“Tomorrowland”, the finale of “Mad Men” Season Four…left me reeling. When Don impulsively proposed to the ever-affable, ambitious “Maria von Trapp”-like secretary Megan…I thought this must be a dream! And in a way it was. Part pitch, part proposal. How vividly it conveyed the intoxicating tug of repetition compulsion in romantic love. Don doesn’t want to deal with his tortured, fabricated past as his paramour Dr. Faye has encouraged him to do. He wants the imagined freedom of the pain-free “fresh start,” the new and instantly improved beautiful wife/life which, of course, doesn’t really exist. The engagement ring is meant to disengage him from his past. Why Don can just create a storyboard of an enchanting tomorrow with Megan mirroring all the attributes he needs to rectify the appearance of his domestic life. Not to take anything away from Megan, but Don is going backwards as much as he may be going forwards in an attempt to master his chronic sense of emptiness. Flashback to Don’s “Kodak Carousel” presentation—the finale for Season One. As the pitch-perfect pictures of his loving, soon-to-be broken, family rotate in the Kodak Carousel projector, Don says: “ …in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device is not a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards and takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called ‘The Carousel.’ And it lets us travel the way a child travels around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.”
Don is back on “The Carousel,” going backwards and forwards, around and around again. He is seeking the forever of love, trusting his heart once more—but will this just be another spin, another not-so-merry-go-round? I wonder what will happen when the music stops.