Monday, May 04, 2015

Mad Men: Random Bullets of Lost Horizon

I should write about writing, about the semester, or about getting ready for a conference, but all I am interested in is the way that I can smell the lilacs when I sit outside to work.

And maybe a little Mad Men.
  •  Am I the only person who hears Ronald Colman's voice when I think of Lost Horizon? Or thinks about how Frank Capra staged the snow scenes?
  • Way back in "Maidenform" in Season 2, which Matt Weiner has said is his favorite episode, the song "Shangri-La" was played on an organ, as an accompaniment to the stripper. That should put paid to those romantic fantasies about any of our heroes finding a Shangri-La. But a man playing organ music while a woman dances to the music: by comparison, the Roger and Peggy version of this idea was pure joy.
  • Alan Sepinwall or maybe Tom & Lorenzo have listed some of the other Lost Horizon references; Don watches the Frank Capra version when he's at Megan's in California, for example.
  • Don spent six episodes of Season 7 trying to get his job back after the Hershey debacle at the end of Season 6.  He sat in his apartment all day working. He worked through substitutes (Freddy Rumsen and Accutron, anyone?). As an added bonus, he pitched Ted really hard on the meaning of work and what it was like not to have it.  Now he is going to walk away from it all and blow his career up again in a spectacular fashion? 
  • Don has always been very clear about his hatred for the farm and the country.  It's not like he's going to live on a commune somewhere even if he gets to California.  And is he going to leave his kids forever, which is something that Diana the Sad Waitress did and that shocked him?
  • Maybe there's hope. So Don's Moby-Dick, is he? Did Jim Hobart read the book? Hint: Ahab doesn't get the whale. The Whale gets Ahab. Twice--once fatally. "Is this what "Coca-Cola" is shorthand for? "To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." 
  • Yet Ahab didn't listen to Starbuck, and he misinterprets what Fedallah tells him. Don is just as much an obsessive. He's determined to hunt down Diana, the Sad Waitress even if his spirit guide Bert tells him it's a bad idea. Diana, Don's lover/sister/double, is already dead anyway, isn't she, or else why would the landlord say that the guys could sell her furniture?
  • Joan is done, or should I say done in. Richard tells her that she can lawyer up or get "a guy" to talk to McCann-Erickson.  She talks about lawyers, but even in 2015, most women have to take the money instead.  Jim Hobart even negotiates like a Corleone.  Do you remember the part in the book where Michael offers half someone's fee and then offers nothing, because the next step is to have the person killed? Joan didn't have a choice, did she?
  • When did Meredith, who could barely walk and talk at the same time, become superwoman?
  • Peggy can do swagger, can't she, even in those dark rabbit-warren halls at McCann?
  • What's going to happen? What's not going to happen?
    • Don goes to Betty, gets insightful therapy, gets cured.
    • Don turns into D. B. Cooper, jumps from an airplane, becomes a legend.
    • Sally turns up, makes Don understand what's wrong with him; he returns to McCann and leads a happy, well-adjusted life in his new Meredith-decorated apartment.
    • Don renames himself Werner Ehrhard, invents EST, starts leading seminars for Stan the FBI agent and Philip on The Americans.
    • Don keeps up an endless quest for Diana the Sad Waitress, just as he did for Sylvia for hours and hours and hours and hours of screen time in Season 6. 
    • Don has a Willy Loman moment after seeing all those whiteshirt creative directors around the conference table. Biff tells Willy, "Pop! I'm a dime a dozen and so are you!" Don refuses to be a dime a dozen, and he ends up like Willy.
    • Updated to add: the theory that Don's hitchhiker is Bob Dylan? Uh, here is a news flash: every single white male hitchhiker in 1970 looked like that and had a guitar. 


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Your analysis is terrific! I have only been a casual observer of the show, so I haven't caught every insight. It's helpful when others do. :)

I don't know... only two episodes to wrap all this up?? I think the title of the next episode (The Milk and Honey Route) might suggest that Don ends up in California. So then what? He starts his own agency out there? Alone? He's got a 4-year contract, but what did contracts ever mean to Don? I don't know... I foresee a Willy Loman exit, except I don't think Don is low enough at this point to take that route. Hm... I guess we'll see! But the use of the song "Major Tom" made me feel like Don has left the capsule, never to return. I just do not know...

undine said...

I forgot about "Major Tom"--you're right, Fie! He's not going back to that rabbit warren or capsule.