Meditations on Don Draper (Part 4)

ImagePlease, people, take down the “Pete Campbell Suicide Watch” signs.

Despite outward appearances, Pete is an extraordinarily complex character who lives like an exposed nerve. The result is that he responds to far more stimuli than the average Joe. However, Pete also has a very, very powerful survival instinct. He has a tremendous capacity to do what he feels is necessary. Exhibit #1: pitching to American Airlines immediately after his own father was killed in an American Airlines crash. Someone with that kind of lizard brain will not give in to an enveloping melancholy. Pete may be the only character on this show with the capacity to act like an asshat for extended periods of time and then “snap out of it.” (Since I have watched a lot of “Gilmore Girls” in my life (I have daughters), I am very intrigued  — even titillated) by Pete’s latest dalliance with Beth (Rory Gilmore). I suspect that she might hang around for a few episodes, since the show is not going to bring someone like Rory Gilmore on for a mere cameo.)

Don seems to be very much a man in transition. He is clearly disengaged from the SCDP (Ginsburg is making the pitches now, probably better than Don) and his lack of engagement with youth culture (“when did music become so important?”) sounds like a death knell. Even with Megan’s help, he will never be able to catch up and he shows no interest in doing so. The very idea of Megan pursuing her dreams is such a foreign concept to Don. I believe a lot of commentators view Megan’s turn away from advertising as having a negative effect on Don, but I think it may have a transformative effect on him. The famous faraway look in his eye has returned, which I believe signals that his attention has turned to the future. This future (Season 7) may not include Megan and it may not include advertising, either. (However, I believe that it will include Betty and Sally, but not in ways any of them imagines.)

What is Megan’s play? She comes off as an ingénue, but she appears to have a stunningly brilliant strategy. Clearly, she is one of “those girls,” as Peggy states: talented, skillful, ambitious. She is perfect, which means that she is not a good fit for this crowd. She cannot become too successful as an actress (because she is fictional), but her willingness to pursue her own dreams will overcome her commitment to the guy who proposed to her out of the blue and who is increasingly turning into a curmudgeon.

Has Roger gotten his mojo back just in time for a fatal fifth heart attack? While shtupping a reinvigorated and hot Mona?

Can you believe how far Peggy has come? She used to tremble in the presence of the great Draper, and now she tells him to shut up with the confidence that she is right and that Don will not retaliate. If nothing else, Megan’s turn away from advertising seemed only to have cemented Peggy’s belief that she is doing what she does and loves best. Peggy may not be one of “those girls,” but she has grit and persistence that Megan lacks (which may prove fatal to Megan’s acting aspirations). Also, let’s face it, Peggy’s mom is probably right about Abe. He could not bring himself to put a ring on it, which also means he is a bit of a schmuck. Don’t give me any grief about how radical he was in fighting against the suffocating and patriarchal institutions of marriage: he’s a schmuck.

Is Joan being written out of the show? She still has some good zingers, but her storyline as working, single mother seems to have sapped the charm from her. Joan is not complicated, but she is smart. She is also a bit resentful of Peggy and Megan because they have been able to advance and she has not. She is not going to go peacefully into that dark night of motherhood. Though some might think she will make a play for Roger (or visa versa), I cannot see the attraction of that for either character. However, Joan is stuck in a rut and she has to figure some way to blast out of it in spectacular fashion.

Hopefully, I am not the only viewer giddy with delight that Glen is still in the picture. A friend of mine suggested that he and Sally might end up playing out the cornea-bruising scene played out by Roger and Megan’s mother. I cannot imagine that the censors – let alone California law enforcement – would allow the young actors to engage in anything even hinting at it. And there would be a viewer uproar. However, both Sally and Glen have been brought up with certain sexual expectations + they are growing up in the Age of Aquarius. Something’s gonna happen between them that will drive Betty to actions that she will regret.

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About Stephen Dedalus, Jr.

I am trying to awaken from the history of my ancestor's nightmare to comment on my Holy Trinity of Interests: art, literature, and music. Oh, and thoughts on dysfunctional families, which is to say families.
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