Mad Men Thread: The Phantom


Season 5 ofMad Men was a wild ride but the finale was a bit of a soft landing. I say that not as a criticism, I disagree with the members of the MM punditocracy who think it was a let down after the previous two uber eventful episodes. How could they have possibly topped Lane’s suicide, Joan’s acceptance of the indecent proposal and Peggy’s departure? They could not. Instead, they summed up the season and circled back to the premiere. I, for one, was captivated by this coda.

On to my usual random and discursive comments:

The Title: There were *many* phantoms in the episode. Don kept seeing his brother Adam complete with neck ligature as a reminder of the guilt he felt over Lane’s choosing the same exit strategy as Whitman the younger.

Another phantom was Lane himself. Joan remains stunned by his death and did a fine job of channeling Lane’s penny pinching style at the partner’s meeting. I loved, loved, loved the scene between Don and Rebecca Pryce. He was somewhat proud of himself for delivering the $50K check, which Rebecca accepted but sneered about: nothing, of course, could replace her husband. The best moment of the scene belonged to Rebecca when she denounced Don for putting ambitious ideas in the head of a man in a gray flannel suit such as Lane. How very British circa 1967. As far as she was concerned, Lane should have known his place and remained a functionary and minion. Did ambition really kill Lane? His Tory wife thinks so but Don knows that it was his sticky fingers and stiff necked pride.

Marie Calvet swooped back onto the show and declared Megan’s ambitions to be-you guessed it-a phantom. I’m not sure: we haven’t seen enough of Megan’s acting chops as opposed to her rather large choppers. I do, however, know a bitter person when I see one and Marie is as bitter as rhubarb. Megan collapses into a ball of defeat whenever she’s around so perhaps Marie should stay with Roger the heavy breather the next time she invades Manhattan.

There were so many phantoms in the episode that I halfway expected Duck Phillips’ abandoned Golden Retriever to find his way to the office…

You’ve Come A Long Way, Pegster: Glad to be right that our Peggy is not off the show. I loved seeing her barking orders to her male underlings whilst wearing an awesome red Chanel power suit. She’s definitely missed at SCDP (soon to be SCDC?) where a client lamented not having a “girl’s perspective.” Don should hire a chick copywriter: If things don’t work out Megan could be available.

It was swell seeing Don be gracious to Peggy at the movies. Looks like his Draperness misses her and would love to have her back but she’ll need to experience more of Teddy Chaough before coming home.

Pete’s Punchable Face: Yet another phantom was the post-shock “treatment” Beth. Pete may not be in love but he *was* all shook up to be forgotten so quickly. It led to a classic Pete pout where Beth’s being McMurphyized was all about him. Her hubby Howard is indeed a disgusting creep but so is Pete. Pete continues to be the world’s worst fighter but Howard was nearly as bad. The conductor was the only one to land a solid punch. It was Pete at his worst: sneering contemptuously at a “little person.” I was raised to think that one can judge someone’s character by how they treat the “little people” and Campbell consistently fails this test. Heaven help him if he ever runs intoGame Of Thrones’ Tyrion…

Whither Don and Megan: I’m still pulling for them, There’s been a fair amount of chatter about whether the last scene of the season means that Don is about to resume tomcatting around Noo Yawk. I not only hope not but think not. Why? It’s too conventional for Weiner and his merry band of pervs. My money is on Megan straying if she ever makes it to New Haven for a play tryout thingamabob. (Btw, did anyone else think Megan had an inner backstabber before this episode? She knifed her friend Emily as part of her campaign to get that, uh, part. Ouch.)

Windows: Cast members staring out windows was a recurring and very cool motif that has bupkis to do with Bill Gates or the pearly gates for that matter. The picture at the top of the post begs to be on one of Season 6’s promo posters. We also saw Roger’s butt as he looked out the window during the sequel to I’m Roger, Fly Me. An even funnier image was Peggy seeing Richmond street dogs fucking outside her hotel window. Since it’s Richmond, the pooches probably had a smoke after doing it doggy style…

Finally, I’m already experiencing withdrawal symptoms now that Season 5 has concluded. Presumably, we won’t have to wait as long as we did after Season 4. The soft landing that I referred to at the beginning of this seemingly endless post has me hungry for more. It reminds me of musicians who end their sets with something languid and tranquil to send the punters on their way wanting more. Frank Sinatra loved to close with the torchy saloon song, Angel Eyes.Since a Nancy Sinatra song ended the season, I’ll end this post with a quote fromAngel Eyes:

Pardon me but I got to run
The fact’s uncommonly clear
I got to find who’s now the number one
And why my angel eyes ain’t here

Excuse me while I disappear.