"Go for a swim; it always makes you feel better," Megan tells Don over the phone, in a bit of foreshadowing, in Sunday's episode of "Mad Men," titled "A Tale of Two Cities."
Megan is home in New York, fretting over the violence that has erupted at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Don has traveled to Los Angeles with Roger to court new clients. The next night Don does take the swim Megan suggested, but it's a dip that nearly kills him. A hash-induced hallucination at party in the Hollywood Hills sends him floating face down in the pool, but also reveals what the mysterious Don really thinks of his life.
Much will be made of the hallucination that preceded Don's collapse into the pool, particularly that it proves the theory that Megan is leading an existence parallel to Sharon Tate, the actress who was among those murdered by Charles Manson in 1969.
Only time will tell whether Megan will end up tragically dead by the season (or series) finale. However, Don's hallucination certainly says a bunch what he wants of his existence.
After smoking hash with the party's hostess ("There's an extra nipple here when you come back," she says, inviting Don to the hookah), Don tells her – mid makeout – "I'm really thirsty."
"You know there's a pool full of water out there, Don," she tells him (more foreshadowing!). It's unclear whether this is really happening or if he has already started hallucinated, but his response points to the latter.
"I told you that's not my name," he says, referring to his deepest, darkest secret – that he is truly Dick Whitman, and "Don Draper" is a dead soldier whose identity he stole to start a new life.
Megan shows up – in hippie mode, with long greasy hair – and tells Don she's cool with sharing, because it's California and all. Surprise! Don wants her to be OK with his infidelities. Hippie Hallucination Megan also tells Don she quit her job, meaning that real Megan is right: Don is uncomfortable that her ascendant acting career.
Then – and this is the part that will drive the Taters (that's what I am calling the theorists now) wild – she tells Don she's pregnant. Tate was pregnant at the time of her murder. But the imagined pregnancy could also just represent Don's long standing desire for a new life.
"What do you think it is?" he asks.
"A second chance," she tells him, which is all Don has ever wanted, from assuming the new identity to his new marriage with Megan.
However, as his hallucination continues, it suggest that starting over is never that easy. Private Dinkins – the soldier Don met in Hawaii – shows up, with the lighter he traded Don in hand to light his cigarette.
"My wife thinks I'm MIA, I'm actually dead," he tells Don, who is surprised to see Dinkins's arm is missing from his body.
"Dying doesn't make you whole. You should see what you look like," Dinkins adds, referring to the real Don Draper, who Dick Whitman will never be. Next, Don is looking at himself, afloat, not breathing, face down in the pool.
It's a suicidal image hinted from Season 6's first episode, in which Don pitched an ad to a Hawaiian resort showing the clothes a man takes off before drifting out into the water. (This time Don didn't bother discarding his suit before jumping in.) The hotel execs described it as "a little morbid," to say the least. Had Don not been pulled out of the pool by Roger (who later teases Don for being a bad swimmer), his Hawaii ad would have been a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Joan goes a different swim of sorts, jumping in the waters of an accounts executive. A lunch set up by her friend Kate (that Kate, last seen necking a stranger at the Electric Circus) turns out to be a business opportunity, as the new marketing chief at Avon expresses interest in working with the firm.
Joan turns to Peggy, hoping to reel him in for SCDP-CDC (more on that mouthful of a name later). She is soon "kicked off the diving board" in her words by the perpetually awful Pete, who wants to meet with the potential client without Joan.
In an act of subterfuge, Joan sets up another breakfast with her, the Avon exec and Peggy, and doesn't tell Pete. When Pete finds out, he is disgusted and goes straight to the partners. Peggy, too, chastises Joan for disregarding company policy, but she ultimately saves Joan from the Pete and Ted interrogation by faking a call from Avon. The partners eventually brush off Joan's rule-breaking – all business is good business – and Pete deals with being beat by a girl by smoking a joint.
The episode title, "A Tale of Two Cities," refers to New York and Los Angeles (the residents of each look scornfully down on one another). But it might as well be called "A Tale of Two Pitch Meetings," with the contrast between the Roger/Don Carnation pitch and the Joan/Peggy Avon meeting. Roger and Joan were lovers once; Don and Peggy, former work spouses of sorts.
In both, the accounts man (Roger, Joan) turns to creative (Don, Peggy) with a plea ("Don?" "Peggy?") once things start to slag. The women, bubbling with enthusiasm, charm their potential client. Don and Roger, unprepared, fall flat with Carnation. (To be fair, Don's efforts to study up were thwarted by Roger.) Peggy and Joan discuss with the Avon exec bringing makeup trials to the offices of working women – they can see the future. Roger and Don discuss the death of the Democratic Party with the Carnation rep – the men cannot.
That the women are hungrier for success is hinted elsewhere in the episode. "I thought it was a date but it turned out to be better," Joan tells Peggy of her initial meeting with the Avon exec; her desire to move up professionally is irrepressible.
Pete, meanwhile, scoffs at a new title Ted gives him: head of new business. He should consider being more enthusiastic about his place at the firm.
"If you don't like it, maybe it's time to get out of the business," Don warns Pete when he objects to both Joan's usurp of a client and the decision by the firm to change its name to Sterling, Cooper and Partners (a blessing to the agency's secretaries and "Mad Men" recappers alike).
If Pete wants to stay in the pool, he had better learn to swim.