Last week’s puzzlement/frustration with the direction of “Mad Men”‘s 4th season gave way this week to the more familiar feelings of intrigue and admiration. No surprise, in retrospect, that this pivot toward the youth rebellion, the age of Aquarius, the wanting of the world and the wanting of it NOW, would be puzzling. Imagine how those slick old boys felt in 1964. “Get Sally some Beatles 45’s,” Draper instructed his secretary on her way out to purchase his family’s XMAS presents. Next year comes pot, then lysergic for ’66, and by ’68 she’ll want a revolution – we all want to change the world.
Except for Draper and co, masters of the old world. Or they were, though by the mid-60s they’re only just hanging on. The old antics – booze, quick sex with willing subordinates, the cheerful subordination to the heirs of old-world tobacco fiefdoms – are fast losing their potency.
But they keep on trying. The increasingly sad, desperate D. Draper has lost his appeal, and he knows it. Roger, with his new op-art office (check out that hellish mod painting he has) feels lost in his white-on-white surroundings. Given his white hair he feels like he doesn’t even exist in there. I believe that’s what my old English teacher would call metaphorical, old-world bastard that he was.
And more. The women still put out, albeit with decreasing enthusiasm and a growing sense of what-the-hell? Peggy not only looks better than ever, but has not a whit of patience with the old-world-even-when-dry-and-urine-free Freddy Rumson, and his dusty old ideas about marriage as every young woman’s holiest grail. Lee Garner, Jr., the old-skool tobacco heir and controller of 71 percent of the Sterling-Cooper-et.al plantation, is batshit crazy, whipping poor Roger with a Santa suit and acting like every other spoiled royal, commanding his subjects, in the absence of bread, to eat real and metaphorical cake.
Back in Ossining the real visionary is the creepy, but eerily prescient neighbor boy Glen. Who has a youthful thing for Sally Draper, and is thus eager to share his insights into adult relationships (corrupt and wrong), and domestic order (he’s agin it). All of 10, maybe, Glen is the nascent revolution, personified. How does he show his affection for Sally? He trashes the family kitchen and leaves handcrafted goods on Sally’s pillow.
“Kids did this,” Henry grumbled when he saw the destruction in the kitchen (of the family home he helped detonate in his own way. Damn straight. I wonder what they’ll do next?
I think Glen knows. I think Glen will be in the middle of it. And when he and Sally get to San Francisco (and you just know they will), they’ll both be wearing flowers in their hair.