Mad Men Thread: Tomorrow Never Knows


The Sixties Zeitgeist has permeatedMad Men this season. I think it’s a good thing but some of our commenters were less certain last week. But how could it be otherwise? We have the two most self aware generations in US history on a collision course: the World War II generation and the baby boomers. We hear a lot about boomer entitlement but less about the absolute certainty of Brokaw’s “greatest generation” whose motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” It didn’t work out very well in Vietnam did it?

On to Mad Men’s latest, which was sort of a table setting episode. Some major things happened but they’re most likely to bear fruit down the road. But how could I help but love an episode that featured the Beatles’ trippiest song? In fact the trippiest song this side of Pink Floyd, man. The lunatic is on the fucking grass…

Enough navel gazing, onto my, hopefully, relevant comments about LadyLazarus:

The malakatude of Pete Campbell: It’s exploding week by week. Pete has always been an entitled pouty narcissist but it’s getting worse. The whole thing with his train buddy’s wife was creepy to begin with and then morphed into stalking. I think Lane needs to administer another thrashing to Pete. Speaking of Lane: where the hell has he been the last two episodes? I wonder if Jared Harris was on Napoleon of Crime sabbatical and combating Sherlock Holmes when he should have been kicking Pete’s ass again.

Megan the natural: I for one wasn’t surprised at Mrs. D quitting SCDP. Seeing her pompously pedantic pere seemed to have reactivated her acting bug. Don and Peggy, however, were both stunned. Why? Because Megan was so damned good at the ad game, that’s why. They’re both baffled because it fulfills them in a way that it obviously never will for Megan.

I gotta give Don credit for being a trooper and letting his spouse troop off to join the grease paint brigade. He’s puzzled because as a child of the depression the idea of following one’s dream was something that only happened in the movies. Damn you, Fred Astaire. I loved Don’s line about his childhood dream being indoor plumbing, which is, of course, a very nice thing indeed.

The generation gap is reopening like a chasm, which is one interpretation of Don’s staring down into the elevator shaft. Some viewers and pundits think it, and clues in earlier episodes, foreshadow someone’s suicide but I’m dubious since most of the speculation centers on Don or Pete. The former is the ultimate survivor and the latter is too much in love with himself to cut his life short. Would it surprise me if they offed Campbell in some other way? Nope. But if Don dies so doesMad Men. It would be likeThe Sopranos without Tony. Any thoughts, readers?

Turn off your mind, turn on the tune box: I adored the collquy between the rock challenged Don and his hip young wife, “When did music become so important?”

I’m inclined to agree with Megan that it was always important: the first wave of Beatlmania style fandom happened in the Forties with a skinny Italian singer from Hoboken. But people had more money and more leisure time for fangirl/boyism by 1966, which resulted in people like me spending far too much time and money on music.

Finally, Megan urged Don to play the last track on Revolver, Tomorrow Never Knows, to be in touch with “kid’s today.” Don didn’t get it and neither did many people both then and now. If she wanted him to *like* something on the elpee, Eleanor Rigby orGood Day Sunshine would have been better places to start (the greatest generation usually preferred Macca to Lennon if obliged to choose) but not as thematically appropriate as the psychedelic banshee wail ofTomorrow Never Knows. After all, Don and Megan came together in the Season 4finaleTomorrowland.

Of the beginning, of the beginning:

9 thoughts on “Mad Men Thread: Tomorrow Never Knows

  1. The possibility of an suicide impending suicide, I think, has been upped by the actual mention of suicide in this episode — Pete, in a perky way, telling his train buddy that his insurance policy with the agency “covers suicide” after two years.
    As you say: “[Pete is an] entitled pouty narcissist … is the ultimate survivor and the latter is too much in love with himself to cut his life short.”
    Suicide also can be an incredibly selfish, thoughtless act, which would fit with Pete’s dickish, entitled persona. Nevertheless, I think the writers are fucking with us, having him mention the suicide coverage. If he dies, it’ll be accidental or murder .. or maybe we’ll have to read the clues!
    FWIW, my money is on Megan offing herself within three episodes.

  2. I found it interesting that the episode closed with the psychedelic Tomorrow Never Knows, but opened with a pitch for an ad that mimicked the bobby-soxer chase scene in A Hard Day’s Night.
    Talk about a gap! It’s the turning point of the sixties and, by extension, American society.

  3. Nah…Peggy was stunned because Megan had a sweet gig–here she was doing so well, but she’s the boss’s wife, so she’ll never get fired or even reprimanded if she screws up. She can come and go as she pleases…Peggy doesn’t quite get why Megan would give up a sure thing. However, as Joan reminds her, Megan landed in a sweet gig the minute she married Don.
    As for the elevator shaft, well all I could think of was the abyss gazing back at Don. But is Mad Men signed for another season, do we know? If it isn’t, then you KNOW Don is likely going down the shaft. Strange, though–why didn’t he call building maintenance immediately?

  4. Great final scene, particularly as a bookend to the Hard Day’s Night stuff at the beginning. I hate the song and psychedelic rock in general, but it’s a great portent of all the turmoil and hippie awfulness that’s about to come.

  5. Meh. I’m still finding Mad Men increasingly anachronistic. The thing that was cool about it from the first season was the view it gave us of American life in the ’60s, and how that served as an echo of where we are today. I don’t just mean the funny stuff — the 8 mos. preggers housewife swilling martinis and puffing her Pall Malls. There was also women’s roles, the idea that Betty’s psychotherapist would share details of their therapy sessions with her husband because why wouldn’t he? Wasn’t the husband responsible for the wife? Or the idea that Peggy really was a groundbreaker because she didn’t want to be a secretary, she aspired for an advertising career outside the secretarial pool. And the tremendous suspicion women like that were greeted with back then. Or the way the black custodian was fired when something went missing in the office because of course that’s who you blamed when something went missing in the office. Why look anywhere else?
    I realize the setting has moved on a few years from that first season but too many things ring false to me this season. Peggy wearing sleeveless dresses to the office? No way was that considered proper office attire back then, even in a creative field like advertising. Megan complaining to Don, “How come it’s okay for you to have a career and not me?” I’m not sure it would have been articulated that way at the time. Back then, in that class of upper middle class WASPs, it was the cultural norm for the man to have the career and the woman to stay at home or do her volunteer work — indeed. that’s how we met the Drapers. The roles were very clear cut and I question whether someone like Megan chafing under the status quo would have even articulated the problem? Wouldn’t she just have rebelled and let the action speak for her?

  6. @Kevin: Hippie awfulness? Without it, Portland wouldn’t be what it is today. Take the proferred straight line, dude.

  7. Regarding the elevator shaft. I thought that maybe it symbolized Don’s no longer having something to “ground” him at work, now with Megan leaving SCDP. Having her in close proximity at the firm has helped keep his cock hound instincts in check. Now, with her out of the picture (for most of his day), he is free to sniff around again.

  8. @Mark: I think Megan may be the first one to stray now that’s she’s more on her own. A handsome young actor perhaps.

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