The West Wing Echo on Last Night’s Mad Men


Last night's Mad Men was all about repeating the same mistakes over and over, about the patterns our lives cycle through whether we want them to or not. Is there anything new in this life? Or are we always going to be pitching Mohawk Airlines, hating our wives, resenting our mothers, mourning a Kennedy, and carrying cardboard boxes as Joan shows us to our desks? Weirdly, the clearest repetition in "Man With a Plan" wasn't from the characters themselves or even from Mad Men. It was an echo of The West Wing. While Ted Chaough pilots his own little plane, he tells Don a symbolism-laden factoid about how pilots often find themselves accidentally upside down; sometimes if you can't see where you're going, things get all mixed up, if you know what he means. And, in fact, we do know what he means because in the fourth-season West Wing episode "Red Mass," Senator Stackhouse — a liberal Democrat running a doomed third-party campaign against the president — used the same metaphor. Trust your instruments, and keep your eyes on the horizon, fellas.