In Tale of Two Cities, I kept seeing characters in different stages of reinvention.
First we have Don, the first-ballot Hall of Famer. His life is his reinvention. Let’s just say it’s not going well at the moment, although there are still perks to being Don Draper (to wit: free hash).
But more intriguingly, there are other reinventions taking place as we speak:
- Jim Cutler declares reinvention is necessary, or others are going to do it for them (using the names of two dead guys). This reinvention ends with a familiar result.
- Joan watches the riots taking place in Chicago and decides reinvention is required to be anything more than a wealthy secretary. Voila! Joan Harris, Account Executive, Partner. She takes a crack at it and learns, from Peggy of all people, that she needs more than sharp elbows to make the transition.
- Danny Siegel’s cameo was not a coincidence – he’s reinvented as well. What I loved about his transformation is it’s TOTALLY plausible (along with the meta-detail that Danny Strong is an actor reinvented as a successful writer) – the list of over-achievers who started in advertising is fascinating.
- And let’s not forget Harry Crane, who has reinvented himself into something between Jackie Mason and Swifty Lazar.
- For good measure, the reinventions of Nixon and Reagan were mentioned by the Carnation executive.
- Peter Dykeman Campbell. Is he beginning a reinvention? We shall see. Meantime, don’t bogart that spliff, buddy ….
Further, it’s apropo these reinventions are referenced in a “California” episode. As Deb reminds us, within Mad Men, California has always symbolized freshness and rebirth (to Don at least). A Tale of Two Cities kind of turns that that theory on its head. Where Don was baptizing in the waters of the Pacific in The Mountain King, this time he’s passed out face down in a backyard pool. On the trip home, Roger basically concedes the whole thing was waste.
On the homefront, accounts come and accounts go. Nothing really changes. And we’re back to Sterling Coo.