Don’s great fear of abandonment could also be his ticket out. That last scene in the bar, where he’s looking like the cat who ate the bird, certainly indicated that he had escape on his mind. “I suddenly feel this door open and I want to walk through it,” says Rory to Pete, and then, “I should go.”(3)
Don tried caring—for Peggy, for Joan— and he got burned; so now’s he’s putting all his energy into convincing men who turn acid into weapons that they’ll never be bored because of how diverse their products are. He’s selling them the equivalent of the story Roger tells himself every day when he wakes up next to a new young girl.(3)
Megan wants to be taken seriously as an actress, but in Boston, the front row of men just wants to see how she looks walking out of the room. The play she’s auditioning for is Little Murders, which embodies every last theme of this show. From Roger Ebert’s 1971 review of the movie adaptation: “Alfred gets by in New York, sort of, by deadening himself to the terrible cries, smells, sights and pains the city keeps lobbing at him. You can’t feel pain if you can’t feel anything …. Sharp, intense experiences can still penetrate the shell: sex, pain, getting fired. But the gentler emotions have atrophied.”(2)
Ever since Megan quit, a strange harmony has settled over the show. There seemed to be experiments with making good communication skills feel exciting. I watched Don and Megan having their mature discussions about Sally and Betty and who's quitting and who's not with my head cocked to one side like a dog, waiting to see whether that jingling sound was the can opener or the car keys.(4)
The two best liars on this show used to be Don and Peggy, both outwardly and inwardly. Of course, everyone in that office walks around fooling themselves; but those two are the only ones whose secrets come with birth certificates. New Don, though, has been having problems lately detecting the deceit in others.(3)
Last night we were shown Megan Draper’s first advertising pitch, which went like this: little girls grow up watching their mothers cook and then they grow up and do the same for their daughters who will then grow up, etc. The line stretches back to the cavemen and then forward in time to the far off future. It’s the perfect bedtime story to soothe the terrified Heinz client. Don’t fret, sir; a hundred years from now, when we’re all living in space, the women will still be doing the cooking, in their shiny kitchen pods.
Peggy may have lingered over the question of whether she wanted to be like a man in her conversation with Dawn, but it’s becoming clear that the choice might not be hers to make. In the Heinz pitch meeting, in an attempt to convince herself that the path she is on is the right one, that being a career woman is worth it even in the face of the man she still most respects leaving her to deal with their shared work on her own while he runs off with a girl who seems to care half as much, but benefit twice as much, she tries to pull a Megan-scrubs-the-carpet move on the client.
“It’s young and it’s beautiful” she tells the client; if that's enough in so many other cases, why not now?
What Pete Campbell has never been able to handle is the idea of there being choices available to others but not him, due to his not being brave or charismatic or special enough. The boldest attempt at a new life that he ever made was when he told Peggy he loved her, and her rejection was severe enough to guarantee he’d never do that again.(1)
There’s a psychological rhythm this show falls into when it’s hitting its stride, a sort of hypnotic tug of war between the script and the subtext. It’s like being caught up in an undertow, that sensation of being both soothed and jolted, set free and drowned. It’s a testament to how much this show can pack into an hour that it managed to deliver an episode that centered around Sally and Joanie and Peggy.(2)
For starters (and this is not in any way meant as a slight to the actress I am about to name), but I found a fat January Jones to look alarmingly like a skinny Kristin Wiig. That could have been just me, but there was just something so broad-comedy/Shallow Hal/fat Monica about it, wasn’t there? With Fat Betty, it’s not that I found the idea of her getting so big unrealistic, it’s that I never for a minute forgot that what I was seeing wasn’t real. I couldn’t get lost in it. Which is a shame, because attempting to show that transition is important, especially considering the direction the show is heading in.(6)
The show’s female characters seem now to have arrived at the forefront of the action at the same time as they did in the course of American history. There were so many different types of women interweaving through that office last night that it wouldn’t have been presumptuous of Fellini to have demanded a posthumous consulting credit. Even when they weren’t on screen, they were being talked about. Everyone is interested in hiring a girl, upending a girl, giving their soul over to a girl. And interwoven throughout comes the desperate, muddled searching, the quest to find new categories to place them all in.(2)