Your life will be an adventure.

“Time and Life,” “Lost Horizons,” and “The Milk and Honey Route.” My devotion to Mad Men is such that I even love the titles of the episodes. I scribbled some notes down a couple weeks ago, and now I can’t find the paper, but that’s progress, right? I’ll become a devoted blogger just as this thing is ending. I did jot notes last night, because I was too lazy to live-blog, and I found those. So here we go!

One week until the series finale! I have warned my better half that I’ll probably be emotionally devastated. I don’t generally cry during movies or TV shows these days, unless pregnant or newly postpartum — but Mad Men has choked me up twice during these past three episodes: When Peggy shared with Stan that she’d had a child, and when Henry told Sally about Betty’s cancer, and Sally covered her ears. Poor Sally, who wants so desperately to be adult, looked so childlike at that moment. Any of my loyal readers are welcome to come over and watch the show, with the understanding that 1) you must not wake the baby, and 2) you must not talk during the show. It’ll be a hell of a party. 😉

How interesting it’s been, over the arc of these three episodes, to watch the dismantling of the five partners — Ted, Roger, Don, Joan, and Pete — and everything they built. “Time and Life” was one of my favorite episodes in recent memory, largely because of the caper-style build-up to “save” SC&P one last time, only to the big reveal, in the end, that it wouldn’t work. Now, going into the finale, we have the likelihood that Ted and Roger may be the only of the partners left there.

Ted again is another worker bee in shirtsleeves, and he couldn’t be happier. Good for you, Ted?

Roger. Oh, Roger. Roger’s sudden appearance at the organ will go down as one of my favorite SC&P memories. (Even if, as some comments I’ve read suggest, the organ dirge and his comments about his heart condition foreshadow his death. He’s had a good ride.) He says exactly the right thing to give Peggy the confidence she needs to swagger into McCann-Erickson, while managing, one last time, to let Joan down. I loved the way Joan picked up Kevin’s photo before she left her office the last time; just a little visual reminder to Roger of that failure, whether or not Roger registered it, or cared. What is next for Roger? Well, most likely, more of the same. He lives on the surface of things, and I think he’ll continue, comfortably, if not happily, to be that way until his time is up.

As for Joan? I can’t say that I’m sorry her future won’t include a huge, public legal battle for what she’s owed. She has earned a break, whatever that looks like for her.

Peggy has so many sides; the side that keeps working in the dark, even though no one cares that she is. The side that gets drunk and roller skates through empty halls. My new favorite side, of course, is her slightly hungover entrance into McCann. I said in my last post that she envisioned a future for her career regardless of whether or not Don was in it, and it’s clear now that she’s on her way. I still hope we get some glimpses of her in the finale, though. There is so much more of Peggy that I want to see.

Let’s talk Pete Campbell. I wanted to applaud him when he told his (somehow even less attractive) brother, “It feels good, and then it doesn’t.” YOU FINALLY GOT IT. SOMEONE ON THE SHOW FINALLY GOT IT. I’m personally not convinced he’ll get his happy ending — Trudy could well change her mind between 4 a.m. and the light of day, and all this hinges on unreliable Duck Phillips — but, “Wichita is beautiful.” Isn’t it pretty to think so?

How sad, in retrospect, that Jim Hobart didn’t even let Don Draper finish what would most likely be his last pitch. To be honest, I kind of love where Don/Dick’s story line is going. Being Don, he’s trying to shed his Draper identity as fully and tidily as possible. His doing so — essentially disappearing — would disappoint me. Betty’s diagnosis may be the gravitational pull to draw him back into his old life (and maybe, unfortunately, his old ways). Perhaps it’s a good sign that even before Betty’s diagnosis, he was checking in regularly with Sally? I don’t have any delusions that Mad Men, in the finale, will manage to sketch Dick Whitman as a fully fleshed character that fully embraces the best parts of his old self — his creative work, his children — with whatever parts of Dick’s hobo soul that have been buried all these years. But I’m looking forward to watching whatever glimpses of the metamorphosis that we can get in one episode.

Selected notes from my stream of consciousness last night–

“LOL cannot imagine how un-fun the orchards with Dad Pete would be.”

“Is Betty dying?!”

“LOL at Pete slamming door in secretary’s face.”

“Betty, don’t be dying, just be pregnant?”

“BETTY’S GONNA DIE 😦 ”

“Learjet? That’s… ironic.”

“Don WOULD find a goddess by the pool.”

“Don doesn’t die, he goes to Oklahoma, and it’s worse.”

“LOL at Charming Pete.”

“Roy!”

“Oh my. Don is… sweaty.”

“Don! These men are not priests!”

“Will Trudy take her floral couch?”

“LOL at Don correcting that punk’s grammar again.”

“GO HOME DON.”

“Drive it like ya stole it, kid.”

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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.

So groovy now

Last week, Don pulled the ultimate “change the conversation” move. Sunday, we started to see the consequences. It starts with Ted’s introduction to Don’s unorthodox work ethic. (Had Ted asked “coffee chief” Peggy Olson about the merger before steamrolling ahead, she might’ve warned him.)

Don strolls into the first joint partners’ meeting late, as usual. (Hilariously, not as late as Pete Campbell.) Our first clue of his inertia should be his bemused eyebrow lift at Ted’s, “Fleischmann’s. Groovy.” Groovy is not in Don’s vocabulary.

Photo May 13, 11 06 44 AM“He’s mysterious, but I can’t tell if he’s putting it on,” Ted describes Don. The fascination is mutual. Ted doesn’t realize everything about Don is put on, even his name; Don doesn’t know how to react to this interloper that he himself invited into the conversation.

“Ted’s a pilot.” Is there nothing the new kid can’t do? Well, he can’t drink like Don, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Peggy points out. Peggy, for her part, seems to gain confidence with each scene, beginning with her unabashed “I’m for Bobby” and ending with her bold directive to Don: Move forward.

He does everything but, at least until the final minutes of the episode. Don lets himself live out every Madonna/whore fantasy he has with Sylvia, apparently with no thought that there might eventually be consequences. When she finally breaks off their relationship, his tortured* “Please” sounds pathetic and out of tune with the nature of their raunchy interactions. (There was an Internet-famous reel of Don Draper saying “What” a couple years ago. I imagine the “Please” reel would be much shorter.)

I need you.” “Take off everything for me.” Sylvia is every self-centered fantasy he has, until suddenly, she isn’t. The bubble pops, and Don’s back in a bleak world where Kennedys are being assassinated and his business is changing faster than he can keep up. Even when it seems like he’s having a moment of brilliance, his idea is pedestrian: romanticized Dorothea Lange farmers putting margarine on pancakes? Neil Armstrong will walk on the moon next year, and Don’s still in the Dust Bowl era. (ETA: The commenters on tomandlorenzo.com, and the TLo, rightfully pointed out to me that the farmhouse scene was the standard of margarine commercials for years to come. They see this as a sign of Don’s ability to tap into the American mainstream, not his lack of creativity.)

I loved the callback to Ted’s words in the final song of the episode, and especially loved it with the image of Don and Megan on the same bed, but far apart — I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together. Don is a man alone, at work and in his personal life.

Leftover thoughts, and I have a lot of them this week:

  • Burt Peterson is back — oh, just kidding! “Remember Ken Cosgrove? Like a six-foot version of Alan Ladd?” I felt a little bad for Burt, but not bad enough that I didn’t enjoy watching Roger fire him so elegantly.
  • “Now I see you’re about my height.” Ginsberg!
  • “Yes, Peggy, we risked our entire company just so I could have you in this office complaining again.” Don, of course.
  • Joan: “I’m glad you’re here.” Peggy: “Well, I’m glad you’re here.” At least someone’s happy to see Pegs!
  • Peggy: “I just spoke with Dawn.” Ted: “Black or white?” (Speaking of Dawn — where was she?)
  • How delightful was Ted giving up his chair after Pete takes the secretary’s? Outclassed and emasculated in a single sentence: “Moira, take my chair.”
  • Pete’s brother, Bud: “Maybe we can get the paperwork started.” I guffawed, but poor Pete has a lot on his plate right now, and he’s not handling any of it gracefully.
  • Ted’s hilarious slang, in addition to “groovy,” included “rap session,” “free associate,” and “yeah, man.” He manages to be so artsy and so dorky at the same time. (I guffawed again at his reaction to the copywriter who says he’s voting for Nixon: “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you have any hope?” :::headdesk:::)
  • What does it mean when Megan is talking and her voice fades out and the music swells?! That can’t be good.
  • Because it bears repeating … Don: “Peggy, he’s a grown man.” Peggy: “So are you. Move forward.”

*Someone give this man his Emmy already!

ETA: I just read TLo’s take this week, and as usual, I love it.

Our fathers

If my last post seemed uninspired, it’s because it was! Fortunately, I liked this episode, “The Flood,” as much as I’ve felt ambivalent about the rest of this season.

Peggy, at a launching point in her personal life and career, stares out the window; she wants to be on the Upper East Side, despite her supposed indifference when Abe suggests other neighborhoods. Again, she’s mimicking Don, whether consciously or not, as we realize when she tells Megan at the awards dinner, “We might be neighbors.”

Peggy looks over the city on a bright, light-filled day; Don contemplates darkness from his balcony as sirens wail and a nation grieves for another man killed in the same setting, a thousand miles away.

I was talking to a friend recently about the Jewish Museum in Berlin. The Garden of Exile outside the building is a concrete cage of sorts with tall concrete pillars that appear straight but are actually off-kilter; the ground is crooked in a subtle way, creating a disoriented and unsettled feeling to anyone stumbling around its paths. That’s sort of how this episode felt after the announcement of King’s death interrupted the early, mundane moments. When “Mad Men” gets tone right, it really gets it right. The tone here was unfamiliar, unsettled, awkward. It’s a crude and violent new world that Don doesn’t like, as we saw by his reaction to Roger’s trippy client*.

Awkward in the way none of these white people, no matter how sympathetic they are to the civil rights cause, know how to react to the few black people who inhabit their insular world. Joan’s rigid hug to Dawn was the most perfect example of this, but we also saw it in the more subtle way the black characters did not act exactly as expected. Peggy’s secretary behaved about as her employers thought she would; Dawn didn’t.

Peggy baffled me a little in this episode. (I think she was supposed to.) She communicated so much nonverbally; the look with Ted after he is booted from his chair by Abe (whaaaat does that mean?!); the sort of moony face behind Abe’s back while she’s sitting on the couch, contemplating having children with him. I don’t really see that relationship lasting (and maybe she’s already got something going on with Ted), but it seems like they have reached that level of familiarity and comfort that makes it difficult to move on. I can’t decide what Peggy wants and wonder if she even knows.

They may be on the same level, but the styling of the show has not so subtly suggested they’re drifting apart this season. Abe didn’t fit into the fancy corporate dinner this season; last season, he could’ve made it work:

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I will never get tired of this GIF

The ongoing theme of parenthood and particularly fatherhood really interested me. Don finally notices Bobby** as a person in the movie theater (and how Don-like was his breathless little, “Jesus!” comment?) But Don maintains that Megan is “better with them.” Hey, Draper, guess what? It doesn’t matter if you didn’t immediately “love” your children — you had them, you have to figure out how to raise them. That’s the social contract. His teary and surprising confession to Megan really moved me, but it also speaks to his immaturity; he’s spent so much time taking care of his needs — his women, his alcohol, his career — that it’s just now occurring to him that he maybe ought to think about parenting. (And even then, it’s less recognizing his own failings than blaming them on his father.) It wasn’t unusual for a man of his class and generation to be a detached parent, but he has completely checked out, and he’s just seeming to realize it as one child is basically grown and another is well on his way. He has such a great parenting style when he actually tries; I loved the way he gently but humorously shot down Bobby’s concern about Henry, and that must have been heartbreaking for Don to hear.

A commentary I read suggested Don’s introspection was prompted by his sudden and consuming worry about Sylvia in D.C. I disagree with this; I felt like he was worried about Sylvia, and continued to be worried, until suddenly he realized maybe he should be focused on his actual life. As he stumbled through the dark halls, I thought at first he was in the back halls of the apartment building, checking on Sylvia; I was surprised he was checking on the children. (But then, I’ve been wrong before.)

Megan again showed remarkable poise, encouraging Peggy in her home-buying endeavor, taking care of Don’s kids, trying desperately as always to understand him. On fatherhood: I couldn’t figure out at the beginning of the episode how she could’ve been so quick to forgive Don for his hard words on the set of her show. Then we heard her conversation with her Canadien père, and there it is.

Photo Apr 29, 8 08 52 AM

So much in this episode to unpack. I’ll save the Virgin Ginsberg and his father for another day. The other “father” reference that really struck me was Pete, angrily shouting at Awful Harry (TM) that Martin Luther King was a father. That’s our Pete, absolutely rotten, until suddenly he isn’t.

*Giggly, stoned Stan makes my day.

**That misaligned wallpaper would’ve annoyed the CRAP out of me. I feel ya, Bobby.

Soda fountains and swingers

Aside

A confession:

I’m a little bored by Season 6. Hence the delay. Not enough to quit watching; it’s still the best thing on TV. Just enough to hope something exciting will happen soon, and that we might see some indication that Don Draper is evolving. I can dream.

I liked the developments that have Dawn chucking her attempts to gain respect from the other secretaries, and taking it straight to the top, adopting Joan as her mentor. Those scenes were showing. We didn’t really need to hear her tell her friend about the culture of SCDP — “Mad Men” is much more powerful when it’s demonstrating the culture.

I think Hemingway said, “Show the readers everything, tell them nothing.” The wooden scenes between Dawn and her gal pal felt so unnatural to me. I applaud the show for finally adding to the diversity of its characters. So many of the subplots since the beginning of the show have had to do with the civil rights movement; it’s nice to finally see the human side of some of those characters. Their voices, though, just didn’t seem authentic to me.

For example: Harry. Remember when we liked him, just a little? I can completely understand his feeling undervalued by the company, but what a way to express it.

I’ve heard some commenters say Roger’s refusal to stop Harry’s tirade was a reflection of his general awfulness to Joan. I read it as, “Let’s let this guy continue to humiliate himself,” but I’m not sure if that’s right, either — Harry’s temper tantrum and cruelty toward Joan was rewarded by a big fat check. Harry is awful in the way he points it out, but he’s telling the truth about how Joan got her partnership — how does Joan rise above that truth and create a new one? This episode had her blatantly disrespected in front of the other partners, in a way that showed just how different she is viewed.

Maybe this is the motivation Joan needs? She’s such a mystery to me. From her mean streak in the earlier seasons, to the way she uses her sexuality to get ahead (long before the Jaguar deal), I just can’t seem to figure her out. In any case, she takes these squabbles, some petty and some heavy, home with her, and her friend points out, in contrast to Joan’s awful day, that Joan is living the life.

I hope the scene in the club is an indication of how Joan will change; she begins looking uncomfortable, out of her decade, very alone. Then she’s reminded that she’s still beautiful and very much in charge of where her life goes. She can adapt to this crazy new era and to her role at SCDP. Right? In any case, I’m glad Joan finally got a storyline, and it was, to me, the most interesting one in this episode.

Peggy has adapted to being Don 2.0. Whose pitch was better? They both were modern and creative. I actually liked Don’s better, but Peggy’s anticipated the client’s needs, and she sold that thing — using Don’s stock line, “Change the conversation.” Don got the gut-punch he deserved for eavesdropping.

Of course, Don deserved to be gut-punched early and often. I just can’t with this guy. Don swings, just not in the open, because that would be wrong. Don and Megan fought; Don had more hypocritical, Madonna/Whore scenes with Sylvia, ad infinitum.

See? Bored. A better and earlier recap next week, I hope.

Some kind of astronaut

Oh, hey, Internet. I was too busy Sunday night drinking gin and tonics and trying to figure out what the hell was going on to write a blog post. I was too busy Monday recovering from gin and tonics (and doing work I actually get paid for) to analyze my reactions to that dreary little double episode.

“Dreary” doesn’t usually come to mind when Hawaii is the setting. As someone who spent a beach vacation last year reading about the Battle of the Somme and the advent of modern warfare*, I appreciated Don’s heavy beach reading. My reading, though, was “for fun,” or at least, for personal enrichment, motivated by my own curiosity. Does Don read without outside motivation? We’ve seen him read for pleasure, I guess — John Le Carré, Frank O’Hara. But the last time we saw him read something this deep, it was Exodus, for Rachel. (Remember Rachel?) It shouldn’t have surprised me to discover, in the end, that the pretty doctor’s wife was behind Dante. I was surprised anyway.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I started this blog last year when all my water-cooler talkers had moved away, and I had quit my job, so I didn’t have a water cooler to hang around anyway. There were several instances in the last season when I felt a sense of urgency about writing a reflection. I didn’t feel that after the Season 6 premiere, probably because we’ve been down most of these roads before.

“The Doorway” was like a sad-off. Think it can’t get sadder? Here’s middle-aged Don Draper, tossing his cookies into an umbrella stand. Think it can’t get sadder? Here’s Roger Sterling, trying to recover from his temper tantrum (“It’s my funeral!”) to make an authentic gesture — handing his daughter a jar of water from the River Jordan — but she just wants to talk about Roger’s money, and leaves the jar on the couch when she rushes away. (Roger turns down Jane’s offer to return his mother’s ring so that he can give it to Margaret, and instead, gives her something that actually has sentimental value. After hearing her investment-opportunity pitch, I think Margaret would’ve just pawned it anyway. But is that any wonder, for a daughter whose father has been so emotionally detached all her life?) But wait! Here’s Roger, finally sobbing into a shoe-shine box. He does feel!

It gets sadder! Here’s Betty, picking her way through a fallen-in hovel to look for… oh, wait. I don’t care about this subplot. Seriously, who is this girl with the dead mother? I hate it when TV shows drop in characters whose only purpose is to be a catalyst for another character’s actions, so this diversion irritated me. On the bright side: No Glenn!

Where can Betty’s character go, realistically? I’ve read some commentary that the creepy teen-rape comments she made to Henry seemed to indicate she’s clinically unhinged. I think she’s just desperate for attention and gets her rocks off being shocking — and how many ways can a suburban housewife be shocking? Has early mid-life crisis, dyes her hair? Oh, my stars! Maybe Betty will zzzzzzzzzz.

Oh, sorry, I nodded off there.

What else? Peggy is Don 2.0; improvements include bug fixes (fewer crashes!) and less chemical dependence. I loved her phone conversation with Stan.

The men are hairier than usual. Abe’s mustache made me legitimately laugh out loud.

I didn’t talk much about Don, did I? We know what’s in his future. Or do we? He, for his part, is obsessed with his future — at least, his future beyond this world. He’s awfully young to have given up on this life already, but then, so were Lane Pryce and Adam Whitman. So many times, I’ve thought Don was reckoning with his past: When Betty found his box, when he came clean to Faye. Megan knows, too. But their knowing isn’t enough, obviously; the stink of his past follows him around like that damn Zippo lighter. Remember this Don Draper? He’s so far removed from that image as to be nearly a different person.

In any case, 1968 was one of the most fascinating years in American history. Gruesome, exhilarating, hopeful, heartbreaking. I can’t wait to see where the show takes it. Tell me what you think!

Leftover thoughts:

  • The first episode of last season saw this. Compare it to the New Year’s party at Don and Megan’s in this episode, a season later; glamorous Megan, sitting around on New Year’s with a bunch of people years older than her who are complaining about how much college costs. And her husband is sleeping with one of them! She’s not long for this lifestyle.
  • We didn’t get any Increasingly Bad Decisions of Pete Campbell in this episode. Looking forward to more of those.
  • And more Joan, please.
  • Have I mentioned I love Peggy?
  • In case I missed anything.
  • ETA: Thought that occurred to me after I wrote this post: What if all the death foreshadowing is not about Don, but about Betty? “My mother’s dead”… the cop telling her he didn’t want to have to scrape her off the highway in a shovel. I’m not sure suicide is her bag, but she certainly makes enough reckless decisions that an accident wouldn’t be unlikely, as we saw again in this episode. (You read it here first.)

*To End All Wars. It’s a great book! I like to party.