Monday, November 09, 2009

Mad Men "Shut the Door. Have a Seat.": Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce

There are people out there who buy things. Like you and me. Then something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that. But you do. And that's very valuable.
Every season, Don has a sales pitch that says a lot about that particular season of Mad Men. That this one was to Peggy and not a client doesn't diminish the fact that it nails several truths about this season, and the characters' past. While last week's Kennedy assassination episode was light on plot, the 'something terrible' was an event that shapes this week and America going forward. It set up events in this week's episode in that it forced most to look at their world differently, accelerating change not here, but across the country.

This whole season has seemingly been about tearing Don down, bit by bit, as uncomfortable as it was at times to see. Father-in-law Gene, baby Gene, Conrad Hilton, and Betty have, little by little, taken away some control from Don's life, and much like his hair, Don's life is a product of control. Seeing him lose his temper to Peggy, in particular, was hard to see, but reflective of a man losing control (and lets not forget sleep).

The finale starts by pulling out the final pieces-- in the form of betrayals. First up, father figure Hilton breaks the news of Sterling Cooper's sale to McCann Sausage Factory* to Don, who sees deceit in Conrad's handling of him through their relationship - namely for forcing him to sign a contract, thus leaving him no convenient escape route. Next up, Betty begins divorce proceedings, pulling another relationship rug from under Don (and leading to the heartbreaking scene with Bobby & Sally, pictured above). But for every door that closes...

*Once upon a time, I worked for that sausage factory.

Sterling Cooper Draper Price, how can I help you?" "Yes Harry, it's room 435.

The episode took on the fun elements of the heist genre, like Draper's Eleven, as Don, Roger, Bert and Lane plotted out how they'd pull off their own pre-emptive betrayal. I'm pretty sure they broke a few laws in the process, and wouldn't be surprised if a lawsuit results, but it was a brilliant scheme leading to not only a reunion with Joan, but also all sorts of exciting season four possibilities. To get there, Don had to repair some relationships along the way. First Roger, who helpfully pointed out Don's problem with relationships, then Pete and finally, as opened with here, Peggy.

A great finale demands a fine ending, and seeing Don pull up to his new digs (found for him by Joan) to the strands of Roy Orbison's "Shahadaroba":
Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
Face the future
And forget about the past
Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
In the future
You will find a love that lasts
Previously: "Grown-Ups" (Episode 3.12)

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