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