“The engines have stopped.” You know that moment on the Titanic after the iceberg has faded off into the distance and before it really starts to sink. That calm nothingness where life seems normal but certain doom is already in motion. Welcome to this week on Mad Men! p.s. I <heart> this season!
I am less interested this week in Pete and his antics. But it does fit in nicely with the “What If” season we are having where it often feels like you’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. We get to see Don Draper’s suburban life replayed this season by Pete, with none of his panache and lacking all of his subtle charms.
Don is grinning like an idiot because his happiness will be short-lived. Megan is the wife that has it all, except the drive to be like Don. So in this alternate universe we have also gotten to see Megan relive Peggy’s life at the office, rising from Don’s secretary to copywriter, only to throw it all away.
Peggy doesn’t understand Megan for the same reason Don doesn’t. Who wouldn’t want to sweat their life away convincing someone to buy fake whipped cream? That sounds awesome! And so off to the Cool Whip test kitchen we go to see how things might have been if Peggy’s hand on Don’s hand had ended differently in season one: (spoiler alert!) Not well.
But I do love this shot of them all in a row reaching for a loving spoonful of nonsense, three of the characters on the show still clinging to the old ways of life while the world around them changes. It also is another all-in-a-row shot, more order in a world more and more frequently without it.
Remember when Megan was in the conference room before Alison freaked out last season? More lines, more order, more Chapman Report (as I pointed out last week).
Meanwhile, the subtle jabs at the decay of Manhattan have continued, this week with Pete’s suburban tryst partner complaining about the hobos and panhandlers and Don staring down into an open elevator shaft after the door opened without an elevator there to greet him. And Don’s rapid aging continued too with him trying unsuccessfully to understand The Beatles.
But in the end, he just wasn’t blown away by the sound. The future is coming, but it looks more and more like our old definition of cool has been whipped.
Mad Men airs Sunday nights on AMC.