It’s starting to look, in ‘Lost Horizon’, as if McCann Erickson might not be a good fit for SCP. There’s a straw in the wind when Roger’s African-American secretary leaves, observing that the world of advertising isn’t for her. She describes Roger as “very amusing”, which if you think about kind of sums him up in two words.
As for the SCP women: Don’s secretary keeps herself busy choosing décor for his new apartment, but for Joan and Peggy it’s unpleasant. Joan quickly discovers that at McCann she’s really just a piece of tail: Dennis undermines her; Ferg openly comes onto her; and Jim Hobart brutally dismisses her. Taking Roger’s advice she accepts Hobart’s payoff offer, picks up her Rolodex, and sashays the hell out of McCann. We might never see Joanie again. There’s one shaft of light, though, and it’s an important one for Mad Men fans: she and Don bump into each other in the lift, and they’ve plainly put their animus to one side, because they have one of those conversations in which they amount, collectively, to awesomeness cubed.
Still, at least Joan had an office; Peggy doesn’t, for most of the episode – although she’s offered the typing pool if she needs a place to work – and in consequence she’s reduced to haunting the more or less empty SCP premises for most of the episode. She shares the scene of the week with Roger, which possibly tips a little too much into whimsy when Peggy starts rollerskating around the deserted SCP office, accompanied by Roger on the organ. It has an important payoff, though: “I need to make men feel at ease,” says Peggy, to which Roger replies, “Who told you that?” Cue Peggy swaggering into McCann Erickson, shades on, cigarette drooping from mouth, and Bert Cooper’s painting of an octopus pleasuring a woman tucked under her arm. Mad Men has always been as much about Peggy’s journey as Don’s, and as of now it isn’t looking impossible that she’ll be the only SCP alum still standing at McCann when the show finishes.
Because Don’s restless again: despite Hobart’s evident pleasure at having landed his “white whale” after 10 years of trying, it doesn’t take long for him to feel like a cog in the McCann machine. He walks out of a client meeting and just takes off. At first it’s ostensibly to pick his daughter up, but she isn’t there, so he has an affectionate conversation with Betty instead. Then he heads to Wisconsin on the trail of femme fatale Diana, only to encounter her ex-husband, who tells Don that he’s just one of many who have been bewitched by her. I still can’t quite rule out the possibility that the whole Diana arc has been a figment of Don’s imagination, and that impression isn’t dispelled by his hallucination of Bert Cooper sitting in his car.
Meantime Hobart’s wondering where Don’s got to. It’s no big surprise to us that Don’s gone AWOL, because he did that at SCP often enough. “He does that”, Roger tells Hobart, but you can tell that Hobart, unsurprisingly, really isn’t impressed. And Don’s in no rush to return; on his way back to New York he picks up a hitch-hiker and heads to St Paul instead. If Don’s to get a happy ending, it might not involve McCann Erickson. It’s an elegiac episode, and it’s a good one; Mad Men might well manage to go out on a high.