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Mad Men



Episode 13 - Tomorrowland

6 March 2012

Finally on an equal footing?

Mad Men - 413 - Tomorrowland

The end to a fascinating season sees the focus firmly on Don rather than SCDP.

He fulfills Faye's prediction that he would be re-married within a year but unfortunately for her, she is not the one who benefits. The scene where he broke up with her was very sad but the scene between Joan and Peggy was probably more satisfying dramatically. Earlier in the season (408) Peggy tried to reach out and share a moment with Joan as equals but its Don's sudden announcement which finally brings this about. You can sense the relief for both of them to be able to say how they really feel about what looks like a rushed and probably foolish marriage. Peggy admires Don so much and while he has been single they have grown closer than ever. He still treats her as his best friend, instantly sensing her unease about the news when they were alone together. But she is still hit with a bunch of conflicted feelings about Megan. Especially as Megan seems to be on course to become a copy writer and literally do what everyone assumed Peggy did all those years ago.

Poor Faye's phone call really was sad though. All season the warning bells should have been ringing though. Don put work ahead of her and expected her to look after his children when it was deeply inappropriate to do so. Don definitely has an idea in his head about what role a wife will play in his life and Faye was probably too independent and sure of herself to fit that mould. Instead it was Megan's ease with his children and sweet nature which convinces Don to make a fresh start with her in his life.

The rush to marry Megan seemed entirely plausible where in many other shows it might seem like a hotshot move to fit a season finale's needs. But we know that in Mad Men time moves forward at the end of each season. Don's quick decision felt like him trying to put a life together that can support him in the way he wants to be. SCDP is very slowly recovering and he is clearly tired of going home to an empty apartment. Being back in California and saying goodbye to Anna again puts him in a strange Dick-like mood. He seems insecure around Megan and asks her if they will be together again. Then he quickly announces the news to all his colleagues at work despite usually wanting to keep his private life very private.

But does Don "only like the beginning of things" as Faye claims? It seems like many of the characters on Mad Men are going to realize that fresh starts don't change fundamental things about themselves. Betty gets scolded by Henry for her behavior after she fires Carla over her anger at Glen's presence in her home. Her marriage to him is not perfect, as she says, and perhaps she is beginning to realize that Don was not the only reason that their marriage fell apart. Meanwhile Joan decides to keep Roger's baby and tell the world that it is Greg's. It's a decision which also may not help a struggling marriage and with Vietnam doubtless due to play a bigger role next season, Greg may not survive to see "his" child much at all.

It was interesting to see the sleaze bag Harry Crane has become. I don't know if he is meant to be showing the toxic effects of Hollywood's growth or if has just become a comedy relief character. I liked Ken Cosgrove defining himself as different to his senior colleagues and refusing to use his family connections to secure an account. He describes his home life as his "actual" life. It seems like the bonds which hold the major characters together is their prioritizing of work over their personal lives. Roger's reaction and comment of "this is the way to behave" upon hearing the news about Megan was a nice moment. When Roger married his secretary Don gave off a disapproving air and Roger must feel somewhat smug to see Don follow his path.

So another year ends but this time with me as a huge fan of the show. I've always felt a little distant from it and its quiet portrayal of the past. But one of the things I love most about TV shows is seeing characters develop over time. This season I finally felt like I knew the characters and was anticipating their reactions to events going on around them. The show does an outstanding job of showcasing the simple events of life, work, relationships, children and the very complicated emotions which accompany them.

My relationship with the show has grown and I have learnt to appreciate it more and more.



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