Review: Mad Men - Shut the Door, Have a Seat (season finale)
by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 9th 2009 12:01AM
(S03E13) It's a cold Friday, December 13, 1963. The President's been killed and the world as Don Draper knows it has pretty much fallen apart. For most of the season, the ground has been shifting under Don's feet and he's be holding on, trying to right himself and his life. He's tried with Betty. He's tried for Sally and Bobby and Gene -- at least as much as Don is able to try.
With Conrad Hilton he's never been on a level playing field, and from the moment he was forced to sign the contract, Sterling Cooper has not been his domain as it had been. With this episode, this season finale, all was changed and, perhaps, all has been righted. More after the jump.
Don has always thought that he was one step ahead of everyone. Smarter and sharper than his colleagues, Don was stunned when he learned from Hilton about PPL being sold to McCann Erickson. It wouldn't be the only surprise for Don.
On the home front, Betty dropped the bomb. She went to a divorce lawyer. Don was getting his freedom whether he wanted it or not. But the sting when he heard from Roger about Henry Francis turned Don primal. His treatment of Betty, calling her a whore, was beneath contempt. Don's the last person to throw stones.
At least he had the wherewithal to call her at the end and make amends. "I won't fight you. I hope you get everything you always wanted." Don truly meant that because, in truth, he does love Betts.
And say what you will about Don, he does love his children. The scene when Betty and Don gave Bobby and Sally "the talk" was gut-wrenching. I kept thinking of the Sonny and Cher song, "You Better Sit Down, Kids." Betty's words to him, "You'll always be their father," hurt like hell for Don.
At least in the work place Don was able to do something to fix things. He didn't want to go to McCann Erickson, a place Don called "a sausage factory." As harebrained as it seemed, Don and Roger and Bert teaming with Lane to stick it to PPL was brilliant. And the way it all came together, bringing in Pete -- and his $8 million in accounts -- Harry, for the media, Peggy for her ability to do what Don does, but not be Don, and then the coup de grace -- Joan.
It was sheer brilliance. I only wish they had called Sal, but I have no doubt he'll be there when Sterling, Cooper, Draper,
Speaking of which, there will be major transitions in the season to come. Whether it's 1964 when Matt Weiner picks up the story, or beyond, Don Draper will be someone else and somewhere else. Betty and Ossining will be in the rear-view mirror. Over the end credits, the singer sang, "The future is much better than the past." We shall see.
Other points of interest
-- Don's best sales job of the season was convincing Peggy to join them. She said no, and Don had to go to her. On her turf. Just like he went to Pete, but with Peggy it wasn't as much about business as something else. Don needed her, to the point of saying that he promised to spend the rest of his life trying to hire her. Peggy's tears suggested that she wanted more, but what? Love? Approval? Respect? She's tempted to let Don out of her life, but she doesn't. Peggy's choice of going with Don means she's not going with Duck.
-- The reconciliation between Roger and Don: It was sweet to see them together at the bar, and yet bitter because Roger was the one to tell Don about Henry Francis.
-- When Don confronted Betty, he asked about Henry. "You've been building a life raft."
-- The running gag of the show was sitting. Everybody was being told to take a seat.
-- Henry's jumped into the relationship with Betty full-on. He went with her to the divorce attorney. He was on the plane to Reno. Is Betty finally going to sleep with the guy?
-- Trudy really has Pete figured out. She's his partner in a way that Betty never was with Don. She even brought sandwiches to the Pierre.
-- Harry remained oblivious to what was happening, and yet what a lucky guy. He always lands on his feet. Kinsey was not so lucky.
-- It was great the way Joan knew exactly how to organize the mutiny. It's great that she's back with Roger... and the others.