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29.10.2013
At the start of the second season of “Mad Men,” ad man Don Draper discovered the poetry of Frank O’Hara, specifically “Mayakovsky” from the book “Meditations in an Emergency” (“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern”). Speaking of poetry, a different work has been on my mind as I’ve watched the last few episodes of “Mad Men,” in which Don drifted through California and wondered if his life back in New York was worth resuming. There’s a line in a Philip Larkin poem, “Talking in Bed” that has rolled around in my head for weeks.
Talking in bed ought to be easiest,Lying together there goes back so far,An emblem of two people being honest. It becomes still more difficult to findWords at once true and kind,Or not untrue and not unkind. First among “Mad Men’s” many achievements is this: It has created people whose lives and dilemmas seem absolutely real. We root for Don and Joan and Betty and Peggy and Sal to feel joy instead of pain, to find contentment rather than alienation, to feel loved for who they really are. Stepping out from behind their carefully constructed personas to truly love someone else, or merely relaxing enough to rely on another person – for Don, Betty, Peggy and the rest, these things are not easy.
The show’s finale held out the hope that there’s a chance to end or lessen loneliness – though it may rely on “two people being honest.” At the end, we saw Don and Betty (January Jones) holding hands, almost afraid to do more, certainly afraid to tell each other the whole truth about what they’ve done. Last year, we had the spectacular “Carousel” scene, in which Don turned a pitch for a slide projector into a meditation on nostalgia and memory. As I’ve noted before, one question I got a lot via email early in Season 2 was “What happened to Peggy’s baby?” While I can respect the idea that Pete needed to be in crisis before declaring his love for Peggy and thus prompting her confession, the fact remains that some viewers who might have gotten on board with “Mad Men” could not wait 13 episodes to get an answer to that question. Don felt and looked lighter with Anna, but for Peggy, these revelations were so painful that she could barely say the words. Every episode of “Mad Men,” at least one actor steps up and gives a truly amazing performance (Jones as Betty, Bryan Batt as Sal and Christina Hendricks as Joan are just a few of the actors who scored home runs in the second half of the season, and of course it must be stipulated that Jon Hamm brings his A-game every single week and is continually amazing). For once, Pete seemed like a living, breathing human being – he declared his love for Peggy in a disarmingly direct way.
The quietly headstrong Peggy, who got an earful from Father Gill about her duty to tell the truth or risk going to Hell, is not about to be told what to do.
If you look closely at the Pete-Peggy scene, you can see his shotgun behind her (the infamous shotgun from the chip-and-dip episode in Season 1). That’s really the story of Betty’s life; she’s waiting to matter to someone, to become a grownup, to find out who she is. There was so much deliciousness about the office politics of the merger (another thing “Mad Men” does so well: intrigue).
Then there were the scenes of the junior executives working themselves into a lather over the merger (Paul grilling the switchboard operator Lois to tell them about any calls with the code words “Los Angeles” was priceless).
Surprisingly, the shifty Pete finally (sort of) picked a side by telling Don about Duck’s office coup.
Don may not have had a “Carousel” scene in the finale, but the way he sliced and diced Duck and expertly handled Powell in that meeting was nothing short of masterful. I’d like to introduce something I call “Mad Men Subtext Theatre.” We all know the show contains many layers, meanings, metaphors, allusions and other words we learned in English class.
This excellent interview with “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is very informative and reveals one interesting tidbit: Weiner says whether we’ll see Freddy Rumson again. Recaps I read every week: James Poniewozik, Alan Sepinwall, Tom and Lorenzo from Project Rungay. Wow, I am simultaneously delighted at reading your take on this exchange and disappointed that it took you until the end of the season to come up with such a clever bit. As for Betty's one night stand in the bar rest room lounge, I saw that as her concession to reconciling with Don.
I love this show so much that I don't think I can bear another year waiting for it to hopefully return with the cast intact.
Another of my favorite scenes was Don's exchange with Peggy and Joan when he returns to the office. I maintain that Draper's blood pressure treatment from late last season made him sexually impotent during season two. 1) The walk-away from bed scene with Bobbie and Jimmy eventually calling Don and Betty out on their indiscretions at a party.
3) Don's fading libido throughout - he seems to have grounded his urges more this season. I guess Peggy doesn't say she gave the baby up for adoption, so there is still a bit of ambiguity there. Tommytimp, I also loved the reference to the back of the head shot, yet another brilliant small touch by this show. Maybe you have to be a man to understand exactly what Don felt at the news of his estranged wife's confession at being pregnant.
I was utterly blown away by last night's episode, especially by Elizabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser. And I also want to thank you, Mo, for being such an avid fan of this show and for paying so much attention to it. I think this episode showed that Pete, for whom we have some sympathy as he struggles to grow up, really has been growing up this season.
Speaking of maturity, Moss has taken Peggy from a gawky ingenue to a woman with advertising expertise and a person of real warmth.
Earlier in the season, I was under the impression that Pete really did not want a child, even though Pete and Trudy were trying, but last night's scene showed that he felt a loss at what might have been with Peggy, as she also expressed a loss. We wondered if Don would actually return to New York in this episode or if it would be left to the first episode of the third season. Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic, and want these two to wind up together, even though its destined to be a train wreck. As for Betty, I think she was about ready to tell Don she boinked that dude in the bathroom. As for the drama at sterling cooper, I don't see things working out as planned for Duck.


While Joan played a minor role in the finale, still assisting Don, her reaction to the close-call of the Cuban Missle Crisis has me on pins n' needles for next season. Will this event mean Joan can't live with or can't live without her fiance-turned-rapist? Contemplating the gun in his final scene, he prolly could shoot himself and still be around for all of Season III before he got woozy. Also, now that their power is escalating, I hope either Don or Peggy finds a way to give Freddy Rumson another chance. So does no one think that there could be a potentiality that Pete is comtemplating suicide? I could write thousands of words just on the finale alone, but will just say that everything that makes the show great was at it's best last night. Maureen Ryan has left the Chicago Tribune, but we left up this blog for you to enjoy the content. Attempting to find or flee isolation, unsure of whether making a connection is worth the effort but unable to resist (occasionally) trying.
They are constantly surprising us, yet no matter what they do, no matter how much particular actions may disappoint us, on some level we root for them. Words become, as Larkin wrote, “difficult to find,” but they’ve begun to at least try to find words “not untrue and not unkind.” That’s something.
The Cuban missile crisis, foreshadowed earlier in the season when Don and Pete watched a terrifying presentation on nuclear missiles at an aerospace convention, forced everyone else to take stock and think about what mattered to them. In the finale, we finally found out definitively what happened to that baby – she “gave him away,” presumably for adoption. When Peggy was visiting her sister’s apartment, the sister asked if Peggy wanted to say good night to “him.” Many of us thought the sister was referring to Peggy’s own son (the speculation was that Peggy’s sister had taken in the boy and was raising him alongside her own kids). I wouldn’t have minded an answer earlier myself, but all in all, I’m OK with how it played out.
In fact, the scene recalled Don’s confessions about his past to Rachel Menken in Season 1 – as was the case with that scene, the Pete-Peggy scene was almost unbearably intimate. But even among such outstanding colleagues, Moss was breathtaking in the scene in Pete’s office. She instead confessed all to Pete, who could, if he chose, exile her to the “hell” of being jobless. Peggy appeared to be getting a restful night’s sleep at the end of the episode, having gotten right, in her own way, with both Pete and God.
The missile crisis barely registers with her; she’s got to figure out what to do now that she’s pregnant again. She explores the idea of abortion with both her doctor and her friend Francine, but she knows that isn’t a realistic option for her. She picks up a man in a bar who looks a lot like her estranged husband and has anonymous sex with him.
How about Roger Sterling blithely telling Don that Bert and Alice Cooper “jumped on” the merger and that he just went along for the ride? True, Pete’s probably OK no matter which side wins, but the fact that he warned Don has to be counted in his favor.
Me?” innocence when Powell said that Duck would be taking over as president of Sterling Cooper.
You can either honor your contract or walk out that door with nothing and start selling insurance. One last thing I want to say is: I really appreciate everyone who came to the Watcher site and commented on my “Mad Men” posts.
What you get out of the show – how you fill in those blanks -- depends on what you bring to it. They’re stills from “The Simpsons” annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode, which contains a “Mad Men” parody. I frankly saw nothing to dissuade me from still believing she gave her baby away to her sister. Backing up a bit, her initial desire to end the pregnancy told me she had made up her mind to divorce Don. It is clear that her and Pete Campbell's saga is what intrigues you the most, but this wrap-up should have been read again and edited. I had to pick my jaw off the floor when Pete declared his love for Peggy and then she confessed all to him. I think the time she cheated with the stranger in the bar was the first time she has strayed.
And this show leaves so many blanks for us to fill in that there are any number of theories that could be right! Whatever you want to say about Pete's behavior in the past, I think he became one of my favorites in that scene.
He cannot feel confident that she chose him of her own free will and that he still needs to work for her affection.
I thought the scene between Peggy and Pete was one of the most poignant scenes of the entire season. I love reading your take on the tiny details and mysterious layers that make up this ridiculously good hour of television .
Tie in society's objectification of women at that time, and you realize how capable at managing it that some women in the show are. I re-read Alan Sepinwall's interview with Weiner and to me, it is clear from that interview that the sister is not raising the baby. Having survived such for more than 30 years, it is remarkable how true-to-loife they recreate it. One way or another, he is getting everything missing from his personnel life from his office life - in his mind, he is creating a bond with his father figure, Don.
It was starting to get a little creepy, and I'm curious what will develop as time goes on.


And the parallels between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the merger crisis were very well done - Harry discussing the takeover with so much Cold War vocab was amusing "LOYALISTS are always hung. The fact that he has no contract and is $500,000 richer seems to suggest he might jump ship for his own operation. They’re often fighting their worst impulses, fighting their desire to hide their flaws and pain behind a mask, fighting their desire to value security above uncertainty. We knew that Don’s family mattered to him, but one thing I didn’t quite see coming was how much Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) matters to Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). Peggy’s sister has more than one son: Why wouldn’t she ask Peggy if she wanted to say goodnight to “them”? Still, if “Mad Men” continues to be this digressive about big questions (and again, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing), the show may continue to be ratings challenged. Say what you will about Pete but the fact that he loves Peggy so unashamedly means he can’t be a total jerk, even though he does a good imitation of a total jerk quite frequently. And being with Pete wouldn’t bring that back – if anything, it would be a reminder of what she’d lost. And at least Don’s letter gives her hope that maybe, one day, they can forge a real connection. Having taken one disastrous risk in Season 1 when he cheated on his wife, he’s become the most risk-averse member of the staff. Though, in typical Pete fashion, he probably wouldn’t have warned Don had Don not indicated that Pete could expect a promotion soon. So here’s my take on what the characters were really saying in that conference room scene, after Powell dropped the bomb about Duck. I can’t see as far into the future as Duck, but if the world is still here on Monday, we can talk. I watch each episode of this magnificent show twice but I certainly don’t understand everything or catch every allusion or meaning. Filling in those blanks – along with other “Mad Men” fans – has been the best part of every Monday for the past three months. When I’m not laughing at the show’s sly humor or marveling at the acting and directing and everything on display in this perfectly realized world of imperfect people, I see men and women struggling through situations that would be recognizable to Philip Larkin, whose poems are as compassionate as they are disillusioned.
And if she let on to Peter that the baby was at her sisters house would open a whole new can of worms, it is much cleaner for her to make Peter believe that the baby is gone and out of her control. I got the feeling through his entire visit with Anna that had he voiced a desire to explore a life as Dick with her, she'd be all over that.
I think the fact that Peggy's sister was pregnant while Peggy was in the hospital indicates that she had a child not long after Peggy had her secret baby. But the fact that he does want her means that he now has her but there is a clear understanding that he still has alot of work to do to heal his relationship with her and keep her.
I'm always very intrigued by Pete, but also needled by his callousness and want to flick him off the TV set like a bug.
I think giving your child to your sister to raise IS giving it away, so I wouldn't be surprised if that turns out to be the case.
Not usually a nit picker, but one glaring error stood out when Betty walked into the kitchen and the radio announcer was reporting the latest developments in the Cuban Missile Crisis. As with most great shgows (west Wing cvomes to mind) it is hard to realize someone else wrote these lines rather than this being cameras turned on real people.
And it really is depressing that Season 3 is a ways off and Weiner and some of the cast members are yet to be locked up with contracts to keep this thing going. But as has been the case often with this show, predictions are often stifled by surprising turns, and the bar continues to rise every time. The show was clearly trying to get us to think that Peggy’s sister was raising the child, when in fact Peggy had given him up. But she couldn’t counsel Pete to tell the truth and not worry about the outcome and not do the same herself. He can open up his own shop, drawing on the best of the SC talent pool (and you know Peggy would be in that group).
He wrote in “The Poetry of Departures” about wishing to escape a life that was “reprehensibly perfect.” I'm sure both Don and Betty could relate. I also think this sets up several juicy alternatives for future plot twists for them, if the baby is not really gone. Peggy just wanted to take the option off the table for getting together because of the baby. Kartheiser impressed the hell out of me--he took that character from a little cad to someone I just want to hug in one fell swoop.
I think part of him was playing it safe by telling Don of Duck's plan, but I think he also felt loyalty to Don after he was complimented by Don about his work in California, even if Don was just blowing air up his hooey.
It’s to the eternal credit of Jon Hamm that all of those emotions and more could be read on Don’s face.
Much like Don and Peggy and Joan and everyone else at Sterling Cooper, he feels in control at work, while he is just a toy to his wife and inlaws. They need to take a lesson from Peggy and then instead of whining about bigger offices they may earn their own. Kennedy's older brother WAS involved in that action, but he was named for his father, Joseph P.
But the sad part is that in reality, he is just a toy to the upper ups at Sterling Cooper also. After all, the neighbors, priest, and so forth, do visit her sister and there might have been a small embarrassment.



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Comments Meditations in an emergency poem 01

  1. baby_girl
    Sitting and walking meditation intervals.
  2. ROMAN_OFICERA
    Which fit Shapiro's ardor for meditation sleep, stress and.