Mad Men’s Lost Horizon – Sorry Don, You’re Not in Advertising Heaven

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
and the stars look very different today

With this David Bowie (circa 1969) tune playing behind the closing credits, Mad Men has the end in sight. We are now X-2 to EOS (Two Episodes to End of Series). Things began to dissolve at the end of last week. Don Draper may not have been floating off in a tin can in space last week, but when he gave the merger speech, and people just got up and walked off, he may have felt as if he were.

It seems that our merry band of intrepid Mad Men and Women have been called home to the Mother Ship otherwise known as McCann-Erickson.The signs are not good. Roger apparently doesn’t give a fuck.

Joan has not only lost the first skirmish about her role, but the second and the third as well. She will be lucky if she gets 25 cents on the dollar after court costs.

Peggy, a copy supervisor has somehow been deemed as a part of the secretarial group. Her office wasn’t ready.

By the time she did get around to showing up, she too had the look of some one who couldn’t care less about her new office, much less her job and her new overlords. We will have to wait until next week to find out what happens to Pete Campbell.

But as I indicated Don got his first wake up call last week when the staff turned their backs on his rah-rah speech about the relocation to McCann Erickson.The new bosses told him he was now at Advertising Heaven, but he didn’t really buy into it.

So much so, that at the first product briefing that he was asked to attend – where some space cadet was discussing the campaign for dietetic no calorie beer, (which would eventually become Miller Lite – but Don couldn’t have known that right at that moment), he picked up his boxed lunch, and without a word walked off.

He made his way up to the Francis residence to pick up his daughter Sally to drive her to school, but she had already left without him. A celebration of her independence said Bette, Don’s ex. Another door shut on Don. Where should he go?

Why not heartland USA – to Racine, Wisconsin, specifically, to try to locate his recent waitress girl friend Di who had already 1) turned Don down, and 2) left for parts unknown. Don drove through the night, and then, Don, never one to be ill-prepared, made up a flimsy story to Di’s husband’s new wife. It got him in the front door, but only until Di’s former husband got home.

He didn’t buy Don’s first story, nor his second story, so Don was asked to leave.

Not too many hand holds are left on Don’s rope.

Next thing you know, Don is driving through a very rural farm area. It wasn’t space, it was a lot closer to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, where Roger O. Thornhill was told to wait at an intersection in the middle of nowhere.

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No crop dusters arrived, and no oil trucks either. I didn’t quite get the connection because North by Northwest came out in 1959. So maybe this is just another of Matthew Weiner’s cultural references which he loves to toss into the scripts, and which everyone loves, as they remember back when – assuming they were around at that time.

Not quite the same but that’s what I thought despite the fact that Don wasn’t standing alone on a road, he was driving. But we didn’t have too much time to reflect on it because seconds later, Don Picks up a scruffy hippy hitchhiker. This guy wasn’t a Peter Fonda representation but he did resemble the character played by Dennis Hopper, so I’m calling it a clear reference to Easy Rider which came out in 1969; only without motorcycles..

Don: Where you headed?
Hitchhiker : St. Paul
Don: I can go in that direction

So there’s Don, driving to someplace. in a tin can of a sort and headed to oblivion. Can you hear the closing lyrics…

“Hello Major Tom,. are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on.
We’re standing by.”
There’s no reply.

4, 3, 2, 1
Earth below us
drifting, falling, floating weightless
calling, calling home

Across the stratosphere, a final message
“Give my wife my love.”
Then nothing more

Far beneath the ship, the world is mourning.
They don’t realize, he’s alive.
No one understands, but Major Tom sees.
Now the light commands
this is my home, I’m coming home.”

Earth below us,
drifting, falling.
Floating weightless
coming home
…home

Of course this is me thinking out loud. I did find it interesting that Don checked out the windows in his new office quite carefully when he first arrived there. Was that too obvious a clue, therefore a misdirection? But it sure looks like all of the Mad Men are at the edge of an abyss, singularly and collectively, figuratively and maybe even literally doesn’t it? I guess we’ll all find out in 14 days.

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