Do you know what it is? We’re seeing Don through the lens of the other characters this season. What I initially read as the end of the writer’s empathy is just a shift in viewpoint.
Don is out of step, strange, other. We always felt it, but he owned the narrative, and so it was harder to get perspective.
This is the grimmest season yet, divested as we are of Don’s reflexive dominance, of his surety. The one episode he verbalises his dominance - with Sylvia, in the hotel - was so weak, so desperate. It’s unsettling, and great, and I hate it in a lot of ways.
Something beautiful you can truly own.
So one of the grossest things in this weeks episode, The Other Woman, is that not one of the partners, after Don left the room when Pete brought it up, considered the offer from Joan’s perspective. Roger says he won’t stop it but he’s not paying for it. Lane says they can’t use the bonuses to pay her off (ugh Lane you fuck).
Until I zoomed in
If Mad Men had a theme song, it would be Vic Chestnutt and Danger Mouse’s Grim Augury.
I was peering in through the picture window
It was a heart-warming tableau
Like a Norman Rockwell painting
Until I zoomed in…
Catfish were wriggling in blood and gore in the kitchen sink
But it is even more fitting this week. In a show that is fundamentally about the darkness of a time that we fetishise as a glossy, wholesome commerical, this (along with Mystery Date, earlier in the season) is for me one of the absolute darkest.
I want to write an assload about it when I get a chance - particularly Joan and Peggy and their relationship with Don. Why has Joan’s storyline not been discussed more? How was that not one of the most horrifying plotlines yet?
The last couple of episodes have been sleepers, but this one was amazing in it’s sheer unpleasantness.
The Last Safe Place for Girls
Mad Men: S05E04 - Mystery Date
It struck me, watching Mystery Date, that this was possibly the first episode in the entire series that was really about women. They normally show women through the lens of men (which they still do in this episode), they show women reflected by men, they include strong women in their stories, but they had not yet just shown women.
Mad Men talks below, scoot on by if you’re not up to it yet - nothing specific past the S4 finale.
I have yet to watch the newest ep of Mad Men, but I was talking to Fiona today about Betty & Megan, and how Megan is getting kinda tired as a character - and I realise that’s how it reads, but I think really the underlying point is that Don married a fantasy and that fantasy is refusing to stay two dimensional. I think it’s wonderful. He lost control over the truth of his real identity a few seasons ago - the women to whom he owed his very name gone, he is cut loose from another’s history, and instead has started to morph into this new, Dick/Don creature. It makes total sense that during this period, this period of getting to know himself, his children, of leaving Betty, of both streamlining and centrifuging aspects of his past and future identities, that he would seek someone simple, easy, beautiful. Megan was a holiday - and you can’t move in to your holiday. The languid pace becomes stifling pretty quickly, and reality kicks in. You need a job, you need a house, you need money: same shit, different postcode. And that’s Megan. Same shit, different girl. She’s lovely, she’s smart, she’s very beautiful, she’s a complicated girl insofar as humans are complicated, and unfortunately for Don she is not on this earth to serve as his crashmat. I think it would be lovely for him to work this out with her, but I sort of feel like she’s a lesson for him.
Anyway. I enjoy her, I enjoyed her zoopy zoo dance, and her strange teeth.
Aaaaaaaand finally gym stuff under a cut because I recognise that no one wants to read that.
When you mean love you mean big lightning bolts of the heart where you can’t eat, you can’t work and you just run off and get married and make babies. The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons. You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.