Monthly Archives: June 2012

Episode 13 – The Phantom

The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.

William Faulkner

The Phantom is a bleak finale to a rather bleak season. The Mad Men crew is confronted by their inner demons,  and  what has been offered in the way of hope for dispelling them?  There is shock therapy, LSD, the thrill of buying, riding in, and driving a Jaguar, going to foreign films, and marrying a man with power and influence. Still, they are fighting the good fight, trying to find more than “a temporary bandage for a permanent wound.” All of them, that is, except for Rebecca and Marie.

Rebecca blames Don for giving Lane ambition.  She never believed in him. She does not realize that they set him free.  It was only Lane’s tragic error that led to his demise.

Marie has given up hope, and lives in despair. (“… the specific nature of despair is precisely this: it is unaware of being despair.” – Kierkegaard)  She rejects Roger’s offer to find self-awareness together. (They are, in many ways, kindred spirits, but Roger is imbued with American optimism, and Marie with French cynicism.)   Instead, she focuses on her hatred of her husband.  She does not want her daughter to realize her dream, because it is her husband’s dream too. She says Megan is a ballerina, a bitch, a woman without artistic talent.  Ironically, though Marie revels in the fact that Megan has married a man who represents everything Emile detests, Don’s love for Megan, his belief in her,  and the means he has at his disposal may enable Megan to achieve her dreams.

The dream is for you, so pay the price,

Make one dream come true, you only live twice.

So, maybe things aren’t so bad.  Will Don’s tooth extraction dispel Adam’s ghost, his original sin?  Will Roger find self-awareness through LSD?   Will Lane live on through Joan? Is Pete’s bumbling chivalry a sign that he is growing up?  Will they all “get by with a little help from their friends”?   Tune in next year for the answers to these questions and more.


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Episode12 – Commissions and Fees

Why does everything turn to crap?

Glen, the Young Buddha, has this epiphanic question, as Prince Siddhartha once did.

Don, the Old Man, is indulgent to children and women, but not other men.  Lane has broken the rules and must be cut loose.  The tragedy is vivid to him; this could have been easily averted.  He is roused from his caution, he seeks big game;  Roger sees the blood on his face; he has gone Primal.  This is the Don we love; passionate, driven, yet, the wise and compassionate Father.

Don knows Glen is right, so he does the best he can; he lets him drive his Jaguar. Yes, Glen, everything does turn to crap, so savor these moments of exhilaration. You never know when it will end. Lane had so little time to savor his success.

Where had the Primal Don gone?  He was a Huntsman who captured his Unicorn.  She completed him, brought him Bliss.  He was content, but grew timid and afraid of losing her; but to be content is to to be not-Don.  He has been suppressing the Primal Don, but Lane’s tragic blunder could have been avoided if they had gone after big game and not “piddling” stuff.

Don must carry his weight in the Mad Men world.  With great talent, come great responsibilities. He is Achilles, laying the body of his fallen comrade to rest, recognizing that his complacency and inflexible code has led to disaster.

Elegy for Lane

The grind of life, the failure of fortune and honor, has incited this final surrender, this unwillingness to endure any further the banalities and brutalities of Being,  Annihilation awaits, take the short route, leave the floggers no hide to make merry upon.

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