I continue to be amazed by Mad Men. I don't mean the overall quality of the writing, the acting, the direction, the production. It's easy to be amazed by all that. I'm talking about where Matthew Weiner and his writing staff are taking us.
I think we can all agree that, beyond the bigger picture of how the 1960s changed America, the big story on the show has been "Who is Don Draper?" It's the big secret that he's been keeping since episode one and it has really been the driving force of the show. But last night Weiner and Co. blew the show wide open by having Betty confront Don about the box in the drawer. And when she did, Don actually told the truth! And this wasn't even the season finale!
(S03E11) Autumn in New York, why does it feel so inviting... That's a great song, and I thought of it while watching the opening of this episode, with the Draper kids all excited about Halloween. And there was also that chill in the air between Don and Betty. Actually, the icy glare was all Betts. She was off to see her brother about selling their father's home, but what was really on Betty's mind was the contents of Don's desk drawer. More on that and gypsy and the hobo, after the jump. By the way, this was a great Mad Men episode.
So how are you celebrating the season finale of Mad Men tonight? I'm doing it the same way I do it every single Sunday night at 10, with a Mad Men party! Of course, my party consists of me and an alcoholic beverage, but still!
There are a lot of people who having parties tonight, including the cool ladies over at Basket of Kisses, who are throwing a bash at Phoenix Park in New York City. Noir Bar at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA is having a season finale party, too, with retro drinks and snacks and even a lookalike contest with prizes. I bet there are a lot of bars in your local area that are having parties as well, so I'd check if you feel like dressing up and going out instead of being plopped on your couch tonight.
Don is in California, being more Dick than Don, playing house with Anna Draper and baptizing himself in the waters of the Pacific. I think the big question for the season finale is what exactly is Don going to do? Is he going to stay out in California, running away from his responsibilities and change his name again, like he did after Korea? Or is Anna going to convince him to go back to his life in New York, back to Betty and his kids?
And what about Betty? Will she take him back, or has she become a woman now, finally, and on to the next chapter in her life?
If Don were ten years older and this was 1972 instead of 1962, we'd be saying that Don Draper is going through a mid-life crisis. After spending last week contemplating a new future with the jet set, or at least getting the offer of a hobo-existence without the worries of finances or fidelity, Don was compelled to look back before making a choice. That phone call at the end of The Jet Set was to the real Mrs. Draper.
Back home, meanwhile, Betty is again faced with having to grow up. Between her father's decline, Don's disappearance and her rebukes of Arthur and Glenn, Betts has been forced to be more than she's been in the past. Sally's latest stunt shouldn't be a shock considering that she's snuck a drink earlier this season and clearly idolizes everything her father does.
Sally blames Betty for Don's absence, and Betty realizes that pain she's been feeling is just as acute for her child and she does something human about it -- she gives Sally the boots to cushion the blow of the truth that Daddy may not be coming back.
(S01E13) "Who knows why people do what they do?" - Don
True story: About 20 years ago, I worked with a woman who was overweight. She wasn't feeling well one day - I think she had an upset stomach - so she left work and went to the doctor. She found out that she was 8 months pregnant. Not a month or two months, but about a month before the baby was due.
I thought of that tonight after watching the season finale of Mad Men. So many things answered and so many doors left open for a second season...
(S01E12) "Fire him if you want. But I'd keep an eye on him. You never know how loyalty is born." Cooper, to Don, about Pete.
I don't think I'm giving anything away when I tell you that at the end of this episode, Kennedy wins. But it's not really about that anyway, despite the title. The first half of the ep is all about the election and the different pairings we see at the Sterling Cooper all night party - Harry and Hildy, Ken and a secretary, even Sal and Joan, though not in the way you might think - but the second half finally explains what the deep, dark secret is in the past of Don Draper.
And the secret is...
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