.

    The harder decision will be perhaps if she should continue to be pitchwoman or should she return to the firm as a copywriter. Either way though, she will still be involved in advertising.

  65. Most of the feedback that I have read about “The Phantom” was described as a letdown or lacking ‘action.’ Do yourself a favor and watch it a second time. Sure, it did have the explosive storyline of a man’s suicide (Commissions & Fees) or the indecent proposal (The Other Woman) but was very effective wrapping up the best season to date.
    First, the ghost of Lane Pryce hovers over the office, from his empty chair in the board room, to no one wanted his office, to the death benefit check that nudges Joan to agree to the office expansion. His name is never mentioned on this week’s episode, but there is no doubt his presence is felt.
    How painful was it to watch Pete say goodbye to Beth? Poor Mr. Campbell has had a rough year! Yet through it all, he somehow remains a sympathetic character.
    We also saw the return of Peggy, Roger taking another hit, and Don Draper turning back into the Don draper of old.
    Watch it again. The show gets better upon repeat viewings. And after that, listen to the season finale of Mad Cast. It can be found on iTunes Its been an amazing ride, here is hoping we don’t have to wait 18 months for it to return!

  66. I know on the surface one can argue that acting is acting, that performing a role in a commercial is no different than performing a role on stage or screen.

    But there is one key difference in the roles: On stage or screen your goal as an actress is to communicate ideas, attitudes, the vision of the writer etc with the focus being on your individual performance while in commercials you sole job is to sell product with the primary focus not being on you but the product itself.

    And because of her employment with SCDP and her time in advertising, Megan Draper would have completely understood the difference between the two roles, and why heretofore she had always rejected the idea of asking Don for a favor or considered the idea of being a commercial pitchwoman.

    In addition Megan had told Don in Lady Lazurus she did NOT want to be involved in advertising any longer which she knew and Don knew meant she would not be available to be a commercial spokeswoman. Notice Don’s first reaction to Megan’s request to be considered for the gig for Butler shoes. Don did not question her ability but pointed out to her philsophically her request was not consistent with her past feelings in which she rejected playing any role in advertising.

    So if Megan was not fully aware of the nature of her request before she made it, Don made certain she was made fully aware of the ramifications of it. The request represented a major breach in Megan’s desire to reject the world of advertising but desperate or vulnerable people tend to act from a position of weakness rather than a position of strength.

    So when Don finally relented and offered her the gig, Megan realized she had crossed a bridge which quite likely would not be available to her for a return trip back. Metaphorically she may have burned her bridges.

    (Edited. Opinion. Avoid talking about what other folks say, as if your opinion is fact. -Mad Chick)….some may feel Megan is still pursuing acting career by representing Butler Shoes, but it seems Don fully understands the significance of her decision and Megan also realizes she is now back in the advertising game whether she likes it or not.

    For Don, Megan is where she should have been all along. For Megan, she is now imho much closer to accepting her fate in life. She will eventually reconcile herself to being successful in advertising and if she loses her soul in the process (as Emile Calvet had suggested) so be it. Megan will always have an artistic temperament but she will be now be defined by her role as an artist who perpetuates consumerism and the capitalist way of life. Not how she saw herself growing up. But Don said it best in Signal 30: “No one grows up wanting to be in advertising.”

  67. I know this is on the periphery but one cannot minimize the role Emile Calvet had to play in shaping Megan’s attitudes towards the capitalist way of life and advertising, and to consider it decadent and unbecoming or undignified for a daugther of his to make her living maintaining its existence.

    I would be very interested to why Megan originally joined SCDP. Could it have been as simple as she was desperate to pay the rent? And if Megan had completely bought into her father’s philosophy while growing up, you would have thought she would have been more like the male radical Peggy met who photographed nudes who wanted nothing to do with crass capitalism and would never consider working for an advertising agency if he lived to be a thousand.

    So one is then left to assume because of Megan working for SCDP and her comments to her father in At the Codfish Ball that she did not agree with her father’s politics that Megan was not entirely disenchanted with advertising as such but on the other hand did agree with her father that “selling baked beans” was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, perhaps feeling it was below her dignity to do so. And in turn she took the decision to abandon advertising altogether in order to preserve the dignity she felt she needed to stay intellectually honest to herself. But lest we forget, Megan’s lifestyle had a huge part to play, for one can only consider preserving one’s dignity if one does not have to dwell on the issue of survival on a daily basis.

    And now Megan has discovered what efforts to preserve one’s dignity will buy you: Not even a cup of coffee. It has been a rude awakeneing for her, but at least she has awakened. She has rediscovered her roots. Before marrying Don the most thing for Megan was judging people by their work in an unsentimental fashion. Preserving one’s dignity is a product of self-delusion which one thinks one needs to preserve it. The only thing which is important is the work you do, to be competent in the work you do and to perform or execute yielding the greatest results or success.

    Megan had forgotten that, a mistake she will never make again.

  68. Just went back and watched the ending of The Phantom starting from Don watching the Megan screen test and on to the end. I noticed some things about it that I hadn’t really registered before – things I also hadn’t necessarily read about in other comments on BofK. I haven’t read any other MM blogs this week because this one seems like the best for actual discussion. Thank you, Lipp sisters.

    This is my takeway.

    The question, ‘Are you alone?’ suddenly hit me in a really different way. For Don, being alone isn’t a bad thing at all as so many commenters automatically seem to think. It’s the very source of his power, his mystery and ultimately his success. When he was with Betty, he always lived as though he WERE alone. Of course, that brought her misery, but Don is not a real person, he is a character. Others have pointed that out. Expectations of ordinary human growth don’t really apply to him. He’s not actually in our lives, so perhaps we should stop judging him like a real person.

    All through Season 5, Don has tried (not always successfully) to behave like a ‘normal’ husband. He has tried to be ‘with’ Megan in a way that he never was with Betty. In his life during his marriage to Betty, he exuded confidence and power. He was not a good husband. Being on ‘love leave’ with Megan has not served him well as an MM or in the other parts of his life. He has served Megan much better than he ever served Betty, but practicing monogamy and developing relationship skills was a deeply emasculating experience for Don. He lost all focus in every other part of his life. He completely ‘lost his mojo’ at work and a lot of MM viewers noticed that. Perhaps that’s why a lot of them were so turned off by Megan. I’m putting aside the issues of ‘Tomorrowland here. Don Draper is the central point of Mad Men. Marriage to Megan is not, but I give him points for trying.

    People have to pick their spots in life, and DD’s spot is not as a husband. No one is good at everything, and his childhood as Dick Whitman left him less able than most. He has none of the emotional wherewithal to succeed at being a faithful partner, nothing in his childhood prepared him for it. He has had some success as a father. The ugly sad examples from his childhood showed him how NOT to act as a father and he has done a better job at it because he recognizes some of the worst things his father did. He has tried to avoid doing those things; he’s sensitive to them.

    Don’s genius and resulting success is all in his job. Trying so hard to make someone else happy took that away from him. He has been trying to be a man he’s not. As he watches Megan on the screen, he sees the person he has loved, but that screen test left me asking as a viewer, ‘Is that all there is?’ In reconsidering it, Don may have been left with that question as well, based on his facial expression at the end. More importantly, when he sees Megan readying for the fairytale commercial, he sees a woman in a very silly costume doing something fairly superficial, and she’s ecstatic about doing it. It’s the way he saw Betty in relation to work and outside of their family. The women he has the best relationships with and respects the most (Joan, Peggy, Rachel Mencken, Faye) are engaged in more productive and compelling work. Megan is turning out to be less and less like those women than he expected.

    I think he reawakens to his own personal truth – he’s better off alone. That is the source of HIS power, rather than being a good husband. He may continue to be with Megan for quite a while, but it’s not enough for him. A modern husband he is not. He’s an ‘old-fashioned’ man, and he reasserts that in his drink order.

    He walks away from the commercial shoot because he NEEDS to be alone and he can always do that on a barstool with a drink in his hand. His theme song, ‘You Only Live Twice’, rises on the soundtrack, and he strides more and more confidently away from his wife into the world that is HIS world, not hers. He’s Draper, DON Draper (as in Bond, JAMES Bond). He’s himself again, Madison Man of mystery, invariably attractive to beautiful women, and totally powerful in his work. A lot like 007. His power and his attractiveness are based on being alone, being competent, an enigma to most, and not a nice-guy husband. He’ll be nothing if that’s what he tries to be in life. Don Draper is not ever going to just be somebody’s husband. Unlike almost everyone else, ‘he needs to live like there’s no tomorrow’. Living for someone else definitely hasn’t worked for him. So, the screen goes black at the end of Season 5. That’s it.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

    • No man is an island.

      In the abstract or a fantasy world Don Draper could assume that persona and perhaps even thrive in it. Or even if he was low on the totem pole working at some menial job with little or no contact with the outside world he might be able to navigate life in this manner. Or if Don decided to become a hermit or recluse and cut himself off from civilization, what you say is the way to go.

      But the facts are Don Draper is a father of three young children who he sees every other weekend. Any decision about his marital status or living arrangements has to bear that in mind. And from The Chrysanthemum and the Sword that Don is apprehensive when he is alone taking care fo his kids.

      He is a high-powered advertising executive who makes his living dealing with clients (and sometimes their wives). At the beginning of season four we see Don trying to justify his poor interview with the man at Advertising Age only to be told by Lane that advertising men can’t afford to be considered mysterious and a handsome cipher as he was depicted. At the end of that episode we see Don playing the game and giving a much better interview and not being aloof as he was in the first interview.

      In other words, if Don splits from Megan it will have huge ramifications on his personal and business life. Sure he may NOT enjoy the role of being a husband, sure he might prefer to live on his own and sleep by himself (season 4 episode 8 writing in his journal about taking up all the space in the bed), and yes Don might like the idea of indulging his careless appetites on a consistent basis but in the real world the consequences would be huge for Don and the question needs to be asked–would Don be willing to pay the emotional price by divorcing Megan? And how would it affect his focus at work or his personal life? Witness Roger Sterling. Does Don really want to go down the LSD road? Does Don want to return to the first half of season four? Is Megan so repulsive that he cannot even co-exist with her?

      What is the solution? The producers and writers of Mad Men kill Megan off. If that happens then yes I can see Don living on his own for a long time after than. But in the real world for Don to leave Megan with everything that is on his plate and the responsibilities he has to his children would be an act of insanity, barring some major breach such as Megan cheating on him or becoming self-destructive.

      And finally there is always the financial considerations Don would pay big time if he divorced Megan and he might have to pay her alimony as well. Yes, Don got divorced from Betty because it was forced on him. Would Don really want to go through it again? Does Don hate Megan so much that he would be willing to give her half his fortune so he could live alone?

      Of course Don and Megan could separate, lead separate lives but never divorce. Perhaps that’s the solution. But there is no guarantee Megan won’t eventually ask for the divorce and take him to the cleaners anyway.

      • Don is something like a literary creation, not a literal creation.

      • Not being an expert on NY divorce law in 1967, I don’t understand why Don would have to ” pay big time” if he and Megan are divorced.They have only been married a short time and have no children together. Betty was told that she wouldn’t be entitled to much if she divorced Don after a 14-year marriage,with three children, during which most of their property was accumulated.

        Most of Don’s property in this marriage was his premarital property. Megan does say that “we bought” the apartment, so if she is on the deed she would be entitled to half of the value of the apartment. But she is young and healthy and has already shown she can be self-supporting.

        Jane did say that if Roger divorced her, it would be very expensive, but that appears to be because she would fight for every cent. Also they were married somewhat longer than Don and Megan.

        • We need a lawyer who knows about divorce law in the 1960’s in New York to explain this, but in previous posts some have noted it was hard and expensive, not like today.

          • New York still has some of the worst divorce laws in the U.S. I know, I was divorced here in 2004.

          • Roger’s situation with his two wives was different than Don’s with Megan. Also, Roger has more money. He had a bigger share of Sterling Cooper and also inherited money.

            When Roger divorced Mona, his first reaction was that she wasn’t entitled to any of his money, but he caved to her demands because he was in such a rush to marry Jane. (After all, Mona did put up with him for 25 years.) And she said this season that he was still supporting “us all.”

            I thought Jane meant that she was going to take Roger for a huge settlement, not as a comment on attorney fees.

            Don got half a million from the sale of Sterling Cooper, but after buying that apartment and the expenses of a high-end lifestyle in Manhattan, I’m wondering how much of that money is left.

            And again, wondering just how much Megan would be legally entitled to take away from an 18-month marriage with no children.

    • I like your thought process and concur with it. It’ll be interesting to see where MW takes Don in the next two seasons.

  69. Deborah,

    Great recap! What amazes me about your recaps isn’t just how quickly you get them up, but how quickly you get the major themes and motifs of the episodes.

    “This episode was filled with doubles and references, doublings back and reboots.”


  70. In the very first episode of Mad Men Don Draper offered his opinion of being alone:

    “I’m pretty sure about it. You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts but I never forget. I’m living like there is no tomorrow…because there isn’t one.”

    And here is Don’s opinion on love:

    “You mean the big lightning bolt to the heart where you can’t eat or you can’t work–just run off and get married and make babies. The reason you haven’t felt it (love) is because it doesn’t exist. What you call LOVE was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”

    In a nutshell you have Don Draper’s philsophy of life in March 1960.

    The question is does he feel the same way 7 years later?

    Does he still not believe in love?

    Does Don still believe you are born alone and you die alone? Is Don still living life like there is no tomorrow?

    • I’m not so sure what Don said in out loud in Season One about love or being alone truly reflected his inner feelings on the subects. If I recall, both statements were made to Rachel. He may have been throwing that cynical stuff out there as a defense mechanism….or maybe even to play the girl a little by coming off all existentialist and uncaring…in a cool way, of course.

      If you had given Don truth serum and asked him whether he loved Anna Draper, or if there was a metaphysical connection between them, what do you think he’d have said? Anna was about the only person Don/Dick could truly trust — but her very existance would confirm that, although the world is indeed a cold, uncaring place sometimes, or even most of the time, you aren’t always totally alone…and true love, in all its forms, does exist.

      That’s my romantic take on it, anyway! : )

  71. The shots of Peggy and of Don in the similar beds made me wonder again why Don and Megan’s apartment is so boring. Their bedroom shouldn’t look like a cheap motel in Virginia! It makes me think of how little they knew about eachother. There is no artwork and the colors are drab–not just because of the white carpet! That carpet is the only decorative thing Megan showed interest in. I think Megan is a shallow person who lacks inner resources. She’s not interested in things that don’t directly concern her. Betty, when she’s not depressed, has much more going on. She reads,sews, rides horses…. She gardened and was interested in decorating. Betty was a successful model when she and Don met. Megan hasn’t shown herself to be a good friend to anyone. Betty wasn’t above back-stabbing but she was supportive of Francine and of the women in her Weight Watchers class. I think Betty could possibly work through some issues and enjoy her life. Megan is vacant.

  72. As for Don’s reaction to the question posed to him by the blonde if he was alone here are some possible answers based on Don’s expression as he turned his head to look at her and what had gone on during The Phantom:

    a) Adam Whitman will never leave me alone.

    b) Are you kidding?

    c) I will be if I break my marriage vows.

    d) I am alone now, in my thoughts.

    e) My name is not Greta Garbo.

    f) I can see you’re not.

    g) Why would you be interested?

    h) Is that how I look?

    i) Who are you to ask me that question?

    j) That’f for me to know and you’ll never find out.

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