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.

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One thought on “Wandering

  1. I think I need to rewatch the episode to really get a good grasp on it, but it’s been in my head for two days now. I will say, I think Weiner has alluded to Don’s death too many times for it to actually happen.

    I think Don is absolutely looking for a salvation that will never find him. He either doesn’t know how to save himself, or he doesn’t want to. I suspect he will continue to drift through life, finding moments of solace and comfort and interpreting them as something greater before ultimately being disappointed in whatever it was that comforted him (women, drugs, alcohol, financial success). I also suspect he’ll continue to sabotage anything that could truly be meaningful in his life, because at his core he doesn’t feel like he deserves true happiness.

    I actually found Don to be a less interesting aspect of this episode, though. The dynamic between Joan and Peggy has been eating away at me since Sunday night. I want them to get past this ‘talking at each other’ thing they’ve always done and actually connect, because I think they could take over SC&P if they did. I think they both represent feminism in their own way, but in two ways that will make that completely impossible for them to ever truly ‘get’ each other. Joan has always worked within the system as it was presented to her in her youth to get ahead — and that historically meant trading on her looks. Peggy worked her face off and turned the existing system on its head to get to where she is. They both want what the other has and resent the other for having it. And they both think the other looks down on them.

    This episode forced me to confront the ugly truth that in 2026 I will likely have to tell my daughter that if she wants to be taken seriously, she will always have to consider how much sexuality she’s putting out based on sartorial choices, and that conservative dress will lead to respect.

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