Well, we didn't see that coming! Well, we did see some of it coming, but the tone of the episode was deliberately low key. No big historical references, no office saviors, no mind blowing pitches. The theme seemed to be fresh starts, and do we get them (no).
The biggest fresh start was Don and Megan. Megan is practically Ms. Fresh Start, great with kids and loves him for who is "now". Little did she know she was auditioning in LA for the job of Ms. Draper, but she passed where Faye failed in the episode "Beautiful Girls". Faye knows Don too well, it turns out. Don didn't want to build a relationship with Faye with the stink of his weakness exposed to her. As Peggy's dissapointment showed through once she learned of the engagement, Don does run from people who sees him too well. Faye saw him too clearly all year, and even called that he would be married by the end of the year. She fell for him anyway, and should have known better, but Don's good looks were too much to resist I guess. (I'm not being facetious in this observation, I think Faye did fall for Don for exactly the same reasons all the other girls do on the show, he is good looking, rich and has status) Megan doesn't know a thing about him except the image he projects, and that is what Don wants. He is the guy in the suit to her, and she is Julie Andrews to him, great with kids, young and pretty and accepts him without those pesky questions. She even knew about Faye and it didn't slow her at all.
The agency also gets a fresh start as Ken (finally! getting into the story again, he is one of my favorite characters) and Peggy land the first post Lucky Strike debacle client. Its a small account, but they landed it "their" way, through talent and work. Peggy actually shares this philosophy with Ken, as we see Ken will not use a family connection to get new business, saying he is not Pete. (A telling jab at Pete BTW) Their way is more idealistic, and we see that it doesn't aways pan out the way Peggy and Ken wants. Ken was passed up in starting the new agency for Pete and Peggy is constantly afraid that someone will bypass her for a pretty face.
Joan and Peggy talk in the best scene of the episode, where Joan for the first time (probably) relates to Peggy's frustrations (and probably a little jealousy) over Megan landing Don. Although Peggy/Don are not sexual, Peggy does feel that all her work can be equal to or less than a women using her sexuality. Both Peggy and Ken want the only key to advancement and success to be one based on merit. However, even today, there are many keys whether they are status and connections (Pete and Roger), wealth, sex or secret keeping. Although Ken is not as fully developed as the other characters, we have seen throughout the series that he is better at his job than Pete (even though Pete has grown this season) But he is limited because he will not make his work his life like the other partners do. To Ken, this is only a job, his wife is his life. The partners probably don't punish him because his statement hits on the nose, but he is not a partner for the same reason. He will not blend work and home like they do.
Joan didn't get an abortion (which we guessed even though Matt Weiner seems dissapointed that people caught on so fast from the tenor of an interview posted on here earlier). That is her fresh start as well. She wants a kid to give her and Greg a fresh start, and I think we know that that will not work out so well. He is paranoid enough to do the math once he gets home. And I am sure he will intuit Roger taking an abnormal interest in his child.
Betty also wanted a fresh start, and her fresh start hasn't turned out so well either. She is the example of how we cannot change even if we get a fresh start. She is who she is, and the same personality faults from season 1 are still there, even without Don. She "accidently" bumps into Don when he comes over to show the house (she was checking her make up before he came in, she wanted to see him) and tries to reminence about the house with Don. Of course he had a hidden bottle of booze, which said alot about them and where they were while married. She is very like Don, which is the killer about the two of them. She bailed on Don rather than work through their problems and she saw his weakness, much like Don bailed on Faye once she saw him too clearly.
Betty is again attempting a fresh start with the move, and Don tells her "you can always move again". That is Don's answer, the perpetual fresh start to run away from problems. She fires Carla the housekeeper and wants to get away from Glen, who I almost see as a weird reminder for her of Don. Glen being friends with Sally had the ring of "you were my friend first" weirdness to it. Carla lets Glen into the house which caused the firing, but it was more Carla's answer to Betty's question "when did you become their mother?" that really did it. The unspoken answer is "when you stopped being one you child!" Henry also sees he bit of more than he could chew, as he calls her out for the hyprocracy of wanting to live in that house then firing the one stable presence in the kids lives. In a meta comment, he says "no one is ever on your side Betty" which is how viewers have felt about her from day 1.
The question at the beginning of the season was "who is Don Draper?" and the answer seems to be a guy who is always wanting to be the guy in the suit, who wants a new beginning away from his past and looking at his ugly side. Like Betty, Joan, the new firm and Roger with Jane, there are no fresh starts, all are unhappy even with a fresh start because they are the same people. But as Faye said "your only good at beginnings". Don doesn't want to put in the work to make himself better. With Faye, he would have had someone who knows his faults and accepts them. He is not ready to face his faults, even with all that happened this season. Even in California, he backs off of telling his kids the truth about him, saying Dick was a nickname. I think his new relationship will be dragged down by his baggage much like Betty's has been dragged down by hers. There are no fresh starts, even if you try to make one, we are the sum of our experiences. If that was the point of this season, it is a sobering point. As Don told Betty, if you don't like where you are at, just move, as he did this year and no one is better off. The new firm, new marriages, new clients coming in, old ones leaving and new relationships do not cure what ails you, there was alot of change this year, but the point I guess is change is just change, you can change the drapes but you still live in the house which is you.