Sunday, October 17, 2010

"I Got You, Babe"

Mad Men, Season Four, Episode Thirteen, "Tomorrowland"

WELLLLL, wasn't that a surprise? (Except the part about Joan still being pregnant; I figured that was the case. And while I'm sidetracked here, I know that there's no old-fashioned Victorian novel-type justice in war--or in postmodern drama and television--but Dr. Greg is going to get blown up in Vietnam, right? The only thing "important" to him is whether her boobs are getting bigger--what an idiot. Well, guess what? It's not even your baby, jackass!) Okay, back to Don. What was that man thinking? I don't know, but rather than sign off after just one paragraph, I'll give it my best shot:

I thought that the conversation with the American Cancer Society people was quite interesting. Don's observation that there's no point in trying to persuade smokers to quit, but a campaign targeting a new teen audience is where they should put their efforts was insightful. Of these younger people, he said they're "mourning for their childhood more than looking to their future." Is he doing something similar in asking Megan to marry him? He's clearly missing Anna; he wants someone with whom he can be himself again ("I feel like myself when I'm with you")--but not TOO much of himself. Faye's reminder at the beginning of the episode that his stomach pains might have as much to do with repression of his past life as with his work troubles, just served to highlight that she knows more about him than perhaps he's comfortable with. He wants the feeling of comfort that being himself with someone brings, but doesn't want the full disclosure to the world that Faye urges upon him. I was impressed that he answered Sally's question--"Who's Dick?--honestly, even if he did add "That's my nickname sometimes." As we've seen a lot this season, he wants to be Dick "sometimes." He might have felt that Faye would push to be Dick all of the time. So, he tells Megan that she doesn't really know him and that "I've done things..." She naively asserts that she does know him now. This veiled insinuation of a past is all she's going to get from him. And, unlike the probing psychologist, Megan will accept his assessment of himself without question--and get what she wants (maybe?) So, missing Anna, he gives Megan Anna's engagement ring that she got "from Don."

Does he really believe his assertions that he's fallen in love with her? She says it happened so fast. Well, yeah! Too fast for me to buy it. But he has been Mr. Impetuous lately--most recently with the letter to the Times. And, he's recently come out of a pretty bad depression and bout of excessive drinking. That's really not the time to make such a major decision, but maybe he just feels too good and that's novel right now. And, he's in California--the land of sunshine, hope, and fresh starts. Stephanie tells him, "I've got the rest of my life ahead of me. So do you." And, she is good with his kids. The look of surprise that Don, Sally, and Bobby all displayed when Megan took the spilled milkshake in stride was so telling. She's not Betty in this regard. But, she is glamorous--save the teeth--and she speaks French. But, she's also told Don that she'd like to have a job like his or Peggy's someday. Will he promote her career and make her a copywriter as Joan thinks? Or will she be the next pretty Mrs. Draper? I still don't like her much, but I hope it's the former. Or, as my sister pointed out, it's just an engagement; maybe they won't actually get married. But, Faye--hurt Faye--did tell him early in their acquaintanceship that she knew his type and he'd be married again in a year. Perhaps she does know him too well.

And then, in contrast to Don's rapid life changes, there's Betty, lamenting that things are different, that there's too much change. Those were a couple of poignant moments when she and Don stood in the empty kitchen, sharing a drink out of an old plastic cup. She confides in him, in a way, that her new marriage isn't all she'd hoped for with her childish perspective on things: "Things aren't perfect." He tries to comfort her, "It's okay, Betty." She's just glad to know that the debutante Bethany isn't the one who snagged her ex and tries to be gracious, offering him congratulations. But, it's Henry who asserts to Betty that "there is no fresh start." Will this end up being a commentary on Don's life as well as on Betty's?

I lack time to explore Betty's firing of Carla in depth, but what all was going on there? Does Betty somehow see, through Carla's response to Glen coming by, that she's over-reacting to all of this and not being the best mother? Carla has always done more parenting of those kids than Betty. Is Betty feeling that when she asks, "Since when did you decide you're her mother?" I was glad to see Carla assert herself with Betty: "It was a mistake. There's no need for that kind of talk" and "You best stop talking now." Good for you! But for Betty to then refuse the woman a letter of recommendation! Again, Henry has to point out her unreasonableness to her. The honeymoon there seems to be over pretty quickly.

I love that Peggy and Joan finally found a way to be allies over Don's announcement of his engagement. The scene in Joan's office was great as was Joan's carry-over of the time with Peggy into her conversation with Greg: "And he's smiling like a fool, like he's the first man who ever married his secretary." Ouch! As she's carrying Roger's baby after he dumped his first wife to marry his super-young secretary. These working women are finally starting to see what "bullshit" it all is, as Peggy asserts to Joan.

And season four ends with a sappy, rather goofy pop song that might capture the sentiment of Don's situation with Megan ("I've got you, babe"), but only made me think about the singers: an older man who married a younger woman whose career he started promoting. Are Don and Megan Sonny and Cher? What a depressing thought. And, we've got to wait nine months to find out what happens next! Thirteen episode seasons are way too short.


  1. I feel like a sap, but I loved absolutely adored seeing the happy, playful, laughing Don. When he fell on the bed between his children, when they planned their Disneyland day, when he cannonballed into the pool... Forgive me, but I want to hope for a while. Megan is so the opposite of brittle, perfect, ice queen Betty. She is imperfect (and Don loves the teeth), loving, warm, self-aware, and damn bright. (She impressed me last week when she "got" what Don was doing with the Times ad, when most of the office didn't.) Don's been through hell this season, and I want him to be happy, even if it's only in the "beginnings." But then, maybe a woman like Megan could be a positive influence in his life, just as she clearly is for his children.
    An aside, I remember a dinner when I was a young mom. One of my daughters spilled her milk, and a friend who was eating with us was stunned that we just laughed and wiped it up. She expected hysteria and punishment. You know Betty would have exploded in rage. Who knows how Don might recreate himself with a kind, non-judgmental, sweet woman? Since I have to wait a year, I'm going to wish them, and Peg and Joan and Sally lots of joy. But I'm very pissed about Karla!

  2. You don't need to apologize, Elizabeth, for wanting hope. I too loved seeing the scenes with Don and the kids in CA, especially in the pool goofing off and planning what rides they'd go on at Disneyland. And, I don't begrudge him happiness with Megan. I just think rushing into an engagement was foolish and I was disappointed because I thought he'd been moving more toward self-reflection and integration of Dick and Don--or at least that's what I wanted for him. This rush-in to an engagement with another woman who, despite her protestations to the contrary, does not know him felt like a step backward. Get to know each other for a bit first. At the end of last season, Henry and Betty rushed into marriage when their relationship was still new and this season has seen them figuring out that they likely made a big mistake. Last time we saw Roger with the secretary he'd quickly married, it was clear he's not happy with her. Now I know that Megan's not either Betty or the new Mrs. Sterling and she is great with the kids--which is something they need. I just wasn't convinced that this was the right step for them to take. And the closing song didn't fit with a poignant, finding-true-love theme. It seemed to me to indicate that there's a problem here. But, we'll see. Mo Ryan agreed with you in her blog today.

  3. Like both of you, I loved Don as Daddy, the Peggy and Joan conversation and Joan keeping the baby... as many of us thought.
    That said, the episode left me wanting something more. I didn't buy Don in love, genuinely - California and the presence (even after death) of Anna, inspires a whole different Don in the "Promised Land" - and then he returns to New York. I still worry that Megan, while great with the kids, may not be all that meets the eye. And Faye - well, she was "fey" after all, right? She did predict that Don would be married in a year...and indeed, he is.
    Maybe "California Dreaming" should have been the closing song, instead of "I Got You Babe"? :)
    As opposed to last year's finale, "Close the Door, Take a Seat" which, in my opinion, was one of the great shows of all time - this show was quieter, less showy. But maybe we're being set up for an amazing next season/new story lines? Gosh, what a long wait!

  4. I've seen a number of people post online comments on this episode, saying they wondered for awhile whether the whole thing was a dream--either Don's or Megan's. "California Dreaming" fits right in, Mary. Though I really like Alan Sepinwall's connection of "I Got You, Babe" to "Groundhog Day." I'd forgotten that Bill Murray kept waking up to that song EVERY morning.

  5. I too was shocked at the marriage proposal. Megan is beautiful (Cathy, you're hilarious with your "save the teeth" comment) and possibly talented but i really thought Faye was perfect for Don-more of an equal, someone not afraid to really talk to him. Oh well. I was thinking as Don was in Anna's house looking at he Dick + Anna on the base of the wall that people shouldn't but often do make big decisions in the year after a loved one dies. We'll see how it turns out.

  6. Reading your comment, Tricia, I realize that we're probably expecting too much of a man in his late 30s to opt for an equal marriage partner in 1965. Since both Don--at the time of the show--and Jon Hamm are both younger than I am, I tend to see Don more as a peer when I'm watching the show. But, I need to remember that he was actually the same age as my father. He's of a different generation. So, while he's progressive in creative advertising and business areas--including promoting women in his workplace--and has chosen mistresses who are more forward thinking and professional, his ideas of marriage still seem to be very traditional. He respects and admires Peggy; he'd never consider marrying her--which is a good thing for her, him, and their relationship. We'll have to see where the thing with Megan goes....

  7. I grew to like Faye, Tricia, so I shared your feelings. Megan may be the best thing that ever happened to Don, but - she just seemed, to me, like a character that wasn't very developed throughout the season. I suppose Weiner wants us back next season (as if we wouldn't return!)
    That's Sunday and I'm feeling slightly blue because there is no Mad Men tonight! Total Draper withdrawal symptoms....