Tagged: Ecclesiastes

ecclesiastes, broken vessels, and Mad Men: season 7, episode 1



“I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!  I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” –Ecclesiastes 1:13-14


“Happiness is a moment before you need more happiness.”  –Don Draper

At the end of last night’s episode of Mad Men, Don Draper, the self-made man, sat alone in the cold on his balcony. All the things that he had used to create his new identity were missing. His wife was living the life of a wannabe-TV star in Los Angeles, his children were with his ex-wife, and he was still on a forced leave-of-absence from his job. Even his usual coping mechanisms (alcohol, women) were absent. The self-made man has self-destructed. Don Draper is gone; Dick Whitman has returned.

Watching Mad Men always reminds me of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, at the end of his life, despairs all that he had done in pursuit of meaning. He declares it all “meaningless.” Everything is “a chasing after the wind.” Don Draper has finally reached this point. All that he did to abandon Dick Whitman and become Don Draper has left him empty and broken. His job did not satisfy him and we ultimately dismissed from it. His marriage brought him no closer to happiness and his unfaithfulness and dishonesty to his wife led her to leave him. His new wife and her hopes and dreams for her own life and his inability to get on board with them has alienated him from her. He is to the point where he can look at his life, as Solomon has, and see how utterly meaningless it all has been. 

The fact that we see him without his comforts of alcohol and women reveal that this is different for Don. He realizes that drinking and sleeping around will no longer mask his pain.  At some point, he will no longer be able to pretend that he has a job. His life is being stripped away, and all is left is a little boy who grew up at a brothel. 

The fact the he even admits that he is a “broken vessel” to Neve Campbell right before he rejects her offer to come home with her indicates that he knows all of this. The question is, will Don truly change this time (we’ve seen his false starts at self-improvement before) or will he find some other way of finding momentary happiness? Can this broken vessel be fixed? 

Extraneous Thoughts

  • Just when you thought Pete Campbell couldn’t get any more Pete Campbell-y, he shows up wearing this.
  • You can’t find good bagels in Los Angeles.
  • Anyone else miss Bob Benson? 
  • I feel like Peggy’s character arc is the opposite of Don’s. Better, it might have been his character arc had the story started several years earlier.
  • Ken Cosgrove’s eye patch is my new favorite thing on television.