Six Thoughts on Last Night’s Mad Men
- Adam Weinberg
- Eric Twardzik
- Jeff Dufour
- Najib Benouar
- Nathan Wahl
- Sam Eichner
- Shawn Donnelly
Nothing Good Will Happen to Pete Campbell: “What’s this, a happy ending for Pete Campbell? Not so fast. While it looks like one of SCDP’s most prominent sad sacks is about to redeem himself as a father and husband and live in Wichita happily ever after, consider these things: 1) Matthew Weiner likes symbolism. This is not news. Remember when Pete’s dad died in a plane crash? It makes the whole Lear prospect feel like an omen of looming disaster. 2) If this is such a win-win for Pete without any strings, why is Duck so creepily desperate to make it happen? And why is Duck so damn drunk? 3) In many ways, Pete’s served as a foil to Don—a man whose selfish instincts self-destruct his life. But unlike Don, who manages to have some rakish grandeur about the whole thing, Pete’s troubles have always come across as pitiable and pathetic, exploding in his face like a Looney Tunes cigar. I think we’re seeing a foil again—Don reinventing himself again, tearing across the West in a Cadillac, while Pete plans to take himself west and become a new man as well. We will see if he ever gets there.” —Eric Twardzik
“Hell’s bells, Trudy! How could you? You stood so firm when he wanted to take you to dinner. You waxed poetic about how you remembered things as they were, how bad they were. Then he shows up at, what was it, 4 in the morning? He tells you he wants to move you to Wichita, and those are the magic words that persuade you ‘it just might work.’ And as you said yes ‘with your eyes,’ I was screaming ‘No!’ with my face because what the hell, Trudy? What the hell.” —Nathan Wahl
Buying the Farm: “At least on the surface, Betty and Pete have always been the most immediately unlikable characters on the show. Interesting, then, that Pete enjoyed a bit of redemption, seemingly winning his family back even if it meant relocating to ‘wholesome’ Wichita (with unlimited use of a Learjet, but still, Wichita). Meanwhile, the writers doubled down on Betty’s empty awfulness. Even going to her glory, she continues to pile up things her kids will discuss with their therapists in the ’90s. Related: one can’t help but wonder if her line ‘No one ever wants to tell you it’s over’ is a nod to the show’s end as well.” —Jeff Dufour
“It really floored me last night. So many layers of irony to unpack—the fact that the series opened with Don’s pitch to Lucky Strike, the fact that this episode aired on Mother’s Day, the fact that her nickname is Birdie, but she can’t even climb a flight of stairs... It’s almost as if the entirety of Mad Men was a grandiose setup for one cruel joke, with melancholy Betty Francis as the punch line. I had wanted something radical to happen in this last season, but at first I thought the lung cancer was almost too much. Almost. Because—and forgive my high school English-y analysis—it does seem to confirm the overall ‘thesis’ of this season: while everyone else is trying to outrun their past (or come to terms with it, à la Pete), Betty has been content to sit at her kitchen table (literally; I can count on one hand the times she’s actually stood up this season) and allow her past to accumulate and metastasize inside her, like a—well, you know. Mad Men is filled with dynamic (mostly male) characters who refuse to settle, who are always in pursuit of the next best thing—whether it be an account or a woman or a ludicrous cartoonist pipe dream. Betty, by contrast, has always existed in a state of constricting stasis. And now, she’s paying the price. I’m not quite sure she deserves it.” —Sam Eichner
“I think there’s something to be said here about how Don’s been using women for escape and to confirm his identity through their eyes, and he realizes that that avenue is closing to him as other people get on with their lives/he ages.” —E.T.
Mystery Date: “What happened to that beautiful woman by the pool? I kept waiting for her to return. And she never did. Instead we got a thieving, grammar-challenged motel worker who got rewarded for his crimes with a new car. What the hell is going on?” —Shawn Donnelly
“I think she could have been a hallucination.” —J.D.
“Interesting. She did seem an unlikely pool patron at that motel.” —S.D.
“My thoughts exactly.” —J.D.
We Are Legion: “Also, didn’t last night’s episode really make you want to drink in an American Legion?” —E.T.
“The Mad Men version of a Legion would make me want to drink in one if I didn’t know any better. I grew up hanging out in Legions. (Thanks to veterans in the family.) And I gotta say, the only similarity was the look—smoke-filled rooms, cheap wallboard covering and even cheaper liquor. In the Legions I’ve been in, everyone’s drunker, with fewer teeth, they curse ferociously, and no one talks about their service. Though the women who patronize Legions do have the same build and beauty of that burlesque dancer...” —N.W.
Masquerade: “Don’s road trip style. Classic Dick Whitman wear. Remember that week he spent in California just being Dick Whitman, grabbing groceries and drinking beers on the porch? It was all chinos, polos and a light jacket. I’m kind of disappointed we didn’t get to see the shopping montage—or the wrinkled empty suit lying on the dressing room floor as he walked out in his new clothes, shedding the Draper disguise (would’ve been a nice throwback to his ill-advised Sheraton Hawaii pitch too).” —Najib Benouar
“So who else wants to launch a classic, West Coast–influenced casual menswear label called ‘Dick Whitman’ with me?” —E.T.
This Is the End? “The dream sequences have been increasing a lot lately. Sort of like how they did toward the end of The Sopranos. Mad Men is going to end with Don eating a steak at the Knickerbocker followed by an abrupt cut to black, isn’t it?” —Adam Weinberg