While there could be much to comment upon concerning Mad Men and the levels of the societal issues as filtered through Matthew Weiner’s eyes….or Tom Smuts, who I think wrote this episode, I would prefer to simply talk about the story elements in this the second of The Final Seven Episodes of Mad Men.
Whether you want to talk about Megan’s family, and its short comings, or Don’s former family, after you consider those and I mean from our perspectives as watchers and not members, we are still going to return to Don Draper aka once Mad Men’s super nova – now only a dying comet
What ever you like about Don Draper, or can say how well Matthew Weiner has taken us back to those long gone days of the 60’s and 70’s, or how much you dislike Don and his cavalier attitudes, and his disdain for what we might call decency (I mean he really is a liar as Megan put it so deftly before walking off with Don’s divorce settlement in her hand – a cool million) it seems that there’s no way to avoid Don’s reality.
He not only seems like a dead man walking. He actually is a dead man walking. He’s lifeless and unenthusiastic. Can you recall the last time he did any work? I noticed the look on his face when he left his former home in Ossining. His expression conveyed a sadness as if he already knows he will never see his kids and/or Betty again.
He had the same look when he left Di in her ‘dump’ of an apartment. The sad look wasn’t really about his rejection – but rather about how empty he is. From Di’s perpective – she probably has battled long but not too hard with her own personal demons – she’s not in denial but rather is in that phase called self punishment = but Don’s interest in her seemed to everyone (except Don) to be just a surface passing fancy. Maybe Don thought he would like to settle down, once and for all, and he perceived Di to be a weaker and needy individual. But really, Don only wanted Di as a substitute for all that he once had and now would continue to miss. Di likely read that instantly – here is a guy (who should have a lot going for him) but doesn’t he seem so terribly desperate?
The introduction of Pima – a hot pants hot-shot of a photographer served some hard to define purpose. She did seduce Stan and came on to Peggy – who would then tell Stan that she wouldn’t hire Pima again. So what was the overall value of the character of Pima? How can this character appear, meaningfully, in another episode. I’ve no idea.
As for Megan – she’s got a nice payday marking the end of her and Don. But Don is not shedding any tears. Clearly he has no wish to see or deal with Megan again – and all that does is to point out his own failings. Megan was, at the very end, simply a disposable commodity for Don. The price was high indeed. Don may tell himself he is finally free, but, to me, he is only free to slip further downhill.
So here’s Don – unenthusiastic about his work – devoid of family, and after paying off his second wife, he is then rejected by his latest paramour. As Peggy Lee said in the previous episode – Is that all there is?
Don is surely heading for oblivion – professionally, personally, and physically. The only mystery that remains is will it be by his own hand or by a calamitous accident.
From my perspective as a viewer – I thought this was a deadly episode. One can’t say that this was either an inspirational episode or one that was enjoyable. Why, because this was a time which gave strong indications that Don is done. One can tell themselves that this series is one of TV’s best dramas ever – I just don’t see how this particular episode, which leaves only four more until the climatic and final episode, was anything more than a staging arena.
Where was Joan in this episode? Where was advertising – the only work that got done was by Pima, and her work was about sex, not advertising. I didn’t like Peggy in this episode, the artistic director or costume designer should be executed at dawn for that horrible green and white dress — maybe she should have tried on Pima, nor did I like Roger – who once again provided himself an opportunity to utilize his swordsman skills.
But in the end – whatever was going on, we always circled back to Don who arrived back to his penthouse to find that the Megan clan had left him only the dust, a stained carpet, and his memories. I hope, no make that I really hope, that Weiner can inject something resembling life into the next few weeks.
You know, there’s always has been, and always will be a limit on how far a dead man can walk.