Mad Men episode 8 Review

Let me just start off by wishing Megan a well deserved farewell on behalf of Stearling Cooper Draper Pryce. Is it weird of me to say that one of the things I’ll miss the most about her working with Don is their regular morning wink at each other as they separate in the hallway? Now what is Don supposed to do seconds before he opens his office door? I guess only time will tell…

ImageLets start from the beginning, shall we? Episode 8 (like most from this season) begins with Peter, on his daily commute into the city. Except this time there’s no morning gambling going on. It’s just Pete and Howard, the annoying insurance salesman. Pete picks up immediately on the fact that Howard sees their alone time as an opportunity to sell him life insurance, just in-case he all of a sudden drops dead. I can’t think of anything better to talk about right before a hectic work day. They get on the topic of adultery, as most men do in this show. Howard let’s Peter in on the fact that he has a new “side dish” in the city that he’ll be spending the night with. In his mind his wife is happy because they have good insurance. As long as she doesn’t have to worry about what will happen to him, shes contempt. Am I the only one having a hard time understanding this logic?

We now move on to Megan, busy typing at work like she normally would. She receives a phone call under the name Image“Megan Calvet” and sneaks away to answer it privately. She seems to be doing something that she maybe shouldn’t be doing, and we’re left to guess what it could possibly be. She glances in the board room window at Don, as he squirms through Ginsberg’s theatrical presentations of “Hard Day’s Night” to the Chevalier Blanc executives. They make it clear that they want the concept for the campaign to revolve around The Beatles. Hours pass, and Megan greets Don in his office right before he takes off. She starts to tell him something important but hesitates, leaving us even more intrigued by what her secret phone conversation had to do with. Situations like this just fuel the idea that Megan is simply a rebellious, teenage girl stuck inside a woman’s body. All I want to do at this point is sneak into her bedroom and read her diary.

In the next scene, Pete ends up ironically running into Howard’s neglected wife, Beth in the train stop parking lot. She’s locked her keys in her car, and needs a ride home. You can hear the pity in Pete’s voice as he tries to convince her that there could be a logical excuse for Howard’s absence. The term “battered housewife” is an understatement in the case of Beth. This woman is past the point of crying out for attention, she’s screaming. She even tells Peter an awkward story about how often she makes eye contact with bums. A man who she’s known for all of a 15 minute car ride. In between the scene Don calls Peggy to get the whereabouts of his sneaky wife, and ends up catching her in a blatant lie. Who would have ever guessed that one day Don Draper would be at home waiting up for his wife all night, and feeling neglected. My how the times have changed. Megan comes home and tells him that she went out for a drink with co-workers. Were only 10 minutes in and Megan has me biting my nails down to the cuticle. Anyway, back to Mr. Campbell. The combination of Beth’s need to be rescued, and Pete’s need to feel like a man fit like puzzle pieces. They end up having sex in her living room, right after she creepily whispers in his ear “don’t you want me?” This woman is drunk with desperation to be desired by a man.  After it’s over, she tells him that she wants nothing more to do with him. The whole distance thing doesn’t typically work for Peter.

Peggy ends up confronting Megan in the bathroom about putting her in the middle of their strange marriage. Megan finally comes clean about the phone call. She had an audition for an off-broadway show, and didn’t end up getting the part. It seems as though her fathers lecture from last week about being in the wrong place has resonated with her. Peggy, being the ball busting, career driven “mad woman” that she is couldn’t be more furious with her. To Peggy, there is no better job in the world, literally. I think she would turn down a shot at being president to continue copywriting. Especially, given the fact that Megan is making such strides with the company. It seems like everyone in Megan’s life is trying to parent her in some way.  Megan ends up surprising Peggy by showing up in the conference room to discuss a”Cool Whip” campaign. Don and Megan practice a bit that the executives apparently loved that involves her saying “just try it” like 80 times. Megan gets to shove her acting chops in Peggy’s face, and she’s pretty damn good. As expected, Peter is obsessing over Beth. She boldly tells him to stop calling her, and to leave their living room romance as nothing more than a memory.

Megan finally comes clean to Don in the middle of the night about her audition for the play. Again, it seems more like she’s sitting on her father’s bed, and getting sound advice. It continues to weird me out. She breaks the news that she wants to quit advertising to pursue her acting career. Don tries his best to reel her back in, and fails. Don sees their office relationship as one of the few aspects of the marriage that seems to work without any kinks. It’s at home that things tend to get a bit strained. At work these two are as perfect as one of the families in their ads. The next day she breaks the news to the copywriters that she wont be returning.  They judge her, both to her face and behind her back. Stan says something that resides with Peggy about the work being meaningless. Peggy then realizes that what Megan has done is actually pretty ballsy. When Don walks Megan to the elevator, he has a sort of “Ah-Ha” moment. When he goes to get on the elevator himself, the elevator isn’t actually there when the doors open. He could’ve died in that very moment. Would he die wishing that he had the guts to do what Megan is doing? Is advertising really where he wants to be in his life, or has he programmed himself to think so? Megan’s decision has forced everyone around her to immediately reflect on themselves.

On Peter’s train ride home, he manipulates Howard into inviting him over to his house for dinner. He’s decided that the double standard of women being able to “choose” is just unfair. His plan is to seduce Beth in between Howard coming to and from room to room. Pete’s perfect world is a creepy world that I don’t want to be a part of, and apparently Beth feels the same. Don comes home to find a cloud nine Megan cooking him an “I appreciate you” Beef Bolognese. Even Megan is surprised by how supportive Don is being. The next day Don, Peggy, and Ken meet in the “Cool Whip” test kitchen. Peggy is forced to reenact the bit that Megan helped to perfect. She completely screws it up, and possibly ends things for the campaign all together. Don and Peggy have a massive fight about Megan, in front of one of the “Cool Whip” execs. He tells her that she’s been jealous of Megan since she started working there.

In the last scene, Don stays home and listens to The Beatles song “Tomorrow Never Knows”. He reflects on his role as a supportive husband, while Megan auditions for another play. I read that lionsgate paid $250,000 to be able to play the song in the last scene, and it was well worth it. Probably one of my all time favorite Mad Men closing sequences.

 

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