Time Zones: Final Images

 Posted by on April 16, 2014 at 7:19 am  Mad Men, Season 2, Season 7
Apr 162014

The penultimate image of Mad Men episode 7.01: Time Zones, leaves Peggy utterly alone.

Mad Men "Time Zones" Peggy on the floor of her apartment


It reminded me of another image, in another episode.

Mad Men "Flight 1" Peggy on the bed

AMCtv.com: Flight 1

It feels like a specific contrast. Both images isolate Peggy from above; one shows her abandon and her pleasure, the other shows her isolation and sorrow.

The final image of the episode belongs to Don.

Mad Men "Time Zones" Don on the balcony


It’s a disturbing image. Don is half-naked, framed by doors he cannot close, shivering, and alone.

This too, reminds me of something from Season 2.

Mad Men "Maidenform" Don in the bathroom

AMCtv.com: Maidenform

Here it’s not a contrast. Don is again half-naked, bereft, framed by a door. For Peggy, we see a loss of a sweet innocence. For Don, a continuation of the road he’s traveled for a long, long time.


  25 Responses to “Time Zones: Final Images”

  1. We might have seen Peggy hitting a brick wall and starring up at a glass ceiling in her career. She finds she has a boss who she doesn’t work well with. In seasons 4-6 we have seen Peggy’s meteoric rise in advertising; now she is asking herself while she is alone about her competence and confidence I think. Don Draper and Freddie Rumsen have had this conversation with themselves too. Don may be having this conversation on the toilet seat. Peggy has also seen that John Barleycorn trumps both competence and confidence and to not find solace in alcohol. She only has to look at Freddie and Don. She has seen both men at the top of their game and when they hit bottom.

    Peggy discovered too that Ted hired her as much for her body as her brain. Right now there are not many that Peggy can trust at work. I think one that could help Peggy is Joan. I don’t know if Peggy can or will reach out to another woman. Peggy and Joan could help each other. There futures are as dim as a 25 watt bulb where they are right now. They need to move on.

    • In that diner, when Ted made sure his was Peggy’s last meeting I think that he relished the prospect of stealing Draper’s protege. He also knew that Peggy was a helluvan “ad man”.

      Peggy was then “cute as hell” (as Draper said in The Suitcase) but not yet a object of desire – that came later.

      • Agreed. I really don’t think there was any sexual motivation there. A man like Ted could sleep with a woman without hiring them. I always thought their attraction ramped up out of sheer chemistry and mutual admiration. She is, however, left without a champion in executive management.

        • I agree that Ted knew he was hiring a gifted professional in Peggy, but – in addition to the satisfaction of taking away Don’s protegé – there was at least a flicker of romantic or sexual interest, whether he knew it or not.

          Charmed by her unsettled “I think I need a milkshake,” Ted responded “Your first day ends with you and me at La Caravelle.” No matter how proficient and talented you are, no matter how valuable a hire you are, when your new (married) boss gives you that smitten smile and that invitation, it’s not a strictly professional interest.

    • Sorry. I just don’t agree that Ted hired Peggy “as much for her body as her brain.” Maybe I’m being naïve. Peggy has never had the classic bombshell look that make men forget themselves. Elizabeth Moss plays her as attractive but a bit of a wall flower.

      • It depends on Ted’s type. He was attracted to her. Not all men go for bombshells like Joan.

  2. It’s the differences between the two Don images that strike me. Where the comfortable setting and soft lighting of the earlier one tries to give the lie to the desolate man shown (this being before anyone in his life knew the truth about him), the far starker new one doesn’t offer the man any protection. Also, in the earlier shot Don doesn’t face us, and has his mirror image beside him, another symbol of the double life he’s still trying to maintain. But in the later pic he looks directly at us, no longer with the comforting facade. Just as, within this episode, we go from the first shot of Freddy staring straight at us speaking Don’s words, to this last image where Don finally looks straight at us himself. Is this where the season, the whole series, may go: From Don hiding behind his words and a false image, to him finally being able to face the world directly as himself?

    • Yes, Tom & Lorenzo pointed out that Freddy was slicked up and playing the role of Don, while Don, in this final image, is NOT playing the role of Don.

      • Thanks for that observation re: Freddy. I did notice he seem to have more than enough Brylcreem in his hair but I didn’t make the connection.

    • Great points.

      Additionally, both times I watched “Time Zones,” I thought that Don–in this harrowing final scene on the balcony–looked strikingly like his younger self, bowl-cutted Dick Whitman, in a way that I had never really seen before in the series. The lighting, his facial expression, the way his hair hung in his face a bit. A cold and haunting merging of selves.

      • I’ve been thinking that Don on the balcony is putting himself through something. This would fit with the fact that he decides not to open the booze bottle just before the balcony scene. He then chooses to be out in the cold, inadequately dressed. It’s like a self-punishment or an endurance test. It might relate to his Royal Hawaiian pitch: ‘Maybe something bad has to happen for you to get to heaven’ (sorry, that’s a garbled paraphrase). And it might also relate to him saying on the plane that he’s wondering if he’s broken ‘the vessel’, which might be the Don Draper identity that’s carried him through the past few years. If this is Dick we’re seeing at the end, it makes sense that he’s so vulnerable against the elements, because he’s cast off the protection of the false identity. Perhaps it’s that that he’s trying to school himself to be able to take: life without the protective lie.

        • Great point, digit, about this broken “vessel” being the carefully maintained, encapsulating, and protective Don Draper identity. It makes me envision an ancient vase that’s both strong and fragile, with layers of patina. A vessel that’s been punctured, if not shattered.

  3. Alcoholics Anonymous: Step 1
    We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

    Don tries repeatedly to close the sliding door, and finds he is powerless to do so. The old Don may have forced it, broken it, or simply walked away.

    After the sobering chat with the widow on the plane about the universal alcoholic mortality, he fails to find sobriety easy and is now accepting his powerlessness.

    • Also, the old Don knew how to fix things — even if he often chose not to, in the home he shared with Betty.

      He was very handy at Anna’s house (fixing a chair, painting a wall), and even at Pete and Trudy’s when the kitchen faucet broke. So we know he can.

      It’s a shame it’s so much easier to decide you can’t fix something.

      • Anne, that is an amazing observation.

      • Right on, Anne B, I remembered he could be handy, but forgot forgot just how many times he’d shown it in the series.

        I think the powerlessness jumped out at me because it’s a departure from his normal ways, and you’re right – fixing is in his nature, whether it’s mechanical or otherwise. He has a flight instinct, but much less so.

        While it’s easy to be dismissive of acceptance as “easy,” sometimes it can be an important step to getting better, and (keeping with the AA analogy) the hardest and most important step of all. Many have failed trying to “beat” the sauce.

        Our culture teaches men to be independent, to grit it out, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to just “be a man,” which can isolate us or pit us against each other. Accepting our limitations and surrendering a fight we can’t win can be a path to freedom.

        Of course, this may have nothing to do with the writer’s intention, but thanks, Anne, for your reply and observation. And thank YOU Deborah – it’s good to be back.

      • Hi Anne, (and Deborah and the rest of the good eggs, all in the one Basket here for S7)

        I understand and appreciate your positive proactive spin but alas, I took the other tack. I apologize, but to juxtapose, I’m re-purposing (in essence Mad-Libbing – chortle, chortle) your well-constructed closer from above, below:

        It’s heart-wrenchingly sad it’s so difficult and depressing to realize and accept you can’t fix the one thing you desperately want to fix.

        There are no doors that keep the true nature of reality – the cold, the smog, the noise – at bay, compartmentalized, removed from oneself and ‘one’s life’ forever.

        Don’s been running from death his whole life. And his philosophy (some may say cynical existential posturing; I certainly think he’s hoping right now he was just posturing) has evidenced itself to be accurate, and he’s terrified and now resigned – The world is cold and indifferent; humans decay and die. Even him. No hopeful billboard by the side of the road changes that. There was no utopia. No one gets out of this alive!

        I look forward to a very glum, but honest wrap to the whole story.

        PS – And a possible relevant distinction: deciding to be powerless and recognizing you are powerless are two different things.

  4. Don tries and finds that he can’t shut out the looming cold. Marlon Brando once said that he thought that at the end of life one wondered what the hell that was all about. Don and Betty might both have that experience on their death beds.

  5. I will freely admit I am not that good at catching symbolism in books, movies, or television. But here is an interpretation on my part.

    Is it possible that the door he is trying to close, is the door on the past? It could mean, his personal past in the sense that all he has done has consequences and he is going to have to deal with those directly, if he wants to move on a become a better person. A more negative view could be that he can’t escape his past, can’t deal with the consequences and that it will really make it impossible for him to move on and be the person he wants to be. I am inclined to believe it’s either the former or a combination of the two. But maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part as I do want some form of a happy ending for Don (i.e., he won’t be perfect but in a better place than he has been throughout the series).

  6. Oh the difference in Peggy! The great colorful, messy, spent sprawl vs. how tiny she looks in that apartment. It’s like what they did with Betty in her new house with Henry. She was dwarfed by it.

    She’s below the horizon line, like in The Gleaners. :(

  7. I have been thinking about that last scene since last Sunday. Here’s why: Peggy has just hit the wall in her forward progress, like most of us. For the last 6 years she has been the wonder kid, better than most, occasionally on the genius level. She is used to being really special, helped along by some really outstandingly genius level people. Now she is judged to be OK, but not the child/woman protege she once was, what a shock to her system. Reminds me of my sister who was listening to a friend brag on her child who could walk at 9 months,,,,as we walked away she noted by the time that kid was a year he would be like everyone other kid his age. I wondered what his mom would brag on then.
    Peggy will continue her progress if she doesn’t get too discouraged by her current job. But she is going to have to become a grown up, learn she can’t get by on good ideas and charm (of a sort). She is going to have to learn to use strategy, smarts, timing and judgement to play this game and win. Accept the grown up mode of living, live with your errors, claim them as your own and move on, accept the responsibility of your errors and make the change you need to make. Not fun, not exciting, but necessary for forward growth.

    • And in 1969 even if you do all of that and play the game, you still might be screwed because your a woman. It will be interesting to see if Peggy turns out to be one of the very few woman who can rise to the top (in this case become the Creative Director) or if she is stuck at the level she is at while less deserving men succeed.

  8. I like to see it as a visual representation of time. Doesn’t everyone feel scared and alone as time goes by and we age? Maybe its just me…lol.

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