I’ve always struggled a bit with how the characters on Mad Men never seem to grow or change. The drama of the series starts being less dramatic when you realize that, each time, what you think are the stakes and consequences seem to disappear at the end of each episode. (“To be brought up later,” you think, but are they ever really? This show seems like Lost sometimes, except instead of smoke monsters or whatever, it’s rape.* [Dramatic elements thrown in merely to keep you interested.]) I do understand that not everything needs to be looked at in detail, and many things serve to add to the picture of the character overall, but how can I keep caring about a character who rarely faces and never learns from the mistakes they make? Those mistakes stop being shocking and captivating and sexy when they’re the same mistakes being made over and over again. It is somewhat true-to-life, I’m sure — as Angela’s mom from My So Called Life brought up in this episode, “I have patients who spend years reasoning out their motivation for a mistake, and when they find it out, they think they’ve found the truth. And they probably have. But then they go out and make the same mistake.” — but that doesn’t, to me, seem like a fulfilling narrative. With all of that said, though, I think this season (my favorite so far) has really allowed many of the characters to grow! And the reason, seen especially in this episode, seems to be the looming idea of growing older, being phased out, and eventually dying while all the Pete Campbells of the world live to cheat on their wives without you. Also LSD.
This episode was great! Wasn’t it? It was. A trippy timeline (I asked out loud near the end of the episode, immediately embarrassed, “Why is Megan wearing the same outfit?”) (VERY dumb) with each of Peggy, Don, and Roger’s story-lines dovetailing nicely. The episodes that focus on only a few characters are always nice, and it was especially nice to focus on Peggy for a bit. She rarely gets enough focus, I think! Her Draper-y rant at Mr. Bean and his subsequent condescension were perfect. Men, right? The worst! It’s tough to watch her try more and more to be like Don, and do a fine enough job at it, and consistently get shut down. Her growth, unlike that of Don and Roger, relies partly on the growth of those around her. Her movie theater handjob was a sad attempt to be in control the only way women are ever “in control” on this show, and also it was gross. I’m glad she washed her hands! Later! At the office! The story Ginsberg told her about his birth was quite possibly, and I’m hesitant to overstate anything, but let’s just say it was quite possibly MY FAVORITE SCENE EVER IN THIS SHOW’S HISTORY? It was so good! And quiet! And dark! And touching! And sad! And her responses to him were so great! Very good scene. Also: When Don said, “Did Dawn get any messages?” I thought, until this afternoon, that he asked, “Did Don get any messages?”
Roger’s LSD trip was fun to watch. See, Roger? LSD isn’t so bad, UNLESS YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR, ROGER, DON’T LOOK INTO THE MIRROR! You don’t want to realize that you are both old AND not Don Draper/any man without grey hair! It’s a funny thing that Jane pushed him to do LSD and then broke up with him while they were on it, and then didn’t want to break up with him anymore in the morning. LOL. Sorry, Jane. That’s what you get. Turn on, tune in, gently agree to break up with the older man who was supporting your lifestyle and would’ve left you a lot of money when he died.
Don was upsetting. Hahah. That’s really the only thing I want to say about Don’s plot line. What a jerk. First of all, it was really cute when he said “you’re gonna love it” about the orange sherbet and was so excited for Megan to try to orange sherbet, but give her a BREAK if she doesn’t like the orange sherbet, you JERK! People like different things! And maybe, since you could’ve gotten whatever you wanted, you should’ve let her get pie AND sherbet! It was good to see Megan stick up for herself, and I’m glad she wasn’t there when he got back to the Howard Johnson’s. (Speaking of, remember when Don said Howard Johnson’s was a “destination spot”? And Megan said no, it’s a place you go to on the way to somewhere else? And Don for some reason had never thought of that? GIVE ME A BREAK WITH THAT BOLOGNA!) But, my goodness, that relationship. Talk about window pain. Megan! Leave now! You’re good for that guy, but that guy is not good for you! Divorce him and take half of his money, if you can, and marry someone without all these red flags! HE IS A MONSTER!
And, finally, Cooper’s line that was something like, “It is my business because it IS my business” was very good, because yes. Do your job, Don! Why do you think you can just not do your job? The final scene hinted towards Don at least being aware of the effect that the way he’s been acting has had, and I really hope that is something that turns out to be something. Again, it is hard to give a shit about Don week after week, because he’s cute for a second when he asks Megan about sherbet, or he says something that sounds reasonable enough to Peggy, when you learn over and over again that he is just an asshole. I feel like I’M in an abusive relationship with him. Why do we all have to keep siding with this monster? When is he going to prove that his ups and downs are worth following? Soon, I hope! It seems like it could be soon!