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Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 6.13 - In Care Of






Well, here we are. It’s the final coun- oh, wait, that’s Arrested Development. Anyway, we’ve arrived at the final episode of Season 6 (which by all accounts is the penultimate season), and a lot of questions need to be answered. Will SC&P stick together? Will Ted and Peggy reconcile their situation? And most of all...will Joan ever get a decent storyline?

All joking aside, this has been a slow-burning but ultimately satisfying Season 6. The show thrives on character, and boy did it deliver. Though nothing can beat the entire office getting high, we still have a great season finale up ahead. I’m dressed up and ready to go. This post also marks 100,000 words for the FJ Blog, as well as the end of my first recap season. What a wonderful tool of procrastination it has been. Let’s begin.

Previously on: Sally knows about her dad, Joan drives Roger out of Kevin’s life, Bob and Pete argue over Manolo, Roger’s daughter tries to sweet-talk him, they talk about Sunkist. Opening credits: Duck and Trudy are both in this! Carly Wray writes (okay), Weiner directs (YAY!)

Don arrives at the groovy-looking SCDP only to be confronted by Stan, who wants to a) be on Sunkist and B) go to California. Don tells him the stakes are ridiculously high, but Stan persists.

Roger’s daughter and son-in-law show up, complete with scrawled portrait from the grandchild. They’re taking him out to lunch to “thank†him, but it descends into a war over who gave who money and Roger winds up banned from Thanksgiving for no reason at all. You really raised a total bitch there, honey. This is the same girl who shrieked over Kennedy’s death ruining her precious wedding, so...

Don gets a visit from Cosgrove. Hershey’s is trolling for a new agency, and SCDP is on their list. Don is not particularly gung-ho, but the others want to go for it, and they bring him in on it. Don looks impassive and sips coffee.

Roger and Pete meet on the stairs, where they discuss business while Roger sneaks looks at Joan and Bob. Back from Detroit, Bob has bought a cute thing for Kevin, and Roger does not like Joanie’s gay bestie/perceived boyfriend horning in. He cuts into the conversation, saying not to give the kid a toy car – he might want a real one.

Megan and Don are about to go out to dinner, where they talk about a “subpoena†– Sally’s going to testify about Grandma Ida, I guess? It’s established that Don has to call Sally at boarding school, because Miss Porter’s has no Thanksgiving Break (riiiight, what American school doesn’t have something for Thanksgiving?) so it’s just the boys for Turkey Day.

Bob arrives to see Roger. They get down to business – Roger has noticed that Benson has no performance review, and wonders what he’s playing at with “another man’s child†(ha ha). Bob says they’re not involved, just buddies, and Roger says that Joan has “an awful lot of buddiesâ€. Classy, Roger, especially with the mother of your secret love child. Anyway, he tells Benson not to play with Mrs. Harris’ feelings, and sends him on his way with a curt lecture.

Don calls Sally, who responds with a terse “What do you want?†and rejects his Thanksgiving wishes. Upon hearing that she has to testify, she tells him that her calendar’s full – but she wouldn’t want to do anything immoral, so how about Don tell them what she saw? Ouch. You got ovaries, Miss Draper. Kudos. Seriously.

Cutler shows up to see Chaough. Sheridan has arrived, but Draper is missing. They scramble to find him. Two guesses where he is.

...and he’s in a bar, and BAND OF GOLD is playing. You guys, that is the very first song ever played on Mad Men, which opened with Don in a bar. Season 1 flashback! Season 1 flashback! I’m totally freaking out here. He solemnly ignores the AA guy evangelizing on the other side of the room, and in moments is drawn into a conversation. “You need to talk,†the AA guy says. He tells him that Jesus offers him eternal life, freedom from pain, etc. “Nixon’s President, Jesus has what he wants in this life,†Don replies, then recites all the terrible things that happened that year. “There’s not a true believer on that list,†the preacher says.

We go back to a Dick Whitman Flashback! A guy is trying to evangelize the hookers, and Uncle Mack is not happy. The guy is thrown out, but before he goes he tells Dick that the only unpardonable sin is not to believe God can forgive. SUBTLE, Weiner.

Don wakes up in a drunk tank, having punched the AA guy. We cut to Peggy – oh, is Pegs going to bail him out again? – who is staring at Chaough with his wife and two little monsters. Pete is heading out too, please don’t sleep with Peggy, when he gets a telegram. His mother has fallen off the ship and is presumed lost. Ooh, boy, Petie’s an orphan. He asks the secretary to call his brother.

Megan comes into the kitchen, where Don is guzzling the hair of the dog. “This is about last night?†she snaps. When she demands to know where he was, he tells her the truth, and (finally) admits that he’s out of control. Megan’s glad to hear him say this, but not so happy to hear his next idea. He’s sick of New York. He wants to move to California. WHAT?! Mad Men with no Madison Avenue? Losing all the people?! Ack. No, Don, no! He convinces Megan it’s an opportunity to start over as “homesteaders†working for Sunkist. His kids wouldn’t care, and it was where they fell in love, of course. She bursts into tears – and nods yes. The Drapers are going to Los Angeles!

We cut to a partners’ meeting, where they stare at him stunned.  Cooper is upset, Pete doesn’t really care, Joan stares into space, and Ted whines about how nonchalant Draper’s being. Don goes to his office. Stan runs in and lectures him about what a jackass he is. Don offers to take him out to California one day, but Stan refuses to ever work for him. Good job, Stan boy. Stand up to the Incomparable Draper.

We get Pete on the phone, who is screaming about someone’s marriage. Once he hangs up, he demands that his miniskirt-clad secretary get Bob Benson. He runs out to the elevator, where Benson is his unwitting target. Manolo has apparently kidnapped Mommy Campbell, married her at gunpoint, then drowned her. Uh-huh. Bob says it’s ridiculous. I’m inclined to agree. Two beautiful ladies walk into the elevator, and they shut up. Ah, chivalry, not dead, if possibly dormant. Pete refuses to get in a cab with Bob, though.

Peggy gets into a sexy black micro-mini number, cleavage-baring and trimmed with pink. She casts seductive glances at the partners and asks to leave early, cause she has plans. They are all taken aback, especially Ted. Damn, Peggy. Remember Season 1? Mademoiselle got hot.

Bob and Pete show up at Chevy, where they wax eloquent over a new model. Bob gives Pete the keys to the car. Uh-oh, not Novice Driver Pete. Someone’s getting run over. Benson taunts him about his driving skills – it’s a stick, which Pete can’t drive. Maniacal grin on his face, Pete floors it in reverse and knocks over a sign. The Chevy guys are pissed, Pete is embarrassed – Benson is gleeful. Good revenge, buddy, good revenge. But watch it. Please.

OMG, Ted is at Peggy’s apartment. Her sexy gear has worked, and she has brought him to her feet. Sort of. He asks how her date was, to which she responds it was terrible and snaps about him bringing his wife in. “I don’t know why women do anything,†Ted admits before bitching about her sexy gear. He says the reason he’s been ignoring her is because he doesn’t want anyone else to have her. He gets her up against the door and tells her he’s leaving his wife. She tartly replies that she’s not that girl. Soon their lips are locked and they’re getting naked with incredible speed. Have fun with that, let’s see what Draper’s up to.

Don is awakened by a midnight phone call. Sally’s been suspended from school. “When’s she due?†Don asks. Betty says no, it was a drinking-false-ID thing. She was drunk and got everyone else drunk. Naughty, naughty! Anyway, Betty wants Don to get Sally for Thanksgiving dinner, because naturally she’s too mortified to have her only daughter around. However, she has a healthy dose of maternal guilt to go with it. Don assures her that it’s not her fault, but Betty laments about Sally’s broken home. He promises to get Sally, and apologizes to Betty – though she doesn’t know the reason why.

In bed with Peggy, Ted suggests that they go to Hawaii for Christmas. NO, don’t do that! It ruined the Drapers’ marriage! Peggy suggests that he go home, asking “Don’t you always go home?†Ted counters that he doesn’t want to sleep around, but Peggy says she can wait. Better to avoid scandal. Is this some kind of Myra Janco Daniels reference? Because that would be awesome.

Mrs. Ted wakes up to see her husband getting in suspiciously late. (Her name is Nan, but I prefer Mrs. Ted.) She doesn’t question it, asking him to come to bed. Ted is safe – for now.

Pete comes in to his secretary, who is extremely groovy-looking. He informs her that he’s been fired from Detroit, to which she tells him that his brother’s been trying to reach him. No news about Mommy Campbell yet. Life goes on, but life is harder than ever, and Pete goes into his office with a sigh.

Joan’s secretary tells her she’s going out, and adds in a healthy dose of Roger Sterling gossip. The poor guy is lonely and needs somewhere to spend Thanksgiving, and it’s not with the secretary’s spastic son (charming outdated reference there). Oh, noez, whatever is poor Joan to do? The secretary got paid to do this, didn’t she?

Ted comes into Don’s office. Don thinks he’s there to discuss Hershey, but no, it’s something else. Ted wants to go to California. Dammit, does anyone there not want to start over in California? Ted thinks it’s a last-ditch attempt to salvage marriage and fatherhood. Don correctly guesses that Peggy’s involved. However, he is impervious to Ted’s begging. It’s all arranged, Megan’s being written off her show, so Don’s not budging. Ted asks for 3,000 miles between him and Peggy. He then invites Draper for a drink. Draper indulges in one – by himself, without the whiny Ted.

Don gives his pitch for the Hershey execs, and though he’s very polished, his heart doesn’t quite seem in it. Good acting from Hamm, looking not-really-there beneath his ad exec image. He recounts a fond memory about Hershey chocolate, blah blah blah, you’ve heard a variation of it in half the Draper pitches. He calls it “the currency of affectionâ€. Hershey seems to like it. Don’s hands shake under the table. Withdrawal already? Whatever it is, something drives him to be blunt, probably because he’s leaving. He tells his story to the table, Hershey execs, SC&P execs. A poor Pennsylvania orphan in a whorehouse. Everyone is horrified. This is an incredible turning point for the character. He talks of how he was given chocolate in exchange for stealing from one woman’s john. In his room, he would eat the bar alone and feel like a normal boy – “it was the only sweet thing in my lifeâ€. He’s near tears. Hershey exec says, “You think we should advertise that?†Don says they don’t need to advertise. Cutler tries to save the pitch, but it’s too late. The Hershey guys make excuses and get out. Cutler gives Don the most vicious glare ever. Don turns to Ted and tells him that he will go to California. Ted thanks him, staring impassively. Don 2.0.

As Don leaves early, Roger tells Don he “shit the bed†and asks if any of it’s true. Don wishes his secretary a happy Thanksgiving, generally ignoring Roger. It’s clear that whatever has just happened, it’s way more important than a simple pitch.

Bud and Pete sit in Pete’s office, on the phone with the ship’s company. Mommy Campbell has disappeared forever, and as the guy helpfully notes, there are a lot of sharks in the area. Also, Manolo – who has been using a pseudonym – is missing, especially since Mommy Campbell’s funds were quite low. Pete and Bud are stuck, but they discuss throwing money at the company to get the investigation going. Bud tells Pete that their mother “is in the water with Father.†“She loved the sea,†says Pete. They decide not to pursue.

Ted comes in to say goodbye to Peggy. She does not take the news well, and thinks Don separated them on purpose. He stops her, saying no, it was his choice – and he is better off with his wife. They need to let it go, and part of loving her is letting her go. Peggy sees this as total bullshit and hisses at him to get out. He is being patronizing, saying that it was a tough decision. She says “Aren’t you lucky to have decisions.†That could refer to... a lot of things.

Megan comes in to tell Don that he has a Thanksgiving meeting with the partners. Don takes this moment to break the news. They’re not going. Oh, nice going, genius. She gets super pissed, because it’s thrown all her career plans aside with no consideration for her whatsoever.  No, wait – she wants the marriage over. Well, that’s a surprise, though he’s certainly had it coming for a while. “You want to be alone with your liquor and your ex-wife and your screwed-up kids,†she tells him, saying that now she feels more sympathy for them than ever. Don proposes that they be bicoastal, but she doesn’t want to hear it. He throws in an “I love you.†She walks out. Bang, clang, so long Megan. Honestly? She was all right while she lasted, but I’m not going to miss her.

Pete shows up at his old place. Trudy’s going to her parents’, Pete thinks he’s going to California. Okay, who exactly is going to California right now? I am extremely confused. Pete asks to say goodbye to his little girl. Trudy would be heartless not to let him, and so he goes in and strokes her head. It’s a total mirror of Don, Sally and Betty in the first episode, which makes me wonder if this is the actual series finale. God, I hope not. However, these callbacks to the pilot are fascinating, I must say – showing just how far everyone’s spiralled.

Don shows up to find Cutler, Sterling, Cooper and Harris waiting for him. Uh-oh. They have serious looks on their faces and are having a serious discussion. They think it’s best if he takes some time off...aaaand we know how this goes. A few months, no fixed return date – so I guess forever. Finally, they won’t put up with his bullshit anymore! Draper got fired! On his way out, he runs into Duck Phillips. Oh, this day keeps getting better and better, guys. “Going down?†Duck asks. How apt. How subtle.

Joan, her hair girlishly down, opens the door to find Roger with cranberry sauce. As “Moon River†plays, Roger is surprised to see Bob Benson there. She curtly informs him that he is part of Kevin’s life, not hers. Bob offers a friendly greeting. Joan shouts for her mom. Roger decides to take what’s offered to him, and starts to get to know his son.

Stan stumbles across Peggy, who is in Don’s office, I guess testing out what his desk might be like. She’s rocking a red houndstooth pantsuit and is looking at the future, which arrived in many ways tonight.

Don drives his kids to Pennsylvania. Bobby asks about  Hershey, PA. “There was a man named Hershey. He made enough chocolate to build a town,†Don says. He suddenly pulls over. Bobby complains that it’s a “bad neighbourhoodâ€. Nonetheless, they get out. “This  is where I grew up,†Don says. The kids are stunned. Judy Collins sings “Both Sides  Nowâ€. Don looks at his daughter beseechingly. She gives him the tiniest look of forgiveness. They turn back to the house. The sky is blue, Don is starkly cut out against the backdrop. He’s lost his marriage, his job, what little control he had left – but he’s going to be okay. It’s beautiful, and thus our season ends.

In my opinion, Season 6 was the least outstanding of the entire show – but that is saying a lot. Even at its weakest, Mad Men is still streets ahead of most television shows. Tonight, they proved they still have every ingredient that made them so compelling early on. With all these changes, some of which the fans would argue were necessary, we’re set up for an excellent Season 7. Thanks for reading along with me, and I will see you in April. How I wish it were sooner.



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