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Mad Men Review: Death Is The Only Adventure

by at . Comments

Rory Gilmore, Mr. Belding and the end of Megan Draper's run as a copywriter highlighted the eighth episode of Mad Men's fifth season, "Lady Lazarus."

One stanza in the Sylvia Plath poem that this episode gets its title from reads:

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

Just as the lady of the poem wants nothing more than to finally die after being revived time and time again, Megan Draper wanted nothing more than to finally get out of the advertising business.

Pete Campbell Photograph

She was great at her job. Like the above excerpt reads, Lady Lazarus was exceptional at everything, and like Peggy so astutely commented to Joan, Megan is good at everything...she's just one of those girls.

Megan Draper picked up advertising quicker than anyone at SCDP, but she didn't love doing it. Did she hate advertising? Did she hate the people working there? That is an argument for Don and Peggy to have, and they had it, but Megan's dream has always been to be an actress.

And so it shall be done. In yet another act providing evidence that Megan and Don are right for each other, the former quickly told the latter the whole truth after skirting around the situation earlier in the day, putting Peggy in a pickle in the mean time.

It was great to see Don take the whole situation in, not know exactly how to process it all, but ultimately accept it. Don't you get the feeling that if this was Betty, he would have blown up at her and said no? Maybe it's because it was Megan and not Betty, or maybe Don has just grown over the past couple of years, but this seemed like a very healthy situation.

My question then becomes, is he just holding it all in? Will more events like the one that happened with Mr. Belding and the Cool Whip cause Don and Peggy to blow up at each other more and more, causing a divide in the office? Will the absence of Megan ruin the positive momentum SCDP had as of late?  She DID seem to have the most success recently. I'm betting Ginsberg steps up to the plate.

While most of the Mad Men and Women were dealing with the Megan-pocolypse, Pete had his own thing going on with Rory Gilmore. What are we supposed to think of Pete at this point? When Don was cheating on Betty time and time again, there was still sympathy to be had for the man, mostly because Betty was so awful.

However, Trudy is such a doll that watching Pete continue to cheat just gets more and more difficult. Alexis Bledel was great as Howard's wife, and there was a nice connection between her character and Pete, but it has come to the point that there may be no redeeming characteristics in Pete Campbell at all anymore.

"Lady Lazarus" ended in a fabulous montage set to The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Know." We saw Don relaxing at home - still not having any idea what's going on out there - Peggy smoking up at work, Pete pining for his new lover, and of course Megan playing dead at acting class. Was that the death our Lady Lazarus was looking for this entire time?

What did you all think of this week's Mad Men installment? How did you like the guest appearances? Check out a number of great quotes from the episode in our Mad Men quotes section and then sound off in the comments!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (40 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I see it's mostly the women who think that Don being whipped is out of character. No it isn't. It can happen to any man. And it's not because of the age difference between Don and Megan either. In many ways to be in love with a woman is essentially to give her control, because that's the most powerful thing a man can offer. I do like the Megan character and I love how she's taken charge of the relationship. That's what girls/women do, even the ones complaining about it here.

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I do love the contrast, this is what Don decides to do and this is what Betty decides. The show in my mind is about this couple. Don and Betty are the protagonists, even if we've only seen very little of her this season. Peggy and Pete are close seconds. I actually think Pete's story is very interesting. This is the mental break down of someone. This is a deeply, deeply unhappy man. The more unhappy someone is, the worse things they do. I don't think Pete was ever really in love with Trudy, whenever he talks to her he has this fake tone of voice. I think he wants real love at any cost and its driving him mad.

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Megan is young, vibrant, and still searching, what she's doing getting married to a man whose set in his ways, is beyond me. I don't think this marriage is going to last, just as I think the Francises are going to stay together. One element of this marriage that I like is Don's desperation. We've never seen it before. A character like Don could eventually grow stale unless he's faced with something out of his comfort zone. This entire marriage is out of his reach. He doesn't understand his new, young bride and he doesn't understand the world she chooses to live in. His attraction to youth, like Roger, is going to make his extremely unhappy. Meanwhile Betty is a lot happier with Henry because he's older, like the father figure she lost. He takes care of her and she (up until her illness and weight gain) knows how to present herself to make him look good.

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I think Betty's mother screwed Betty up. She made her into a little doll, she never really grew up. She marries Don and they have the perfect family but she's not happy, something's missing. It's because her husband hasn't been honest with her a day in their marriage. This leads to the feeling of emptiness and bitter resentment, just nothing seems to be out of place. Everything looks grand on the outside, but it's rotten on the inside. That's what this show is about. With the Drapers broken up, it makes it a new show. I think the main problem with Megan is her complete lack of understanding when it comes to Don. She may know his real indemnity but she doesn't know him. This makes me miss Rachel Menken. Now she was a woman, Megan seems shallow in comparison.

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I have to say I don't like Don's needy personality at all now. My word...grow some. Megan is completely dominating the show and their relationship. I can't get on board with the character nor the actress. I cringe every time she's on the screen. I like every other character. I wished Megan would go to the background just as Betty was...I'm so over her flopping around trying to be "sexy."

Ava mila

@torretgunner
While I agree that Betty is far from a perfect mother and wife, I disagree that her personality affected Dan's cheating whatsoever. Don was cheating himself with those women, he was trying to fill the whole Dick Whitman left. I also disagree that Trudy is so much better then Betty cause we have seen so little of her. Sure, she handled Pete well and got him under control for some time, but she never faced the problems that Betty did. Well at least not yet. We will see how she will react to Pete's depression and cheating. Btw why haven't she noticed it yet if she is such a perfect wife? Betty and Don were so miserable together because of their emotional immaturity, and maybe because they both fell in love with illiusions of each other.

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I didn't take the comments in the review concerning why Pete may be a less symphatetic character than Don was when he was cheating on Betty as justification for Don's affairs. But Betty's coldness and horrible mothering skills did not exactly make it easier for Don to stay faithful. Whereas Pete's wife is nothing like Betty and is constantly trying to make their marriage work. I think Don's unfaithfullness had little to do with Betty's demeanor. She wanted to be treated like Daddy's little princess. Still, none of that excused his cheating. But ultimately, Betty did a little cheating on her own. I think Pete being such a weasel in general and being so agressive in the last episode in his trying to get the wife to enter into a full blown affair with him was particularly slimey. As for Don and Megan, I really think Don is trying to be the husband he never was with Betty or was for only brief periods. But to do that, he has to be more vulnerable and less controlling than before, and that is scaring the crap out of him. I really would like to see Don and Megan make it, but as we have witnessed many times over, Matt Weiner is not big on letting any relationship work, much less one where the man treats the woman like (gasp) an equal. My God, was ANYBODY happily married in the 60's??

Ava mila

''When Don was cheating on Betty time and time again, there was still sympathy to be had for the man, mostly because Betty was so awful.'' You can't be syrious?! So after Don hided for their whole marriage his real identity, after he shamelessly cheated for all these years and after he did one mistake after another Betty was the one who was awful??
Sure, she isn't bright and shiny Megan, but she had no reason to be. Don wouldn't let her work, he was never honest with her and he treated her like a child at times.
Betty is emotionaly immature and kind of psychotic just like Don, so they both had their part in ruining their marriage, but to justify Don's cheating
with Betty being awful is just really really wrong.

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when they said "you can't get The Beatles" they were making a reference to how it would have been all but impossible to get permission for TNK to be used in the show. The surviving Beatles or their estates (eg. Yoko Ono) just don't let people use their songs for ads or period movies or tv shows. Eva. Except this time. What a triumph. Guessing both Paul and Yoko nust be fans of the show but it still must have taken a huge effort to get them onboard.

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The one thing I enjoyed about Mad Men the most was watching Don Draper in previous seasons make love to so many women outside his marriage. It was interesting, intriguing, and mysterious. Now he is a whipped man. Maybe a better man, but a more boring storyline for whom was the most interesting character at one time on the show.

Mad Men Season 5 Episode 8 Quotes

Don: Don't you like it?
Peggy: No I do, just absorbing it.

Megan: You love specific.
Don: But I have no idea what's going on out there.

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