Don’t mistake Sunday’s (May 6) episode of “Mad Men” for a slow-ish episode in which not much happened because — even though the show didn’t have the visual impact of Sally Draper getting an X-rated education — a lot happened. In fact, everything changed.
Megan (Jessica Par�), our Lady Lazarus, rose from the dead. Which, for Megan, means she’s finally screwed up her courage to admit to Don (Jon Hamm) that she doesn’t want to be in advertising but instead wants to revive her fledgling acting career. And just like that, Don suddenly became everything Megan wanted while poor Megan is suddenly no longer enough for Don. It took Megan’s exit from SCDP for him, and us, to understand that the reason Don’s marriage to Megan works — or worked — so well is because he needs someone who doesn’t wait at home and greet him with “Honey, how was your day?” because she already knows — she was there.
But now she’s not. And despite Megan’s surprise at Don’s acceptance of her decision, he’s rattled to his core. It’s just that instead of reacting to or at Megan, he has a proxy fight with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and accuses her of being too hard, too cynical and scaring Megan away. He knows none of this is true, but he’s looking for someone to blame. That moment also gave Peggy the opportunity to deliver her second truly great tongue-lashing of the season, this time to Don.
So is this the beginning of the end for Don and Megan? Share your thoughts below.
But first, a few more thoughts on “Lady Lazarus”:
>> Anyone looking for yet more signs of an impending death at SCDP surely noted the empty elevator shaft that opens yawning in front of Don when he calls an elevator after Megan leaves work. He considers it, then goes back to his office for a drink. Aside from the fact that it was portentous, let’s talk practicality: Did the guy think to call facilities and alert anyone? I mean, we don’t want Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) stepping off into thin air.
>> Speaking of Pete, things continue to look bleak for the guy. For the second time this season he’s grasped at a woman in an attempt to give his life some meaning. (The first was the 18-year-old in his driving class.) This latest rejection — by “Gilmore Girls” alumna Alexis Bledel, playing the wife of one of his train buddies — was even more bitter.
>> Though the fact that Pete goes to the trouble of mentioning that his life insurance policy even covers suicide is enough to convince our team of conspiracy theorists that he’s actually NOT the one in danger of meeting an untimely end that involves falling from a great height. It’s just too obvious.
>> At the end of the episode, Megan heads off to an acting class leaving Don alone in his apartment (that’s right — not only does he not have Megan at work anymore, but she’s spending her evenings on the stage floor of some crummy theater rather than with Don) and recommends he listen to a cut from the Beatles’ “Revolver.” The album was released in August 1966, though we’re pretty sure this episode’s action unfolds in October since Halloween decorations were spotted on both Joan’s and Peggy’s office doors.
Anyhow, the song she suggested was “Tomorrow Never Knows,” an eerie Indian-inspired experimental piece in which John Lennon’s voice was put through a Leslie speaker cabinet to give it an eerie, otherworldliness. John Lennon, per Wikipedia, wrote the song with lyrics adapted from a Timothy Leary book, “The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead” — specifically the opening words, “When in doubt, relax, turn off your mind, float downstream.” The book holds that the “ego death” is similar to the dying process.