Mad Men Season 5, Episode 7: Five unhappy people at a table
Season 5 is halfway done, so we are officially past the phase of exposition. The scene of five unhappy people near the end gave us a hint of what lies in store for Don, Megan and Sally, the three of the five we really care about.
But first: ladies and gentlemen, Mister Roger Sterling! Feeling rejuvenated by his recent separation from Jane, Roger is proactive again—and his joie de vivre earned him what I’m sure was a pleasant blowjob from the sexy Mrs. Calvet.
His rosy outlook and charm had no chance with potential clients, since Don’s infamous and disingenuous letter colored the firm untrustworthy in their eyes. Upon hearing this news from a titan of industry, Don becomes worried. Suddenly he might be a liability to SCDP instead of its greatest asset, especially because the company is stocked with talented copywriters in Peggy, Ginsberg and Megan.
Luckily for Don, Megan’s poisonous commie father gave his daughter one of those daddy-is-disappointed lectures right as she was hitting her stride in advertising. Her talent was undeniable, from the organic moment of inspiration she experienced to the on-the-fly pitch to Mr. Beans which she orchestrated with the utmost savvy. Still, as Peggy noticed, Megan was not totally thrilled with the success. Her dad is likely right, advertising is not her dream, and the seeds of doubt he planted might drive her to try acting again.
Peggster made us all proud in her typical ‘60s-progressive-woman fashion. Her banter with Stan and Ginsberg is sexual but not demeaning; it’s more good-natured ribbing between friends than anything else. And conditioned since childhood to expect marriage from a proposing man, she barely missed a beat when Abe suggested “merely” living together instead. Of course, her sourpuss mother can’t accept it and throws quite a bit of nastiness Peggy’s way once she hears the news, saying that she was “living in sin,” and, worse, didn’t deserve cake.
Cake! Imagine, a death row inmate is allowed cake for his last meal, but not Peggy. Her mom is a fucking dick.
Now it’s finally time to get to Sally, possibly my second-favorite character (after Kenny Cosgrove, who was like eager but clumsy teammate in a game of basketball during the pitch to Mr. Beans—it was a nice source of comedy) on the show. She and Glen are still just talking, and it seems to be perfectly and pleasantly platonic. But this episode was as much about Sally growing up as it was anything else. She handles granny’s broken ankle with aplomb, even earning a rare pat on the back from Don. She attends the adult ball, wears a big girl dress with makeup (though Don makes her remove it) and witnesses a blowjob from the distance.
The distance underscored still how far Sally is from being an adult, but the moment definitely tore away the last shred of her innocence. Innocence is not lost in a moment—indeed it has been half a season for Sally, at least—but there is definitely a moment of no return, and I can say that mine also came by opening a door. That Sally called Glen immediately to confide in him shows the level of trust and hints at a romantic future.
Notable moments from other characters: Pete plying his craft on Megan’s dad (no wonder he wants prostitutes to call him king, he’s obsequious for a living), Harry Crane blowing himself up before being cut down by Honest Ken Cosgrove.
The author apologizes for forgetting to log “thank yous” for the Don Draper Thankometer, again. He will flog himself accordingly.