Yes, last night’s episode featured a pretty decent Pete plotline (although it ended on a kind of cheesy note. That was a cold-hearted revenge fuck if ever I have seen one, so what is all this weepy window painting?) and there was also a Mr. Belding cameo that shut down the Twitter servers for almost 10 whole minutes. But really last night’s episode, like this whole season, was about Megan, and I’m starting to grow weary. I’m willing to care about her, sure, but do I have to care about her THIS MUCH? There’s only been ONE episode with Betty in it. Roger Sterling maxes out at a single quip per episode. And yet, week in and week out, we are treated to an endless examination of What’s Up With Megan. Which could make sense as some kind of side entrance to Don’s psychology, but that’s often only given a glancing shot. He will give a meaningful glance here, or snap at Peggy in the test kitchen there, but for the most part it really is about her and how she’s doing. It’s hard to invest so much in her when I’m not even sure if I like her or not yet. Take last night for example: are we supposed to think she is actually “brave” for deciding to leave her job and try acting again? Are we supposed to think she’s “just another Betty” as Joan implied? (If they show her booking acting jobs within the next two weeks to prove that this is some kind of self-actualized counter-point to Betty’s fading modeling career and suburban malaise I’m going to puke because it’s just too clearly drawn.) All in all, Mad Men has really become The Megan Show and I don’t know if that’s a show that I would watch if I hadn’t been sucked in already. Considering how many complicated, interesting, three-dimensional characters this show has built into self-propelling narratives, why are we spending SO much time on just this one? Don’s a shell at this point. What has he even done this season besides hate bang his new wife on the living room floor a couple of times? This isn’t a slide projector it’s a time machine, and it’s taking me to a future I’m kind of bored by.

Comments (136)
  1. *Gabe, it seems to me that you are down on this season of Mad Men for reasons I’m not sure I understand. Why have you gotten so disenchanted with the series? It can’t just be Megan.

    *Don’s uneasiness with the changing pop music is a pretty great way to show how rapidly things are changing. Earlier this season Don was whistling the Beatles’ 1964 “I Want to Hold Your Hand’’; now he can’t stand to finish like “Tomorrow Never Knows,” from the 1966 Beatles’ Revolver, an album which is an artistic quantum leap forward in popular music. In just two years rock’n'roll had changed by a staggering magnitude. (Sidenote: The Beatles are pretty amazing, you guys. If you’ve never heard of them you should check them out.)

    *Is Joan now the Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price guru? She sits at her desk while supplicants come by, begging for her advice?

    *This episode felt like all the key pieces are being put in place for the season’s end. That’s not a criticism; I liked the episode. It’s just that this felt less like an episode where big things happened then an episode where things are being set up to happen later on.

    • What are they setting up for? Pete might have an affair? Megan might fail as an actress? Peggy / Don still don’t get along all the time? I just don’t see those being very big stakes for the rest of the season. After so many excellent episodes this season, I felt like this one had very little plot advancement or character development. I just feel like last night made the storylines/themes for this season feel a bit redundant and overdone. Get back to Sally!

      • What were the big stakes in this show ever though? It’s a couple levels below a soap opera. There’s more examination than plot momentum.

        • There have always been a good amount of stakes related to Don and/or the office.

          Season 1: will people find out about Dick Whitman?
          Season 2: the Sterling Cooper buyout.
          Season 3: the end of the Draper marriage / formation of SCDP
          Season 4: will Don ever get his shit together?
          This season: A lot of commentary about the changing times.

          To be honest, I think this might be my favorite season so far, but I can sympathize with people that are kind of frustrated with the pacing / advancement of the story. Maybe that’s why they’ve been focusing more on other characters, like Megan, this season. There isn’t much on the line for Don this season, except the question of whether this marriage will work but they seem to be making a point of showing that it can/possibly will.

        • With the exception of the Dick Whitman story arc, I guess I just don’t consider those “big stakes” but I agree that I think this season is my favorite so far. And I really didn’t like the first episode this season, I thought it was going to be a stinker.

      • What are they setting up for? Pete’s death obviously.

        • They’ve been dropping so many suicide hints lately!

        • Follow the clues, SHEEPLE.

          • Clues:

            Madmen goes out of it’s way to license a notoriously expensive song to make this work. The song is Tomorrow never knows [1] from the album Revolver. Revolver is the first Beatles Album to feature the “Paul is Dead” clues. [2] There are four active partners at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. One partner, Cooper, is relegated to a more passive, guru-like part. Campbell takes his place as far as the day to day operations. The equivalent breaks down like this: Lennon: Draper, Sterling: Harrison, Pryce: Starr & Campbell: McCartney.[3]

            Pete buys life insurance [4]
            Pete accepts sporting equipment that can be dangerous if handled with hubris and disrespect [5]
            Pete carelessly ignores a stop sign, his potentially deadly lack of driving skills are brought up [6]
            Pete ponders his mortality, this part goes as far as to indirectly mention that Rory sees helplessness in his eyes [7]

        • Foreshadowing! Didn’t his last office not have windows? I called Pete suicide last episode, and my girlfriend disagreed completely.

    • I agree with you completely. It’s not really about Megan.It is, but it isn’t. It’s about Don or what Don is lacking. What he’s missing. He’s middle aged and falling in a rut, and out of step and Megan is a constant reminder of that.

      Also nice tie-in with the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” which is explicitly about LSD, and yes – a quantum leap forward in music; they’re still mimicking that song/sound today. Everyone seems to be doing something, going somewhere (Peggy is getting balls, Joan is too, Roger is opening the doors of perception) – except Don, well and Pete too. Pete’s another story though.

      The scene where Don almost steps into an empty elevator shaft? Was that a dream? I mean it was obviously a metaphor for everything falling out from under him, but was it real? I am not sure if Weiner intended it to be real or not.

      • I totally agree about Megan. She’s interesting in that even when she is taking deliberate steps to step out of the shadow of other characters (leaving SCDP, eg), her actions seem to reveal far more about the characters around her than about herself. Megan leaving showed us very little about Megan’s character. It revealed a ton about Don and Peggy. Megan is the ultimate foil.

    • *wertrew why are you putting * in front of stuff?

    • (I want to hold your hand) Don was whistling that tune that did not like and Megan pointed it out and Don was all like, It’s catchy. Vintage Ear Worm.

    • Don was whistling I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Megan said to him, I thought you hated that song – to which he said something like the melody is catchy. Like an earworm. I don’t think he likes the Beatles.

  2. I want to talk about the more important topic of RORY GILMORE and also post a couple of Gilmore Girls moments I was reminded of:

    • Also, looks like even on other shows, Rory has terrible taste in men (give or take a Jess)!

      • I have not seen Gilmore Girls (I know, I know), so my frame of reference for that actress was her role as the blue-eyed streetwalker in Sin City, where Benecio Del Toro is trying to pick her up in his car before getting his hand cut off by a ninja star when he pulls out his gun. Real highbrow stuff, you know? She’s all like, “Mister, you just made a big mistake.” SLICE!

        And then Josh Hartnett kills her in the elevator at the end of the movie because Frank Miller has issues.

      • Drawing a heart on a foggy window is like the antithesis of Rory Gilmore communication, though. It’s not just not annoyingly verbose; it’s nonverbal altogether.

      • Rory has the fucking WORST TASTE EVER. Except for Logan. I liked Logan.

        GO BACK TO LOGAN, RORY.

        • No! Logan is terrible! I mean, he’s not as bad as Dean, but he’s still such a douche!

          • But he was funny! Remember when he wore the hat and talked fast at the paper? I liked that. He was a douche, but she was like human cardboard.

            Paris was the keeper. Dale knows what I’m talking about. (Though in my head Paris ended up with Kirk.)

          • But we’re in agreement that Dean was the character equivalent of cold, unflavored oatmeal or like Coldplay…

          • True story: I once dated a guy and was excited to learn that he was a Gilmore Girls fan. But then I found out that he liked Dean and honestly it was the first of many red flags.

          • Ewwwwwww. When my best friend started defending Dean, I honestly started worrying about her shitty boyfriend and how lame he actually was.

        • Dean was oatmeal.
          Logan was a douche.
          Jess was the only acceptable one.

          But, to be honest, Rory never found a Luke Danes of her own. Poor Rory cursed to live a Luke-less life living with step-father Luke.

  3. Looks like somebody hit Gabe in the head with a cowpie.

  4. I miss Sal.

  5. “Jeez, Gabe. Really?” — Armond White.

  6. I think it’s because Megan is being utilized differently than the other characters in the show that may cause a negative reaction. Megan isn’t there to be a character that we are going to feel such a strong connection with; it’s more how the characters that we already care about react to her decisions. Megan is a sign of the times; it’s doubtful that she would have gotten much respect even two seasons ago. Mad Men is still driven by Don and Peggy; it’s Don’s mixture of confusion and yearning to adapt and Peggy’s feelings about how people should react to advertising that is driving the story along, not if Megan is going to get a bit part in a commercial.

  7. “SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!” – The cool whip testing department

  8. I was interpreting Megan’s presence on the show to reflect her presence in the office (not just Don’s psyche). Not only is she the boss’s wife, but she is also effortlessly charming, beautiful, and a natural talent. I think everyone who comes into SCDP is faced with the Megan show every day and that is why to some of them she is a bit of a contentious character to some of them. I think this episode is key because now she will no longer be in the office. My guess is that there will be far fewer Megan focused episodes and she will be relegated to a more supporting role.

  9. “SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!” – The cool whip testing department, the new class

  10. I’m just happy that her name is simply spelled “Megan” without all the bells and whistles.

  11. “SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!” the cool whip testing department, the college years

  12. Take last night for example: are we supposed to think she is actually “brave” for deciding to leave her job and try acting again? Are we supposed to think she’s “just another Betty” as Joan implied?

    I think that we’re supposed to think it was a brave choice, but not brave in the sense that she’s tossing aside a career in advertising for an uncertain future as an actress.* That part isn’t particularly brave, since she’s in a financial position where a career is more a luxury than a necessity. The brave part is being able to face Don and tell him what she wants because she owes her position almost entirely to him. I don’t think it had occurred to her that she was behaving in a cowardly fashion until the confrontation with Peggy in the bathroom, but once her cowardice was laid bare for her she felt compelled to face up to it.

    *Which is exactly why Joan thinks she’s just another Betty. Joan had to work for a living before she met her husband, and now that she’s kicked him out it’s a necessity again. Sure, Joan likes being in the workforce and takes great pride in her self-sufficiency, but the fact that it isn’t exactly a choice for her is still always going to be there. Joan looks at someone like Megan and knows that even with the best of intentions, Megan does have the option not to work if the whole acting thing doesn’t pan out.

    • I don’t think we’re supposed to think it is a brave choice at all. She was lucky to have her job in the first place, as Peggy pointed out, and she married Don for his money so she could live the life she wanted. I think Don is figuring that out. He was really happy when he married (or so he thought) a mini version of himself–someone he could respect. Now, he finds himself married to a teenager, who goes to school and listens to music he doesn’t get. There was so much parent-child stuff between them in this episode–her asking for his permission to do something after the fact, her lying to him and sneaking out behind his back, her not accpeting his advice to take the safe career over the fun, certain career. He even had a “back in MY day, we wanted indoor plumbing” moment.

      As for Joan, she likes her job and her career. I don’t think she resents Megan or Betty for that matter. She’s just kind of baffled by them.

      • Re: Megan, Don, and daddy issues: Good point.

        Her whole “I want to follow my dream and be an actress,” kick was spurred by her father teasing her about being in advertizing instead of “following her dream.”

  13. All my ex-girlfriends idolized Rory Gilmore, and now our relationships are dead.

    Just like Pete will be.

    • Once he made that offhand remark about suicide, I felt like Matthew Weiner was speaking directly to the Monster Mad Men Conspiracy Club: Pete Campbell Death Prediction Chapter.

      • Plus the elevator shaft!

        • That elevator shaft gave me the willies!

        • And the bad driving!

          • And he was boning RORY GILMORE who once dated Dean, a man who was basically dead inside… WHO LEFT THE SHOW TO FIGHT GHOSTS.

            And Pete is from Quor’Toth a known HELL DIMENSION.

          • (pssssst badideajeans: im pretty sure i irrationally hated pete campbell for like, ever, because of my total loathing for connor.)

          • Without a doubt. Conner was actually worse than Pete. Pete sucks but Conner UGH. THE WORST.

            Huh, I still hate him. Get the fuck away from Cordelia you fucking greasy hell dimension rat boy!! And take a shower. Use soap. And shampoo.

          • I used to shout stuff like “GO BACK TO QUOR’TOTH” and “You are in AMERICA now, USE SHAMPOO!!” at my TV and my then-boyfriend quickly learned to not visit when I was watching mah stories.

          • p.s. What’s up fellassssssss…

          • This is my favorite comment thread.

            And I would argue that though they are both pretty much the worst, Pete is worse than Connor. I mean, at least when Connor slept with demon-possessed Cordelia it was more or less consensual. Pete and the neighbor’s nanny? Not so much.

          • Good point. But if you’re possessed (the only reasonable explanation for sleeping with Conner), are you really consenting?

            Because real Cordie would have told him to fuck off.

            PLUS WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD PICK CONNER OVER ANGEL, POSSESSED OR NOT???

          • Yeah, Pete is super rapey. But Conner is sooooo awful. I guess I still hate Conner more because I don’t know the awful people Pete is fucking over but I was *so* invested in the Angel and Cordelia dynamic. And the way Loren read them that one time? And the ballet episode? And then the episode when she got out of her coma?

            Dammit. Pete is super rapey. Now I have to hate Pete more… I have been hating Conner for so long I don’t know if I can stop. Pete seems so broken and misguided. I’ll just assume he was also raised in Quor’Toth and doesn’t know right from wrong. The Upper East Side is basically a hell dimension too.

            Adding: I may actually Cordelia and Angel like them more than Veronica and Logan and that is saying A LOT. (And I still hate Piz — hahahaha, Piz — in EVERYTHING for similar reasons.

            Don’t fuck with my epic love scenarios, weird b-level characters or face my wrath. FACE. MY. WRATH.

          • You raise an interesting point about Cordelia’s consent. My thinking is that obviously Cordelia would NOT have been into it seeing as how Connor was gross and she had just been changing his diapers like six months previously, but Connor didn’t know she was possessed at the time so as far as he knew, Cordelia was into it. Wishful thinking, bro.

          • I was over Cordelia and Angel long before Connor came along. You’re not wrong tho. Connor is the worst. I just never really warmed up to Cordelia, although I did enjoy that coma episode.

            It was the Wesley/Fred dynamic that murdered my heart on that show. It murdered my heart so bad.

      • And he’s buying more insurance.

  14. I wonder if all of the death imagery being thrown around and with Pete maybe being suicidal is meant to be a red herring for Megan’s eventual death.

    • that would be hilarious

    • Well, we did see her lying on the ground like a dead body at acting class, her body disappearing into the floor, leaving us only with her head and hands…yeah, I almost feel like the Pete “foreshadowing” started to be laid on pretty thick this episode, perhaps to the point of red herring.

      • It was during the Beatles song. Meagan was the only one who was letting go and floating downstream in her acting class studies. No death for that gal except for when she eventually lets Don go to hang out with people her own age who ‘get’ her.

  15. Let’s talk about the real issue here: real whipped cream > cool whip

  16. I think this season the show has been more about using the characters to tell a story of the times as opposed to used the time to tell a story about the characters. I’m not saying it’s a worse show for it, just different.

    Full disclosure: I may or may not have bought the Megan single on vinyl.

  17. I liked this episode because it played with my expectations of character behavior (mostly Don’s). We’re all waiting to see if old Don is going to pop out, sling back some martinis, fingerbang someone’s wife in a hallway, fuck an unavailable woman in her husband’s penthouse, and say “What?” a bajillion times.

    But he didn’t get drunk and bang anybody. He came home. He didn’t get mad at Megan, he tried to be supportive. He still had to express himself, and I loved the Cool Whip scene when Peggy and Don had their mutual, Megan-centric meltdowns. Don did his job. He had his lines memorized. He’s playing his part perfectly. It’s the ladies in his life that are flipping the script. (I died laughing when Peggy told him to shut up)

    I like Don’s mix of loving and supporting Megan but also feeling saddened by her rejection of things he wishes to share with her to the point of imposing them down her throat (sherbert, anyone?). The season started out with Don’s 40th birthday, and the generational gap that Megan stands firmly on one side of is widening exponentially away from Don. Don is heading to middle-aged Squaresville.

    Also, I was really stoked when I identified the cover art of Revolver and was like, “He’s putting on Taxman!,” it being the first track. But then it wasn’t Taxman, it was “Tomorrow Never Knows.” And werttrew already took the words out of my mouth (if I was more well-spoken) in his comment above regarding The Beatles.

    • Yes, yes, yes. Gabe is so wrong about Megan!

      I have been super busy lately, but I had to log in for the first time in weeks to staunchly defend this episode and Megan, both as an individual and as a device on the show. I think the character is explored just enough: we care about her to a reasonable extent but more interesting are the revelations/reactions/outbursts that she forces other people around her (aka our old friends) to have. I like what you said about the sadness we feel about Don and Megan’s failure to connect on THAT LEVEL, but I would like to posit that what makes that SO sad is their generational difference AND NOTHING ELSE.

      The big tragedy of the Don/Megan romance to me is that they are essentially the same person 20 years apart (each of them a symbol of progress/advancement in their respective generation), enacting a weird Lake House-esque (terrible analogy, sorry) scenario of being ideally matched in every way but never truly able to be together due to uncrossable rifts of space/time (in this case, just social mores, but still). What I’m saying is I think that Megan and Don would be a great match if they had both grown up in the 30s (loved the scene when Don and Roger are commiserating together about having had no freedom to have a real dream, each of their predicaments so different from one another’s yet so alike when pitted against Megan’s).

      Another scene that I cringe-loved was when he tells Megan he’s not mad at her for wanting something else, etc. and then she tells him he’s exactly what she hoped he’d be and he reciprocates and it’s just so awkward and weirdly paternalistic on both sides and I have never felt their age difference more than in that moment.

      The times, they are a-changin’ and Don senses it and cannot change along with them. Or can he? My prediction is that while playing at being Roger Sterling was fun for a while, Don’s pragmatism will force him to ultimately remain in “Squaresville,” if for no other reason than his kids.

      • Don’s totally Star Wars. Megan’s all Empire Strikes Back.

        “I tell ya, this generation is worse than the hippies, the flappers, and the Nazis combined…at least the hippies gave us those fat watchbands, and the flappers could dance, and the Nazis had that song ‘Eight Days a Week’.”

        “No, no. That was The Beatles.”

        What? Well what did I say- Oh who cares?”

  18. I wish this episode was called Pudding in a Cloud.

  19. “SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!” — Don pulling the needle off of “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

  20. what was the “lady lazarus” title about and in reference to?

  21. We’ve also found another thing Don Draper’s good at: very precise record player needle-placement.

  22. I agree with Gabe. I really can’t find it in me to care about Megan as much as the show would like me to. Though it could be because I keep comparing her to the other ladies on the show. Compared to Peggy’s pluckiness, Joan’s coolness, and even Betty’s cold-heartedness, Megan falls pretty flat personality-wise.

    It was nice to have an episode without a dinner party. While they sometimes helped move the plot along, they were by-and-large a real snooze fest for me.

  23. I kind of see this as a turning point in the season for Don. He was doing so well because he merged his work and personal life through Megan. He’s constantly been distracted by work or his work-extension (Megan). Now that there is a separation again, we’re going to see some regression as foreshadowed by the elevator and the view of Don through his booze bottles when he enters his office immediately after.

    I love the little throwaway moments like Peggy’s PIZZA HOUSE and Pete and Harry’s miscommunication by the phone booth. LOLs for real.

    (btw been a lurker for a while, first time posting in the comments /wave)

  24. all I liked about this episode was the surreal elevator shaft thing and the failed sales pitch moment to the cool whip guys, everything else was soap opera boredom hoaky machoakum, ixnay on the anks-thay bro I dont need this stuff

    the bbc sherlock holmes was good, definitely silly but silly in a way that is faithful to the stupidness of the source material, got some serious LOLs off that little number

  25. Fat Belding was great, but when are they bringing back Fat Betty? Also Pete is clearly spearheading the men’s rights movement. A visionary, that one.

  26. Also, what’s the deal with the “Next Time on Mad Men” this season? Just a bunch of quick shots of people reacting to things, no actual information. Is that also a subtle homage to 60′s era tv style or is it as asinine and pointless as it appears?

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Wait a second, who pooped on whose chair? Did I miss an episode?

      • When I said that, it was kind of tongue-in-cheek. The Next Week teasers are so ridiculously devoid of content and meaning.

        I don’t think people are afraid to call it a bad show. At least for me, I give it the benefit of the doubt because when it’s good it’s complex and deep and layered so I’m open to the possibility that when it doesn’t seem like it is at it best, it’s because I’m missing something.

      • Hey hey HEY!

        ylbrimmv, I never declared nor confirmed any of the shots in that John Slattery-directed episode (or ANY episode, for that matter) was a direct ’60s homage to ANYTHING!

        People were critiquing some of the stylistic decisions in shot choice and editing, to which I posited that MAYBE they are homages, but that I had no idea if that was true, nor could I give examples of what they were homages of, and I made that disclaimer in my comment.

        I would love for people to confirm some of it. My knowledge of ’60s cinema is unfortunately lackluster. When i spoke to my parents (who went to the movies in the ’60s and love Mad Men), they liked all of the ‘flashy’ shots in the past couple episodes, and said the shots felt very ’60s. But they too could not cite specific examples.

        So it’s all anecdotal. But no one is running around claiming that stuff is 100% true, nor are they using it to justify the show being good or bad, AND THAT IS ONLY if they DON’T like the shots, but are trying to say something nice about them!

      • Duck attempted a poop on Don’s chair last season, no? Duck? Doc?

      • I see what you’re saying and I do think that it may not be as high brow as many people who watch it think, but it’s smart TV, especially when you compare it to the number one rated show Two and a Half Men.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJForwJ8uA4 You are not alone in your noticing of this. However the recaps at the beginning of the shows usually always have everything to do in what you see on the episode. Weird, but I like it.

  27. By taking Megan out of SCDP, I think they’ll now be able to stop focusing on her as much and she can revert back to the periphery a bit. Though certainly her shadow will hover over Don as much as his had hovered over her while she worked there.

  28. All I could think when watching was ‘DAMN. Mr. Belding really needs to lay off the cool whip’

  29. There was one spectacular Draper face this episode and no one giffed it. I haven’t the skills so you all figure it out and get on it!

  30. I was thrilled that Megan decided to take acting lessons. I hope that she sits out a couple of episodes and comes back interesting.

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