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“Mad Men,” Episode 8, “Lady Lazarus”

I looked up the Sylvia Plath poem “Lady Lazarus” after watching this episode of “Mad Men” that borrows the title.

It’s an arresting work, blending her pain with Holocaust horrors in sharp-edged way that hurts to read. It was written about four months before she committed suicide in February 1963.

The obvious “Mad Men” parallel is the arresting character introduced in this seg, Beth, wife of Howard Daws, Pete Campbell’s craven train companion. I could hear the squeals of millions of TV geeks exulting in the collision of “Gilmore Girls” and “Mad Men” through the casting of Alexis Bledel as Beth. But there was nothing done with a wink in this role, and Bledel was really good, as “Gilmore” fans always knew she would be in a meaty dramatic part. A young wife, eaten alive by the certainty that her husband is cheating on her — something Plath knew all too well thanks to that rat Ted Hughes.

As much as this was an episode about Pete and his further descent into suburban alienation, it was an episode about Don and Megan too. The key intersection there for me was in the scene toward the end where Don is talking with Roger about Megan’s decision to quit Sterling Cooper to pursue acting again. He mentions to Roger (while lying on the couch in classic psychoanalysis pose) that he doesn’t want Megan to wind up like Betty or Megan’s mother — unhappy and unfulfilled. (He also delivers a great line: “I was raised in the ’30s. I wanted indoor plumbing.”)

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