So last week, Mad Men ended with Don standing by himself in his now empty penthouse.
This week, the episode ended with Don standing, alone, in the hallway outside of his now sold empty apartment. I’m not sure if this is a sign of progress, or is it more like a huge neon arrow signally EXIT THIS WAY. Meaning Don is slipping away into what for him will be the endless night.
His daughter Sally is leaving on a Greyhound bus for 12 states in 12 days – a school trip or ‘teen tour’, no doubt, but it ended badly between Don and Sally. It seemed to Sally (she’s burning with anger as she watches)
that Don had been flirting with one of her school girl buddies at the ‘farewell’ dinner. I didn’t see it that way. I thought the girl was being the aggressor in the one-sided flirting. And Sally’s seemed to be harboring some deep-seated resentment – understandable as Sally blames Don for the end of his marriage to Betty. But wasn’t that a while ago = shouldn’t Sally be past that?
Ditto with Glen who appeared out of no where still hankering for Betty Draper Francis. Lots of guys left for Vietnam without making a pass at a school friend’s mother. It seemed creepy to me. If the purpose of the final episodes is to pick up and tie off every character from the past – this was one that surely could have remained forgotten.
Don’s office is in turmoil as well. Peggy Olsen didn’t like the fact that Roger had told her to write her own performance review. So she approached Don, who correctly asked some questions about Peggy’s plans and goals for the future. Maybe he went too far, in pressing Peggy to lay it out for him, but he didn’t deserve the dumping that Peggy offered. But it could also be argued that Don overstepped the boundaries by reacting to Peggy’s dreams to be the first Female Creative Director, to land a huge account, and to create something of lasting value.
Don’s reply In advertising? definitely hit Peggy the wrong way.
Then there was a quick look into Joan Harris’s future. While in California she meets a guy called Richard who is looking to hookup and is played by Bruce Greenwood.
They have a fling in California and Joan heads back to New York. While on a second date, this time in New York, Joan has to admit that she has a kid as Richard overhears her talking to the baby-sitter. Richard says that he can’t do that – raise another kid – Joan says he’s being presumptuous – but the fact is that he’s raised kids, and that part of his life is over. Joan immediately leaves the hotel room. But soon after, Richard arrives at Joan’s office with a bouquet. There’s a make up but no kiss. However Joan’s signals are clear. He’s back in her good graces. Wasn’t all of that ever so fast?
Apparently there is some question about the closing song – The First Time Ever I Saw York Face. Written in 1957 by Ewan MacColl, this song went on to win Grammys for Record and Song of The Year in 1972. Roberta Flack originally recorded the song in 1969 for her album First Take. But it was re-introduced to a lot of acclaim in 72.
But the question that has come up for me and I’m sure most of you, is why this song, at that moment, and for Don Draper – who is he thinking of – Is It Betty, Megan, or Sally – or reaching even deeper in to the Mad Men trick bag – is it a reference to Rachel Menken.
Either way, it is still a hauntingly romantic song and was an excellent choice even if we can’t figure out the why and the who.
The segment that I couldn’t understand was the bit about the Tinkerbell Peanut Butter Cookies and the minor account executive who angered the cookie guys initially by dropping the F word, then he sealed his own doom by relating what Don had told him as an anecdote back at those same guys. Don never told this guy to repeat those words. But the jerk did, was removed from the account, and then got himself fired by Don after blaming him. I hope some one can explain that scene to me in the larger context.
While I wouldn’t call this episode a highlight worthy one – I did think it was considerably better than the previous two. Yet I still am not understanding why some folks believe this segment, the closing seven episodes and we’ve now seen three of them, is still great television. I for one am still not impressed.