Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Mad Men Season 7, Ep. 5 – “The Runaways.”
“You know what will make you feel better? Drugs.” — Amy
What a strange little episode.
If I had to pinpoint an overall theme for this episode, and since I’m writing a review I suppose I should, it would be exclusion and paranoia. Megan felt excluded from yet another part of Don’s life and it drove her behave pretty terribly; Don has been feeling paranoid all season thanks to his exclusion from his company and it lead him to behave like Don Draper in the best sense; and then of course there was Ginsberg’s paranoia that, like the computer, wasn’t symbolic; it was quite literal.
Everything about this episode felt a little disjointed and odd and nowhere was that felt more strongly than with Megan. When we last left Mrs. Draper she was refusing to even speak to Don after learning about yet another of his lies. This week she was all sunshine and lollipops, planning weekends and agreeing to host a pregnant hippie at a moments notice. But of course this chipper persona was covering up a lot of bitter rage and jealousy.
Knowing Don, Megan has good reason to suspect her husband may be up to no good, but to take those suspicions out on a young girl seemed extreme. Megan knew that nothing had ever happened between Don and Stephanie, but Stephanie represented a life that Megan would never be a part of. Don may have told her about Anna, but Megan will never have the kind of relationship with Don that he had with Anna. Stephanie was the physical representation of how Don would drop everything for a woman, just not for Megan.
As for the threesome, it was a last ditch effort to sustain a marriage that has been dead for quite awhile. Megan has accepted the fact that Don will cheat, which ironically he isn’t, but she attempted to let him cheat in a controlled setting. But it still didn’t distract Don from Stephanie or from work. Megan told Stephanie that she didn’t really know Don, but in truth she’s the one being faced with the fact she doesn’t him that well either.
Don, on the other hand, seems to have taken Freddie’s pep talk to heart. He is being treated like a junior copywriter (which is absolutely insane. I don’t care how much he embarrassed the company, he’s still a partner), but he is taking his licks with a smile and actually getting the work done.
And it’s hard to keep that smile with Lou running around being the absolute worst. Honestly, Lou’s behavior extends beyond the realm of mediocrity. It seems like he is actively trying to destroy the creative department. He has his eyes on his own partnership, but believes the best way to get there is to rule with an iron fist.
It’s been clear for a while that Lou and Jim were scheming together to get Don out. And this week we, along with Don, discovered the details of that scheme. They were courting Philip Morris and acquiring a tobacco company would mean disposing of the man who wrote a scathing admonishment of big tobacco in the New York Times. How this would change Don’s need to be bought out remains unclear.
But while everyone has been busy taking their pound of flesh from Don, they have failed to notice Don is back to fighting form. And Don at fighting form is a force.
His pitch to Philip Morris was Don back at the top of his game. Don’s greatest talent has always been the ability to know what someone wants to hear and then to sound genuine when he says it. In agreeing to take Don back with such strict conditions, in the attempt to trick him into leaving and giving up his shares; everyone forgot that Don is better at that than everyone else at the company. Jim may not think that will save Don, but if anything will, that’ll be it.
Ginsberg’s fall may just be the saddest the show has ever depicted. Ginsberg has always been disturbed and it was only a matter of time until he had a break. But watching that break was truly painful. In a show full of people who destroy their lives by their own bad choices and inability to overcome their issues, Ginsberg was the first who was destroyed by a force greater than him.
Although I have to say Ginsberg giving Peggy his nipple in a box is the most shocking thing the show has done since that guy had his foot run over with a lawnmower.
More Meeting Minutes:
After a lifetime of being worth only as much as her looks could get her, Betty is done with being controlled by men. She is a educated woman who speaks Italian, for God’s sake. Show some respect. What can you do, sooner or later the 60s got to everybody.
Megan dancing at the party was a great callback to the Zou Bisou Bisou scene. That dance was all about Don and pleasing him. In this dance she practically forgot Don was even there.
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