TV Recap: Mad Men, “Lady Lazarus”
It’s easy sometimes when you’re casually watching shows like this to almost never know or see the title of the episode. Sometimes I even wonder why they bother having one if they never tell us, during regular TV airings. Some shows do, like The Wire having a quote from the episode, which I know isn’t the episode title but give me an inch here guys, that we were about to see.
So this week’s episode of Mad Men, entitled “Lady Lazarus”. After doing a quick google search – yes I admit my literary failings – I came upon this page about the poem of the same name by Sylvia Plath which tells the tale of a girl who wants nothing more to die but everytime she seems to almost attain her wish she’s brought back to life one way or another. Obviously a brilliant parallel to this week’s episode with close relation to almost every plot line explored.
After Far Away Places with Don’s first glimmer into the perspective of Megan as to their relationship I had a feeling that something more was to come as the season developed and it did I guess. Watching Megan walk from place to place constantly putting on a smile as if she were enslaved made me feel nothing but pity for her. I almost forget how she and Don really ended up together in the first place and wonder as to whether this was something she truly wanted. In At the Coldfish Ball we get a glimpse as to how Megan may possible have detoured on her life via Don Draper and memories of acting come up.
Five seasons in we’ve spent a lot of time with Don. It’s easy to say that he’s somehow different from the man we first met way back in 2007, then married to Betty. We see Megan wanting to make steps to try and change that dynamic in their relationship, as stated previously, mostly in the professional sense by making the shift back to acting. Sadly she seems to lack that extra push needed to take that chance in presenting her feelings to Don, she’s worried – as we are – that this conversation could end badly and we’re happily surprised when Don seems to take it in stride.
Later on though, during a client presentation moment, where Megan’s part is being sat in by Peggy – someone who has been undercut all season long – Don speaks his mind, since Megan isn’t around, and we finally see how this is all affecting him. We wonder if he’s threatened by this change in Megan’s direction or just plain hurt. Does he believe that this will somehow change everything about them being together? Will Megan slowly stop loving him like how she’s stopped loving advertising? It’s one way to interpret it all, but who knows.
Pete Campbell, a character that the show seems intent on keeping the spotlight on, also had a rare moment where he just continued down his path to becoming the Don Draper we knew in Season 1. Having shared the train in and out of the suburbs with Howard, he’s familiar with his wife, his job, his likes and dislikes, and his girlfriend in the city. One night, he steps off the train alone only to be confronted by Howard’s wife Beth (Alexis Blendel, aka Rory Gilmore) and ends up falling into bed with her. She’s similar in many ways to Betty – the clothes, the ennui, even the name – that this just takes him further down the rabbit hole on his journey to becoming Don.
This season, while we’ve spent a lot of time with Pete saying he’s unhappy and not sure how to be at home, I’m surprised we haven’t actually seen more of him at home with Trudy. Yes, we got a couple moments, like when he leaves for work and the first time Howard tells him about how eventually he’ll be leaving work later just so he doesn’t have to worry about the wife that much, his frustrations with a faucet, and that awkward dinner party, but these things barely add up to unhappiness. Lest we forget that Pete is an all around bastard of a man, always looking for ways to misbehave while still remaining socially accepted by finding ways to buy his way back into life or just not being caught. Just like when he shrugged off Peggy while she was pregnant with his child back in the early seasons of the show.
At times I almost feel sorry for Pete. While he’s not a sympathetic character, Vincent Karthelser seems to always be playing him as a man with a dark secret that’s eating away at his soul. It’s almost as though he hasn’t come to terms with the reason for why he does all these things but still judges himself, if even for just a moment while he’s tying his tie starring at himself in the mirror, or taking a look at his pregnant wife, and just can’t help himself but continue as he was doing. It’s sad.
What were your thoughts of this week’s episode?