“I don’t want to take you out of your way,” the hitchhiker at the end of the latest Mad Men episode tells Don, but of course Don doesn’t mind, because he really doesn’t know which way he’s going. For a moment, when Don finally utters the words “Don Draper from McCann-Erickson,” it seems possible that Don is going to take his opportunity in the big leagues of the ad world and run with it, but when he finds himself sitting in a meeting for Miller Beer, surveying the room and noticing too many cooks in the kitchen, his interest immediately wanes, and his mind drifts back towards Diana.
Maybe it’s the realization that he’s not going to be an important player at McCann that makes Don seek the comfort of the only person more lost than he is. That realization seems to be sinking in for everybody from the old SC&P gang. They were sold on the idea that they were ascending to advertising heaven only to find out that they’ve really just traveled to some sort of purgatory, forced to be cogs in the big McCann machine.
All the headway that Joan made at SC&P, all the sexual remarks and sideways glances, all the underestimation that she overcame, has all been erased. Her status has been stripped and she suffers fools that only want to see her strip. At SC&P, at least she knew that people like Roger Sterling and Don Draper realized her intelligence, and she had the respect of fellow woman Peggy Olsen, but at McCann she’s told her former partnership means nothing, and that if she doesn’t play ball, her services will not be needed.
Peggy isn’t even given an office at McCann and is initially mistaken as a secretary. She’s forced to hang out in the Scooby-Doo looking, gutted SC&P office and play audience to Roger’s woe-is-me waxing nostalgic for the good old days. The show always finds way to create memorable moments by pairing two characters, and even Peggy remarks about how odd it is to see the two interact this much, but at this particular moment, they need each other. Roger needs to hear from Peggy that a challenge will be good for him, lest he transform into the dinosaur he always dreaded becoming, and Peggy needs to adopt some of Roger’s swagger, his confidence, and his super intimidating octopus painting so that she can walking into McCann and claim what is hers.
Joan tries to claim what is hers, not taking the sexual advances from the deplorable Ferg a moment longer, barging into Jim Hobart’s office to receive the money she is owed or else she’ll expose the unfair treatment of woman in the office, something that was becoming a major issue in the country at the time. Hobart doesn’t back down and bullies Roger into convincing Joan that she should take half of the cash and walk. I found the moment incredibly sad, Roger should be fighting for Joan, the real love of his life, instead of telling her to bite the bullet, and it extinguished any lingering hope that the two would realize that they should be together. I guess it really wasn’t meant to be.
Speaking of not meant to be, Don cant seem to realize the same about Diana, despite hallucinogenic counseling from the late Bert Cooper or stern words from Diana’s ex-husband. The ex-husband tells Don that he’s not the first guy to come looking, but he doesn’t hear that, only repeating what makes her appeal to him; “She’s just so lost.” He doesn’t realize he’s once again one of many, just like at McCann, and that maybe Diana can’t be the end of his story like he’s hoping. She may be so lost, but so are you, Don.