May 11, 2018
Mad Men: You Are What You Wear
This Mad Men was about things said and unsaid, about words and images, but mostly about clothes and furniture.
We open with Daddy Don in the kitchen making milkshakes for his sons, Longest-Running Bobby and the other one. While these are his beautiful children, this is not his beautiful house. It’s the Francis home. Betty comes in all dressed up after an evening out with of one of the lesser Rockefellers. Don explains that the blender at the diner was broken. She tells him she’s going back to school to study psychology because sure immature narcissists make great shrinks. Then Henry comes in, and it’s awkward because there’s no room for two dads in this Kodak moment. Bobby asks Don to make a milkshake for Henry. Don declines. Henry goes over to take his rightful place at the blender and make his own shake. Don looks back at the happy family tableau to which he doesn’t belong, and leaves.
Surprisingly, he makes it back to his apartment without getting drunk or bringing home a random lady. His soon-to-be second ex-wife Megan calls, informing him that the movers will soon be coming to take her furniture, and also she wants her money. Didn’t she previously on Mad Men tell him he didn’t owe her anything? Apparently she lawyered up and making a living as an actress is more difficult than she thought it would be.
At work the next morning, Harry drops by and tells Meredith he needs to talk to Don. He and Meredith chat about California, and she mentions “the Manson brothers” so that must have happened already. Maybe that’s the writers way of telling us we won’t be rid of Megan that easily, or it could be foreshadowing for a copycat killing. We can hope.
Harry tells Don that Megan wants him to help her find a new agent. Don says he doesn’t care, “I’m not married to her anymore.” By which he means, he doesn’t care if Harry assists Megan in finding a new agent, not he doesn’t care if Harry makes a sleazy proposition to Megan, but Harry apparently misunderstands. He meets Megan for lunch later that week and tries to soften her up by telling her that her agent didn’t do right by her, that she’s like “Ali MacGraw and Brigitte Bardot had a baby,” which is not something people said in 1970 unless they had a Delorean capable of time travel, which is not possible as Deloreans won’t be invented for another six years. Then he tells Megan they can go up to his hotel room where he can make calls on her behalf. He doesn’t say what she’ll be doing because he’s oh so subtle. She ends the lunch rather abruptly to go vomit, but before she can run as far as she can, he tells her she’s “a big girl” and her unwillingness to put out to the mens probably explains why her career didn’t take off. Way to keep it classy, Harry! Why don’t you finish the job and call her a lesbian for not sleeping with you? Then he goes back to tell Don that Megan may be out of her mind and tell him crazy things. Did Don punch him as we all (even those of us who are not fans of the Canadian) wished he would do? Unfortunately no.
Don, meantime, has been stalking Diana, the mysterious dark-haired waitress who shtupped him in an alley for ten seconds last week and was apparently not impressed. She’s now working at a more upscale place and is not thrilled to see him again, but he gives her his card. She calls him in the middle of the night and tells him she went home to Racine, Wisconsin, to get a divorce. They have so much in common! He wants to meet her for a drink, but she tells him she’s already drunk. Why else would she be calling a stalker? And then she comes over. She’s still wearing her uniform, which features an apron, kind of like a French maid’s uniform, which maybe for Don is turn on because that way she can remind him of Megan as well as Rachel, and maybe even Bohemian Midge, and whomever else he can project onto her. Later in bed, he compliments the way she smells, which she says is her Avon shampoo that she bought in the ranch house with the two-car garage where she used to live. (History lesson: Avon used to send ladies to your house to sell you products before you could buy things from your imaginary friends on the internets.) She tells Don she didn’t have kids. Then, in the morning, Don finds her in the boys’ bedroom and she tells him she lied. She had a little girl who died of the flu. Don hugs her and attempts to be comforting.
Over in the workplace, Peggy and Stan are working with Pima Ryan, a sexy celebrity photographer who dresses in modified men’s suits—attire that is at once sexually ambiguous as well as both “arty” and “businesslike.” She tries to play them off against each other and attempts to seduce both of them. It works with Stan, who wants the artsier and more successful Pima’s approval. Peggy is less impressed and sees Pima as a hustler, more into “advertising” than art—which is a little strange from Peggy, who is totally into advertising. But we do learn that Stan has a girlfriend, who’s either a nurse or dresses like one, cap and all. What is it about a woman in uniform?
Don and Roger are at work talking about work, which is what they do for work. Don gets a divorce-related envelope, which causes Roger to say many bitter things about his much younger ex-second wife, Jane. Don reminds Roger that Megan isn’t Jane. But the whole point of the episode seems to be that women are all interchangeable projections.
Don is in the elevator in his building with Diana, who again is wearing her uniform. It must be the next night, and he must have picked her up at work. Dr. and Mrs. Rosen get on with them. They look like they’re coming home from some fancy place. Arnold is in a tux—the same kind of uniform Henry had on in the first scene—and Sylvia is wearing a mink stole, the necessary accessory for any wealthy doctor’s wife. Arnold is drunk. He looks at Diana and says to Don, “You didn’t bring home the whole restaurant, did you?” Sylvia, whom Don once shtupped in that very elevator, is polite to Diana. When they leave, Diana asks Don, “How many girls have you had in this elevator?” He might as well have told her, “It depends what your definition of ‘had’ is.”
In the morning, Don gets a call and tells Diana they have to get the hell out of there. Megan is coming with the movers to get her things. When he gets to his office, Pete is waiting, dressed in golfing clothes with his clubs beside him. Don has forgotten they were golfing with clients. He’s wearing a suit—the wrong uniform. But Don doesn’t need the right one. He tells Pete he’ll just throw back his tie and the clients will love it, and Pete knows they will because Don is magic and Pete isn’t. In the car, Pete is driving, which is almost as terrifying as being in an airplane with Ted Chaough in the pilot’s seat. When Don explains the Megan thing, Pete, like Roger, drones on about his own divorce.
Megan is at the apartment with her mother and sister. The sister is scandalized by le divorce. Her mother is just very, very angry, projecting onto Don all the bitterness of her own marriage to an older man who liked to fuck around. Megan has to leave for her “working lunch” with Harry, and her sister goes off to church, so Marie is left alone in the apartment with the movers. After they’re done, the mover explains to her that with all the “extra stuff,” the price is double the estimate. She doesn’t have the cash. She tries calling Don, but doesn’t want to explain to the secretary who she is, so she calls Roger, who comes over with the money. Roger, noticing the completely empty apartment, asks if Don approved of this.
She answers by telling him, “I hate what he did to my daughter.” Then she kisses him.
“You already emptied the place. Now you want to defile it?” he asks.
The answer seems to be yes.
Megan comes back to the apartment after her ill-fated lunch with Harry and is not pleased that all of the furniture is gone or that Roger is there. While she doesn’t find them doing it, it’s clear it has been done. Megan tells Roger, “I guess you don’t care that she’s married… to my father.” Her more than tipsy mother yells, “You don’t get to judge me.” With all this drama, no wonder Megan became an actress.
Later that same day—it’s a pretty busy day—Megan meets Don face to face at the lawyer’s office. He offers her a cigarette. She tells him, “I don’t want anything of yours.” She also tells him how she gave up everything for him. Which must have happened in the season we all missed. She calls him “an aging, sloppy, selfish liar.” Man, did she really have to put “aging” in there? She doesn’t mention mom’s stunt with the movers or with Roger. Don gives her a check for a million dollars because having been raised in a whorehouse he often confuses money, love, and sex. Besides he wants it to be over so he can move on and ruin some other woman’s life.
At first Megan doesn’t believe a check for A MILLION DOLLARS can be real because this was back when Dr. Evil was barely frozen and that was a lot of money. Then she takes it and leaves him her engagement ring, which he can sell to buy new furniture.
When Megan gets back to her hotel, her sister tells her that Marie is leaving “Papa” and not going back to Canada. So presumably she’s staying with Roger, which means that maybe we get to see Julia Ormond again, which is great, but it also may mean we aren’t done with Megan.
Don shows up at Diane’s tiny studio. He’s gotten her a New York City guidebook because he cares, and he tells her the divorce thing is done. She tells him he’s fooling himself if he thinks it matters. She confesses to actually having two children—the daughter who died and another one, whom she left in Racine with her ex. She asks Don if he wants to ask why. He doesn’t. She keeps talking anyway. She tells him she doesn’t want to feel anything else. When she was with him, she thought about her daughter. Then Don gets that this really isn’t going to happen. She is trying to escape her past and reinvent herself. She can’t do that with him. He finally does an unselfish thing and leaves her alone. Then he returns to his completely empty apartment.
Only a few more Mad Men ever to go, and the burning question is: When will we get to see Sally?