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Just when the rest of the internet has stopped talking about the finale…let’s talk about the finale! This is going up so late because as you can see, I found myself with a lot to say. As with pretty much every episode of this show, it benefits from multiple viewings, so I will attempt to persuade you to love it, and if you hated it, try watching again. It’s worth a shot, and besides, what else do you have to do for the next 8-12 months?
Fortress of Brownitude. Faye wakes Don up on her way out. She has a 7am flight. “Will you at least put me out of my misery before you go?” Don groans. At first I think he means a handjob, because I’m twelve, but no, he’s just nervous about the big meeting today with the American Cancer Society. She assures him that they loved the letter and they’ll love him. And then he’s gonna take his kids to California and have a ball. He is? Yaaaay! Oh that’s just the greatest. “I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach,” Don says, preparing me for the scary dark episode everybody had been whispering about with suicides or murders or just general awfulness. Faye takes his hand and suggests that it might not be about work. “Maybe that sick feeling would go away if you took your head out of the sand about your past.” Don: “You know it’s not that simple.” She says of course it isn’t, and he doesn’t have to do it alone. “And then what happens?” Don says, sort of amused at Faye slipping into psychologist mode. “Then you’re stuck trying to be a person like the rest of us.” She kisses him and takes off, but not before Don stops her at the door to tell her, “I’m going to miss you, you know.” If I may quote the illustrious Heather Havrilesky’s live Twitter commentary: “Uh oh. Goodbye forever, Dr. Faye.”
“You could at least have put it in an envelope big enough to hide my baby bump.”
The layoffs have broadened Joan’s duties to include pushing the mail cart around with a Joantastic pout. I didn’t notice this the first time, but her lovely royal blue dress is fitting just a little differently than it was last time we saw her. I’m just saying. “Any outgoing?” She asks Lane, dropping off his mail, and he hands her an envelope. “But don’t post it – it’s for you. It’s been discussed among the partners that you’ll be promoted to Director of Agency Operations!” She’s genuinely pleased, and I’m proud! That’s a kickass title for a 30ish-year-old woman in 1965! However, it’s a “dreadful reality” that they haven’t signed any new business since Lucky Strike left ten weeks ago, so it’s only a title change. No money, but just for now! Her face falls. “Well, it’s almost an honor!” She says with that sweet, charming passive-aggressive tone that no one else on TV can imitate. Lane smiles, apologetic but amused. Bra freaking vo, Christina Hendricks. Also, va va va voom, but now we’re just stating the obvious.
“Um, can we skip to the part where I dazzle you with colorful imagery and you turn to putty in my hands?”
“What made you suddenly write that?” An intimidating middle-aged American Cancer Society lady asks Don. Jesus, the atmosphere in this particular client meeting is significantly less jovial – I guess understandably, on account of we’re talking about cancer and all, but these meetings don’t usually feel like congressional hearings. Don’s a little out of his element, but Pete is always Pete. I’m looking around the table trying to find Emerson Foote, whose granddaughter stopped in to say hello in the comments last week, which was just CRAZY AWESOME. Seriously. Thanks for reading, Liz Foote! Check out that link up there to the faceboook page she set up for him – it’s full of amazing photos and scans of stock certificates and PSAs and autographs from other real live Mad Men. Badass. There’s one guy at the table who might be about the right age, and his name is not mentioned, but I have a feeling we’ll at least be hearing his name dropped here and there next season, and my ideal situation is some kind of Connie Hiltony mentorship. Connie Hilton ends up on the board eventually too, and that seems like just way too good a chance to pass up, doesn’t it? Anyway, Don responds with the following sentence, which everyone should please keep in mind for the rest of the episode: “I guess in my heart I acted on impulse, because I knew what I needed to do to move forward.”
They’re at a loss – how do they get their message across? “Frightening medical facts are useless; half of us are smokers,” says a guy too old to be Emerson Foote. Don of course knows a lot about how the other side of things work: Cigarette advertising is not about getting people to switch brands. “Nobody switches.” It’s about getting new smokers. They target teenagers with a two-pronged attack promising adulthood and rebellion. “But teenagers are sentimental as well. Have you heard their music?” Don has! I wonder how the Beatles concert was; you know, the one Megan facilitated right before the final shot of the episode was Don watching her applying her lipstick. Anyway, that gets a chuckle, but wow is it a tough crowd. Those bloody mary glasses are all way too full. Don’s thinking of running ads during Bandstand and whatnot, showing “mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and that cigarettes are between them.” The parents are not long for this world, is the basic message. “But they hate their parents,” the first lady says. “They won’t be thinking about their parents,” Don says. “They’ll be thinking about themselves. That’s what they do.” They’re mourning their childhood more than they’re anticipating their future. I don’t know if I follow you there, Don. Maybe you should drop the nostalgia angle every now and then? “They don’t know it yet, but they don’t want to die,” he finishes. The board nods slightly. “If it helps, I can guarantee Lucky Strike will hate this.” Don says, reminding them that he knows EXACTLY what Lucky Strike wants and how they sell. Awkward chuckle, but less awkward than the first one. So that’s something!
“This ‘actual life’ thing you keep talking about – can just anybody get one? Where’d you get yours? Does it have pocket squares and briefcases and conference tables?”
“Did you get Cancer?” Roger asks hilariously when he sees Don and Pete return. “We got a meeting for another meeting.” Pete adds hyperbolically that they were eating out of his hand. Plus, the board was loaded with fatcats just like Ken and Roger said. In fact, Don had a lengthy exchange with the CEO of Dow Chemical. Roger salivates at the thought of letting the guy beat him at golf. They all pester Ken about his father in law (RAY FREAKING WISE) who’s at Corning. And hey, how about they all go have a round of golf together? And I think Roger will come through, because see earlier re: you don’t just hire Ray Wise for a 3-line, 20-second role. And Ken’s pretty annoyed. That’s his father-in-law. He likes the guy. He’s not dragging him into work, because “Cynthia is my life. My actual life.” Nobody knows what to say to that, because it’s crazy talk! “I’m not Pete,” he sums up. Roger says fine, he’ll call the guy, but he’s dropping Ken’s name. “Do whatever you want,” Ken says smugly, then leaves to “service the 30% of this firm that are my clients.” Hey. Can’t blame you there, Ken. You don’t have to be Pete! We already have one of those and he’s plenty.
Oh, it’s so sad watching moving guys hauling away the entire Ossining house. It occurs to me that if Don really sells it – and I’m not sure he will, given the circumstances – the only original S1 set left will be Pete and Trudy’s apartment. (Or was that S2?) I feel the same grief for the house as I did when I bid a teary farewell to the Sterling Cooper set last year. Carla’s packing up the kitchen when Glen walks in and politely asks if Sally’s home. Carla reluctantly tells him he’s not supposed to be there, but when he pleads with her that he just wants to say goodbye, she relents, because she “cares” about Sally’s “feelings” or whatever. She tells him to hurry, because Betty hasn’t gone far. He knocks on Sally’s door. “It’s Glen. Are you decent?” See, that’s cute. He’s creepy, but he’s not evil. Sally smiles but says he shouldn’t be there. “So you’re finally moving,” Glen muses. Sally, despite her murderous gaze last week, seems perfectly fine. She started hating that house once all it did was remind her that her dad was gone. She’s mad at her mom, but she’s also kind of relieved. “This weekend,” she says. “While we’re in California with my dad.” She’s absolutely beaming. That could certainly be responsible for at least part of her good mood. “Jesus, is that where you’re moving?” No, Sally says, they’re moving to Rye. She has so many tiny subtle Betty mannerisms, it’s amazing. Give this kid an Emmy – Mariska Hargatay has like 30 for some reason, she could spare one. Anyway, Glen says he’ll be able to drive in a few years. He can go visit. Sally thinks that’s a great idea. “I can send you postcards. I have your address.” Ah, the days when you had to “have” somebody’s address, and not just google it from your pocket. It’s no big deal, he tells her. “I say goodbye to people all the time.” All in all, it’s a totally harmless goodbye for a couple of best friends who helped each other through horrible divorces. Which would have been the end of it if he’d left 12 seconds earlier, but he leaves just as Betty’s getting home. Betty freaks out to a degree that she must know by now is pathological. I mean, the very notion that her contempt for Glen has ANYTHING to do with Sally’s wellbeing is ridiculous. Exhibit A: “You think I don’t know what you’re doing? You could be friends with anyone.” See? This isn’t about Sally, it’s about Betty, like everything else in the world. Glen’s parting shot: “Just because you’re sad doesn’t mean everybody else has to be!” Betty has no response. Advantage: Glen.
FACT: The phrase “Oh HELL to the NO!” was coined in 1965 by a long-suffering underpaid housekeeper/nanny in upstate New York.
Betty can’t yell as much as she wants to at Glen, so she yells at Carla instead, and it’s just spiteful and bitter and awful. Carla apologizes – he just wanted to say goodbye. “They’re friends; that’s all.” Betty is fucking apoplectic. “When did you decide that you’re her mother???” “Oh, I guess probably around the time you decided you weren’t,” Carla does not respond, but could. “It was a mistake,” Carla says. “There’s no need for that kind of talk.” Betty begs to differ. “You know what, Carla?” She says, digging through her purse. Oh hell no. “I’ve been thinking…” No you haven’t. Sigh. She makes up some bullshit about the distances and blah blah, and thrusts a stack of cash out as far as her arm can reach, you know, for the added effect of making Carla take a couple of steps to take her shitty severance pay of one week’s salary after ten years or whatever. “Do you think I enjoy doing this?” Betty snarls. No, Betty. No one thinks you enjoy anything, at all, ever. “Someone has to take care of those kids,” Carla says, taking off her smock thingy. “Oh, and what about your kids?” Betty bitches. “Are they all doctors and lawyers?” It would not be inappropriate for Carla to invent the phrase “OH NO YOU DI’ENT!” at this point, but she just says “you best stop talking now.” Holy fuck that’s vicious! Oh my god, I don’t even know where to start with that, Betty, seriously. Carla heads toward the stairs to say goodbye forever to the kids she’s been taking care of every single day their entire lives (and at least one SIX WEEK CHRISTMAS DIVORCE VACATION), but Betty, always ever so concerned with the emotional wellbeing of her dear children, thinks that’s a bad idea. It will just upset them more. Know what else will probably upset them? Telling them “I made Carla leave, then I gave her some pretty damn racist shit about her kids she never got to see cause she was too busy taking care of you guys so she could put food on their table, and also you don’t get to say goodbye to her, ever.”
Don’s lawyer/finance guy – the one, incidentally, who advised to Don that he should be “schtupping” Megan – is in Don’s office, telling him that the bungalow in San Pedro netted him $10k in profit, around $60-70k in Tomorrowland dollars. Not a bad investment, the late Anna Draper. And he’s got an appointment with a realtor about the Ossining house when he gets back from California. He’ll probably double his money on that. When Don asks about the loss from what he put into the company, Shtup guy is quick to protest that that’s an investment, not a loss. “Don’t be impatient. Maybe get a place of your own. Don’t you want to come home someday and see a steak on the table?” Don reminds us that the capital gains tax in 1965 was 48%, so maybe we should all stop whining. Megan interrupts on the intercom to tell Don that Betty’s on the phone, and it’s urgent. “It’s always urgent,” he sighs. But yeah, in this case, it’s urgent in the “you need a babysitter like, right now, cause I just fired ours for no good reason” sense. Don has no idea what Carla could possibly have done wrong. “Can’t I just hire her back for the trip?” “No! I don’t want her poisoning the well,” Betty says, whatever the hell that means. She told the kids Carla’s sick. So what, eventually she’ll tell them she sent Carla off to a farm where there’s plenty of space to run around and lots of other Carlas to play with? Christ. Don has meetings in California, what the hell is he supposed to do? “Then don’t take them!” Betty yells. “They’re used to it.” Don just says “We’re going!” and hangs up.
“Just wanted to give you a quick update: I’m still a self-absorbed, bitter princess and all-around horrible person. Enjoy your trip!”
Joyce wanders in to Peggy’s office with her model friend “Carolyn Jones, like Morticia.” Apparently she was on a commercial shoot for Topaz pantyhose when everyone just freaked out and fired everyone else. Joyce wonders if Peggy might be able to get her some work. I’m wondering if Joyce knows Peggy well enough to be thinking the same thing she’s thinking. Harry slimes in and slimily hits on her, I think for the same reason he tried to get Joey on Peyton Place, which is that he’s all up in Hollywood’s ass lately. The point is, gross. Shut up, Harry. I wonder if next season he will have moved out there. His story seems to be headed in that direction.
Megan has been on the phone, frantically searching for sitters. The hotel has a service, but they won’t watch the older kids and Gene at the same time, and it’s all a big mess, and all of a sudden a cartoon light bulb goes *plink!* above Don’s head. He’ll double her salary for the week if she comes along with them. Megan says she doesn’t have any professional experience, but Don’s like, ptthbt, you have a uterus, don’t you? “Sally loved you, and Bobby likes a pretty face, and the baby, he’s tough, but he’s fun.” Which, aww. He likes his kids. No matter what Don does, I will always aww when he does stuff that reminds me that he likes his kids. And well, Megan has a college friend there, and she’s never been, so hey, why not! And let’s just file this away for future reflection: Megan, Don’s pretty young French Extracted secretary, with whom he’s already had sex at least once, is accompanying him to California, the place where Don once spent 3 weeks hanging out with (and having sex with) smug bohemian pothead hipsters, where he regularly visited his fake wife in the house he bought for her, and where he goes whenever he wants some kind of lifechaning epiphany. Why is this happening? Because Betty hates Glen. This babysitting arrangement is a direct result of Betty’s childish bullshit/fucked up jealousy/weird misplaced petty resentment. That? Is hilarious.
Ken pokes his head in to tell Peggy that her little tip about Topaz being agencyless got them a meeting. “All we have to do is not throw up on our shoes,” Ken smirks. Awesome.
Come on, people! Look at this! Don is not made of stone!
Don enters a hotel room with beach towels strewn about and two charming kids waiting for him with their Disney princess of a babysitter. She looks stunning. She’s taught them a song in French, which they sing for him as he walks in the door. They’re having the best time ever. It’s adorable. She’ll be back at 7 to watch the baby while he takes Bobby and Sally. “Bonne nuit, mes animaux!” She says merrily. Okay, I love her. I mean, I’ve liked her for awhile, especially since she gave Peggy that “Well you’re doing pretty well, aren’t you?” on her birthday, the only person to actually acknowledge how much Peggy’s hard work has paid off, and what an achievement it is to be where she is at her age. So this scene, especially on second viewing? Judge me if you must, but I love her. Sally looks enamored too, as does Don, when he marvels “You said you didn’t have any experience, and you’re like Maria Von Trapp!” Heh. She says she has nieces and nephews aplenty. Don walks up to the kids’ bed and theatrically plops face-first onto the mattress between them. Bobby: “How was your meeting?” Don, motionless, into the pillow: “Pick me up and move me to my bed.” See above re: aww.
Not Pictured: Gene Draper, Former Mrs. Draper, Future Mrs. Draper.
And the awws keep on coming! Don is flanked by Bobby and Sally, framed through Anna’s front door like a strikingly happy family portrait. Stephanie smiles as she’s introduced and says that the notary is late, but when she gets here all Don has to do is sign. “And then you can go to Marineland!” She tells the kids. But Bobby’s attention is drawn to the wall Don and Anna, er, Dick and Anna, painted on his last visit. “Who’s Dick?” Sally wonders, looking at their adorable sad little signature at the bottom. Don pauses for a moment then says “That’s me. That’s my nickname sometimes.” Which, hey! Progress! One day Sally is going to think that whole story is the awesomest thing she’s ever heard, but for now, that tiny admission is plenty. They run out to the backyard to pick lemons, and Stephanie tells Don that Anna wanted him to have this. She pulls a tiny box out of her purse. “It’s her engagement ring from Don.” Hot damn. And this gun is in the second or third act, but let’s keep Chekov’s general principle in mind here. Don coughs that cough you cough when you’re pretending you’re not trying not to cry, shoves it in his checkered California coat pocket, and changes the subject. Stephanie says she’s not going back to school for now. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. “That’s the best part, isn’t it? I’ve got my whole life ahead of me, and so do you.” Christ, on second viewing I kind of feel like a moron for not seeing the crazy plot twist coming a mile away.
Megan and Baby Gene are at the pool when they get back, and the kids immediately begin stripping down to their bathing suits, because hotel swimming pools are every kid’s favorite part of any given vacation. Don goes to the room and sits and stares at the floor for a few minutes, as he is wont to do, before he decides to join them. DON DRAPER CANNONBALL, PEOPLE. And oh my god, everybody is just squealing and giggling and it’s happy family pool party. Later, they sit on the bed with a Disneyland map, sketching out their itinerary. “Mr. Toad!” Bobby says, but Sally says Gene can’t go on Mr. Toad. And I totally didn’t notice this before: Don says that Gene can stay with Megan while they ride, and Sally says that won’t work either cause then Megan couldn’t go. Aww. And also, yowza. Megan knocks on the door to see if Don needs anything before she heads out to Whisky A Go Go with her fellow French Extracted friend. She looks FANTASTIC. Her dress makes me want to fast in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights then dig through my mom’s old 60s girl band clothes. “What about Tomorrowland?” Bobby says as Don stares at Megan, then keeps staring at the door after Megan’s gone. These all seem like anvils in retrospect, don’t they?
“It’s times like these I wish I’d never creepily fondled your giant pregnant belly.”
Other things I can’t believe I didn’t notice: Betty gets home to find Henry sitting in the dark. ON THE GODDAMN FAINTING COUCH. “Carla called looking for you,” he says. “Oh? What did she want?” “You know what she wanted!” Henry says. He is a Mad Man. He can’t believe she just fired her like that, without even mentioning it to him. “I didn’t want her invoking your sympathies,” Betty huffs. “She said you wouldn’t give her a letter of recommendation,” Henry says, which, christola fuck, lady! I mean, wow. Henry agrees. “What did she do? And don’t tell me it’s just about the neighbor boy.” Um. It is, yes. Sounds pretty dumb when you lay it out like that. Betty reminds him that Sally’s not allowed to see him, which is a fair point, but not a fireable offense. Henry: “Carla said he’s her friend!” “Carla said?” Betty repeats mockingly. Henry loses it. “I don’t understand what you’re doing. You didn’t want to move because you want the kids to have some stability. And then you get rid of their nanny since they were born?” Yeah, that’s the timid glowing pregnant Madonna you fell in love with at Roger’s blackface party, Henry. I admit, none of us liked you, but we shouldn’t have wished this on you, especially since you turned out to be easily the most reasonable adult in the vicinity. Our bad. Betty says she wanted a fresh start. “I’m entitled to that!” she screeches. “There is no fresh start!” Henry yells. “Life carries on.” “Jesus, Henry, just once could you take my side?” Henry: “No one’s ever on your side, Betty.” Whoa.
So here’s Don, chillaxin’ in his California casualwear, drinking a beer and reading while the kids are asleep. I love that Don, who never finished high school, is always reading, and holds his own intellectually with his PhD girlfriend. Save your money, kids! College is for suckers! I know what I’m talking about here, just ask Sallie Mae. Anyway, his ears perk up: Somebody’s home next door! He knocks. Oh dear. Megan answers, still all dolled up and fabulous from her night out. Don’s like, “Um. I wanted to go over the plan for Disneyland.” “Do you really think I should be involved in such high level decisions?” Megan asks with a straight face and twinkly eyes. Ha. Don says he’s awake, the kids are asleep, he can’t turn on the TV, how about some grownup time? She invites him to enjoy the balcony with her, and they chat about how her friend isn’t really her friend, just an old roommate who’s kind of a bitch, but hey. (Interesting note: Megan’s dad is a college professor in Montreal, and so is Jessica Paré’s! Neat!) “She’s been in two episodes of Hogan’s Heroes” Megan says. “She told me I could never do it because of my teeth.” “I love your teeth!” gushes California Don. With his hand on her waist. And it’s all moonlighty and whatnot. And he kisses her, and this time it’s Megan who wonders if they should be doing this. “I’ve been thinking about you so much,” says Smitten West Coast Barefoot Don. Her response is to swallow his face, which I guess means “I too have been thinking fondly of you lately.”
That sound you hear is what cartoon hearts sound like after they pour out of people’s eyeballs and pop in the air like bubbles.
The life Don left behind in Ossining is way sadder and way less makey outy. Betty wanders into Sally’s empty, boxed up room in the dark and falls onto the bare mattress. She curls up on her side and stares straight ahead. I bet Matt Weiner was really tempted to use that same overhead shot we got of Sally last week, but it’s obvious that it would have looked exactly like that, down to the plaid dress, so the point is made.
Don is curled up on his side staring straight ahead as well, but he’s staring at Megan with post-coital dreamy googoo eyes the likes of which I haven’t seen on him in a long time. She confesses that this is exactly the sort of thing she thought of the second he asked her to come along. “You don’t know me,” Don says, amused. “But I do!” Megan smiles. “I know that you have a good heart, and I know that you’re always trying to be better.” “We all try,” Don says. “We don’t always make it. I’ve done some things…” Megan just says “I know who you are now.” Magic words in the Magic Kingdom. The sun’s coming up, so he has to go. You know, next door where he left his three children (including a 2-year-old) alone. Ptthbt, Glen’s behind bars, Sally’s already driven a car, they’re fine. “I want to know if I can knock on this door again tomorrow night or if this is just…what it is,” Don says. “I need to know. I don’t know why.” Because you are downright twitterpated, that’s why. Her answer? Yes please.
But back in the city, Peggy and Ken are workin’ hard for the money! It’s a holiday – Columbus Day I guess? – so there are only two guys in the claustrophobic little Topaz pantyhose office. The Topaz guys hated the last agency, and they hated the stupid boring Cinderella ad. They just want something that will stand out. Like, now. 123 GO! Peggy is kind of hilarious. She wants to know what they think makes their brand unique, and when the guy asks if she’s wearing them right now, she smiles all pretty and says “Yes! Because I can wear Topaz pantyhose with anything! I’m wearing them at work right now, and I’ll change everything but my hose when I go out tonight!” Ha. Ken’s all “One pair! That’s all you need with Topaz!” Then realizes that there’s a reason he’s the account guy. Peggy rephrases: “The only pair of pantyhose you’ll ever need. Bad for business; good for you!” They like it! “Okay, that’s one. What else you got?” Peggy pretends to search for ideas off the top of her head. “Single pair, singular comfort. It’s got the word ‘single’ in it!” The guy’s impressed. “That’s two.” Ken and Peggy for the pantyhose win!
“Are you fucking kidding me, unflappable Disney princess who adores me? Am I being Punk’d?”
Don and Megan and the kids are all having their post-Disneyland milkshakes at one of those famous drive-ins that we’d probably recognize the exterior of. Don makes his pensive “who farted?” face as he comes around the corner and sees his little family in their booth, only instead of icy Betty, he has freaking Snow White Von Trapp. Sally and Bobby are having a heated and rather sophisticated argument regarding the evolution of snakes. “We learned that they used to be fish, and he doesn’t know because he has baby science,” Sally scoffs. “Okay, THALLY,” Bobby taunts like a little bitch, and in the ensuing struggle Sally knocks over her milkshake (strawberry). “Great!” Angry Dad Don yells. The kids both freeze, terrified. Megan grabs some napkins. “Don’t be upset,” she shrugs. “It’s just a milkshake.” And everyone at the entire table falls in love with Megan at that exact moment. Don was ready to scream, and it kind of didn’t occur to him that without Betty to scream along with, really, it’s not that big of a deal. It is, in fact, just a milkshake. And it’s Megan’s last dress, but she makes a joke about it. Don looks at her like she just turned a pumpkin into a carriage with the help of an assortment of sentient woodland creatures.
And this is where it gets a little weird – I guess we’re supposed to gather that the milkshake incident really was a turning point, but it’s still kind of jarring to go straight from the California diner to Don’s Fortress of Brownitude, presumably a couple of days later? Weird directy choice, but really not that weird when you know what’s coming. Don’s back in his Manhattan uniform, white shirt, black tie, sitting on the side of the bed staring at nothing. Just like he did in the hotel room between his highly emotional farewell to Anna’s house and his cannonball. Don Draper’s Thousand-Yard Stare Of Pensive Self-Evaluation. Megan squirms awake next to him. She sees that he’s been awake for awhile. “What’s wrong?” Don smiles a sunny tanned California smile. He just couldn’t sleep, that’s all. “I just kept thinking about you.” I haven’t seen him this gaga since that one flashback when he told Anna he was marrying that wonderful beautiful blonde model! Ahem. “I don’t know what it is about you,” he tells her. “I feel like myself when I’m with you. But the way I always wanted to feel. Because I’m in love with you, Megan, and I think I have been for awhile.” Well, at least the last few days, but whatever! And then there’s that little blue box Stephanie gave him. From Anna, his favorite person in the world, from beyond the grave. “Oh my goodness!” Megan gasps. WE CONCUR, MEGAN.
Yeah, this was our reaction too.
No really, this is actually happening. “When I saw you sleeping there, I thought…I couldn’t imagine not seeing you there every morning.” She stares. “Will you marry me?” He adds, as an afterthought. Damn, Don, Megan just woke up, and the rest of us were all just in a California malt shop like 45 seconds ago! She stammers that it’s so fast, because oh my god it was so fucking fast! “Did you ever think of the number of things that had to happen for me to get to know you?” Let’s see: Broke Allison’s heart, got Blankenship as punishment, Blankenship dies, inherits Megan, hangs around late on just the right night to have ill-advised but apparently awesome couch sex, Sally runs away and makes friends with her, Betty fires Carla for dumb reasons at the last minute. “But it all happened, and it got me here. What does that mean?” He’s Double Rainbow guy all of a sudden. Megan’s still just staring slack-jawed and for a moment I think she’s going to turn him down, but she says yes, of course! And the little tinkerbell ghost of Anna beams and twinkles happily somewhere in the ether as Don puts her ring on Megan’s finger. She’s like um, so hey, why do you just have an engagement ring lying around? “It’s been in my family,” he explains. Then in a fit of leftover California candor, clarifies: “Not my family, really. It belonged to someone very important to me.” Megan can’t believe this. “I have to call my mother!” She gasps suddenly. “I had this feeling, and I called her from California because I wanted it to go away!” Don smiles and asks if that’s on the hotel bill, and she adorably apologizes and asks if she should call from the office. Heh. “What about work?” Megan panics a little. “What do we do?” Don shrugs. “We tell everybody.” The “duh!” is unspoken. She dials furiously. “Maman? C’est moi! J’ai des nouvelles! Va chercher Papa, vite!” Aww. Or, in French: Chere.
Now I guess I should acknowledge that at this point at least 83% of us are standing up or sitting in stunned silence or possibly yelling at the television. I hope you’re not angry! I was just confused, but wow, the second time around, it makes so much more sense. Which is true for literally every episode, but this one in particular. And now that the shock has worn off, I hope we’re all at peace with this. I’m already talking too much, so I’ll just say this: Don is doing pretty much exactly what I think he did the last time he was a single guy who caught the eye of a beautiful, smart woman he thought he could make a family with. Cheesy as that is, Don didn’t get a family. And now he finds himself with kids he cares about, but he knows he’s not the dad they need and Betty’s not the mom they need. So here’s this unflappable, smokin hot girl who adores him, who understands his work and is eager to learn more about it, who can be his intellectual equal but also give him something to come home to, not to mention something for his kids to come home to. This is the perfect smooshing together of Don Draper: Idealistic Dreamer and Don Draper: Impulsive Horndog. I like it better every time I see it. “I guess in my heart I acted on impulse, because I knew what I needed to do to move forward.”
“Hey, remember all that shit I gave you when you married your incredibly young secretary? I totally get it now! Best idea ever!”
“Look at you, brown as a berry!” Roger greets Don. He’s called in the partners (and Joan of course) to make some sort of announcement or something. It shouldn’t change anything around the office, but “Miss Calvé and I are getting married.” Everyone stares. Roger: “…who the hell’s that?” Ha! Well, shit. Lane is the first one to break the “whaaa?” silence to congratulate Don. Roger is still confused: “…Megan out there?” Don knows it’s a surprise, but she makes him very happy. “Well let’s bring her in then!” Don smiles like an idiot. Lane congratulates her, but Pete knows you don’t say congratulations to the bride. “You say ‘best wishes.’” Roger calls for a toast. “Megan, could you get us some ice?” HA!
Meanwhile, Ken pokes his head into Peggy’s office: The Topaz guy called. “He said he liked ideas 2 and 4 and we’ve got a week!” Peggy shrieks and hugs him. Yay for them! The dry spell is broken! Surely, this is easily the most interesting office news of the day! They head to Don’s office to “rub it in” and run into Pete on his way out. “We have great news!” Ken declares. Pete: “Are you two getting married?” Wait, what? Roger fills them in. Peggy makes a hilarious WTFace at the news, and they offer their congratulations. “That’s incredible!” “I know,” Megan says. “It just happened.” It certainly did, Megan. The phone rings and it takes everybody awhile to remember that it’s Megan’s job to answer it. Ha. Peggy recovers enough to tell Don that they signed Topaz, and he is genuinely proud of her and just crazy happy. “That’s great news! We broke the streak!” Best day ever! Ken is off to let everybody know they have jobs to do. “I hope you have all the happiness that Peggy and I had signing this account!” Heh. I like Ken, I’m glad we got him back. Peggy lingers, of course. “…Wow.” You said it! “She’s…very beautiful.” “You know she reminds me of you,” Don tells her. “She’s got the same spark. I know she admires you just as much as I do.” He’s totally sincere, but Peggy’s still pretty baffled when she finally makes her way out. Megan comes to the door with the phone message from earlier. “It was Dr. Miller again,” she says sheepishly. Fucking yikes. I guess Megan knew about them because of all the dinner reservations? Or did he just tell her this morning after she got off the phone with her mom that oh by the way, I should probably tell my Jewish candy mafia girlfriend about all this?
This! Could we have more this please?
Peggy’s reaction is filling me with absolute glee, but this scene tops it all. She knocks on Joan’s door wearing her WTFace. Joan, smirking: “Whatever could be on your mind?” Ha! Peggy shuts the door and bums a cigarette. “Can you believe it?” Peggy says, flabbergasted. Joan says it happens all the time. “They’re all just between marriages, you know that.” Peggy just silently WTFs. “He’ll probably make her a copywriter,” Joan smiles. “He’s not going to want to be married to his secretary.” (take a look at the bio of the guy Don is loosely based on!) “Is that what he meant? ‘She admires you’? Jesus.” Peggy just saved this company, dammit, and nobody cares because it’s not as cool as getting married. “I was just made Director of Agency Operations!” Joan says. “If they poured champagne it must have been while I was pushing the mail cart.” Joan says she learned a long time ago to not get all her satisfaction from this job. Peggy narrows her eyes. “That’s bullshit.” Ha! Joan breaks into giggles. They’re both cracking up. This is awesome. More Peggy/Joan in S5, please!
Don at least has the decency to be mortified at the prospect of making this call to Faye. I’m not even sure they were exclusive – remember all those “dinner plans” she was always talking vaguely about? – and I know he kind of checked out once he realized he’d spilled his guts to her. But based on their last encounter she has no reason to think anything is going on. I mean, NO reason. It’s just an awful squirmy brutal conversation. She’s obviously been worried that she hadn’t heard from him, and she’s a little cautious from the get-go, but once he talks about meeting for “coffee” she stops being suspicious and starts being angry. “I’m not going to have some conversation and have to sit through coffee afterwards. Just get to it.” Don gets to it. Faye is predictably floored. She like, winces. Physically. OUCH. “Who is she?” “What’s the difference?” Well, if she’s gonna call in any candy store mafia favors, she needs to know whose bed to put the horse head in. But she lets it go. “I hope you’re very happy. And I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.”
Oh. Fucking. Snap.
Faye, having summed up Don’s biggest flaw in one beautifully sharp dismissive little sentence, keeps it together long enough to beat Don to the hangup before she loses it. Sad! I’m so sorry, Dr. Faye. Megan sees the phone line light blink off so she steps inside to um. I don’t know, give Don some moral support? Or just remind him why he had to do what he just did. She climbs into his lap and they make out like teenagers. “I love you, you know,” she says. Technically this is new information, cause if she’s ever said that before, it happened while we weren’t looking.
“…And he’s smiling like a fool, like he’s the first man that ever married his secretary!” Joan is saying on the phone to Greg, who surely can’t be in Vietnam, right? I didn’t think you could just go “Hello Operator, I’d like to speak with Sgt. Dr. Rapey McDouche in Vietnam, please!” But he says he just woke up and it’s 90 degrees, so I guess we’re just supposed to think that you could. He’s at a desk and all, not the jungle, so I guess it was at least possible. Anyway, Greg says “When are you going to tell them your news?” AHA! We knew it! “They’ll know soon enough,” she says. “Are you showing at all yet? The picture I have of you doesn’t change.” Joan says she’ll take a new one and send it to him. She loves the dumb bastard, god bless her. I can’t fault her for that and I guess I can’t wish death upon him either. “You know what I want to know,” Greg says. “Yes, honey. They’re bigger.” Heh. Boobies. Oh my god, I cannot wait to meet Joan’s chainsmoking wisecracking silver-haired fetus.
Betty’s standing in the dark empty Ossining kitchen. Why is she doing that? And why is she carefully applying makeup? Why would you do that in your dark empty house you just moved out of? The answer is “because you had a fight with your second husband and you’re wondering how your chances are with the first one who really wasn’t all that bad now that you think about it.” It’s kind of funny. Betty is pretty much a horrible person, or at least a horrible mother, but I just can’t hate her. I love this scene even though it does not end with the awesome divorced rage sex I’ve been rooting for all season. There’s always next year! She arranges her props when she hears the door open. Fancy meeting you here! She totally didn’t realize that Don’s real estate meeting was today. Totally slipped her mind! She had to drive all the way back out to get this box full of crap from the guest bathroom. And just stand around the kitchen in the dark with lipstick. Now that Don knows the movers weren’t especially thorough, he reaches way back into the cabinet above the oven and finds a bottle of booze, probably one of dozens scattered around the house. Have fun finding them all, next family that moves there! Betty finds this genuinely endearing. She grins a big “you so crazy!” grin, and I’ve seen Betty’s real smile twice this season: Once when Don got the Beatles tickets, and just now in this oddly intimate little encounter. She watches him pour some into a silly yellow plastic cup from the “forgotten” box. And I mean WATCHES him.
“Come hither, you sexy, hunky, totally single, probably-still-pining-for-me bachelor, you!”
After some small talk about the new house, there’s a few seconds of silence, which Betty breaks by looking around and saying “remember this place?” Which is cute. They have not had healthy or fond conversations lately, so I’m glad they have this tiny little moment of nostalgia. She says the new place is very different, that’s for sure. “Isn’t that what you wanted?” “I don’t know, Don.” Betty says, and we already knew that. “It’s not perfect,” she says, in a way that gives Don an opening to ask if she means the house or her marriage, or something, but she caught him on the wrong day for that. “I have to tell you something,” he says, and she’s ready for “I’m still in love with you,” or something along those lines, so she’s thrown for a big ole loop when he tells her he’s engaged. She doesn’t even have time to pretend not to care. She’s kind of devastated, and it shows. “I’m very happy for you,” she says eventually. (Note: She is not.) She guesses right on the second try. No, not Bethany, the secretary who watched the kids in California. “I don’t know why I’m surprised,” she says, regaining her composure just in time for the realtor to ring the doorbell. “I’ll see you weekend after next,” Don says, but Betty stops him. She very deliberately and very significantly takes the key off her keychain and hands it to him. And just like that, it’s over. She heads for the garage, Don heads the opposite direction, and all that’s left of the Draper household is a Still Life With Jim Beam And Ridiculous Yellow Plastic Kiddie Cup in a dark empty kitchen. Suck on that symbolism for awhile. It’s like a little play. I want to applaud.
And that would make the perfect final shot for the season, wouldn’t it? It would, but this one’s pretty appropriate too: Megan is sleeping peacefully, cuddled up against her new fiancé. Ahh, so happy. Except Don is doing one of his favorite things: Staring straight ahead at nothing. The real final shot of the season is us following his gaze through the window, into the night, and into the shiny new future he just abruptly gave himself. “I Got You Babe” plays as the screen goes black, and surely I’m not the only one who immediately thought of Groundhog Day. Here we go again!
“Uh… Now what?”
And there we went! I don’t know how to sum up this whole season in a paragraph, but I guess the thing that strikes me most about this episode is that we were all expecting something so different. Last season’s finale was like fan fiction, just one “YAY!” after another. And we spent the last few episodes of this season trying to save the new agency, so of course we thought that we’d be watching the resolution to that. But this show has always been a show about these people. It’s a show about advertising, yes, but in the same way that Buffy was a show about vampires. The only reason we care about what happens at SCDP is because we care what happens to Roger Sterling and Bert Cooper and Don Draper and Lane Pryce, and everybody else whose initials aren’t on the door. Everything that happens in that office happens because it tells us something about these characters. So we don’t know what happens to the agency till next year. They left us hanging there like the teases they are. But the very first line of this season was “Who is Don Draper?” We and Don spent this season trying to figure that out, and we sure did learn a lot, but that thousand-yard-stare says he’s still not quite sure.
Thanks for indulging me, and thanks for the kind words and the thoughtful analysis of stuff I missed, and thanks for making these weekly recaps/profane term papers worth the trouble! See you next season, a hundred years from now!