Well, it's come to this. twelve weeks, a few b12 shots, a bullet in the eye, a burglary, various infidelities, Planet of the Apes, Rosemary's Baby, a merger, visions, flashbacks, THE 60S, and I don't know how many words written later, we've come to the end of another season of Mad Men. Last week, we got in position for the finale, featuring Don being alternately distant and an asshole, Peggy calling him on it, and Pete finally solving the Bob Benson problem . . .or rather, getting it handled. What awaits us this week? Let's find out!
"IN CARE OF"
"You know what they say about Detroit--it's all fun & games until someone shoots you in the face."
It's a dark time. Nixon's president, and as Thanksgiving is just around the corner, things are not great. Don is trying to set new records for prodigious metabolisation of ethanol, either that or he's coping with Sally's painful hostility (Sally's courting contempt of court charges by refusing to return to New York and testify about the burglary) by drinking a lot, and punching men of the cloth who tend to proselytize to drunks.
Stan sees great opportunity in packing up and moving to L.A. for the Sunkist account, even if it's a demotion--the notion of getting out and going somewhere new appeals to him. Unfortunately he makes the mistake of telling Don this who, in an effort to cover for his drunken assininity, decides to offer himself up to go to L.A. so he can run the Sunkist account. He sells this to Megan as being a fresh start where they were happy and Megan, being Megan, believes him (leaving aside that, as when he shipped Sally off to boarding school this is all about putting the maximum amount of distance possible between the piles of poo he leaves everywhere). This annoys the partners and enrages Stan, who calls him on his bullshit. Between this and how he handled Peggy, Stan has become one of my favourite guys.
Not that anyone else is doing much better--Peggy and Ted are now separated completely, Pete's mom fell off a ship and is presumed lost at sea (because of course Pete incurs the most ridiculous misery) Meanwhile, Roger comes down hard on Bob and Joan's friendship because he's not connecting with his own family and he's closed off from Joan.
Things get worse for Pete as he finally makes it out to Detroit (after shouting at Bob--apparently before she took a tumble off the ship, she married her nurse Manolo, who seems resolved to play the pleasant Baldrick to his Blackadder) Pete is immediately undone because he can't drive a stick and comes straight back home. Oh Pete, your whole life is one long sad trombone.
Peggy decides to use the power of cleavage to force the issue with Ted, and it works (because of course it does) Ted insists he's going to leave his wife, though seems a bit ambivalent about the whole thing, and Peggy insists she'll wait for him and doesn't want a scandal, but considering that they apparently went at it like a horny couple of Hottentots, I don't put a lot of faith in their self-restraint.
And Ted doesn't have any faith in it, as he begs Don to let him go to California, away from Peggy, so the temptations of the flesh won't ruin him (as it did with Don, a fact that Don is all too aware of.) Don tells him there's no way he can change his plans, only . . .
. . .Don loses his mind, and starts spilling the beans about his early life in a whorehouse . . .in the middle of a pitch to Hershey's. It's one of the most astoundingly excruciating bits of overshare in the history of overshare and he tells Ted he's going to California instead of Don. Then again, there is a strong probability that Don has finally gone insane, as he seems to be acting completely sideways.
And the partners have had enough of that, pretty much, as they politely (as much as is possible) put Don on the bus. Yes, my people, Don Draper finally acted irrationally enough to force even his closest allies to get him out the door, with the upshot that is it's PETE of all people who gets to go to California (with Ted--I guess they have more people to spare than they thought) Don's future is uncertain in all ways (Megan storms out after quitting her job on account of his exit strategy) and well . . .I'm trying to see a plan in all of this, but damn if I can.
In any event, we get a BIT of a happy ending among the ruins of all this. Pete has one last moment with his child and Trudy tells him to look on this as being free--No senile mom to look after, no family to be responsible for and let down, he can have a fresh start. If he can just let go of being an asshole, there's a way forward where he might possibly be happy. Roger has a odd (but kinda pleasant) Thanksgiving with Joan and Bob (resplendent in apron--that'll make a fellow viewer of the show happy) and if he can just let go of feeling like he has a claim on Joan, there's a chance he could be happy too.
And Don? Well, Don takes his kids to the ruins of the whorehouse he grew up in, in an effort to reconnect with them. Maybe if Don can actually be honest with the people in his life who love him (and doesn't punish them for having the bad taste to love him) and doesn't run away when things don;t go his way there's a way he might be happy too.
This was . . .well, an interesting episode, and probably one that works more in a marathon viewing where you can see the threads that brought us here. It kinda meanders and goes off strange tangents before focusing up at about the 45 minute degree mark, but then, every episode has kinda felt that way this season. I was quite impressed with the final few minutes of people trying to go after what they need instead of what they want. It was more thoughtful than just having a BIG EVENT people react to.
I liked it.
And that's it both for the week and the season. Join us next season for the final season of Mad Men, wherein we will no doubt explore the world that's coming, the world of the 1970s. Perhaps we'll get grosser jackets, or why every appliance was avocado or squash coloured, and the sideburns situation, can only probably get worse. Somehow, I doubt very much that any of these things will even be addressed, but it's something to look forward to, at least. See you next year!