Mad Men 5.8 – Lady Lazarus

“What the hell happened?”
“She’s following her dream.”
“I sure as hell didn’t get to decide what I wanted to do – my father told me.”
“I was raised in the 30s. My dream was indoor plumbing.”

It’s lies, lies, and more damned lies this week. Pete’s back on the train, listening to his train-mate drone on about his young, big-titted girlfriend that he keeps in the city – and why should his wife complain? He provides for her, doesn’t he? I’d like to provide a big old kick to his groin, but never mind about that now. Pete takes this in with a mixture of envy and disgust. Well…at least he doesn’t start sobbing.

Don’s busy watching Ginsburg pitch his heart out to new potential clients, one of whom is obviously a friend of Dorothy. They love the presentation, but for a cologne ad, Don suggests the casting call looks for someone who might actually like women to chase after him. As for choosing the right Beatlesque song for the ad, Ginsburg and Stan don’t need to worry their pretty little heads about it – Don is sure Megan will know the perfect tune. of course she will.

Roger tells Pete all about a client who wants Pete to handle his account personally, and has the gift skis to prove it. Pete checks the skis for booby traps, then excitedly accepts them, all the while accepting that hey, maybe Roger really is ready to step aside and let Pete’s star rise. Ahaha, I’ll believe that when I see it.

Even though Don is only 40, he seems like such an old fuddy-duddy as he tries to figure out all this new-fangled rock and roll music the clients seem to demand these days. Megan assures him he’s doing fine, while gracefully side-stepping his invitation to schmooze a client over dinner. She’s drawn her line clearly in the sand that if she says she has to work, then she’s damn well going to work. He gives in with a regretful sigh and leaves her to it. The look on her face as she shuts the office door behind him says it’s not quite as simple as that. That becomes even more obvious when she tells Peggy she can’t work late after all because she has to go meet Don for dinner. What’s that girl up to??

Pete is dragging his new skis through the commuter train parking lot to drive the rest of the way home using his shiny new driver’s license when he’s approached by a woman who turns out to be Beth, the wife of Howard, the cheating snake from that morning. Beth is, delighfully, Rory from Gilmore Girls! Ironic feminist no more. She’s locked her keys in the car and wouldn’t you know it, Howard is MIA. Pete covers for him because that’s just what guys do for each other, and agrees to drive her home. She turns out to be much nicer than her husband, and much more honest.

Speaking of honesty and the lack thereof, Don calls Peggy at the office looking for Megan. “Isn’t she with you?” “Yes, we’re playing an hilarious
joke on you.” Peggy tries to guess what happened to Megan since she obviously didn’t meet up with Don for supper, but finally asks Don if he knows where her boyfriend Abe is. Ha! Even so, Peggy does wonder herself what happened to Megan, who really needs to join a Lie Masters group.

When Pete drops Beth off at home, she asks him if it’s any harder to lie to her now that he knows her. He sticks to his story, and after correcting him that Howard doesn’t care if she’s alive or dead, storms into the house. Pete follows her in to make sure she’s okay, and after demanding that he leave at once, she immediately seduces him to prove that SOMEONE wants her, even if Howard doesn’t. And believe me, Pete wants her. He can’t smear her lipstick and knock over her lamp fast enough.

Much later that night, Don calls the office again. In a fit of terror at having to tell him Megan isn’t there, she yells, “Pizza House!” before hanging up on him, then wisely doesn’t pick up when he calls right back. The girl could have been a spy for the CIA, she’s just that cool.

Pete’s basking in the coital afterglow, looking much less uptight than probably ever, but Beth doesn’t want to cuddle. She used him to prove a point, and now that she feels like a woman again, he can leave thankyouverymuch. But…but…he wants to be with her and draw unicorns and flowers on her thighs! She thanks him for the ride (hee) as she pretends to know how to smoke a cigarette. He’s heartbroken that his torrid affair fizzled before it practically began.

There goes the lamp

Megan finally comes home, and smoothly covers by saying that she lied to Peggy so she could get out of working late so she could go for a drink with friends. He buys it wholesale, because he love and trusts her. Oh, Don. The shoe, she is now on the other foot.

The next day at work, Peggy corners Megan in the bathroom and gives her hell. Megan admits that she hates being a copywriter and wants to quit to be an actress, but she’s trapped because of Don. Peggy is scathing in her judgement, pointing out how many people would love her job, and demanding that she stop lying to Don. It’s almost as if Peggy cares about Don and is trying to protect him, isn’t it? Because she loves him and is loyal to him above all others, I mean. She tells Megan she doesn’t care what she does and storms out.

Megan is a pretty good actress, because she follows Peggy into a staff meeting acting as if she doesn’t have a care in the world. She and Don even act out a scene they concocted for the Cool Whip account, although they certainly don’t want to act in the actual commercial, because neither of them want to act OMG. Peggy sneers and stalks out, which Don takes to mean that she loves the ad and is just on her period or something.

Pete calls Beth from a payphone and begs her to meet him in the city. She gives him a lesson on how to be insensitive after the body rush. Pete, you are no good at being a one night stand.

That night Megan wakes up Don to tell him the truth of where she really was the night before. She’s not wearing makeup, and looks about 14. See, that symbolizes she’s taken off her mask of lies. In case you were wondering. She spills her guts about wanting to be an actress and how she doesn’t want to be in the ad business. He tries to talk sense into her, but only because she’s so talented, even going so far as to suggest she work for a competitor so she doesn’t have to work in his shadow. When she insists, he gives in and tells her she should quit and follow her dream. Don, you doting husband, you.

The next day Don tells our lovely Joan that Megan is quitting and asks what happens next. Joan thinks the girls taking her out for lunch would be enough but not too much of a proper goodbye. Megan tearfully tells Peggy, Ginsburg, and Stan that it’s her last day. She thanks Peggy and hands off all her work before she goes. Ginsburg thinks she quit to avoid paying him the fifteen bucks she owes him for lunches, but Stan thinks it’s because in the end, the ad business is a hell of a lot of work and for what? Baked beans. That makes Peggy pause for a little dramatic introspection.

Harry tells Pete about Megan quitting, which causes him to launch into a diatribe about…I’m not really sure what it was about. The futility of life and happiness and women have men by both the heart and testicles, I think.

Don sees Megan safely on the elevator, with her waving goodbye as she boo hoos. The moment the doors close he pushes the down button again and the other elevator opens up. Only the elevator isn’t there, it’s down on the bottom floor. Don peers down the empty shaft as confused as I feel. A symbol of his hopes for Megan’s career and his sadness at being alone at work again? Your guess is as good as mine. Wisely, he goes back to the office and drinks his confusion away. The guys burst in to let him listen to the song they want to use for the cologne spot. It’s awful, but Ken and Stan think it’s perfect. Whatever it is, it sure ain’t rock and roll. Ginsburg resorts to using the f word to describe how much the song hurts his soul, but Don doesn’t care one way or the other. It’s all just noise to him. And about the Cool Whip sketch? Peggy can take Megan’s place. Ooh, this I can’t wait to see.

That night on the train, under the guise of needing more life insurance, Pete talks Howard into taking him home with him. “Beth’s a great cook.” “Is she?” Good lord.

Peggy and Joan do a Monday morning quarterback analysis of Megan quitting and how perfect and charmed she is. Peggy half-heartedly stands up for Megan, but Joan is quick to point out that Betty was a model before she met Don, and now Megan is going to be a failing actress with a rich husband. “That’s the kind of woman Don marries.” Doesn’t Peggy know it.

Pete finds out the hard way that Beth isn’t just playing hard to get – she is hard to get. When she sees him with her husband at her own front door, she begs off saying she has a migraine. And that leaves Pete to eat baked chicken and buy life insurance with Howard. Lovely.

Don comes home to find Megan cooking barefoot in the kitchen (every man’s dream?) and happy as a clam. She tells him he’s everything she hoped he would be, and he says the same about her. But is it really? Is Don truly happy with a wife who isn’t as driven as him? Maybe even he doesn’t know.

It’s time for Peggy and Don to do the Cool Whip sketch, and it goes so very wrong. Peggy keeps forgetting the most important line (“just taste it!”), and Don doesn’t like his pretend wife so much as…hates her. The second the client leaves, they have an epic fight, with him accusing Peggy of being so hard on Megan she quit — which Peggy actually wondered herself — and Peggy reminding him that she trained Megan more than he did. “You know what, you are not mad at me, so shut up!” she yells at him. Whoo, you go, Peggy. Way to finally stand up to Don, who has always taken you completely for granted.

Just like a REAL old married couple

Pete sits forlornly in the hotel room he naively rented for him and Beth thinking she would actually show up, finally throwing a wine glass across the room before going home to his miserable, privileged life.

The next day Roger comes and commiserates with Don, who’s three sheets to the wind trying to work it all out in his head. He just doesn’t want Megan to end up like Betty…or Megan’s mother. Roger lets that one slip right on by without comment, but does tell him to go home and let her know there’s still a routine that’s expected of her even if she isn’t working. His ex-father in law told him that.

So Don goes home just in time for Megan to toddle off to her acting class, and she’s practically giddy with excitement. She gives him a Beatles album before she goes so he can get up to speed on what’s happening in modern music, and when she’s gone he listens to Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles, ubiquitous drink in hand. We also see Peggy and Stan working late, sharing a joint, then Pete exchanging a meaningful glance with Beth in their respective cars in the parking lot as she draws a little heart on her window before rubbing it away, then Megan meditating as she finds her inner Elizabeth Taylor at class, then finally back to Don, who turns off the record after about a minute and staggers to bed where he can pretend the world is the same one he wants it to be.