Mad Men Recap: "Lost Horizon"

By Ty Duffy

Voici “Advertising Heaven.” It looks perfect on paper, but, like the Lost Horizon lamasery, the reality is anything but. SC&P merges with McCann. The transition proves rough. Don’s predicament is existential. For the female characters, the crises are practical and professional.

Jim Hobart informs Don he was the “white whale.” Hobart has sought him for 10 years and has him. Don lasts about a minute through his first boxed lunch as “Don Draper from McCann Erickson.” He heads to the burbs to bring Sally to school. She already left. His sons are busy. He’s not needed. After a semi-affectionate scene with Betty, Don keeps driving west.

Tired hallucination Bert quotes Kerouac, though Don’s flight echoes Jack Burden, Rabbit, and, really, much of the American literary canon. Don drives to Racine, Wisconsin to find Diana (a solid 14-hour drive). He discovers he’s not the first Don in her life and (again) he’s not her savior. Don picks up a hitchhiker and, on a whim, he’s heading further west toward St. Paul, Minnesota.

Don cases multiple windows, a nod to the theory the opening credits have been telling us the ending from the beginning. Though, we’d need a deus ex machina for Don to get back to NYC. He spots an airplane out the window at McCann. He’s heading toward the west coast. It would require jumping forward a year. But, maybe Don really is D.B. Cooper?

Joan and Peggy built their power through informal networks within the agency. They struggle translating that to the new environment.

Joan was a partner at SC&P. Her power came through personal relationships. At McCann, she has no one. She’s busted down to the lowest level of account executive. She’s not permitted to handle her own clients. Joan can’t cope with ill-prepared Dennis who does not take her seriously. She has him replaced with a smarmy Ferg Donnelly taking too serious of an interest in her. “Pick a weekend.”

Rather than “calling a guy,” she goes directly to Jim Hobart. He has little sympathy. Hobart offers her half the money she’s owed to walk away. She threatens to make it a public, feminist controversy. Roger can’t resolve the impasse for her (or their son). Her instinct is to fight. Her intellect tells her to take the money and run.

At the show’s start, Joan defines success as financial security and not having to come to work. She gets it, though not how she pictured. Her $250,000 severance is worth about $1.5 million in 2015 money.

Peggy was “copy chief” at SC&P. At McCann-Erickson she’s a “copy supervisor.” She gets mistaken for a secretary. She has no office. Hanging out and spilling coffee at an empty SC&P, Peggy discovers Roger playing an organ. The two get shitfaced on a bottle of vermouth (the thought is equal parts wonderful and horrifying). Roger offers Peggy Bert Cooper’s ancient Japanese tentacle porn painting. Peggy tells Roger she has to “put men at ease.” Roger responds, “who told you that?”

Peggy leaves much behind with the agency’s demise. Though, much of that is a lot of baggage. She can now start afresh on her own terms. She strolls into McCann the next morning like a hungover badass, sunglasses, cigarette and tentacle porn in tow.