‘Mad Men’ Meditates on Transformation With “Lost Horizon” (TV REVIEW)


“I’m Don Draper from McCann Erickson.”

It finally happened: the most heartbreaking words Don Draper has ever spoken. Though the moment felt somewhat like a contrived, allegorical puppet show for his new boss, it didn’t go down any easier.

Within the first quarter of “Lost Horizon,” there are a number of apparent, albeit indistinct, clues that give the impression Don is being drawn away from his new position — Anna’s/Megan’s ring, his fixation on the airplane during the Miller meeting, etc. Yes, he is out of his element — as is most of the former SC&P staff — but there’s something hidden just below the surface that isn’t being voiced.

Don doesn’t do well hiding his bewilderment. He’s realizing that he isn’t special anymore –  just another cog in a bigger machine. Yet, it begs for further analysis. Don doesn’t want to be a part of this life anymore. The advertising life, that is. Hell, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say he doesn’t want to be a part of New York anymore.

Much like his drink of choice, Don is old-fashioned. Take his tie choices this second half of the season as an example. Though overall minor and perhaps totally insignificant, it is the only piece of Don that has shown any sign of change. While everyone around him has made an unmistakable leap into the ‘70s, he has remained wholly unaffected…until this episode.

However, his transformation isn’t in the form of a burly mustache or loud suit. No, his is psychological. It’s no secret that Don is plagued by a number of demons. Even at his best, their weight is visible. Throughout the course of “Lost Horizon,” that weight is slowly lifted. And after driving through the night to have an awkward interaction with Diana’s ex-husband in Wisconsin, he is liberated.

Meanwhile, McCann Erickson, though not surprising, is proving to be an occupational death sentence for the SC&P partners. Peggy and Roger cling to the old office as long as possible, sharing several heartfelt moments. Their scenes together were so refreshing, especially after Peggy’s emotionally-draining situation last week (and the sheer fact that these two characters don’t typically have much joint screen time).

Joining the outcasts is Joan. Following unpleasant interactions with a couple of her new male coworkers, she finds herself fighting for the full amount of her contract after raising her concerns with Jim Hobart. She eventually settles for half of what she’s owed to be done with McCann Erickson for good, confirming my thoughts after “The Forecast” that she would find her way out of advertising.

The trend of Don losing pieces from his life continues, but in a more metaphorical way. While it started with more of a morbid outlook, Don’s future is starting to look bright again. And we’re left with what almost feels like a different character entirely. Even with just two episodes left, it is in nearly impossible to accurately assume how Mad Men will come to a close. Maybe he moves to California and decides to finally live his own life instead of in the shadows of a dead man. Then again, maybe not. Either way, one thing is for certain: “Lost Horizon” is hands-down the best episode of Season 7B so far.

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