In the premiere of season 4, a reporter asked, “Who is Don Draper?” This finale did a bang-up job of answering it, although it was hard to hear the dialogue over the audible groaning and screaming at the television in my household. The answer is complex, while simultaneously simple. Don is Dick. Dick is Don. Don has not only become engaged to his secretary–excuse me while I retch–but he has also finally married his two identities. The result? Don has skipped “Tomorrowland” and gone right back to “Frontierland,” that warm feeling of what’s familiar and deceptively easy.
One of Don’s first stops in California was Anna’s house. Sally soon asked the inevitable question about the writing on the wall: “who’s Dick?” Good question. We’d also be interested in Don’s answer and he delivered. “Well, that’s me.” Really? You’re not denying it anymore? Fabulous! With an episode entitled “Tomorrowland,” we can only assume Don is moving forward and making fabulous progress with Faye, a strong woman who knows Don’s secrets and accepts him despite his enormous flaws, right? Of course not. Don has been given a sign from beyond Anna’s grave: the engagement ring Don Draper (the first) gave her. Well, by all means, Dick/Don, clearly this means you must propose to the nearest and youngest warm body.
“There is no fresh start.”
Henry says this to Betty after finding out she fired Carla. Are we to believe his perspective or Don’s? I’m partial to Henry’s in the scope of this episode. Betty and Henry can move out of that house, but Don’s shadow will always be looming over them. Additionally, Betty has done an excellent job of completely isolating herself. If she wants a fresh start, she will certainly be completely alone while attempting it.
Don’s fresh start, on the other hand, is completely fresh to him, but completely retro to us. Either he is in complete denial of his Betty-redux engagement to Megan, or he has accepted that he can be content without changing his ways. Faye’s assessment of Don and Megan seemed right on: “I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.” Megan and Don’s beginning has to be similar to the start of Betty and Don’s relationship. A young woman totally taken by Don’s charms who doesn’t know anything about who Don really is. Probably because Don doesn’t really know who Don is.
“I don’t want to ride an elephant; I want to fly a jet.”
Don’s son understands the importance of moving forward. That’s why he wants to go to “Tomorrowland.” And what’s funny is that Don understands this too, but in advertising, not within his relationships. I’m reminded of that line in Dazed and Confused, where Matthew McConaughey’s character, the repeat senior says something like, “I keep getting older and they stay the same age,” regarding his attempts to woo the freshman girls.
Don isn’t changing, if nothing else, he’s moving backwards. How can a man so forward-thinking in the advertising world be stuck in reverse when it comes to relationships? When he said to Megan in bed, “You don’t know anything about me,” he was excited by this prospect. His fresh start, his new beginning, his new, young impressionable bride. He’s Don Draper, man of mystery, sexy, smart, risky, bold. Of course he’s happy she doesn’t know him. And of course he’s in love with her because of that. Megan sees him as exactly who he’d like to be and Faye is pressing too hard on accepting him as who he is, but not who he’s satisfied being. This brings us right back to that moment in “The Summer Man” when Don looked content, but the Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction” overtook the scene. He will never be satisfied.
“Well, I learned a long time ago not to get all my satisfaction from this job.”
One of the best scenes from this episode came from Peggy and Joan’s mutual disgust over Don’s impending joke of a marriage. Of course it would be office gossip that would bring the two women together. They are in complete agreement about the ridiculousness of Don’s decision and both realize that however large their accomplishments are, they are still dwarfed by a marriage, especially to a secretary. Beyond everything else, hasn’t Don learned from Roger’s marriage to Jane, another fresh-mouthed youthful secretary?
Joan and Peggy laugh at the end of that scene because both of them realize they agree on one other thing: their respective jobs are their lives and livelihood. The scene with Cosgrove at the beginning of this episode was designed to mirror Joan and Peggy’s views on their jobs. With Cosgrove, it is just a job. With nearly everyone else at the office, it is a lifestyle, hence Peggy’s outburst to Joan regarding her take on job/life satisfaction: “That’s bullshit!”
“Yes, honey. They’re bigger.”
I knew it. Right after that abortion clinic scene, it was apparent to me that Joan would be running, not walking out of that place. Seems to be a rather soapy turn on a show like Mad Men, but I’ll buy it. So will her husband. Roger’s reaction, on the other hand, should be one for the ages. And after two former abortions, it seems only right that Joan’s time to start a family is now.
So the final question is, has Don changed? Although, in a show about how everything is perceived, maybe the question is, does Don think he’s changed? Or does it look as though he has to anyone else? In that final scene in the Draper house, Don and Betty are both making big moves in their lives. But are they actually going anywhere? In title only, apparently. Don’s look out the window in bed with his fiance was telling. What does the window mean? Are we getting a glimpse into the inner workings of Don’s soul? To me, all it showed was that Don wants. And that he longs. And what he wants and longs for is almost always different or more than what he has.
1. Forget poor Sally. How about poor Carla?
2. Could Betty be more one-dimensional in this finale? Her last scene can’t redeem a season of hateful actions.
3. Don and Peggy’s scene was erring on the side of creepy. Megan reminds Don of Peggy? What does that mean? Peggy seems equally baffled. Peggy’s “she’s very beautiful,” couldn’t have been more on the money.
4. “Things aren’t perfect.” Hopefully Betty’s child psychologist will soon explain to Betty that life isn’t always fair.
5. No use crying over spilled milkshake. Don was shaken when he realized Megan was so different than Betty in her handling of the kids.
6. That last look at the Draper household was nice. Shame for a great set like that to be put to rest. Similar to the set of Sterling Cooper last season.
7. Don’s posture and position when he delivers the break-up news to Faye is similar to when he was given the bad news about Anna in “The Suitcase.” Perhaps Don thinks he has evolved?
8. Why was Harry Crane acting like such a gross guy? Seemed out of character. I know he cheated on his wife way back when, but I thought he was committed now. Maybe just another way to show that a good looking woman overshadows the business end of things.
9. “I’ve Got You Babe” feels like an overly romanticized Don. He feels young and rebellious, but it’s all a delusion.
(Image courtesy of AMC)