The season had gone up and down, at times (seemingly) without any real direction. This final episode of the season pulled it all together for me. I wasn't sure where Don Draper could go after his marriage officially fell apart. But it seems he is now being forced into a new direction not only in his personal life but with the new business venture as well. I thought both of these things happening at the same time worked well, in dumping a bucket of cold water on Draper and finally waking him up. I had come to detest the scenes of Don's personal life in general, not just his home life with Betty and the kids but overall. Finally this episode really focused on what is the best part of this show - how the office runs, his interactions with co-workers and clients...I think next season can finally put the emphasis back on this aspect, and the show can get back to being one of the best on television.
Turns out there is something after all that makes Don Draper snap out of the perennial haze he lives his life in. No its not his wife or family or any one of his numerous dalliances all whom have abandoned him at this point. It's the possibility that Sterling Cooper will not be the same place as it will be. So the brooding ad man circles his troops, makes a few convincing speeches to people he's earlier never bothered with and crosses over to the dark side, embracing the beginnings of a change which is already coming over society, ushering in the 60s that was the real deal.
The season finale of Mad Men delivers all that it had promised through out the season in its usual quiet storm style. But it breaks away from its usual fornat where each scene seems more like a character study. The episode is rife with action with some major changes happening. Don and Betty's relationship seems to have ended. Sterling Cooper itself has ceased to exist. Like a phoenix, it destroys itself only to rise again from the ashes. Thought it is not marked with a movie like jubilance at beating the system, only a measured and partial optimism. So what does this mean for next season- No Paul, No Ken, No Sal? The big three have made their decision and chosen their band of renegades. Will these men and women be able to fight the beginning of a conglomerate culture that we know in hindsight, history already lost. It remains to be seen.
Series creator Matthew Weiner has stated he leaves nothing for future seasons and puts everything out there each season, like its the last, and this episode could almost double as a series finale. I think when Mad Men eventually ends its run, there will be discussion whether this episode was the proper series finale and should have called it quits right here, or will Weiner have new and interesting places to take us in season 4?
I heard a comedian once remark on broken marriages that if only the couple would have acted once they broke up like they did while married, they would have never gotten a divorce in the first place. This is what I took in watching Don's evolution in this episode. What Don's realization was is that he took everything for granted, and watching his marriage end was the catalyst for this. His conversations with Peggy this episode for the first time (for me) showed the parallels with Peggy and Betty. The conversation he had with Peggy while in her apartment was the one he realized he should have had with his wife, but it was too late. He knew that ship sailed and wanted to save the one positive relationship he had with a woman, Peggy. His first talk with Peggy was like one he had with Betty while married, he didn't ask her to come with him, he just barked orders. Peggy wasn't having it and her standing up for herself was what Betty would say as well, she does the work to make him look good and she is not a scared puppy, she had other offers and will not come with him only to be kicked when he fails.
I predicted in my last review Hilton would toss Don to the curb, and I was right at least here..lol Hilton was to Don what Don was to Betty, and Don finally saw it. Don called him out for his soft lies and calling him son, only to once again stray when things didn't go right. Hilton was the old Don Draper at the top of the heap, he does what he wants when he wants and damn the consequences. He built himself from nothing and he doesn't want to hear whining from those who didn't. That speech was almost a summary of Don Draper's life until now. Once Don heard it, it started a cartharsis that lasted all episode. Like Betty, he did not beg Hilton for another chance, he realized he needed to build something himself, without Hilton.
Don's mea culpas came to eveyone he took for granted during the series, Roger, Pete and Peggy. Don has for the first time, a chance at having friends. He told all three in his own way he took them for granted, Roger for giving him his career, Pete's forward thinking and Peggy's talent. I saw for the first time this episode Don's fatal flaw, and he did too. He felt entitled to the life he created by taking over the name "Don Draper". He took his talent, the people in his office, and his wife for granted, all were mere building blocks in his mind to creating this ideal person. It was Cooper who started his "I'm sorry" tour as Don tried to get Cooper to talk to Roger, but Cooper told him the truth, if he wants to build something and make something of himself, really him and not some construct like he was, he had to face the fire.
In some well placed flashbacks, we for the first time saw his father in a more positive light. (he is beginning to accept Dick Whitman). His father was principled and would not go along with the co-op in selling his crop for a bad price. He caved to his wife to sell and was kicked in the head and killed for it. Don finally wanted to stand up and stop being, like in his words, "batted about like a ping pong ball". His hiding his past and his attitude was what was batting him about and he stopped trying to hide and he stood up and in his own way, starting with apologizing to everyone. Although Betty had cause, he also pointed out to her she was making a lifeboat with Henry Francis while acting the innocent spouse. (like Betty last year, he was the last to know) They had their most authentic fight as he told he "you never forgave me" and she admitted he was not good enough for her. It summed up their main problem and they were both at fault. Betty will be very unhappy the rest of her life. Don saw when Trudy came in with sandwiches and the good relationship she had with Pete that Betty was never a wife to him, she was an ornament, and she is heading for being another one with Henry. I might be crazy, but I actually saw a look Betty shake her head no when Henry said I'll take care of you (January Jones gets the credit here) like, "maybe this is more of the same?" before wanly smiling in passive acceptance. She cannot break out of herself. Betty last season cried in happiness when Don took her on a business dinner that she wanted them to be a team. Trudy is that for Pete, excited for him and happily contributing to his choices. Poor Don realized that too late if maybe he did the same with Betty, things would have been different. The mind bender question is, although Betty claimed to want this, is she capable really of delivering on it? Her childhood and her upbringing leads one to think no, she may think she can, but she is too passive, childish and wants to be taken care of. That is her demon.
It looks like the new SCD & P can use an art director..Sal may be back. Ken and poor Paul might not be in the credits anymore as we bid them good-bye. The fifties' finally ended in the SC world, the tune at the end of the episode was hopeful, the page has turned to a new beginng, one where Don Draper finally seems happy and at ease. He is, at the close of the season, baptized anew and is at peace with his mistakes and seems to be looking forward to the future, with the experience of what he did wrong before. A great episode!
I cannot say enough about this episode. It pulls everything together that made the show great. Great script, great acting, great music, and great atmosphere. I now cannot wait for next season when the series will take an entirely new direction (that is all that I can say about that without giving it away). Hopefully the newcomers to the show will not be disappointed as you would need to have seen a few episodes before understand this episode, but that is a good reason for you to go back and to watch the entire season. Hope everyone enjoys this episode and this review.
A great episode - brought a lump to my throat at the end with Betty going to Reno and Don heading into a soulless appartment building! Great to see Joanie back with a real job to do - will be very exciting to see how next season develops. Also great scene at the end where the staff at Sterling Cooper realise what has happened - Paul's face when he saw they had taken Peggy and not him - pure genius! Sally was brilliant in the scene when Don and Betty were breaking the bad news.
This episode had everything that makes Mad Men so great - brilliant script, multi-layered story telling, great characterisation and superb acting.
Will be counting down to Season 4.
After a pretty mediocre start to Mad Men Year 3, the last three episodes have been nothing short of exciting. This was the fastest-moving episode in show history, and was definitely one of the most enjoyable. I don't think I have ever been on the edge of my seat like I was while watching tonight's show.
And now the long wait until Season 4 begins, and if the plot for tonight's show was any indication it should be a good year. The writers wised up, realized those annoying British people weren't helping, and got the show back to basics, kind of like what Lost did at the end of Season 5. We can only hope neither show disappoints when it premieres next year.
Well, it was kind of expected as this being the season finale, you ought to deliver one heck of a tale. And they couldn't do it any better. Quite contrary to most episode, this one was faced paced, didn't require you to read between the lines, and just delivered drama with more if not the same intensity as the other ones. The story kicks off with Don's rendezvous with Connie Hilton, where he stumbles upon the news of PPL and Sterling Cooper's acquisition by a bigger firm McCann Erickson. Don want's Roger and Bert to pool in money to buy out Sterling Cooper, but unfortunately realize from Pryce that their offer cant match the asking price. The episode goes on prove that Sterling Cooper is about a talented group of individuals and not the workforce inside the four glass walls of the building. Using a loophole in the contract and with the help of Pryce, Don, Bert, and Sterling get themselves fired to start 'Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce' by taking with them their accounts. And yes, if you look at it, they've got the people who matter, people who tried to make a difference. Apart from the top guys, they rope in Peggy, Pete, Joan, and Harry. Which quite explains why you don't see Ken Cosgrove and Paul Kinsey. One the sidelines, while Don is able to create a new family in his professional life, his personal life is now over with Betty filing for a divorce, and the Henry Francis affair finally coming to light. It's interesting to note the magnitude of shakeup here, and the new structure should definitely take us through a new journey with some historic events next year. And, it's a long wait till then...
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