I did not sleep at all last night and I'm embarrassed to admit it was actually because I was apparently annoyed by watching this show before bed. When I did fall asleep I kept waking up to bad dreams about the show! Not literally about the show, like starring Don Draper, but dreams that made me feel the same way. I don't even really know how I feel about it, so this might be incoherent as I try to sort through it.



I was trying to think of why the ep made me feel like crap when I pretty much predicted what happened in it. I seemed to feel exactly the way Peggy seemed to feel when Don announced his engagement. Like she was trying to be happy for Don, but had just taken a bite out of shit sandwich.

Was that the point? Well, there was plenty of evidence that it was, I guess. This ep, interestingly, had female characters sounding more modern and feminist than ever before (except for Betty and Megan, Betty because Betty is going to cling to what she knows until they pry it from her cold, dead hands and Megan because Don had no need for feminist sentiments in a woman so why would she have them?). But the four other women we're more used to admiring all had moments of being fed up and saying so.

Carla, whose race is a bigger issue for obvious reasons, told her female boss off when she fired her on a spiteful whim and withheld a letter of recommendation. Faye refused to meet Don for coffee she would have to drink after he dumped her and reminded him that it is she, not Megan, who actually knows him as, among other things, a guy who only likes the beginning of things. Peggy and Joan had a rare bonding moment not over a specific pov, but imo over the same vague feeling of humiliation I was feeling, culminating with Joan's typically old-fashioned claim to find her satisfaction outside of the office and Peggy's awesome response that "That's bullshit."

Megan came from the same mold of young, pretty, mother types that gave us Suzanne last season. Suzanne, who like Megan had people speculating about dark depths I think because unlike the other women on the show, they both seem created not out of their own motivations but out of the reactions Don’s supposed to have to them. Megan perhaps goes a step further. Remember that focus group where only Megan didn’t give the old-fashioned answers about what women wanted? If someone did a group about What Men Want I think they’d come up with Megan.

Don tries to sell Megan to Peggy by saying she admires Peggy and reminds him of her--she's got Peggy's spark! The subtext being, as someone else put it so well: "She's got your spark--but she's hot!" I would add: "She's got your spark, but none of your independence or personal demands. She's all about me!" Iow, she actually doesn't have Peggy's spark. What Megan has is a glow, which is a very different thing. A spark might shock or burn you. A glow is pretty to look at and bathes you in warmth.

It's not that Peggy wants Don for herself, but as she put it in "The Suitcase," she's all too aware that she's not considered good enough for him. She's not the girl that guys look at on the street. "Do you want that?" Don asks. Peggy really doesn't. But that doesn't stop her being annoyed when she's reminded that she’s still judged by that criteria. It’s humiliating for Peggy and Joan to wonder if Megan is going to be made a copywriter for the same talents that got her the job of fiancée.

Matt Weiner and others had said about the finale that it represented the answer to the season's question of "who is Don Draper?" That the answer might surprise us and him. That Don’s choosing between the reality of himself now and the person he could be in the future, who he’s becoming. That this ep should make it clear the "journey" that Don has been on this year.

So apparently the answer to "who is Don Draper?" and who he is becoming is that Don Draper is a guy who would love to have a girl who looks like a model and whose entire relationship to him consists of telling him he is right and good, and taking care of the menial tasks that he has no interest in that keep his life running smoothly.

That's a surprise? That required a journey? Isn’t that the default starting off place for every guy on the show? For a lot of guys in 2010 as well? It's like you might as well have had Don find a bottle in California with a genie in it who would fulfill his every wish and call it a surprise that Don thought this sounded like a good deal that he earned through all that introspection.

In a season on the show, all Megan’s dialogue about Don (and she had precious little not about him) broke down into 3 categories: spontaneous bursts of personal information that were charming and non-threatening; giving Don what he needed when he needed it; and expressions of concern that she wasn't doing the second one enough. Like the girl in the romance comic, she adored Don from nearby, fulfilling his every need while keeping well-groomed, and finally having him realize that he loves her. After all, isn’t she what a man really wants? Especially in a wife?

She has cultural interests that mark her as refined but aren’t so serious as to make her brainy or bohemian (ick!). She's naturally maternal, but focuses on Don first, kids second. She's strikingly beautiful but with a charming flaw that gives Don something to reassure her about--reminding me of that great conversation between Peggy and Ken in season 2 when Ken explains that as a proto-Barney Stinson he knows that pretty girls are usually the least confident and so they are the ones you go after, like targeting the weakest of the herd. The few times she's come close to revealing a personal ambition besides Don it was a way to get to Don.

I can see how the engagement fit into the theme of people mourning their lost childhoods rather than facing their future because they were afraid to die. But in the end Megan reminds me of Joey’s sexist drawing earlier in the season. Joan said no matter how much power you have, they can always make another cartoon. Megan as a character seems to say that no matter how interesting and accomplished a woman you are, they really want that. And this cartoon wasn’t drawn by Joey.
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