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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Whiskey in your water

What in the holy name of Anna Draper was that? No guarantees, but I’ll try to be a little more sophisticated than I was in my text message to dear friend and loyal reader Michele:

Photo May 20, 10 08 03 AM

My husband wasn’t paying enough attention during “The Crash,” to my tastes, so I turned to the loving arms and equally hysterical arms of Twitter. I don’t know about you, but about the time Minny Jackson showed up in Don’s apartment, I was

Let’s look at this sequence of events in the cold, sober light of day.

  • Don is exhausted, in mind and heart.
  • Don, a 40-year-old man, chooses to take the injection from Harry Hamlin’s quack doctor, despite not knowing what’s in it.
  • Don trips the trippiest trip that ever was tripped.*
  • Don flakes on the Chevy account.
  • Don’s obsession with Sylvia leads him to leave his home unattended (and his door unlocked, in hopes she’ll return?) and the safety of his children is compromised.

All these actions begin win Don. But when Don returns to earth, presumably feeling even more exhausted in mind and heart, he lays the blame at the feet of everyone else:

“Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse.” 

Conclusion: Don still doesn’t understand that actions have consequences. The Tin Man discovered his heart, though, so that’s something?

Part of me felt that a lot of this goes back to Peggy. I’m not saying that Peggy is a stand-in for Sylvia or anything like that. We saw that Sylvia is a twisted mother figure to Don, down to the headscarf she wears at home that matches the headscarf in the soup ad that became Don’s obsession. 

But as the shot took effect, Peggy, touching Ted’s arm in comfort, was Don’s last sober sight. Don hasn’t been the same since Ted and Peggy came on board and Don saw the way she had slipped into the role of caretaker to Ted — presumably without the adversarial undertones that came with her similar relationship with Don. Her dynamic with Don has changed, and he can’t seem to handle it. “Change isn’t good or bad. It just is.” Season 3 Don laughs in Season 6 Don’s bewildered face. The world is changing, and Don’s bad trip show he’s not up for that ride, either. Peggy sees this, and I feel like there’s a sense of longing on both their parts for the old days. She seems regretful that the relationship has changed, but resolute.

I’m curious to know what others thought of this episode! As disorienting as it was, the more I think about this episode, the more I think it was great. It had an undertone of sadness that couldn’t be eclipsed, at least permanently, by any pharmaceuticals.

Uncategorized observations:

  • Peggy Olson is always the classiest person in the room. This time, it’s when she refused to bad-mouth her departed boss. “I liked him.”
  • Peggy and Stan!?** I wanted it to happen, but I didn’t, and was so relieved it didn’t happen, and

  • Betty is back to blond and skinny. “Henry is running for office!” Yes, sweetie, we assumed.
  • Clearly Megan as Maria von Trapp is long gone, but she didn’t deserve Betty’s “casting couch” dig.

*What kept running through my mind was Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come” (written, as so many good songs are, by Randy Newman). “Don’t know what it is, but I don’t wanna see no more!”

**Groupthink: