It’s been a weird season, but things are looking really amazing for Mad Men moving forward. Season 6 of Mad Men has been a roller-coaster ride, with some incredible episodes alternating with some gloomy, slow-paced stinkers. It all seemed to be leading up to the death of Don Draper, but while the character didn’t “die” per se in the finale, his carefully-maintained identity might be.
For all of his faults, Don has always been a survivor. No matter how much booze he downed or how many broads he banged, he’s always come out on top with the company thriving. But after being caught in the act by his daughter and seeing his marriage start to crumble (not to mention punching a priest and getting tossed in jail), he quits the booze. That doesn’t help him right his tailspin, though.
In a meeting with Hershey’s, Don finally screwed the pooch. His bizarre, confessional monologue – a callback to the Carousel pitch from the show’s first season – was a “holy sh-t” moment that twisted the whole character, as he laid bare his childhood as Dick Whitman stealing money from the customers of prostitutes. Needless to say, it doesn’t go over well (even though, for a second, I thought it would) and Sterling Cooper & Partners loses the account. Don, even though he’s a partner, is basically cut loose from the company to dry out at home.
The Bob Benson / Pete Campbell storyline also took a pretty amazing turn. I realize I haven’t talked at all in these recaps about the death of Pete’s lover and that Manolo guy (because that’s just how huge and layered this show is, that there are subplots I just can’t get to), but Benson took things to the next level with the Chevrolet account. Originally assigned to share it with Pete, he set it up so that his rival would have to test-drive a stick shift – which Pete couldn’t do – and humiliated him in front of the client.
Peggy also went to an interesting place this episode, as Ted Chaough made his move, spent the night at her apartment, and then took it all back. She’s realizing that men can get away with philandering all they want, and watching her toughen up as she gains more power has been fascinating. The episode also featured the shot above, with her in the classic Don Draper pose from the opening credits.
The big step forward – that I’m sure is going to play out next season – is that the agency is essentially splitting in two, with a crew of Ted Chaough, Pete Campbell and others heading to Los Angeles to open a satellite office. Who will go with them (besides Harry Crane?) When will the next (and probably final) season take place? Will Don stay sober or fall completely apart? I don’t have answers!