My Mad Men predictions

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 Writing

[Obviously, Spoiler Warning up to and including the most recent episode (Season 5 Episode 7, “At The Codfish Ball”)]

At the beginning of the season—i.e. before the Madchen Amick dream sequence, before Heinz (ironically, “Some Things Never Change”) and before the bordello sequence—I predicted that 1) Don will be 100% faithful to Megan and that 2) Megan will leave Don for another man, who may or may not be a client of SCDP but who will definitely be 2a) younger and better looking than Don and 2b) involved in show business (i.e. a Joseph Papp-type figure in the New York scene). This character (who will be utterly guileless and pure, and who will inspire Joan and others to flirt shamelessly with him whenever he’s at the office) will arrive in a tempest of narrative stormclouds, exactly like Paul Simon’s appearance in Annie Hall (in his brilliant turn as record producer “Tony Lacey”—Diane Keaton’s sublime “Seems Like Old Times” was Annie Hall’s “Zou Bisou Bisou”).

I’m even righter than I thought. At some point in the final two episodes of the season, there will be an anguished conversation between Don and Megan. He will point out that she can’t leave him/the firm because she’s an advertising prodigy; she’s “good at all of it.” And she will refuse his entreaties. She will start by telling him how important he was to her (mirroring Don’s speech to Faye at the same moment in Season 4); but will go on to say that, nevertheless, she must go off with New Younger/Better-Looking Show Biz Man because she’s just not happy unless she’s following her dreams. (This was the purpose of Emile’s speech to her this week: to plant this seed.) Peggy will play a decisive, morally ambiguous role in assuring Megan’s departure (from Don’s life and from the firm) because it leaves her, Peggy, with a clear run at the end zone, since Megan will be in the process of leap-frogging her at SCDP. This will be pre-saged by an event in which Megan is placed in a position of authority over Peggy, which will rankle her (Roger and/or Ginsberg will make a snotty, wry remark about “the boss’ wife” and a scene will end with Peggy alone in the dark with a scotch, brooding about what to do).

For bonus points, Megan will fix her teeth (like Paulina Porizkova in Anna, who was actually fixing her teeth).

All of this not only serves to augment and reinforce the predictions I made weeks ago (circa episode 2 or 3) but will uphold the Matthew Weiner technique of consistently inverting viewers’ expectations and placing the most sympathetic characters into positions where they must behave in morally questionable ways.

There’s nothing in the Bernard Malamud novel that presages any of this (so far as I know). If Don had been reading The Natural in bed, that would be totally different (remember Peggy’s discussion of Megan’s “home run”).

(The only objection to my theory that I take can seriously is the reasonable observation that it is not possible to find a man more attractive than Don Draper.)