It seemed to be a night of liberation for the women of Mad Men: Peggy defying expectations and moving in with Abe, Megan bursting with new ideas and even little Sally coming out as a beautiful adolescent, trying to leave the age of innocence, while the big girls also supported and encouraged each other. But then the generations spoke; wisdom, doubt, envy, and truth all echoed to each other -- crashing and crushing the hopes and dreams built up in the women’s fantasies.
Peggy’s uncertainly about her relationship with Abe made her think his request for an urgent dinner must mean he wanted break up with her. With Joan’s encouragement she changes her thinking and believes the dinner might be for a marriage proposal. But Abe doesn’t propose marriage, instead he wants them to live together and Peggy has to readjusts her thinking. When all the talk of cohabitation is finished, Abe asks Peggy if she still wants to eat dinner and she says, “I do.” The sadness on her face implies that this might be the only time she gets to say those words. It Is as though her heart caught up with her mind and she calculated all the pros and cons of living together or not being with Abe: is she settling, how does she maneuver sex-and-the-single-girl territory, does she demand marriage or go with what’s right for the moment? As strong and independent as she is, as determined to move in with him, it was painful to watch her have to struggle with the choice, then to have to listen to her mother’s words, “you are selling yourself short. This boy he will use you for practice till he decides to get married and have a family.”
The Mad world is a constant struggle between reality and illusion. Megan and Don recovered remarkably well from last week. Still blissfully in love but wanting to prove herself, Megan comes up with the winning idea to seal the Heinz deal. Although everyone at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce knows the idea is Megan’s, she downplays her role in coming up with it so that Raymond from Heinz gives Don the contract. Peggy congratulates Megan and she is seemingly on her way to realizing herself as a successful career woman. But Megan’s parents are staying with her and Don, and their unhappiness filters into her life.
Her father, Emile, a leftist intellectual, is struggling with his own professional failure as his latest idea for a book didn’t go too well with the publishers, and his wife, Marie, is unhappy and unloved. Let me digress for a second. It is a little jarring watching sweet, innocent Ormond from Sabrina get typecast as the mother of adult women. She was fantastic in Temple Grandin, but I’m not sure if I want to see her as a mother much more. Maybe just wife or mistress, business woman, politician or Navy pilot, anything else. It takes deliberately awful makeup, with the eyeliner on her top lid so unfashionably out of skew and shadows under her eyes, to make Ormand look old enough to play Megan’s mother. With her hair down she could be playing Megan.
Anyway, leave it to the fathers to see in their daughters what they don’t see in their wives; Don telling Sally to take off her boots and makeup, protecting her virtues -- this after he deserted Megan last week. And Megan’s father giving her a backhanded compliment and beat down, “I’ve always thought you were single-minded about your dreams….but now I see that you skipped the struggle and went right to the end….I hate that you gave up. Don’t let your love for this man stop you from doing what you wanted to do.” Yet at the same time he’s telling his daughter this, his wife's head is positioned between Roger’s legs in a dark room. What dreams did she have or skip; how did her marriage make her stop living her life?
In the end all are sadder and maybe a little wiser, but none as honest as Sally. When she sees the exchange between Marie and Roger she is forever changed. Asked by her telephone buddy how the city is, she has the last word of the night. “Dirty.”
-- Connie Aitcheson