Mad Men, Season 5
Is Don "the asshole who would buy this car"?
Patrick, I had a different read on that Ginsberg scene. I don’t think he was revolted by Megan’s feline friend. He wasn’t even watching the spectacle on the conference room table. Instead, he was focused on Megan herself, waltzing into the office at a moment of high stress, diverting Don from urgent work. When he said, “She just comes and goes as she pleases,” he was observing that Don can’t really control her. Which adds a layer to his pitch to Don the next day. When he said, “I keep thinking about the asshole who would buy this car,” it’s clear he thinks Don is one of those assholes. It’s a little troubling to think the future of SCDP creative now rests on the bond between those two. I don’t think we’ll see Don kissing Ginsberg’s hand any time soon.
We haven’t yet spent much time discussing Megan, who asserted independence of her own this episode by suggesting that it was perfectly natural she might move to Boston for three months without even broaching the subject with her husband first. (This seems a little outta line, even by today’s standards.) Still, I enjoyed her brisk confidence, and her perceptiveness when she called Don out on not considering the possibility of her succeeding at acting. Like Peggy, she doesn’t intend to fail. Megan also used her sex appeal in interesting ways, first seducing Don as a confidence-booster, then looking a bit knock-kneed when the casting directors demanded she spin so they could check out her derriere before asking her to read a word.
Commenter Richard Haft pointed out the constant tension in the show between “Joan v. Peggy way of doing things for women in the office,” between sex appeal and smarts. (This has come up countless times, in the Bye Bye Birdie episode, the Jackie/Marilyn debates, and more.) With Megan, the show gives us a woman who works both angles with confidence, and with a naturally high estimation of her own self-worth and what life has in store for her.
One last note about Peggy. Patrick, you point out that like Joan, she’s been bought, for $19,000 and dinner at La Caravelle. But if you watch the scene, the moment that truly wins her over is when Chaough praises her work, finding in it, and in her earnest, direct approach to the business, something of value. It’s this recognition—of her particular gift as a copywriter—that she’s been starving for. I bet she would have left for much less.
As for Ken Cosgrove, I have to share a fantastical but intriguing theory from commenter Tallorder, one that could explain why the writers didn’t bundle him off with Pegs:
My theory/prediction about Cosgrove is that, in the end, it's revealed that he's written everything we've seen in the series, a memoir or thinly veiled fiction of his time in advertising. I think the episode with Pete's dinner party hinted at that. He always seems to be hanging around the edges, no doubt observing what's happening, keeping a low profile and writing in his spare time. So, a reason Peggy didn't bring him with her when she jumped ship could be that functionally, he needs to stay so we have a witness to everything that happens at SCDP.
Of course, maybe next season will be set at the offices of Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough. You won’t believe what Cutler said to Gleason on the train to Scarsdale!