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‘Mad Men’ Review: “Lady Lazarus”

Mad Men Lady Lazarus
AMC

Mad Men’ Season 5 gives the shaft to its eighth episode of the year, as Megan comes to an important realization about her true passion, while Pete entertains an affair with his friend’s wife, and Don and Peggy argue over a failed pitch to Cool Whip.

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “At the Codfish Ball” put a disgusting cap on an episode that saw Megan coming up with a pitch to satisfy the Heinz people, while her parents visited to attend an awards ceremony for Don, and Peggy facing down a unique proposal from her boyfriend Abe, so what will the latest episode bring?  Needz moar Fat Betty!

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ episode eight “Lady Lazarus!”

Pete rides the train home, once again running into his old friend Howard, and turning down his slow burn pitch of upping Pete’s life insurance.  Why chat about life insurance though, when you can dish on Howard’s new apartment in the city, and hot young thing he’s dating?  As far as he’s concerned, if he provides for his wife she won’t ever complain, something Pete in his life’s boredom takes to heart.

In the office, Megan suddenly becomes very secretive about a phone call she needs to make, while Ginsburg and Stan wow some Chevalier Blanc clients with a pitch for a ‘Hard Days Night’ themed ad campaign, though they’ve yet to settle on a song they can use, given The Beatles won’t contribute.  Subsequently looking to make peace, Roger offers Pete  a bunch of skis, supposedly gifts from a sporting goods business looking to attract Pete’s attention, and though Pete seems skittish at Roger’s generosity, he gingerly carts them away.

Later, everyone’s signing off for the day, Megan lying to Don about working for the night, and lying to Peggy about Don calling her to a client dinner.  Don, who remains baffled by his lack of understanding of today’s music, and Pete, skis in tow, head home for the night.  When he arrives at his car off the train, Pete finds a woman waiting (hey, its Alexis Bledel!) by the platform for her husband, none other than Pete’s friend Howard!  Pete does his best to cover as he offers Beth a ride home, but when they arrive at her door and she dramatically exits the car, Pete follows her inside where she throws herself at him!  It might be revenge sex, but good lord is revenge sweet.  Afterward, she makes mention of the recent photographs of Earth that make her feel vulnerable, but shuts down Pete’s affection by saying this can’t ever happen again.

Don calls Peggy at the office when Megan doesn’t come home, and the two find they’ve each been given false information, while Peggy does her best to cover things up.  He later calls back, but Peggy reacts by either pretending he has the wrong number, or ducking the call altogether.  When Megan finally does arrive home, she brushes off the questions by explaining she’d gone for drinks with the girls.  The next morning Peggy follows Megan to admonish her, and ask what she was really up to, when Megan explains that she had a callback for a play, and didn’t want anyone to know that she still wants to act.  She’s unhappy in her advertising job as good as she is at it, and as many people would kill to be in her position, but secretly wishes to be fired.  Offended, Peggy fires back that she doesn’t care what Megan does.

At their next meeting for Cool Whip strategies, Don and Megan perform a little bit they’ve constructed to sell Cool Whip under the tagline “just taste it,’ though Megan coldly rebukes Peggy’s questions about whether or not the couple actually plans to act in the ad.  Down the hall, Pete places a secret call to Beth, though she insists as a one time thing he shouldn’t ever call her again, to his heartbreak.

In the middle of the night, Megan wakes Don to confess that she wishes to go back to acting, still grateful for all the confidence working in advertising gave her.  Not wanting to keep her from her dream, Don agrees that tomorrow should be her last day at the office, distressing a notion that it may be for him.  The next morning, Megan makes her tearful goodbyes to Peggy, Stan and Ginsburg, thanking Peggy for all she’d done for her, while Don uncertainly asks Joan to have the girls take Megan out for a lunch.  Harry brings the news to Pete, though Pete only seems dejected about his rejection from Beth, masking it with talk of the pictures of the Earth making him feel insignificant, and anger for Don and Megan doing whatever they want and expecting others to follow along.

Don kisses Megan goodbye for her lunch at the elevator, but after she leaves, finds the next elevator simply opened to reveal the empty shaft.  Rather than tell anyone like a reasonable human would, Don simply drinks in his office, while the creative team tries to sell him on a song for the Chevalier Blanc ad.  Gee, wonder who’s gonna fall victim to that elevator…

Pete bumps into Howard once more, and wryly suggests that he’s willing to change his life insurance plan if he can go to his house tonight.  When they arrive, Beth is none too pleased to see Pete, nor accept his kiss and invitation to a hotel the following day.  She even fakes a migraine to get out of dinner, and Pete himself nearly bails before Howard catches up to him.  Awkward…

Don arrives home to find Megan cooking, though she jests to him not to get used to the happy homemaker routine.  When he assures her that he still supports her decision, she thanks him for being everything she’d hoped he would be.  Things don’t go so smoothly the next day with the Cool Whip people however, as Peggy proves a poor substitute for Megan in the bit they’ve constructed, flubbing the lines.  Suffice to say, Mr. Belding is none too impressed with their pitch.  Did we say Mr. Belding?  You’d better believe Dennis Haskins has now entered the ‘Mad Men’ universe!  Definitely packed on a few, though.  In any case, Don and Peggy find occasion to scream at one another after the blowup, Don accusing Peggy of being threatened by Megan, and Peggy asserting that she did everything right in their work, so he has no right to be angry with her.

Poor Pete, waiting in that hotel with glasses of champagne, smashing one as he gives up on Beth ever coming.  Boo hoo, you don’t get to cheat on Alison Brie.  Jerk.  Someone’s getting an elevator shaft in their future!

Roger confronts Don in his office, eschewing the variety of jokes that would come with Megan leaving to be an actress, as Don doesn’t want Megan to end up like her mother, or even Betty.  You leave Fat Betty alone!  In any case, Don then returns home to find Megan leaving  for class, and puts on The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” to get more up to date on his music.  While he listens, Peggy smokes a joint with Stan, Pete sees Beth at the train station, who draws (then erases) a little heart in the car’s window fog, and Megan goes through her class.  Bored (of The Beatles, really?), Don shuts off the record and walks away.

You know, it can be hard to write about ‘Mad Men’ week after week, given that some episodes are more about the subtlety and symbolism than any real action.  And while it’s hard not to think that all signs are pointing down that elevator shaft Don nervously leered down, there’s still a lot of great drama here, and lots more time in the season to have more eventful episodes than “Megan decides she wants to return to acting.”

Did you get your fill of swingin’ ‘Mad Men’ action?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’s latest effort “Dark Shadows” (No, not that one.  Well yes, that one, but they’re probably talking about the TV series) on AMC!

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