Mad Men Recap: Megan Wants Out! Does Pete?

It’s starting to look like we really should be worried about Mad Men’s Pete. In an episode named after a Sylvia Plath poem, the youngest Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce partner made another poor decision and practically vibrated with the frenetic energy of someone with nothing left to lose. (Joan? Maybe you could please take that oft-referenced rifle out of his office and put it somewhere safe? Thanks.) Meanwhile, Megan’s deep secret is out, and honestly, “Zou Bisou Bisou” was more shocking. Without further ado, the major developments in “Lady Lazarus.”

Megan’s true calling | Let’s start with the less depressing storyline, OK? Megan got a message from someone asking for her by her maiden name, and the way she snaked over to the public phone and stealthily made sure no one was watching her evoked a Cold War spy surreptitiously contacting her Soviet handler. As Mrs. Draper made her call, Don, Ken, and Stan watched as Michael gave a highly entertaining, slightly frightening, full-body pitch to reps from Chevalier Blanc. They loved the “adolescent joy” of the idea and its execution, and asked Don to procure a Beatles song — or close facsimile — to use in the commercial. Admitting later that he “has no idea what’s going on out there,” Don lamented the trend of ads using popular music instead of jingles but said he’d ask Megan for some ideas. (Side note: Whenever Don says something that so nakedly acknowledges not only the difference between his age and his wife’s but also their completely separate life experiences and interests, I am torn between thinking “Aw, that’s cute that he recognizes she has knowledge he doesn’t” and “Ew, this is just wrong.”) But Megan was busy sneaking around, lying to both Peggy and Don, all to cover her huge secret. (On a related note, rewatch this episode for Peggy’s “Pizza House!” alone. Perfection.) Finally, the truth came out: Megan went to a theater audition that reignited her passion for acting, and she wanted to quit the ad game and return to the theater. Yeah, seriously. Though last week some of you posted some pretty creative suggestions for Megan’s backstory, her real mystery is… that she wants to go back to the career we all knew she had before joining SCDP? Le yawn. Don wasn’t psyched. “What you did with Heinz, it took me years to think that way,” he said, adding that her natural talent meant she should stay in the game, even if it meant working at another firm. But she was adamant, saying she needed one last shot at stardom. “I never tried as hard at acting as I did at advertising, and it’ll never be for me what it is for you.” Not wanting to keep her from her dream, Don gave in, but he seemed like he’d need time to come to terms with the change.

Uncool Whip | The SCDP staff’s reactions to Mrs. Draper’s exit ranged from unsurprised (Joan’s hilariously flat “Oh”) to over-the-top (Michael’s assumption that Don fired her). And when Don commiserated with Roger, their talk did even more to highlight the discrepancy in Mr. and Mrs. Draper’s worldviews. “I was raised in the ’30s,” Don said, nursing a Scotch. “My dream was indoor plumbing.” When Peggy filled in for Megan during a visit to client Cool Whip the next day, her non-Megan-ness — plus her inability to remember the “Just taste it” tagline — irked Don so much that they wound up bickering right there in the test kitchen after seriously disappointing the Cool Whip executive (played by Saved By the Bell’s Dennis Haskins). The argument:

Peggy: Megan is not the problem

Don: You didn’t want her there! You were threatened by everything about her.

Peggy: I spent more time training her than you did, and eight months defending her.

Don: Defending her? She was great at it!

Peggy: She thinks advertising is stupid.

Don: No, she thinks the people she worked with are cynical and petty.

Peggy: I did everything right, and I am still getting it from you. You know what? You are not mad at me, so shut up!

What does it say that Don’s fight with Peggy felt so real, while every time he’s with Megan, I keep thinking it’s going to turn into a dream sequence? Anyway, later that night, Megan told Don to listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows” off The Beatles’ Revolver album. She skipped off to acting class, and Don got about a minute or so into the Indian-inspired tune before lifting the needle and walking out of the room.

Down the spiral | Pete’s train buddy, insurance salesman Howard, let on that he had an apartment and mistress in the city, and that got Pete thinking some very bad thoughts. (Another side note: Anyone else catch Pete’s casual mention that his insurance policy covers suicide? WORRIED.) He wound up helping Howard’s wife, Beth, (Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel) home one night her hubby was entertaining his chippy. Turnabout was apparently fair play, because Pete and Beth went at it right there in the living room. Fancy lamps were knocked over, trench coats were doffed — it was like the beginning of a WASP porn film, made even more tawdry because Rory Gilmore was involved. Pete wanted to bask in the afterglow, but a detached Beth told him to go home. Then he called her from work, and she told him to stop. A few days later, Pete pretended to have an interest in buying insurance, but it was just a ruse to get into Howard’s home, press money into Beth’s hand, and demand that she meet him at the Hotel Pennsylvania for a nooner. When she didn’t, he sulked his way back to the office, had a dejected and confused conversation with Harry, and later ran into Beth and Howard at the Cos Cob commuter rail station. As the couple pulled away in their car, she drew a heart in the fog on the window, then quickly erased it. Pete thought he had nothing a few weeks ago? Oy.

What do you think? Will Pete be able to get past his misery? Is there more to Megan than we’re seeing? And what the heck has Betty been up to? Tell us what you think in the com

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Chase says:

    I so hope Don alerted building maintenance about the elevator problem before rushing to make himself a drink. (This would be a handy way for Pete to make it look like an accident, no?)

    • Lambsilencer says:

      Yeah, that “L.A. Law” moment felt so surreal I even wondered if it was just a vision Don had, and didn’t happen in reality.

    • John says:

      It seems pretty clear to me: You show a shaft, someone is going to get it. Usually, the person getting it is the person that looks least likely to get it. Also, you want to kill someone when they are getting their life on the right track and something goes off kilter. Finally, they need a way to bring someone back into the fold of the show that isn’t really tied to the firm at all anymore. Does anyone see what this all adds up to?

      Megan, overjoyed at Don’s support, is crushed by his bad ways and runs away when she catches him cheating in the office. She runs to the elevator as he puts on his pants and yells at him. He arrives in the hallway just in time for her to turn to tell him how much he hurt her – and the doors open – and she steps in without looking … and Don needs an ex-wife’s shoulder to cry upon… An ex-wife who has fallen apart and needs to have something needing her in her life…

  2. Ari says:

    Ever since Pete bought that gun I’ve been thinking he’s going to off himself, which is sad because Pete Campbell is such a beautifully complex character. Hopefully if it happens, it happens toward the end of the show and not with seasons to go.

  3. ZapThunder says:

    I thought Don had listened to the whole side of the record. It looked like it had made it to the end of that side. Unless that track was the last song on that side. Which, I will admit to being only a casual fan of The Beetles, so I don’t know.

  4. It took me a good 2 minutes to recognize that Beth was Alexis Bledel, but when I did, it made the scene all that more… icky? Tawdry? Hilarious? I kept thinking, “What would Lorelai think?”

    • Well, Rory lost her virginity to a married man so it’s nothing new for her ;) (Loved Gilmore Girls, struggled to like Rory after that and how there were zero negative consequences for her, even among the town where everyone knows anything. Tangent.)

  5. Michelle H says:

    As much as Megan’s scene time/storylines have been irksome (taking away from other characters), this seems a natural progression to allow her to not be the focus so much.

  6. april-ann says:

    I still enjoy watching and appreciate the time taken to allow for rich character development. That said I don’t think they need this season to be quite this slow moving to accomplish that. I was disappointed last night because it was just another episode of The Megan Show.

  7. cpreynolds says:

    Why can’t Megan “act” in commercials?

    • Tim Wilson says:

      She wouldn’t be content to simply act in commercials. She made it clear she wanted to work in the theater and “maybe films.”

  8. jon says:

    There is so much more Megan because she’s a great character with lots of energy. Betty Draper on the other hand was a complex character but was the Debbie Downer of the show. She sapped the energy out of everything and you could tell she was never going to evolve, unlike Megan.
    I too feel that the empty elevator shaft is foreboding of something to come.

    • april-ann says:

      I don’t dislike Megan, and I agree that she’s a great character with lots of energy. It certainly would be much easier to “evolve” if you’re not stuck at home alone with three young kids all the time, lol. I don’t compare Betty to Megan because I think that’s an unfair comparison except where Don is concerned (he seems to want his “women” home with kids and devoting their time and energy to him at his discretion rather than have real aspirations of their own, although he is being supportive of Megan for now). However there are many great characters on this show being sorely neglected right now in favor of MuchMoreMegan.

  9. Daniela says:

    I don’t dislike Megan but they need to stop to give her so much air time. Hopefully with her going back to acting we going to see this happening.

  10. Stephen says:

    Stop putting spoilers into the main headlines please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Brian says:

      Settle down, Stephen. One exclamation point would have sufficed. It is, afterall, just a television program.

  11. John Moshier says:

    the elevator means downs life is spiraling down hes out of touch with the time hes marriage is shaky time is passing him by

  12. Pat D. says:

    To put it succinctly…the elevator scene was awesomely absurd…although in real life, I cant imagine too many people would stand on the edge like that to look down…I know I wouldnt, lol.

  13. Bill Cord says:

    This season has too much Megan and not enough of the office. Did Lane move back to England and forget to tell anyone? The whole Don/Megan thing is a drag on the show.

  14. angie says:

    I don’t know how many more episodes of The Megan Show I can stand.

  15. teevoz says:

    Good analysis – but Pete didn;t press money in Beth’s hand, he gave her the name and presumably room number of the hotel room he had booked for what he hoped to be their next encounter. Big difference – he was absolutely not trying to pay for it,

  16. Sarah says:

    “Pete thought he had nothing a few weeks ago? Oy.” I think what you meant to say was “Oy with the poodles already!”

    And while the involvement of Rory Gilmore did make the affair even more tawdry, all I could think was, who would need a piece on the side when you get to go home to Rory every night?!

  17. Britta Unfiltered says:

    So many things are swirling in my head about this episode. The elevator scene was weird, but I just kind of chalked it up to being another one of Weiner’s metaphors. Perhaps someone is on the descent to hell? Could have a million meanings.
    .
    I really wasn’t worried about Pete until tonight, but the life insurance talk and the mention of a suicide payoff after 6 years seems like horrible foreboding. I am worried now, I don’t want to lose Pete. I know I said he was dead to me in a previous post, but I didn’t mean it. I just don’t want him to cheat on sweet little charming Allison Brie. But I think at this point if they didn’t kill off Pete or someone else, it will make all that foreshadowing meaningless, and that would make me angry. I kind of suspect it will be someone else that dies though. Pete seems too obvious at the moment. Harry is a little more likely as his screen time has been so limited this season and I THINK (if I remember correctly from the DVD commentaries) they were originally going to kill him off in the 1st season but decided they liked him too much to lose him. Speaking of Harry, I hated the mention that Harry had “convention whores”, because I always thought of him as being the one character on the show who really loved his wife and had a good marriage (despite a one-night dalliance with Pete’s secretary).
    .
    I loved Joan and Peggy’s scene where they talked about Megan, it seemed very truthful and real. I do hate women like that that are good at everything and beautiful and perfect and cheerful to boot.
    .
    I loved the fight between Don and Joan, because Joan is absolutely Don’s work wife. Now I hope she will really go back to that kind of relationship with him now that his real wife is out of the workplace. I hope that means less Megan screen time too. And I hope we get a little more focus on our ladies of the agency, and more Lane! It seemed like at the beginning of the season they were setting up something with Lane struggling between being a good guy and acting out from dissatisfaction with his life. Then they dropped it.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Argh, I said Joan and Don when I meant to say Peggy and Don! Blame it on a 3 in the morning brain fart.

    • Jen says:

      “I loved Joan and Peggy’s scene where they talked about Megan, it seemed very truthful and real. I do hate women like that that are good at everything and beautiful and perfect and cheerful to boot.”

      Ha! I was thinking the same thing. Maybe that is why there are so many people who don’t like Megan? I myself am on the fence.

  18. LJ says:

    “Pizza House” was absolutely hands down one of the best TV moments I have witnessed in my life.

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