Just when you think you may have a handle on whatever AMC’s Mad Men is trying to say, they throw you a few vague metaphors and you’re back at square one. Two weeks ago, Roger Sterling tripped major balls on LCD. Earlier in the season, Don was perplexed by The Rolling Stones and this time around he just couldn’t wrap his head around The Beatles. It’s a changing world and it’s moving too fast for people like Don Draper (Jon Hamm).
Megan (Jessica Pare) rocks at advertising. Last week she nailed the Heinz campaign and Don was on cloud 9. This week however, Megan lies to Peggy and Don so she can go to an acting audition. Peggy confronts her about this and suggests that Megan bails on the ad business because she doesn’t appreciate it.
Our immediate assumption is that Don will flip when Megan tells him the news about her acting dreams, but he is surprisingly accepting and even though it feels like a wary attempt to make wife number two happy, it feels sincere. Remember when Betty tried to go back to modeling and Don shut that down? At least he is trying to evolve. The next day Megan reluctantly tells Peggy and the team her news and Don has Joan handle the departure by taking the girls to lunch.
Peggy is relieved at Megan’s departure because she is direct competition, but aghast that she would abandon it so readily. Joan (Christina Hendicks) mentions that Megan is just like Betty, both wives were picture perfect women with little to no realization of how normal people survive. The episode was named ‘Lady Lazarus’, perhaps after the Sylvia Plath poem which uses themes like death, rebirth, and rising from the ashes to avoid being pegged down by societal expectations. This season has been really keen on telling them women’s stories and showing how out of touch the men really are. Megan’s reinvention of herself is like a rebirth. All of these women defy labels, even if they are forced to adhere to them on the surface. Little Sally is even portraying a pretty compelling story.
Pete just doesn’t get it. He has been through the wringer this season, first by getting shown up by Don, having his face pounded in by a Brit, getting rejected by high school girls, and failing miserably at having affairs. He is attempting to be the new Don, but failing miserably. He sleeps with his friend Howard’s wife Beth (Alexis Bledel), but she turns the tables on him and uses him for sex, making him desperately call her. At episode’s end she avoids his advances, but draws a heart on the car window before driving off with her husband. Pete mentioned suicide at one point, talking about his life insurance policy, but we shouldn’t write that off as coincidence. Pete is heading toward shit city and Jesus needs to take the wheel before it ends badly.
Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell made a hefty appearance while Peggy and Don tried to replay the cute exchange the team had invented for Cool Whip. But the chemistry wasn’t there now that Megan is gone and the two blew up at one another. Peggy told Don to “Shut up”, which was super awesome. Their friendship is one of the best things about this series.
In the end, Megan gives Don The Beatles album ‘Revolver’ and advises him to play ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. This is similar to Roger’s experience on LSD. It’s a capitalist, success driven older male trying to connect with a younger generation’s need to be free and it isn’t making any sense to people like Don or Roger. The Beatles wrote this song during their Timothy Leary phase and it couldn’t be further from Don’s wave length than anything else in his life. Remember when Don liked a different Beatles song because Megan had been singing it? Without her, Don feels lost in a world of the unknown. After she leaves the office in an elevator, Don tries to catch the next one only to find an empty elevator shaft. It’s reminiscent to the falling man we see in the open credits. Don doesn’t even finish the song because he is so perplexed and he walks out of an empty living room.
The 60′s are asking people to ‘surrender to the void’ and it is something these characters are struggling with every single week. Watching it unfold is both amazing and mind blowing.