Mad Men Thread: Private Lives

Episode-13-joan-peggy

Matthew Weiner and company specialize in throwing curveballs at us and the season finale was no exception. If anything, it was a knuckleball worthy of the Niekro brothers. I expected more about the firm and less about the gang’s private lives. I was wrong about that but I got some things right while missing other details by a country mile or is that a city block?

It’s time for my customary random and discursive comments on the last episode of a great season:

I shouldn’t have been surprised that Don chose 25 year old cutie pie Megan instead of his fellow grown up Faye but I was. After the opening scene, I looked at Dr. A and said: “I hope Don knows that Faye’s a keeper.” I was looking at it through my own eyes and experience: I want a woman to be my equal but that’s not how a man in Double D’s time and place looked at it. Faye knew too much about Don’s secrets and frailties. Megan sees him as a master of the universe and that’s how Don prefers to be seen. We know so little about Megan that I’m unsure as to whether she’s calculating or genuinely warm and sincere. For the moment, I lean towards the latter because of the milkshake incident but one of the things I *love* aboutMad Menis the ambiguity of the characters and plot threads. It gives us something to talk about while having withdrawal symptoms until season-5.

The reaction of the gang at SCDP to Don’s news was typical. Roger was pleased that Don was finally “acting right.” Roger is a great believer in marrying secretaries, only I think Megan has more on the ball than dim bulb Jane. My favorite bit was when Peggy went into Joan’s office and they had a laugh over how cliched the whole thing was and over Joan’s claim that the office wasn’t that important to her. The optimist in me hopes that this is the beginning of a new relationship between my two favorite women characters but I somehow doubt it. It was a wonderful moment nonetheless.

On to Joan’s revelation that she’d kept the baby. I was not surprised. I thought that was the case when the woman at the doctor’s office asked Joan how “old *her* daughter was.” Cue biological clock. I also knew something was up when Joan’s hairdo was mussed early in the episode. It will be interesting to see if Doctor Dickhead keeps on buying it. He seemed too besotted with the thought of Joan’s boobs to do the math. Of course, if the baby emerges from the womb with white hair, cracking wise and asks for a cigarette, Joan’s cover is blown…

We attended another session of Don and Betty Draper’s bad parenting class. Betty’s firing of Carla for the crime of letting Weird Glenn say goodbye to Sally was typically short-sighted and impulsive. Betty is such a child and Don’s reaction to Carla’s firing was equally childish. I feel more and more sorry for Henry: he’s the only adult in the room. Hopefully, Megan will continue to be nice to the Draper kids but we all know what happens to first families when wife-2 has her own brood. I wonder if Megan will want to give her children names like Gaston and Remy. I sure hope so.

SCDP’s business problems were given short shrift in the finale, which leads me to believe that they’ll survive. Weiner has already blown up one ad agency so I doubt he’ll repeat that. Ken and Peggy do land some new business, which leads the Pegster to boast that she’s saved the company. Not bloody likely: the pantyhose account is a small one, $250K. But it does augur better days ahead.

I think that the American Cancer Society pitch is the event that will eventually pull SCDP’s chestnuts out of the fire. The fat cats on the board seemed mesmerized by Don’s impersonation of a principled business man. Recreating himself is what Don does best. He’s also pretty damn good at telling people what they want to hear. I’m also hoping that the ACS storyline will lead to the return of Conrad Hilton who was a major donor to the cause. I’ve missed the weird chemistry between Don and Connie who is bound to respect Don’s emergence as a swashbuckling risk taker. Buccaneers always like other pirates until it’s necessary to make them walk the plank…

Note to Matthew Weiner: I hope there are plans afoot to bring back Bryan Batt next season. Nothing else would say fuck you to Lee GarnerJr. quite as eloquently as Sal’s return to the fold. As great as this season was, I missed seeing my homey. Bring back Batt. We want Sal. Okay, enough hectoring for now.

Finally, Sonny and Cher’sI Got You, Babe played as Don lay in bed with his Quebec cutie, which doesn’t bode well for their future. It’s a song about adolescent love and we viewers know that Sonny and Cher’s marriage ended badly. So, it’s time to roll the credits on my season-5 blogging with the same tune, different version:

4 thoughts on “Mad Men Thread: Private Lives

  1. MichaelF says:

    OK, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a few predictions…which means, if you’re the betting type, you now know what WON’T happen.
    The passage of time is about to put Don on the short end of the stick, especially given the era. Megan seems to have breezed through life, and I think will breeze through Don, leaving him broken-hearted and feeling very old, i.e., crashing back to reality.
    I also wonder if Faye Miller might be…an actual pseudonym, since it was one of Marilyn Monroe’s fake names. Well, if not that, then she certainly hiding something, and I’ll leave it at that because I don’t know what…maybe a bad first marriage/divorce, or a secret in her family, who knows?
    Joan keeping the baby doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll have the baby. Her character seems to perpetually rondezvous with tragedy.
    And…well, if you don’t believe me…I fully understand, given my abysmal track record with this stuff. Meh. At least it’s a television series I actually like to watch…

  2. Kevin says:

    Faye is Jewish and has vaguely hinted her family has been involved in some way with the Mob, so there’s lots to be mined about Faye. I assumed Miller was either her workplace name (lots of Jews were still changing their names for professional reasons in the 1960s), or there was a previous husband she wasn’t mentioning.
    I think it’s interesting that Megan is being portrayed as the 60s version of Joan in dress and attitude. Joan is still devastating, but put next to Megan’s effortlessly casual style, poor Joan would certainly seem to be last year’s model (except to people like Roger). Her scene with Peggy was my favorite as well…just so well-written, and so well, well played.
    LOVED Carla giving back a little attitude. Finally. At last.
    And I was very surprised that Don copped to being the Dick of “Dick + Anna” who painted on the wall. Bobby and Sally accepted it without question (like kids do), but the fact that he didn’t lie about it was interesting.
    Jon Hamm was, again, a terrifically fine actor. In the scenes with Megan, he seemed to glow from the inside like a schoolboy. Time for some acting prizes for Mr. Hamm; he’s run the gamut of emotions this season and made it look effortless.
    I’ll miss your weekly wrapups!

  3. mothra says:

    Well, the marriage proposal to Megan really seemed out of left field to me. Okay, so she didn’t freak over a spilled milkshake, but is that a reason to marry her? I am afraid Don is mistaking a fun time on vacation with a lifetime of worry-free fun with Miss Young Thang. We shall see… I am most interested in seeing Roger’s reaction to Joan with that baby. Because you know next season the baby will already have been born–if it does get born, as Kevin suggests might happen.

  4. Sunday afternoon, we were discussing what might happen in the Mad Men season finale. My sole prediction was that somewhere along the line, Don would get laid. Nailed it!
    But seriously, I was surprised by the swiftness with which Don proposed to Megan, but not his choice of Megan over Dr. Faye. While there is the “Young Thang” factor, I think what sealed the deal for Don was her effortless handling of the children. It wasn’t just the milkshake incident—remember how clueless and uncomfortable Faye was in dealing with Sally? So, my amateur PR advice is, spin Don’s choosing Megan as Don putting his kid’s interests first.

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