We waited for so long. And we were rewarded.
Don’t read this if you don’t like spoilers.
Much has been said and analyzed about Season 5 of Mad Men, including the dynamic shift which has affected almost all the main characters. Although they might not always speak the language of the time, the characters on Mad Men manage to intrigue us anyway. Peggy is no longer a protegé, Joan moves up to becoming a partner, Megan is not just a secretary, Lane is no longer in debt, Roger is no longer caged, Don’s moral character is questionable (oh wait, that’s not new), etc.
This season felt bigger and full of the drama needed to sustain the people craving this show, as if it was Twilight. Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, had many months, as they tried to make a deal with AMC, to come up with the story lines, characters arcs, and all those intricate details.
As was pointed out here, Pete’s deplorable greed (which he gets punched for more than once) for everything he can’t have (but eventually gets) will push the firm into dangerous waters.
The color red in this season was used to represent power. Slate did a great post about all the red used and the differences between the red suit that Peggy wears and what Joan is seen wearing when the partners are upstairs, admiring their new space. “X” marks the spot, in red, and it looks like these pirates, who cheat and steal, have buried their treasure in an office building – using the money from another man’s suicide.
Overall, the big events characterized the season in an interesting way. Lane’s death was only foreseeable when Don asked him to resign and when Lane went home and saw the car that his wife bought him, with their money. The car that didn’t work, by the way. I know nothing about cars but perhaps it was a sign of what Jaguar is to do in the future? Lane’s death means that there is nobody putting down their foot when it comes to stretching the firm’s finances. Indeed, the last we saw of him, he was far off the floor (too soon?).
Joan’s ascent into power through extramarital means will eventually wear her down. She sold herself for a company that doesn’t really respect a woman’s right to be treated fairly and equally. Her conscience has been questionable, in the past, but this position she has put herself in is not free of muddiness.
Peggy’s power play which resulted in a new job and title has changed the Mad Men world. I read that she’s not gone from the show but she isn’t in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce office, that’s for certain. Peggy’s biggest slap in the face, and the reason that she decided to look elsewhere, was because she came up with an idea on the spot for a somewhat big client and, instead of being truly congratulated, she has money thrown in her face by Don.
He tells her to go to Paris. He is upset about other things and, instead of being an adult, he takes it all out on her in a very disrespectful and immature fashion. You realize very quickly that no matter how far women go up the corporate ladder, there will be inconsistencies in the way women are treated. Some are used for sex, some are used for their brains.
The fact that she is taking her place in the whiskey and cigarette-smoke filled advertising world not as some underling but as ‘creative copy chief’ means big things for her and the show. Especially because she gets the chance to brand Phillip Morris’ cigarette for ladies, which will be known as Virginia Slims.
Megan is the character that was flushed out the most in this season. We knew hardly anything about her in season 4 but now we know she is fully capable of doing things on her own, something that Don has trouble connecting to on a regular basis. She uses his connections, in the last episode, to act in a commercial.
She sees this as a triumph and he, very honestly, says that this is not the proper way to go about this, it won’t be based on her merits and therefore she is losing her artistic integrity. He’s happy to keep her to himself but, begrudgingly, lets her go. Once that is done, though, he no longer feels the need to be around. Don hasn’t got a hold on anything until he walks away from her, dressed in that frumpy red dress. He’s put her in her place and now he can go have a drink.
Are you alone?
Check out our past posts on Mad Men.