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Episode 13 - In Care Of

26 June 2013

Credit AMC

All season I've felt that the plot elements have been quite disparate. It never seemed clear where anything was going, either in Don's personal life or at work.

But the theme of Don spiralling into ever worse circles of hell introduced in the premiere (when he read Dante's Inferno) certainly culminated in this finale. You can't blame any of the partners for asking him to take a leave of absence after all his erratic and irresponsible behaviour. The Hershey's pitch was very moving but utterly selfish and it acted as a suitable last straw.

The way he increasingly turned to drink may seem like an obvious character trait but it fits really well into his overall story. In season four when he was single and a bit out of control the drinking went overboard. He managed to pull himself together then as things in his life improved and here again he recognises that when drink makes him look like a fool it's time to change. On a side note this links the Don Draper character to Jimmy McNulty (the sort-of main character of The Wire) who similarly turned to alcohol when professional frustration set in.

The disastrous affair with Sylvia damaged his relationship with Sally and the writers did an excellent job of linking that bond back to his childhood. Finally all those whore house flashbacks connected to the present in a way that was genuinely affecting. Obviously the pitch to Hershey made for great television. Initially it was tense and then it was just painful. I loved it though. Don decided in that moment to be completely honest for once and give his sincere thanks to Hershey for the tiny joy it gave him during a dark time. It was simultaneously a moment of growth and self destruction. He was blowing up his own plan to run away again. At least this time he was going to take his wife with him but escaping to California was yet another attempt to run away from trouble without solving the core issues in his psyche. But as he looked at his own trembling hand it seems like he finally decided to stay and accept all of who he is. When he takes his children to see the house of ill repute he grew up in we remember that Sally was taken in by Grandma Ida, temporarily, because of her ignorance over Don's origins. He doesn't want his children to have the miserable memories he does and finally begins to show them who he is. Again it's moving stuff and seeing a selfish, arrogant, destructive person try to change and do the right thing remains a compelling tale.

Don's decision not to go was partly motivated by seeing Ted as a better version of him. Instead of stringing Peggy along or deceiving his wife any further Ted decides to flee to California and keep temptation away. Don owes Ted quite a few at this point and let's him take this chance. Ted emerges as a better man than Don but not a good man in general. He could have cut off his love for Peggy long ago and made a promise to her without thinking it through. Once more she suffers because of the decisions of the men employing her.

The Pete-Bob Benson situation left me far less satisfied. For a start is Pete leaving the company? Or is he going with Ted to California? Or was that a different trip that I missed somehow? That aside Pete looked far from smooth as Bob set him up to fall on his face in Detroit. And then looked monstrous as he and his brother wrote off their mother to save money. It felt so crass that I was surprised the story ended there. So Pete's a giant tool? Was that the point? And is Bob Benson suddenly managing the company's most important account? That's a hell of a promotion? And Joan clearly thinks he's straight. That whole side of the equation felt a little imbalanced. Don dominated things this season in a way which didn't serve the other characters particularly well. Although I suppose we now conclude that Manolo probably was performing sexual acts on Mrs Campbell in an attempt to get her on side and take her money. Yikes.

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  • That makes sense with Game of Thrones and I agree that Don's story had a direction it just has taken awhile to get here and could have been much tighter. I suppose Roger's story has always had direction but I do think most of the other characters have lost a stronger sense of direction.

    Posted by Derek, 27/06/2013 5:06am (4 years ago)

  • I like the way you put it Jeremy.

    Megan calling Don out was a good moment but I wanted it to be stronger really. She is an actress afterall!

    I want to see Peggy call all the shots in her next relationship. I don't want to see Joan back with Roger either.

    I want these women to end strong.

    Pete's backing off of Bob was curious. It felt like he was envying Bob's tephlon smoothness in sticky situations, much the way he'd once admired Don's machismo.

    I thought the Hershey in a whorehouse story was wildly inappropriate but it served the purpose of removing Don from the agency, at least temporarily and the look Sally gave him when he revealed the same truth to his kids (in a much softer, more kid friendly way) was a real tribute to the young actress.

    My guess is Don manages to re-enlist somehow and die on the battlefield, to be buried in the end as Dick.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 26/06/2013 1:37am (4 years ago)

  • Derek - I never feel like GofT lacks direction. I feel like it conceals\omits information that would help me perceive the direction. Not really deliberately, more because I think the producers can't quite perceive how the story comes across some times.

    I agree this season of Mad Men felt like it was drifting but in the case of Don I think that was intentional as part of his downward spiral. With the other characters I'm less sure.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 26/06/2013 1:24am (4 years ago)

  • This has not been my favorite season of Mad Men to say the least. I have felt that the show has been drifting intentionally for the last two years and I don't like feeling a lack of direction in television (is this how Game of Thrones feels for you?). However I enjoyed a lot what was here only because it set up a clear direction for the final season.

    With Don ousted I think the show can finally confront the question of can Don Draper change and who this guy really is, I'm sure the answer will be more complicated than a yes or no but it be nice for this to finally be the focus. I still think the answer of this question would be better suited in season 5 because we really haven't learned anything new about Don (or any other character) in the past two seasons. I'm excited for the battle between Dick Whitman and Don Draper.

    The only clear (satisfying?) story of this season was Ted and Peggy's relationship. The romance itself wasn't particularly interesting because it was pretty clear it wasn't going to end well but the parallels it brought out between Ted and Don were nice. Ted was great to watch all season but I'd be fine with not seeing him again. Now Don has given him the chance to start a new life, it feels like his story has come to a close because while I seriously doubt that Don can really turn it all around, I think Ted has a real chance.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 24/06/2013 8:40pm (4 years ago)

  • I loved so much about this.

    I loved how Sally getting caught buying beer turned out to be a "wakeup call" for Don -- both literally AND figuratively!

    So Don has finally chosen to face his past head on instead of running from it. There's hope for him yet.

    And it looks like Peggy is finally going to come around and see that the bearded guy is actually great for her (forgot his name).

    My favorite moment: Ted comes to Don's office to talk about going to LA, and he says to Ted "Do you want something?" and while he says this he gestures to what we know is his bar cart, and he rejects it. The liquor not being shown or mentioned was a wonderful way of reinforcing how second-nature it all is to him. And Ted's rejection of course shows how these two guys, who seem similar on the surface, are actually on extremely different trajectories.

    Viewer score: 79 / 100

    Posted by jeremy, 24/06/2013 6:13pm (4 years ago)

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