Mad Men: Megan in Control…? Hmmm…

MAD MEN REVIEW: SEASON 7 EPISODE 5 — Jealousy can do it. Megan (Jessica Paré ) is taking matters into her own hands. It’s now tit for tat. She’s decided if she’s going to be with Don (Jon Hamm), she’ll be the one with the power. She’s done with being pushed aside and left out. In fact, she’ll make Don feel exactly the way she’s felt since she married him – a beautiful accessory but ultimately inconsequential. Yet, is she successful?

The jury’s out on that one – at least for me as a psychoanalyst. But she’s certainly trying. As soon as Stephanie (Stephanie Drake) tells her she knows “all of Dick’s secrets,” Megan knows she’s lost her intimate wifely position of knowing Don best – and she’s painfully aware she’s on the outside again. With the fires of jealousy and competitiveness reignited, Megan swiftly dismisses Stephanie with a sweep of her pen and gives her $1000 to send her away as far as it will take her.

When Don arrives the next day, the jealous side of Megan pretty much completely takes over. I’ve talked about the power of projective identification in other posts (here and here) – and again we see another prime example. Megan is doing everything in her power to make Don feel unwanted. She’ll do anything not to feel the awful sense of insignificance she felt in New York. She’s had more than enough – and LA is her town, after all.

Cut to Megan’s party and, maybe even more pointedly, the “surprise” threesome. As the party goes into full swing, Megan’s begins flirtatiously dancing with a male friend and excludes Don. It’s telling that she glances over to see if he’s watching. Megan’s deepest wish is to have Don’s full attention and devotion, but when she doesn’t get it, she starts grasping at straws. So later, when she offers up Amy to him, the gesture is far from generous.

The entire scene plays out like a desperate attempt to make Don really see her: “Look, Don! All of my Hollywood friends think I’m pretty special. How dare you be so disinterested in me – my life, and my career? This is what happens when you’re not around – and you’re not even missed.” In retaliation, she wants to make him feel he’s as unnecessary in her life as he’s made her feel. That threesome with Amy? It’s meant to drive home the point that he’s no longer her most important partner. Don Draper will not be the one to fulfill her needs any longer. In fact, she’s stopped trying. That’s a pretty effective strategy for making sure she’s not the excruciatingly jealous one any longer. Or is it?