Mad Men, "Lady Lazarus": the Draper marriage and shifting power dynamics

Quick Take: Mad Men, "Lady Lazarus"
"Why do they get to decide what happens?" - Pete 

Review: Mad Men, "Lady Lazarus"
(S0508) In past reviews I've talked a lot about the concept of change in the Mad Men universe. Because the show takes place in the 1960s, a good bit of the discussion has revolved around cultural evolution and changes to the external creeping into the character's lives. But variations in musical taste or fashion or drug use aren't the only changes at play in Mad Men. The fifth season -- and in particular last night's "Lady Lazarus" -- has spotlighted a dramatic power dynamic shift within Don's personal life.

For four seasons, Don's home life was defined by his significant power advantage over Betty (January Jones). He came and went as he pleased. He bedded teachers and coworkers and department store heiresses. He worked too much and spent too little time with his kids. He drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney. In other words, he ruled the roost.

Now, in the span of eight episodes, Don's masculine power has been completely sapped by his new bride, Megan (Jessica Pare). Megan keeps Don current, or at least tries. ("No one can keep up; it's always changing," she admits.) More importantly, she keeps him from totally mentally checking out at work. Plus, she's completely responsible for bringing in the Heinz account and at least partially responsible for SCDP's Cool Whip business.

It's no wonder Don is thrown for such a loop when Megan decides to quit the advertising business and refocus on her dreams of acting. Don is so used to be being in complete control over his identity -- so much so that he successfully creates a new one -- that it must be extremely troubling to have so much of his current identity tethered to another person. On-the-nose as it may be, it makes sense that Don would nearly fall down an elevator shaft the moment Megan leaves. He's lost without her, and that's not something we're used to from Don.

What will become of Don and his tenuous grip on fidelity (sanity?) when his wife is no longer making the evening commute from the office with him? If Pete's dalliance with a Gilmore Girl taught us one thing, it's that a man can get into quite a bit of trouble on the train home.

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

More From Lucas High

"String theory is complicated, that's just yucky." - Sheldon
Read More
"Sometimes I'm like, 'How do I not O.D.?'" - Deanna
Read More
"We sell history." - Alex
Read More
5 Comments
On: Monday, May 7, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

I think it's worth noting too that Mad Men is able to maintain its creative excellence by examining these characters' lives from different angles as they change and evolve over time. In Season Four, Don was depressed and lost and adrift. This season he's actually much happier (for him), but finds himself as you note, Lucas, in a very unusual (for him) dynamic in which he has become dependant on his wife for many things. 

On: Monday, May 7, 2012
TheVodkaParty said:

In an episode freighted with symbols of death, the meaning of one running subplot this season becomes crystal clear. That is, the hunt for the elusive Heinz account. Anyone who's ever seen a grade-B horror film knows all too well the red condiment makes a perfect stand-in for human blood. Looking back to 1966, Heinz could have used the creative flair of SCDP. Here are some actual samples of mid-60s Heinz ads and promotions from TheVodkaParty: http://thevodkaparty.com/classic-1960s-heinz-ads/

On: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Lucas High said:

I too have been convinced that this season is inevitably leading to the death of one of our characters. All along I've been predicting Pete, but at this point, with all of the references to suicide insurance, etc, it would seem a little too obvious.

On: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Steve Geise said:

Ooh, when are you starting the Mad Men death pool? I'll take Roger, seems to me like he'd be the most likely candidate. He sees himself being supplanted by Pete and his entire role in the company becoming completely superfluous, he's adrift without a wife again, he sees the world changing rapidly around him and leaving him behind, so if the death ends up being a suicide it's probably him. I hope it's not Lane, that would suck if he died in Fringe and this show this year.

On: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Lucas High said:

Roger certainly would appear to the most likely candidate. I'm sticking with Pete, although if I had a second or third vote, I'd probably go with Megan or Betty.

Name:

Email (Will not be used):

Comment:

characters left
 

Featured Articles

Popular Today

 
 

Recent Comments

The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too also as well live on the island, I can attest that Dan lives in the ocean as he has for hundreds of decades. We locals call...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
It's funny because its so not funny.
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too live on the island and ISLANDER does not know what they are talking about. Dan lives out in the middle of the island with...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
this is not real i know that goat and it is not "doc's" its my neighbors goat. and by the way i live on the very top of that mountain...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
I just finished the series on Netflix and can not wrap my mind around how he is treated. I never found humor in any of the scenes...
Swamp People, "It's Personal": men at work
Wow, very hard work , 1st they are hooked with a hook in there mouth , 2nd they come along with a shot gun and shoots it in the...
Stitchers: everything changes in the finale, "All In"
I think something is up with Nina--to me, it looked like something just occurred to her and she got up to go do it or find out about...
Stitchers: everything changes in the finale, "All In"
Am I the only one who thinks that something bad is going to happen to Nina based on the brief cut of her during Cameron's closing...
My Last Days: powerful documentary airs on the CW Network
I received a wonderful compliment from Justin Baldoni in regard to this article, he said, "Wow thank you for this beautiful article...