Stop kidding yourself

I’ll combine “New Business” and “The Forecast,” because, let’s face it, I’m not getting paid for this. Also, I had a profound thought about the show in the wee morning hours recently, and I forgot to write it down. I apologize for robbing you all of my brilliance.

In “New Business,” Megan cleans out Don’s apartment and checkbook. “I don’t want anything from you” — well, except all your furniture and a million dollars. My friend Kelly C. had a great insight about Megan, which I hope she’ll share at some point.

(Up for debate: Did Don ruin Megan’s life? Eh, I don’t think he did. He certainly disappointed her by not being what she thought he was, and he was an absolutely terrible husband, but in the end, he is just the fall guy for her own unhappiness. Maybe she will come to realize this in time.)

One of the criticisms that I’ve read on the show’s last season (last several, really) is that it’s indulging in story lines for minor characters that will have no time to go anywhere. /Sad Diana /Pima Ryan

I loved Megan walking in on Roger getting dressed in the empty apartment. Never change, Roger.

In “The Forecast,” Don picks up the recorder to ramble ideas for Roger’s speech. “Fourscore and seven years ago.” He’s back to spouting cliches; it reminded me of his drunken Life cereal pitch, “The cure for the common breakfast.”

“It’s supposed to get better.” Ouch.

His real estate agent sees right through him. Season 1 or 2 Don would’ve charmed his way right into her pants. Final-season Don disgusts her.

“It looks like a sad person lives here. He got divorced, spilled wine on the carpeting, and didn’t care to replace it, even for himself. This place reeks of failure.”

Don replies that a lot of good things happened there — do tell, Don! — and that he has a good feeling about things. Reeks of failure — and desperation. The optimism is telling, because it’s so unlike him.

In other news:

Joan meets the psycho handsome husband from “Double Jeopardy” and seems to think a relationship with him is a good idea. Okay, I might be prejudiced. He scared me a little when he lost his temper, but I don’t think he was supposed to. I think it was just Double Jeopardy Effect.

It’s so interesting to see how Joan and Peggy’s similar paths diverged. Joan tells the babysitter (but really, tells Kevin), “You’re ruining my life!” Peggy doesn’t have to worry about that; she could go to the pyramids, or anywhere she wants, but she won’t. She goes home to an empty apartment, while Joan has Kevin’s sweet voice telling her, “Bye bye.” I like that the show doesn’t pass judgment on either of them for their choices, or try to present one as better than the other.

(Slightly off-topic, but related to Peggy: Is there a reason that Peggy and Ted haven’t picked things up, now that he’s back? There’s no awkwardness, or else it seems glossed over… ? Did I miss something? Is it his mustache?)

One thing that stood out, for me, is how divergent Peggy is now from her mentor Don, who is so wrapped up in his own jaded life that he can’t have a constructive conversation with Peggy about hers. For so long, it seemed like their work lives would be forever intertwined. Yet, as Peggy is describing where she sees herself going, and what she wants to do, Don is nowhere to be found. He can take some credit for steering her, but honestly, she created herself. One more reminder to Don that he’s really just an empty suit.

Oh, hey! Glen’s back! This is what we’ve been waiting for! Said no one ever. He is a good vehicle for showing that Betty, under the polished exterior she has cultivated these past years, is still as childlike as ever inside. (She’s not as introspective as Don, though, so her failings aren’t eating away at her.) She can’t fool around with Glen… because she’s married. I think the viewing public could’ve come up with a few more reasons, Bets!

(My Facebook messages and texts were all hilariously similar versions of the same after this episode: “Glen!!!”)

Sally’s going on a bus trip. This seems like a good idea. “You’re just handsome! Stop kidding yourself!” It’s one thing when Mathis says it, but when Sally tells Don a version of the same thing? Damn.

My friend Kelly C. commented on the post for the last episode that Don will never find true happiness, because he doesn’t believe he deserves it. He tells Sally that she’s beautiful, and that it’s up to her to be more than that, but he’ll never take his own advice, because he thinks the battle is lost. The real estate agent tells him we have to find a place for him, and here Don stands on the brink again. But nothing will change.

I’ve long believed that for Don, mediocrity would be a fate worse than death. Is that where we’re heading? He loses (some of) his looks, his creative edge, his sexy wife, his showplace apartment, and what is he? In Megan’s words, “An aging, sloppy, selfish liar.” An alcoholic, middle-aged executive who flirts with his teenage daughter’s friends.

Wandering

I honestly couldn’t remember if I had blogged about last season. Apparently, I did not. Newborns and sleep-deprivation, man. That was rough!

Maybe I’ll do better this time, maybe not, but I feel like I have to try. It’s the end of an era, as my TV kept telling me.

My trusty fellow Mad Men aficionado, Michele, and I had a second viewing of “Severance” last night. Mostly because Michele had been so distracted by Roger Sterling’s mustache during the first viewing that she said she hadn’t paid attention to any of the dialogue.

I’m not really going to get into the is-Don-going-to-die thing, mostly because I’m in denial that it’s a possibility. But feel free to discuss it in the comments, should you feel so inclined. I personally would hate to see the show end that way. It would be more interesting, to me, to be left to wonder which consequences of his actions Don has yet to face.

Generally, I prefer to write my little reflections before I read what the rest of the Internet has to say about an episode – mostly because there are a lot of really smart people writing a lot better about this show, and faster than me. But Don’s confused familiarity with the waitress at the diner had me thinking we must’ve seen her before. I fell down an Internet rabbit hole, eventually to determine that, no, we didn’t.

The rabbit hole led me to a Twitter comment that mentioned Don had possibly smoked pot with the diner waitress at a party at artist-lover Midge’s apartment in Season 1 (“The Hobo Code”). After Michele and I watched the most recent episode, we looked up The Hobo Code on Netflix. Conclusion: “Di” was nowhere to be found. Wrong again, Internet.

But this most recent episode called back to The Hobo Code in several ways. That’s the problem with Mad Men; by the time the newest episodes air, I’ve forgotten all the significant stuff that happened years ago. (Just like real life.)

In that Season 1 episode, Don smokes pot and flashes back to the Depression, when a hobo stops at the farm and solicits work. The hobo teaches Don about the hobo code, a way for fellow drifters to communicate, and he tells Don that he’s one of them now. And while Don may have been in New York City most of this time, in his personal and professional life, he has been a drifter. He jumps from job to job, relationship to relationship, moving along when the consequences of his actions become too unbearable (for him or others). This was punctuated brilliantly by Rachel’s sister, who politely but coldly shot down Don when he tried to insert him into an observance of Rachel’s life – which no longer, not for a long time, included Don. Another blog that I read (and now I forget which) suggested Don had been attracted to Rachel because of her Judaism, and fascinated by the concept of a people wandering in the desert.

Besides being just an other example that showed how seedy Don’s life can be, and how he never seems to come far from his whorehouse roots, the diner scene struck me for one phrase uttered by Don, afterward: “I just want to sit here.”

It’s true that we saw him back to taking office-couch naps in the newest episodes, but really, those are just an extension of the party the night before – they’re not rest. He’s a man constantly in search of something to rescue him from mediocrity. He walks into his home, turns on the lights – is that all there is? – and turns them off again, in search of another fix. That’s why, to me, his confession to the waitress that he just wants to sit seems significant. Maybe it’s time to finally reflect on what life looks like after he’s missed his flight.

(Or not. I really have no idea.)

Peggy is adorable when she’s drunk. She’s not going to Paris. Ken will probably regret working for Dow Chemical in the 1970s (but maybe he can work all that into his novel). Joan has deep-rooted insecurities about how she reached her place at the top, even now. More Stan and his beads, please.