'Mad Men' recap: Season 5, Episode 8, 'Lady Lazarus'

Megan makes a stand and Pete continues to try to out-Draper ... Don Draper

  • Desperate times call for a desperate Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser).
Desperate times call for a desperate Pete Campbell (Vincent… (Michael Yarish/AMC )
May 07, 2012|By Jordan Bartel

Megan and Don's relationship has come to a place that marks a new beginning -- or a marriage's end.

So Megan has decided to quit Sterling Cooper Draper Price (and Don's workplace control). Yes, she seems to be a born salesperson, a natural creative type that can charm the pants off of a hardened Heinz executive (plus she's, you know, smart and has good ideas).

But what she really wants to do is act. After last episode's confrontation with her dissapointed father, her ditching SCDP should come as no surprise. Don's surprised and puts on a supportive act, which is probably  partially not an act.

But he's missing his power partner, a mind he can mold and a big part of their relationship he can control. His face to Megan shouts "I'm happy for you!" but his face away from Megan spells confusion and uncertainty of where the couple's future lies, especially now that Megan wants to be her own woman and go to acting class and not be home for Don all the time when he trots in after work.

Peggy is in the middle of all of this. Early in the episode, she knows something amiss when she catches Megan in a lie. The two were supposed to stay late to get some work done, but Megan chooses an excuse that she know she can get away with: Don wants her for dinner.

In reality, she's auditioning for an off-off Broadway play (she doesn't get the part). Don calls the office looking for her, Peggy answers and stumbles for excuses for Megan. She's put in an awkward position and understandably pissed.

The next day, she corners Megan in the ladies room where Megan tells her the truth about the audition, but also reveals that she doesn't want to be a copywriter.

Peggy goes all Don Draper-hard-nosed on her. "You're taking up a spot and you don't even want it!" she yells. You sort-of agree with Peggy; it's not entirely fair. But Peggy is coming from a place of anger. She's angry that Don gives Megan special treatment, that Megan got in SCDP so easily when it was so hard for Peggy to earn respect. She's mad that everything comes to easily for a woman like Megan, a woman that Peggy says later can be so good at everything.

Right after that conversation, Peggy is seething in a meeting about a Cool Whip pitch. Megan joins them and she and Don launch into a cute-couple routine for a potential ad that really, really works and really, really sickens Peggy.

"What is it?" Don says.

"Just taste it!" Megan says.

"Is it dessert? Don says.

"Just taste it!" Megan repeats cutely.

Peggy can't stand it. It's a great ad, but she doesn't care. At this point, you begin to wonder whether Peggy herself will tell Don what's really on Megan's mind.

She doesn't have to. Megan wakes up her husband in the middle of the night to reveal that her one, true passion is acting and SCDP "will never be for me what it is for you." She thinks she gave up acting too easily (once again, her Dad got to the core of her emotions) and wants to give it a shot.

The talk doesn't escalate into a fight. It's mature and reasonable. Don's response is mature and reasonable: "I understand. I don't want to keep you from your dream."

But as Megan crawls into bed with him, as happy as ever, Don's face says he's out of sorts. His wife is doing what she wants! And he's letting her.

The next day, Megan breaks the news to Peggy, Stan and Michael. Peggy can barely hide a glimmer of happiness on her face and yet dubs her announcement gutsy. She admires Megan, deep down. But in the workplace she's threatened.

This complicated work dynamic, between Don and Megan, between Megan and Peggy and therefore between Don, Megan and Peggy were perfectly explored in this episode with few lines, with some looks of confusion, with some words that alternated quickly between selfish and selfless.

It all comes to a head when Peggy, Don and Ken go to the Cool Whip people (awesome cameo from Dennis Haskins, who played Mr. Belding on "Saved by the Bell) to pitch their idea.

It's Peggy subbing in for Megan in the cute-couple act and it crashes and burns. There's no chemistry and Peggy keeps on screeching "Just try it!" instead of the more playful way Megan said "Just taste it!"

Peggy and Don have their first fight of the season. "You didn't want her here!" he yells at Peggy about Megan.

"She thinks advertising is stupid!" Peggy yells back. All the bubbling resent boils over.

"I did everything I was supposed to do ... and you're not mad at me, so shut up!" Peggy says.

Yes, Peggy told Don Draper to shut up.

After Roger (I missed you this episode, buddy) gives Don advice to go home to Megan and "let her know there's a routine," Don comes home just in time to see Megan for a second before she leaves for acting class.

He hands him the next Beatles album ("Revolver") before basically skipping gleefully out the door (again, Megan is soooo happy!). She tells him to play "Tomorrow Never Knows," which is perhaps the most un-Don Draper Beatles song of all time.

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