Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mad Men – It’s Getting Grim


*Warning – Spoilers ahead from the recent episode of Mad Men.*

There’s only one more new episode left in the fifth season of Mad Men and damn, has it gotten grim. A bright, upstart suffered one too many insults and attacks from her mentor last week and headed out the door of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The savvy office manager was pimped out by the partners in order to land the Jaguar account.

And now one of the named partners -- who embezzled money from the firm and forged the signature of a man who stole his identity from someone else and fears being caught by the feds -- hanged himself in his office. Oh, and Sally is now sneaking around New York City with that creepy Glen kid with his cheesy adolescent lip fuzz.

Remember how the elevator door opened in a mid-season episode and Don peered down the empty elevator shaft, seemingly thankful he didn’t absent-mindedly just step forward once the doors opened? Remember how some of the promos for this season featured the stark image of a falling man, similar to the ones we see in the opening credits? Was this all meant to form a meta-analogy of Don watching things fall apart around him? Again? Everything from the team he created to his reputation among the big companies (who are still angry about his Lucky Strike letter)?

Don -- whose own brother Adam also hanged himself after Don gave him money and his walking papers -- experienced an eerie echo of that scenario in this episode, entitled, “Commissions and Fees,” when Lane was told by Don to keep the money he’d embezzled – Don would cover it – as Don told Lane to just walk away from the firm, resign, leave, skedaddle because Don couldn’t trust him (like Don didn’t trust his brother not to wreck the life he’d created for himself with a stolen identity).

Don has now come face-to-face with death (the last time he did so he was in Korea). Because he told Lane he had to go. (It was only by chance that Don’s new prestige client – the landing of which was sullied by Joan prostituting herself – wasn’t sabotaged by Lane committing suicide inside a Jaguar simply because, ironically, it wouldn’t start.)

What will this all mean to Don, who seems to want to focus on his work and lost boys (seeing a young Dick Whitman in Glen I’m betting), and has returned to form, treating his wife Megan as though she’s no longer a marital equal, that she no longer merits notification that she’s going to be saddled with the care of his daughter and that no longer needs to be consulted on stuff? He's already ditched her at HoJos, and now he's acting like she's a brunette Betty 2.0.

Even the so-called enlightenment that Roger experienced on LSD, which he found so beautiful and significant, has disappeared into thin air, worn off, Roger told Don. Does that mean the newness and freshness of Don's new start with Megan has worn off? That the bubble of the enlightenment that Don found in his new marriage has burst?

At the same time, there was some attempt at an analogy meant to be forged with Sally “becoming a woman,” her girlhood passing her by as she’s hanging out with Megan and her friend and gabbing about the color of pubic hair, drinking sugar and coffee, donning white go-go boots and making clandestine plans with Glen to meet together.

Given the way this season has unfolded, there’s no telling what will happen in next week’s season finale, called, “The Phantom.” Any predictions?

Image credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC.

1 comment:

Christie said...

Excellent analysis. I'm a huge Mad Men fan and have had many of the same thoughts. My only prediction is I don't think we've seen the last of Peggy.

I'm wondering if now that the firm is Pryce-less (horrible pun...but couldn't resist!), if that will open up the option of bringing Peggy back at a higher level. Probably not by finale, but perhaps next season.

FYI, I cracked up how you've already struck a line through the "P" aspect of the SCDP firm name.

Ps. I found you on twitter. As a fellow blogger, I know I like to know which of my social media stuff works and when!