Mad Men, Season 4

Week 11: That Minx!
Talking television.
Oct. 4 2010 1:37 PM

Mad Men, Season 4

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Week 11: That Minx!

Megan from "Mad Men."

The basic-cable gods smiled kindly on me last night: I was able to hear the scene between Megan and Don. In retrospect, though, I wish my sound had been cut off. Watching Megan put the moves on Don was excruciating both as a plot point— Why is this minx trying to knock a newly stabilized Don Draper off his game?—and, I thought, in its execution. 

When Don returns from the funeral, Megan is lying in wait. ("How was it?" she asks. "We'll see," he replies, not sure yet whether his team's casket-side prospecting will pay off.) First Megan presents herself as a career girl, asking if she can help with Don's work, because she'd like "eventually to do what you do, or what Miss Olson does." Flattered by the French-extracted secretary's interest in the business—and her explanation that she repaired Don's smashed Clio because the Glo-Coat ad was so good—Don begins to chat with Megan, whereupon she presents herself a cultured beauty, a girl from Montreal who's really an "artistic person" and who "dabbles" in writing, painting, and acting. Then, Megan presents herself as a confidante and caretaker, reminding Don not to drink too much and consoling him about SCDP's rough day: "You will get through this," she says. "You don't know that," he says. Finally, after Don tries to rebuff her advances, she presents herself as a no-fuss lay: "Let's be clear. I'm not going to run out of here crying tomorrow. I just want you right now."

Advertisement

This is a lot of modes to see from a character we're just getting to know in a single scene. As a result, the tryst felt a bit mechanical to me, advancing the plot before the characters were ready to go there. It is hard to tell what Megan wants from Don. Does she really harbor advertising ambitions? Or is she just angling to be the next Mrs. Draper? The show cut cannily from Don and Megan's romp on the office couch to the Sterling household, where Roger kisses his wife, the former secretary, who presents him with a vanity edition of Sterling's Gold. "I'm so proud of you," Jane tells him, unaware that her husband's behavior of late has been shameful. This week, both Don and Roger juggle between complex women who challenge them (Faye and Joan), and simpler women who offer adoration and beauty without resistance (Megan and Jane). Perhaps further dalliances with Megan will lead Don down a road of Roger-esque complacency?

I was also heartbroken to see that Faye compromised her principles—the "Chinese wall" that prevents her from sharing one client's secrets with another—in an effort to help Don out. She's so smitten that she procures him a meeting with Heinz, even as Don already has one foot out the door. Given Ms. Miller's penchant for screaming and Yiddish curses, I hate to think what their break-up scene will look like.

Did you see where I parked my Alfa Romeo?
Julia

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.