Did Halloween come early this year for Matt Weiner? This installment was a lurid, visceral delight—or would have been had Michael Ginsburg not kept my conscience in check. He was rightly disgusted with the young gang’s delight in gory details. What a way to prime us for what was to come. Elise, I think you caught onto something in the creepy and foreboding scene with Sally Draper. You mentioned that Grandma Pauline might have kicked something dangerous off with that self-prescription, and I agree wholeheartedly, considering the eating disorder hints and the strange sexual development Weiner continues to put her through.
Don’s fever dream sequence (hello, Sopranos influence!) scene was something both of you have already hit on, but Philip, I have to agree with your interpretation more strongly. Elise, I realize that this was a twisted and awful dream sequence, but I don’t believe that Don’s harem has anything to worry about in terms of being shoved under a mattress with their ruby reds. Even though this particular past lover exists, I think she served more as a representation of everything Don struggles with. He’s finally convinced himself that he’s got it all, however flimsy the illusion. Wouldn’t farm boy Dick or Lt. Draper have been thrilled at the skyscraper where Don sits now? Doesn’t he retain dead Anna’s blessing? The most haunting question in this episode is, “Why does it still feel so wrong?”
Y’all need to let me know if I keep reading into the pop history side of the show as opposed to reading the characters first. It should be the other way around. I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable with Peggy’s situation, which mirrored Don’s as usual. She is trying so desperately to connect with Dawn—“Finally, someone who GETS it and can be on my team”—but she realizes the gap between them is too wide. Peggy is already outmoded. She’s still a pioneer in some ways and has a fight to fight, but the nation’s (and show’s) is shifting over to the civil rights movement. She realizes this while failing to relate to Dawn. Peggy is distraught because she realizes that her inherent sweetness, combined with her professional aggression, isn’t going to fulfill her. The workplace still offers its host of frustrations, and she also can’t even succeed to relate one-on-one with someone (sort of) in her position.
“Joanie, they need me!” (Cue accordion):