Out of My Mind

The Musings of a Woman Who Thinks Too Much

Nelle Engoron

Nelle Engoron
Location
California,
Birthday
May 01
Bio
You can email me at "nengoron@gmaildotcom" & follow @NelleEngoron on Twitter. My archived radio shows on last season's Mad Men are available (for free!) at: www.blogtalkradio.com/madmentalk **My "Mad Men" commentary for Season 5 is on Salon rather than here -- go to http://www.salon.com/writer/ nelle_engoron/ to find all my Salon articles. **My book, "Mad Men Unmasked: Decoding Season 4," is available on Amazon in both e-book and print versions.** I'm a writer/editor/consultant who lives in the SF Bay Area. I write about all kinds of things, but am particularly intrigued by movies, relationships, gender issues, belief systems and "Mad Men." (Scroll down left sidebar for links to a selection of my blog posts.) I'm working on a novel and a memoir, neither of which is about Mad Men!

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Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 18, 2010 6:48AM

Tomorrowland: Mad Men Season 4 Finale (Commentary)

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 don and megan

 

Will you at least put me out of my misery before you go? ~ Don to Faye

 

That’s two. ~ Topaz client

 

It’s good to be a gangsta, and it’s great to be Don Draper. Your company may be spiraling into oblivion, you’ve torched one marriage through dishonesty and infidelity, you’ve jerked around other women left and right – and yet you have three women vying for you at once, including the ex-wife who bitterly divorced you not long ago.  She’s shocked, shocked to find out that her new life isn’t perfect, and that her new husband is no longer charmed by her, so her old sexy one seems pretty damn appealing again. She makes a subtle play for you, but it’s too late -- she’s a piece of work who has lost her hold on you and you want something new.  You could take the professional woman who’s your equal, who’s seen you at your worst and still loves and accepts you, and who challenges you professionally, intellectually and emotionally – but, oh no, that’s too scary. No, you choose the pretty young thing who has let you chase her until she caught you, the one who’s charmed both you and the kids by being utterly sweet and giving and uncomplaining (the exact opposite of she-who-shall-not-be-named), the one who swears she knows you and thinks you’re wonderful even though she actually doesn’t know a damn thing except that you’re sexy and (usually) successful and at your marry-by date as a divorced man, so she better act fast. Which the smart woman had predicted would happen, and then forgot her own prognostications and fell for you anyway.

Who is she? ~ Faye

What’s the difference? ~ Don 

But then Faye was right about a lot of things. She also said that if you stopped burying your head in the sand about the past and resolved things, you’d feel better. And so you did -- you sold that sandy place by the beach where Anna lived and jumped into the cement pond with the young'uns (all four of them) instead.  And when your daughter innocently asked the portentous question that’s loomed over the entire run of Mad Men -- “Who’s Dick?” – you tossed off the answer as casually as you flick an ash off a cigarette. “That’s me,” you replied, before fudging (because that’s what you do when asked personal questions). “That’s my nickname sometimes.”  (Nicknames being what those who know you well can call you.)  We could make up an advertising jingle for you: Sometimes Dick, sometimes Don, never truthful; sometimes single, sometimes married, never faithful.

Pretty face comes along…it all goes out the window. ~ Peggy

California has always felt like the future to you, as well as a place where you can be yourself, so how apt that you’re taking your kids to Disneyland (the so-called Happiest Place on Earth, where dreams can come true) and specifically to Tomorrowland, because Bobby wants to fly a jet (as well as be a shark in the pool, just like Dad).  This time that California baptism finally seems to take, even if it’s an artificial one in a hotel pool, and you decide to start a new life, with that fresh new woman.  And how can you resist proposing to her, since you happen to have that ring on hand that deus ex Matthew Weiner threw into the plot via Anna’s last bequest? 

Unlike Betty’s new life, Megan seems to actually be perfect.  She’s beautiful but funny and modest. She sings to your children in French (and uses it to call them “animals” when bidding them good night), she laughs when they spill a milkshake rather than getting angry like their mother would, and she gives you that “good lovin’” at night even after playing nanny all day to your three kids. You compare her to Maria Von Trapp (a governess who famously married the father of her charges) but she’s not a problem like Maria – there’s not a wrinkle to be found on her brow or in her disposition. She’s the Sleeping Beauty you fantasize about even while she’s sleeping next to you, but who is really under the spell?  And why are you lying awake after you’ve got her, babe?  Is it because Faye was right when she said you only like something when it’s new?  (Or if it’s borrowed, like another man’s wife?)  Are you already feeling blue?

Do you think I enjoy doing this after all these years? ~ Betty  

If so, you’re not the only one. Betty has to lie not just in the bed she hastily made with Henry, but in her daughter’s, a perfect symbol of her girlish regression. Capriciously firing Carla for the mysteriously capital crime of letting Glen say goodbye to Sally, she tries to make a clean sweep into her new life in Rye (leaving behind Don’s Old-Fashioneds) but then Henry gets angry at her childish behavior, and pointedly tells her there are no fresh starts and it's her problem that she never feels anyone’s on her side. So she connives to be at the Ossining house when you’re meeting the real estate agent, and purties herself all up to win you back, but that sentimental last drink together (appropriately from a hidden bottle) goes all whiskey sour when she finds out you’ve replaced her already.

 Whatever could be on your mind? ~ Joan  

Meanwhile back at the office, the women aren’t happy there, either. Peggy’s doing your job, having seized on the intel from a Jean Shrimpton-esque friend of Joyce’s that Topaz pantyhose has fired their agency. Accompanied by Cosgrove, she successfully pitches them an off-the-top-of-her-head series of ideas, including that, unlike wives, a single pair of pantyhose is all you ever need. (Just like marrying your secretary, this is deemed “bad for business, but good for you.”)  Peggy’s the ideal person to pitch this “singular” product, being a decidedly single woman, one who fits the description of the prior campaign that the client rejected, which featured a woman who isn’t really Cinderella and doesn’t know where she’s going.

Peggy should be headed up, as she wins business with an increasingly polished and confident presence, combining the strengths of Don with the insights only a woman can bring to women’s products (a point she tried to make way back in the Patio soft drink days, only to have Don reject it).  But her Topaz triumph hits a snag when it’s pre-empted by Don’s giddy announcement (which he makes using almost identical words as Roger did when proclaiming that he was marrying Jane).  Peggy takes advantage of her special relationship with Don to question him privately, and is taken aback when he says that Megan reminds him of her, having that same “spark."  Is that romantic disappointment on Peggy’s face, or worry over her job?

We get hints that it’s the latter when Peggy goes to Joan’s office to dish about the big news. In one of the most delicious scenes of the series, one that some of us have waited for like acting fans did the single scene of DeNiro and Pacino together in “Heat,” the two co-workers finally have a meeting of minds and hearts.  After five years of being at odds, of sharing at best awkward and often insincere moments of connection, they finally tell the truth and as a result seem at ease with each other, smoking cigarettes and talking frankly about the infuriating silliness of men who fall in love with their secretaries. While both have played that role, Peggy’s boss never saw her in a sexual light, while Joan’s saw her only that way (as does her husband, apparently, admitting that all he wants to know is if her breasts are bigger now that she’s pregnant. Well, it's understandable that he doesn’t want to know that the baby isn’t his.)

Well, it’s almost an honor. ~ Joan 

Both have had to look outside of work for love, which would be fine, if they were shown some love for their work. But Joan’s given a promotion without any raise or celebration, tackily slipped in by Lane while she’s delivering the mail, a clerical duty she hasn’t been able to shed despite her supposedly high status at the firm. And Peggy’s landing of the first new business in 10 weeks is cheered by Don but she rightly notes that it’s considered less important than getting married. “That’s why I learned a long time ago not to get all my satisfaction from this job,” Joan intones in her classic mother-knows-best voice, provoking Peggy to deliver a long-awaited comeback: “That’s bullshit.”  Joan has to laugh not only because Peggy has finally leveled the distance between them, but because she has spoken the truth:  Work isn’t everything for either of them, but it’s damn important to both of them.

 

I wanted a fresh start. ~ Betty

There is no fresh start. ~ Henry 

So as the fourth season wraps up, whither Mad Men? 

Don’s locked up the third Mrs. Draper, but lost both Anna, the one woman who really did know and love him, and Faye, a woman who could have pushed him to greater self-awareness and development as a person. He tells Megan, “I don’t know what it is about you, but I feel like myself when I’m with you -- but the way I always wanted to feel. Because I’m in love with you.”  But is that seeming ease a real feeling or just a romantic fantasy? The fact that he doesn’t know what it is – or what or who she really is or vice versa – isn’t a good sign.  We laugh when Roger greets Don’s announcement of being engaged to “Miss Calvet” with “Who’s that?” but in fact, Megan is a cipher both to Don and to us (and we even have the benefit of seeing her cat-that-ate-the-canary grin after bedding Don again). Megan doesn’t know Don’s real identity, and while he vaguely tells her he’s “done things,” she airily dismisses his fears and he gratefully goes along with this instant reboot of his life. As he says to the American Cancer Society clients about his New York Times ad, “I think in my heart it was an impulse because I needed to move forward.”

People lose their heads. I’m sure it was a mistake, dear. ~ Harry 

Earlier, Faye had told him that resolving his past would leave him more comfortable with everything else only to have him ask, “And then what happens?" “Then you’re stuck trying to be a person like the rest of us,” she replied, sealing her fate with that mundane honesty.  Like a Goodfella who doesn’t want to leave a glamorous life of crime for the boring but safe life of a working shmuck, Don doesn’t want to be just like everyone else, or paired with a woman who will push him into deeper awareness. He’d rather have the comfortable, uncomplicated life with the easygoing young woman – except, wait, that’s what he chose before, in marrying Betty, who he described to Anna as being “so happy” at the time they got engaged.

Tellingly, at the start of the episode, Faye opens his bedroom door and throws light onto his face, waking him up, and at episode’s end, he lies awake in darkness while Sleeping Beauty slumbers on his chest, seemingly without a care. Don’s been woken up again and again, but he falls back asleep every time, back into the trance that is the American treadmill of pursuing success, and now back into the fantasy that romantic love solves everything. The master of pragmatism at work falls into magical thinking in justifying his impulsive proposal to Megan (another announcement that will hit the New York Times, thus fulfilling Faye’s fear of being rejected in its pages) moonily asking her, “Did you ever think of the things that had to happen for me to get to know you? But everything happened and it got me here. What does that mean?”  (Gee, Don by that measure, you might as well marry the elevator operator.) The ironically named “Tomorrowland” doesn’t lead Don into the future, but only into a slightly different version of his past. Enlightenment will have to wait a little while.

It’s not going to get any easier the longer you wait. ~ Megan to Don

As many have predicted, the future instead seems to belong to Peggy, at least if she can get the recognition she deserves. She’s no Cinderella, but the pantyhose fits, and she’s going to walk all over the competition in it.

Ken, who successfully pairs with her in this episode, seems to be a fitting work partner, balancing her sharp ambition with his easygoing style. He values relationships not in the way Roger does (schmoozing clients) but in what he calls his “actual life,” (unlike Don’s simulated one) which he refuses to compromise for the sake of clients that he knows he’ll eventually lose some day anyway.

A transitional figure in the show, being both old-fashioned and yet still young, Joan now literally carries the past within her, but is transforming it into her future, putting a different name on her baby than its birthright, thus creating a Don Draper of her own. 

And after having been relegated to a role of unredeemed bitterness and foul parenting this season, Betty is left to her just desserts, in the form of a Henry on Rye, after having made the mistake of assuming the problem with her life was her husband, only to find out that no matter who you marry, there you are.

A lesson that I suspect Dick Whitman will be learning in Season 5.  After all, the real estate agent rang twice for him, and we know what that means.


I saw the light go off. ~ Megan

It’s fine. It’s done. ~ Don

 

 

 

 

You best stop talking now. ~ Carla, to long-winded bloggers.

 

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Hey all, thank you so much for bearing with me this season, reading my thoughts and for contributing so much with your comments and lively discussion! You came up with rich insights that I missed, and connected dots that eluded me. Was it because you actually slept after the show was over?? Maybe I should take a cue from Don and go to sleep. I'll be back later in the morning to hear what you have to say about how things wrapped up for the season. Until then, talk amongst yourselves!
Oh, and I'm not going to gloat about being right both about Don marrying Megan (just like Roger married Jane) or the fact that Joan did decide to keep the baby.

But if anyone else wants to crow about predictions they made that came true (like Peggy saving the day with a "woman's product") they should feel free!
Elle:

I am delighted to have discovered your blog this season as it made my viewing of Mad Men infinitely more enjoyable. Your fine commentaries bounced me out of bed every Monday morning, looking to see how you had probed each episode to mine the depths of its plot or signal your astute observations about the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the discussions that ensued. Bravo!

I'm close to Sally's age---but not quite Sally---and watching the show is like having the times of my childhood unfold before me but with prescience. My parents even had that set of silver-rimmed glassware.

PS It already feels like an eternity will elapse before MM rolls around again.

Mary
Flat Rock Creek Notebook
http://flatrockcreeknotebook.com
Thanks for another great season of thoughtful comments. I had mixed feelings about this finale. Faye is so perfect for Don, or at least the Don I respect. It was a shame to see him backsliding. I don't trust this new girl -- she has kind of an Eddie Haskell vibe: too good to be true. I was disappointed by the Topaz pitch: Peggy gave them four ideas and we only saw two. One of their favorites (#4) we never saw at all. I miss the good old days of the Carousel and "it's toasted" where there was real inspiring brilliance in the 'creative' work.
Still, Peggy remains my favorite character, and if Don turns his secretary into a copywriter (good luck with that) I can see Peggy and Joan -- with Cosgrove working Accounts -- starting their own agency. I'd certainly take my business there. What else? With Betty I think they've gone too far. She's just all awful all the time now, without any of the redeeming pigeon shooting or on-the-mark insights that used to leaven her character's dense, inedible awfulness. And what ever happened to Cosgrove's writing? They totally dropped that narrative line and it was one of my favorites. So all in all, I can't say I'm as excited as I was at the end of last season. I'm actually happy to wait a year for these depressing story lines to unravel. The show is still brilliant, but like a brilliant friend who's drinking too much and doing stupid self-destructive things, I'm happy to stay away for a while.
One more thought about Betty ...
You mentioned the wedding ring being a bit of Deus Ex Machina authorial manipulation. Much worse along those lines to me was Betty firing Carla. It was over-the-top and bizarre, nothing more than a cheap and easy way to get Carla out of the picture so that Don could go to California with the secretary. The only redeeming Betty moment for me was her sleeping on Sally's bed. She wants to go back -- but to what? I can't help feeling there was something bad in her own childhood, with her father. That's why she never quite grew up. But that's Betty's excuse; Weiner doesn't get off that easy. He has to make Betty real and believable, whatever her traumatic past or current problems. And he failed there this week. Maybe she just doesn't get enough screen time any more.
I have loved these. It is a great show providing an encapsulated look at the various shifts that took place through the 60s when I was a kid. I had a pit in my stomach realizing the secretary/marriage thing was going on. Not sure what it means. That men were really challenged by strong women and therefore preferred something less confrontational? But it does seem like he is heading right back into the same train wreck, pending what takes place with the newer version of the old wife. Will he cheat? Will she turn into a she beast and rip the kids new ones in his absence? She seems like a sweet thing as did the school teacher from seasons gone by who got obliterated in his wake. Allegedly one can fall into the same patterns if one does not "do the work" suggesting the new wife will be Betty II.

Yeesh.

But, then again, it is only a TV show, and drama has to be infused season to season rather than calm. What's the fun in watching calm?
C'mon Don couldn't marry Faye. He has kids. Megan makes more sense. I'm sure she'll have her problems but I bet Megan will be good for Don and the kids. He's got to get them away from Betty. Don maybe needs therapy but that doesn't mean Dr. Faye makes any sense in the long run.
Here's maybe the more important question: Why would Faye want Don? She doesn't get enough psychiatry at work she needs to come home every night to a fixer upper? It's wrong for Don to want the pretty cipher secretary but Faye should want Don because why? The mind blowing orgasms? Faye couldn't and won't do better? In real life no one would make the choice you want for Don. Don made the real life choice.
I hate that the first time we see Carla this season she gets fired- goodbye to the only black character on the show.

I'm not a huge fan of Megan, but Don did look truly happy with her, a side of Don that we've never really seen before. . .
Nelle, I have many thoughts on this final episode but running out of time this morning. I'm thinking that engagement ring is bad juju. I have a rule about jewellery. Never wear it unless you know the person -- and the history -- of who wore them before. Meagan has no idea ...

Yes, the final comaradrie scene with Joan and Peggy was long awaited for and realistically delivered. And I'm hoping we see more of Faye next season. She could still have a pivotal role.

I've really enjoyed your series here. Not too long winded for me. Thanks.
I just discovered your blog at the end of the season. What a shame I've been missing it--you are a great writer! I feel that the relationship with Dr. Faye was doomed in the long run--she isn't comfortable dealing with children--but marrying Megan on impulse instead of dealing with is real issues is, of course, a huge mistake. Let's hope it proves to be an entertaining one, and that there is a season 5 to entertain us.
I too have mixed feelings about the finale...lots of juicy drama, which is always satisfying, and I agree that writers have done Betty wrong. No one is a total b**ch all the time. It was more interesting when she was a three-dimensional character. And right you are about the connection between Joan and Peggy. It seemed natural and long overdue. I felt good about it too. But for me, the love triangle between Don, Megan and Faye is more complicated than it once was. I remember commenting a couple of episodes ago about how sad it was that Don was drifting toward Megan because he couldn't handle Faye being his equal. How could he look elsewhere when she was there to hold his hand and soothe his head during his rather unDon like panic attack. Hell, when he thought the Feds were at his door and broke into a cold sweat, she faced the situation like a rational adult and stood by him. What more could he possibly want right?

However, I have to say that I like Megan. I know someone mentioned a possible Eddie Haskel complex, but from what we've seen so far, she's been written as a complicated, mature, self-actualized woman. I never got the sense that she was angling for anything; perhaps seizing on opportunities to charm Don, but since when is that a crime. The connection between them seemed organic to me...fast, but genuine. The fact that she's easy breezy with kids was explained when she mentioned her several nieces and nephews. I actually know many women with no children of their own who are handy with kids for that very reason. And hey, she can't help being sexy and French :) Okay, I'm babbling now Nelle. I've also been up all night (long story). So I'll leave it at that and thank for your weekly offerings. How lucky we are to have a fantastic writer in our midst who happens to love our favorite show!

Until next year...
Hi Nelle. Don's falling for Megan struck me as arbitrary. It was a weird set of circumstances that led to Megan accompanying on to California and three days later he's proposing? Well, if you can willingly suspend your disbelief at that twist, they handled the resulting consequences pretty well.

Great to see Peggy winning an important account. I hope that next year they don't try to create an inter-office professional conflict between her and Megan. I like teaming her with Cosgrove. He's a different type and rounds out the cast. I wonder if she'd think it's bullshit that he, like Joan, thinks his actual life trumps the office.

Poor Betty. I once had hopes that she'd wind up with a better fit to her life but she remains her own worst enemy. Her freak-out over Carla and glen was in character but Glen's exchange with her seemed awfully precocious.

Overall I didn't think this season was as good as last year's. Too often it used soap opera-ish twists. It's still well worth watching and I'm looking forward to next season and to your commentaries. Thanks so much for all your work.
Nelle, you are so talented! You have enhanced my "Mad Men" viewing immensely through your commentary.

A few thoughts -

When Betty was lying on Sally's bed, she was an exact replica of a 1960's Barbie doll, with the hair and cinched waspish waist. She is just splayed out there, bringing to mind the Barbie doll from Season 3 that Sally threw in the bushes but ends up back in the room to freak Sally out. Betty has been discarded by Henry, and rejected by Sally, and she gravitates toward Sally's girlish room like the plastic figure she is.

I hate to say it, but I was kind of rooting for Megan this episode. She is remarkably grounded for being so young, and though she at times seems vapid, I don't think she is the schemer that she has been made out to be. I think she genuinely cares for Don, and she is truly wonderful with the kids. Maybe the feeling Don gets from her is unconditional acceptance, and that's why he feels like he can be his best self in her presence. She is _not_ another Jane Siegel, who was calculating and manipulative and hard-edged from the start. With Megan as step-mom, Don's kids will have a chance at a warm, nurturing relationship. Don himself has always been striving for survival, never nurtured. Don's kids will fare much better with Megan as step-mom than Faye, and perhaps it represents maturity on Don's part that a factor in selecting a second wife is that she can relate to his kids.

Hooray for Joan for thwarting Roger and seizing her chance at motherhood. We all called it, but I still felt happy for Joan since it seems to put her closer to the life she's dreamed about. And who can feel bad for Greg at the deception?

I don't want to wait another year for more "Mad Men!"
late to the party, I am...

another insightful recap.

I am the only one wondering how a $250,000 account "saves the day"? a drop in the bucket. If that's the salvation, I'm back to my initial reaction to the finale, as in "WTF?". We got resolution of one of two main season long themes (Don's personal transformation, which turned out to be not so transformative at all, more like changing his shirt); but not the other (the success or failure of the agency). I suppose though that Peggy's growth is theme #3, and that progressed beautifully.

I agree it was jealousy, not concern for her job which drove her reaction to Don's news.

I think, in spite of the plot bunnies, that the Megan storyline played out nicely, and should introduce new situations for conflict next season. Though I too want more workplace drama, less soap opera.

Anybody know when season five is arriving?
Faye Miller is the name used by Marilyn Monroe to check into a psychiatric facility after being left by Arthur Miller for a woman on the set of "The Misfits", a film they were both working on. This woman became his third wife. I think Faye was Weiner's brainy manifestation of a tragic Marilyn Monroe this season. Very interesting to see what will become of her in season 5.

Joan and Peggy bonding over Don's foolishness was one of the most satisfying scenes of the season. It seemed sane and real and very modern. The two of them managed to blow the lid off of Draper's self-created mystique of being extraordinary to expose him as just another Roger in the making.
PS The "Faye Miller" info came from this month's Vanity Fair article on Marilyn Monroe. The author does not make any allusion to the Mad Men character but very interesting that the alias was pointed out...
Thanks for this season Nelle ~ watching has been greatly enhanced by your insight and breezy approach to the show. After all, it's just a show, but it's also a retrospective on ourselves (I'm a child of the era).

I'm hoping the move to Rye will eliminate the role Weiner's son has had, you know he hasn't been a fav of mine but he redeemed himself a little with his final scene last night. Poor kid needs acting classes before he gets tossed into another of daddy's shows.

Don wakes up when there doesn't seem to be a stage and a script, but once he secures a 'role' he's back to sleep. Good call on that, and the choice of Megan for Mommy #2. It would be a nice touch if Carla comes on board at Don's new digs. I guess he'll be out of the Village and back in the burbs next season... if his marriage goes through. That Act, I'm going to leave on the table.

As Joan says, 'everyone will know soon'.

In Joan's case, 'everyone' would be Roger, and there is the notable exception of who will not know, which is hubs himself (whose return is doubtful anyway). A pregnancy should finally get her out of those bullet bras, something hubs is already fantasizing about apparently.

I do think that if it's decided that Joan is to actually have a child in the end, it will diminish her friendship with Peggy and her presence in the workplace but not in Roger's life. I strongly doubt a delivery will be made to Joan. Too many dead end plot lines for the writers. Besides, babies in this show are invisible. (No sight of the apple of Pete's eye, or Peggy's progeny, and even in Don and Betty's case, the 'baby' disappeared overnight, to be replaced by a half grown toddling school child). My prediction, no more babies for awhile. (More specifically, Hubs is killed and Joan labors into a miscarriage with the news). Are you listening Mr. Weiner?
is it me or does it really seem like they are they switching out Baby Gene for giant baby, little baby, giant baby, little baby?
While watching the finale again when AMC did its encore presentation last night, I noticed this: right before Don goes over to Megan’s room, he was sitting on his bed reading a paperback copy of John LeCarre’s “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.”

This comes from Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spy_Who_Came_in_from_the_Cold]:

> Time magazine, while including “The Spy Who Came in
> From the Cold” in its top 100 novels list, stated the novel
> is “a sad, sympathetic portrait of a man who has lived by
> lies and subterfuge for so long, he’s forgotten how to tell the truth.”

Weiner has stated that Season Four would be an exploration of the question which opened the season in the first episode: “Who is Don Draper?” I’m sure it’s no mere coincidence that Don is reading this book at this particular juncture of his life; the book was no mere prop, it was an answer to that question — Don is a man who has lived by lies and subterfuge for so long, he’s forgotten how to tell the truth.
I hope I won't get flamed for this. But after reflection, I do not think Don and Faye were a good fit.

Faye, whether she intended or not, had become Don's therapist. I don't know the rules from the 1960's, but that is definitely not a good idea. We want to think they are equals because they are both professionals. But in reality, it is a very unbalanced relationship.

Second, Faye, by her own admission, is not good with kids. Don has kids and they aren't going anywhere. Betty has proven herself incapable of being a nurturing mother. Those kids don't need a stepmother who is also very cold.

I cannot yet determine if Megan is a good fit. She does have that mothering instinct (which those kids desperately need - even if it is just on the weekends). She is smart and is seemingly with it.

Cosgrove was on point last night. He pointed out that it is vulgar to pimp your personal connections for professional profit. Forever I will remember "those clients will leave me, and she is my life, my actual life." It was a needed counterpoint to Pete.
Nelle, thanks for your great commentary all season, I'll miss reading your thoughts for the next 39 Mondays.
Thanks for another season of insightful recaps and commentary.

I'm not so sure I see Don's choice of Megan as regressive but more a natural progression. I must admit that he and Faye never worked for me on a number of levels.

It's fitting that he falls for Megan in California where his heart has been at home. He feels at ease with Megan in the way he always has with Anna - the cautionary tale is that Megan does not yet know the whole story - the hint is that it is going to become irrelevant. Megan represents the new generation of parenting - more enjoyment and attentiveness. Don has been needing to connect with his kids all season. Megan's ease with children because she been around nieces and nephews makes sense whereas Betty's sterile home life seems most likely to have been devoid of any "joy of children" vibe. I don't get that there were any darker issues between Betty and her father. She was brought up to be pretty and well-behaved in order to be rewarded. It doesn't bring rewards anymore and she doesn't know what else to do. Surprise, surprise that Henry challenges her - letting her know that he expects more substance of character from her. Poor thing is in way over her head.
Great and sad to see Peggy coming through with her full capabilities only to be relegated to the back seat. I don't think that she has sexual feelings for Don so much as fear/jealously of losing her place as his mentor/protege.
Can't help but wonder what Chris' reaction will be when his wife wants to return to the office after having the baby?
And lastly - as I mentioned a few episodes back - still finding the intro of pantyhose premature - wonder if that's so for anyone else. Was just looking at my high school yearbook from 1968 and in the group shot there are all of us girls sitting in the front row, legs crossed at our ankles and leaning to one side to that the knee length skirts do not reveal any unsightly garters or tops of nylons! The famous L'eggs eggs did not show up in my neck of the woods until around 1970, but that was small town midwest - must have hit New York earlier - which would make sense.
Thanks again Nelle, for hosting a great party - all the guests had fun and there was a lot to talk about!
As John Slattery said in his interview, nothing in the finale was a surprise, because we've had pointers to it all through the season.

Whether he knew it or not, Don used Faye to get himself back to an even keel. Indeed she saw him at his lowest points, and now because he doesn't want to remember those things or have her able to remind him of them, he's moved on to a shiny new relationship where he can see himself reflected back as the strong man he wants to be rather than the flawed man he is. Don and Faye were equals only professionally; as much as we'd like him to be, he'll never be introspective enough to be her equal on a personal level.

I don't mind Megan, and she grew on me in this episode. I like the comment by someone about how her kinder, gentler way of handling things, even minor spills, was a revelation to Don. I think that's what sold him on her and made him fall in love. He needs some kindness in his life, and his kids do, too. If he can get that from her, and he can relax into it, then maybe he'll feel more free to grow as a person.

I wonder if Don will actually now sell the house in Ossining, or if he'll simply move his new wife into it. After all it's comfortable for him, and his kids would love to be able to come back to the only home they've ever known. It would set up interesting conflicts between Betty and Megan, because of course the kids will eventually want to stay there with the kindly stepmother rather than go back to Rye with the emotionally stunted mother. And of course, Weiner's son could still come back to plan Glen once in awhile. :-)

As long as Greg stays overseas, Joan will have to come back to work, even if she has a small child. Women of the time did go to work when they had to--I was born in 1962, and my mother went back to work when I was 3. If Joan has any family who can come to stay with her to take care of the baby (I don't recall any reference to her mother--is she alive?), then she'll have to go back to work to support herself and the baby until Greg comes back (if he comes back). OTOH, I can't see Megan staying at work, because she'll now be expected to maintain Don's household and maybe pop out a couple babies of her own. It would be untenable for her to work with Don in any capacity, because as his wife, he'd never be able to correct her like he could Peggy or any of the other staff.

I don't think we'll get to see the actual NY blackout, as they've never covered any of the big events of the times in any way other than by reference. This story is told in the margins around the big events. I'm pretty sure we'll fast forward in time to a post-blackout, post-wedding (for Don), post-birth (for Joan) time where SDCP has come back as a company. Was a quarter-million-dollar account going to save them? Not on its own, but that they've gotten new business means they can get more. They'll have new work out there for others to see, they'll have proven they're not a one-trick pony (cigarettes), and all those "let's see where you are in six months" clients may come around and they'll be on the way up again. This will be especially true if they move in the direction of women's products, as they've got a now-seasoned and confident Peggy to show them the way to success there.

A side note: I can't figure out why they named her "Megan". That's a very unusual name for a French-Canadian, especially at that time--it wasn't even a common name in the US in the '60s. At first I thought she may have had an Irish parent and a French one, but it seems her father is French (last name Calvet), and her mother speaks only French, so she's probably French as well.

I'm looking forward to next season--too bad it's so long from now, and so short. I especially look forward to reading Nelle's postings and those of everyone else here. Thanks, Nelle, for giving us this great forum to share. As Teresa M said, it's like a great party with fun guests and lots to talk and think about.
Gosh Nelle, I'm going to miss our little Monday coffee klatch, but you'll be able to sleep again on Sunday nights. Thanks for losing all that sleep for our benefit.

I'm not as mad at Don as you are, nor do I think that Megan is a master manipulator. You don't have to manipulate much when someone is as ripe for the picking as Don. But I'm also not at all sure that they'll end up together (of course we'll all note that I, virtually alone, thought that Joan wasn't really pregnant, so what do I know?)

But the clue, I thought, that there is already trouble in paradise was the choice of "I've Got You, Babe" as the song to end the season. Of all the really good music to come out in 1964-65, Weiner chose a bubblegum-y anthem to teenage love. Why not Dylan's "Love Minus Zero, No Limit" -- "My love she speaks like silence, without ideals or violence. She doesn't have to say she's faithful, yet she's true like ice like fire." No, I think a Sonny and Cher song was chosen to show us how immature a choice Don has made. Or as Harry Carray, the late White Sox and Cubs announcer used to say, "There's trouble ahead, Cheri."

I actually think that Don is making some attempt to integrate the Don/Dick characters. After all, he didn't have to take his kids to Anna's house, and even though his response to Sally's, "Who is Dick?" question was pretty weakassed, at least he did hint that he and Dick were the same person.

I also think the hard fall for Meagan began when he saw how happy his kids were with her. The idealized mother he never had. And the fact that he gave her Anna's ring is, to me, an indication that he hopes Meagan will truly know him, like Anna did. Even though he's picked the young pretty face over the more mature and insightful woman, he's not quite Roger, not quite the same hedonist, although just as self involved.

Initially, I wasn't much of a fan of Faye, although after she stuck with Don when he came as close to revealing his true identity as he ever does, I realized that she was more of a mensch than I gave her credit for. But I'm with Stephen; she's been out in the world awhile, why would she betray all her principles for Don and settle for a guy with kids -- we know kids are not her thing?

I finally felt sorry for Betty this week. As I said last week, she's really damaged goods, and I find her thoughtlessness toward her children unforgivable, but she is suffering and I thought the scene of her curled up on Sally's bed was very affecting. Here's hoping next season, she's allowed to develop another dimension.

I also loved the moment with Joan and Peggy bonding over a cigarette (they've come a long way, baby). I think you said it was delicious, and it was. And a $250,000 account won't save the agency, but as Don said, it broke a streak. Peggy is becoming more and more formidable, but I don't see her heading out on her own quite yet. She and Ken do make a good team though, and I hope Ken has more to do next season.

And Joan and the baby, as another commenter said, I wonder if that baby will ever see the light of day. I can't imagine that SCD
So did the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, come to anyone else's mind when Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" started playing before the MM credits? Murray was also lying in his bed when the alarm alerted him every a.m. with that song. I'm sure Weiner had some reason or tying it all up by starting and ending the episode with the same scene--Don lying in bed, first alone and in the end, with his new love.

One more thing...I noticed the look on Don's face when Bobby spilled the milkshake at the restaurant. He pretty much had a kneejerk reaction--gearing up for a Betty-like explosion from Megan. Instead, he was met with her nonchalance. No yelling at Bobby for something so minor. I think Don realized the Betty-version of childrearing was not on Megan's plate.

Nelle, I've got my gloatables too--kudos to so many of us!
Damn! My hand slipped again. What I was saying about Joan and the baby was that I doubted that SCDP will be so progressive as to have an office day care center, so how will we ever see the little tyke?

Along with others, I did think this season was a little soap opera-ish, and although there were a few fabulous episodes, "The Suitcase" immediately comes to mind, overall I wasn't quite as riveted as I've been in seasons past. Here's hoping that we spend more time in the office next season. Too be fair, Weiner has set the bar so high, that I may have unrealistic expectations.

Remember, if you're ever in Chicago, I'll be happy to uncork that bottle of wine.
Dear Nelle--Please forgive my rudeness for not thanking you properly for your insightful commentary this season. You amazed me with your eloquent writing, putting your thoughts out there for us to read after each episode--so speedily, almost as the credits were rolling. You certainly had quite a following--so many of us awakened each Monday morning, anticipating your 'take' on the episode as well as the contributions of all the other posters! Thanks~ can't wait till next season.
Nelle, thank you for excellent posts and commentary throughout the season. Without the tension of straight-laced Don and Darkside Dick this is a run-of-the-mill tvland soaper. Walking the tight rope while performing dareddevil deeds makes the show - that's what hooked me. I can see a heartbroken Megan throwing the jinxed stone into the Hudson as our boy lurches into another series of edgy misadventures. He can't be recast as a Disney Dad. The character's hamartia is his reaction to being a whore's son, an outcast. He could not possibly function in the bright light of the heady promise that Megan represents. That's Don being a dick; they will say.
This is the best season yet. Weiner moved beyond the time travel aspect of the first two seasons and the wide ranging subplots of the third. The story board for this season was tight and focused.

The seminal moment of this episode and the season was the shot of Don’s face in the diner after the spilled milkshake. This was his moment of clarity. I doubt that Don understands this moment in a precise conscious way because Don tends to act on intuition and instincts. Regardless, he gets it. Megan’s response was the mirror image of his.

Don’s core problem is anger. He is angry at the whore who birthed him and gave him away. He is angry at raging father who gave him an identity of worthlessness and failure through verbal and physical abuse. In that moment, he sees his anger at his children as a reflection of his father.

He also sees that he has placed his children in a family with no real mother. Carla is an echo of his decent but distant step mother. He has struggled with the loss of his children since the divorce. This season began with Don wallowing in an alcoholic depression as he deals with the loss and grief. In that moment, Don also gets that his history and his profession leaves him short changed for filling this void. He needs someone to show him how to be a good divorced dad, rather than that guy living in a dark, dank apartment downtown.

For the love of Christ, who (man or woman) wants a spouse whose primary purpose is to challenge them? Life is already challenging without your partner deciding to make it more challenging. We need someone to help us, nurture us and counsel us as we meet the existing and upcoming challenges. Don’s inner child needs a lot of healing, and he had better get a partner who will help him heal that child. Taking on the effort that goes with the hard work of self analysis is all the challenge Don needs. He has taken it on in 1965 and with much success.

As for all the other women, Don owes them nothing but simple good manners and courtesy. Jane’s friend (Brittany?) is the epitome of the trophy wife, much prettier than Megan and very available. Don declined. Alison spazzed out after a New Year’s Eve one-nighter. Did he do her wrong by the one-nighter or by not marrying her? No.

Of course, he wronged Betty through his affairs, but does anyone really believe he should be married to Betty or that Betty should be married to him? Betty took action at the end of last season, but it was all external. I remain very sympathetic to her character. Through some combination of nature and nurture, she suffers from arrested development that hurts her more than others. She is not an evil person. She is tragic. She is unable to nurture her children. It stands to reason that she cannot give Don the nurturing he needs. Let’s all hope that Betty begins the hard work of self analysis soon. Regardless, Don is wise to have disentangled himself from her.

Don’s relationship with Faye is problematic, but only in the sense that he led her to believe they had a committed relationship. I have seen no evidence that this is true. It might have been only a presumption by Faye and us. If he violated that trust, then he should be chastised 9and probably will since she knows his secret). She probably has the requisite skills to help nurture Don, and they could have a a wonderful career based marriage, except for three little things. According to Faye, she has no mothering instincts. She should never marry a man with three children.

Don’s best relationship has been with Anna, which was based on mutual support. Each of them had what the other needed and gave them what they needed. Don was at his best with Anna. He was not a better person with Anna. It was simply a good fit and effortless for each of them.

This brings us back to Don’s moment of clarity. After a year of internal struggles, Don has learned who he is and why he is. Of all the women who have been in and out of his life, Megan is the one who fits his needs, including all the baggage he brings with him. Much is being made of Megan’s relative youth, but this is so much hogwash. Older successful men have been marrying younger women for thousands of years and that will be happening thousands of years from now. There are reasons for this, but addressing it would require another blog. Unlike Alison, Megan was willing to let the one-nighter be a one-nighter, which indicates a level of inner strength and a lack of predatory behavior. And she does not seem to be as frivolous as Jane. It is important, very important, that she gets along with the children rather effortlessly.

None of this ensures a happy marriage for Don and Megan. What does?
What a pleasure to be part of this blog. Im all in favor of Don hooking up with Megan. Betty is a mess and I dont think her firing of Carla was extreme. She is a product of the fifties and that is what happened then. People wanted to be perfect and went nuts trying. I love this show!
Hi Nelle, thanks for this commentary and all the other great ones this season. This was such a great season finale! I posted a very detailed analysis of the finale, bringing in a bit of Baudrillard to make sense of it all. I hope you'll all check out my post here:

http://open.salon.com/blog/ryandawson/2010/10/18/tomorrowland

Thanks to everyone for providing the best online book club out there!
It has been an interesting season. I am only going to comment about the Dan, Faye, and Meagan triangle. I agree with Chuck that Don and Faye can't be together. Faye is not Don's equal, she is superior to him, and she showed it during his "breakdown". Dr. Faye has been able to accomplish a successful life solely on her own merits and intellectual strengths. Don only has what he has because of lies and pure social survival skills. As for why Dr. Faye would want Don Draper, its all about wanting to be "a girl". He is dashing, charming, tall dark and handsome, what woman wouldn't want that. He offers the chance to finally let someone else pay the bills and make the decisions. It is the fact that she is able to do all of those things that make her not marriage material. Very few men want a woman who can do their job as well as her own. Meagan offers the simple and easy route to true social marital bliss. She's poised but not experienced. She can get the job done at being a girl, only, and therefore can easily be manipulated and handled. Meagan is young and can easily be fooled by all that glitters, much like Betty.
Until next next summer...
Who is she? ~ Faye
What’s the difference? ~ Don

Don's question is spot on. I suppose that's why he's such an intriguing bad boy. Even when he hasn't showed you all the torment, insecurity, and loneliness (and, to his credit, he often does), any smart girl knows in her heart of hearts that he's one twisted up dude -- this even extends to his Children of the Corn daughter -- but still Don is the one for so many. I loved this finale. Sorry to see the most often seen minority player go by the wayside, but maybe Don's newest acquisition will need help with his weekends only brood. Great convo scene with Joan and Peggy. Nothing like a couple of girlfriends (by choice, or circumstance) breaking it down, keeping it real. Overall, I think this last season episode was very much in the Mad Man tradition of great storytelling.

Nelle, thanks so much for you fine commentary and recaps. Believe it or not, sometimes it's hard to find folks in my most immediate circle that share my addition for this show. Thanks for proving with your postings that I am not alone.
Just wonderful. I love reading your Mad Men reviews. They're more intelligent than any other review out there. Added bonus: they're beautifully written. Thank you.
Thank you, Nelle! Saying your writing is always interesting, insightful and fun to read, doesn't seem to do it justice.

I was surprised at how much the obvious was where the story was going. I like Megan and hope she is who she seems. Sometimes ease and innocense are a relief. For however long it lasts.

I couldn't make out what was outside the window in that closing scene? Also, if Joan's husband returns, won't he realize that she remains pregnant for too long for the baby to be his? I was already trying to come up with scenerios.

It disturbed me that only Henry stuck up for Carla, and I'm not sure to what extent. Will he write her a letter of recommendation? Will Don? She's been there since the children were born, taken Sally to therapy, been there through and for everything, and Don just makes the best of it and moves on? I hope not.

I was trying to remember back to the early encounters with Glenn and Betty. Is she jealous that he moves on to Sally, protective because something once happened to her with a weird boy when she was young?

Interesting, too, that there are three women left in the company, and Megan is now marrying the boss, so that really threw Joan and Peggy together in a way they could avoid when the team was larger.
It looked so empty when Joan was pushing that mail cart around.
"I'm almost honored." Roger's line about "who's that?" and "Christ on a cracker," are some of the lines running through my mind this morning.

"Christ on a cracker" being one of the all-time classics.

Thanks again, Nelle. I look forward to reading whatever you write. Not to sully this blog, but anyone here watch "In Treatment"? It's not Mad Men but it has some interesting scripts, good actors and is fun to talk about.
I would like to thank-you Nelle, for all of your work and insights. This was my second year in the book club and it truly enhances the Mad Men experience. I find that I scroll down and check the name of the posters because I assigned certain voices to them…Tennessee Catfish; I hear your laconic southern drawl, Adele; a Midwestern twang, and Nelle, well, I think you sound just like me because I want to be as insightful as you!

My take on this episode: I think Don did what men have done forever and what men especially did in the 60’s. He decided to marry the one who fit best with his children. My Partner, K, said that as a divorced father he found it very important that the woman he dated fit with his sons. Although last night he thought the proposal seemed terribly random and out of the blue. Also, I was not surprised that Joan is still pregnant; she’ll just have a very late baby!

Fran
Thanks for another season of great writing!
Hold the phone -- Joan is pregnant?

I thought she had an abortion. Did she not go through with it?

Don's proposal to Megan was exactly like a pitch to a client. John Hamm continues to amaze, offering here the most insincere "I love you" I've ever seen. It was quite special in the Megan buys it but as we know the real story we don't. Don doesn't know what love is. Maybe he had a glimmer of it with Anna, but that's about all.

Faye being The Woman Who Knew Too Much got the shaft. But remember she said to him earlier in the season "You'll be married again in a year." And she was right. Just not to her.

Megan's rapport with the kids clinched the deal for Don. With Betty having fired the nanny he was up against it, and Megan came through in a pinch. The kids really like her, and lord knows Sally will appreciate her over her wretched mother. She's a nice woman. "Comes the dawn" it's going to be devestating for her, as Don is sure the repeat the same womanizing cycle he had when married to Betty.

And speaking of that miserable bitch Henry's "No one's on your side!" shows he's got Reno On The Beano -- as Winchell used to say. She needs serious psychiatric help more than ever.

Don does too, of course, but at heart he's a psychopath and therefore can justify his every move. A few tweaks of the knob with him and we're in Patricia Highsmith country.

Can't wait to see what's next for The Talented Mr. Draper.
Judging from my visits to your site, Nelle, Mad Men seems to hit people of all ages quite deeply. For me, at Sally's age in the mid-sixties, there is a depth and dimension to MM that knocks me over. I'm stunned at how much they get right.

But coming from those times, I could not relate to Glenn's retort to Betty, "just because you're sad doesn't mean everyone else has to be!" Part of me said, “booh yah!” But in the era when the “adults” were never wrong, it would take a bit more character build-up than we saw from Glenn for me to find this scene believable. In the sixties, sharing one’s raw insights might get you thrown across the room. Maybe I missed an episode showing Glenn’s exceptional family life., such that his brain could transmit such a thought all the way to the tongue…

Also less than realistic for me is Megan's "perfection." The whole love scene between Don and Megan seemed unbelievable to me, unromantic, even bizarre. I was thinking, “are you kidding me…?” but, for me, every scene with Megan feels like that. She is the epitome of the seamlessly one-dimensional character, having chosen “perfect wife” as her identity. (for something perversely fun, check out the “female character flow chart,” http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Overthinking-It-Female-Character-Flowchart.png ).

To see one of us having bought in so thoroughly to a gender stereotype that it emanates from every pore is, to me, disturbing. She is not only plastic Barbie on the outside (like Betty), but through and through. But reading entries here, I realize that many see her as “good,” “good for Don,” and so on. I get on board with that myself, when I think of the kids. Then, I want the relief of the fantasy that Sally could get relief from Betty (“thoroughly twisted Barbie). So, just as in those times, I resort to the rationale to which nearly every family subscribed, “let’s do it for the children,” as they clung to a phony, if not horrible marriage.
One other thing that occurs to me is: that it will be interesting to see if in the future Don can maintain his 3 drink(plus 1 or 2) limit or whether he succumbs to the full-blown alcoholism that he was well on the way to earlier this season. It wouldn't be unrealistic for him to have some periods of successful control before loosing it again which would have sweet Megan desperately trying to keep him within his stated limits.
I also think that Betty treats her children in probably exactly the same way she was treated by her mother - "don't screw up my pretty picture or I'll slap you silly."
just some after thoughts...
Nelle, enjoy your recaps as always. And congrats on predicting the baby (which I totally didn't think was going to happen) and the Megan marriage (though I thought that was obvious from the moment Faye said he'd be married by the end of the year. We knew that was going to happen, it was just a matter of who.)

I've never quite agreed with you or Heather, however, with the protrayal of Faye as mature arbitrer of reality. The idea of facing your past sounds nice on psychobabble paper, but the reality is, in the Viet Nam era he'd be court marshalled for desertion. And I've always found her a little hypocritical. She lectures authenticity while she hides her marital status, her Jewishness, and bases her creativity on focus groups instead of talent. She obviously loved him, but that doesn't mean she's right for him.

Unconsciously Don probably is facing his past. He's marrying the first available Canadian, which gets him an exit visa if he ever needs one.

And, yes, I'm a Montrealer, so I have a soft spot for Megan.

To the commenter who wondered about her name, it has always been very common for French Canadians to choose Irish names for their children. There was a lot of intermarriage amongst the huge Irish and French Catholic communities here. Since she is so fluently bilingual probably one of her parents would have been English speaking, even with a French last name. Probably her father, who might have had an Irish mother who Megan might have been named after.

Frankly, I would argue that Megan, except for Don, is the only person with what seems like authentic elegance and sexiness on this show. In a city full of crassness, she seems to have an innate style that will serve her well as a copywriter.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. And of course, the episode where they go to Montreal for Expo '67.
My first thought as Don looked out the window at the end of season 4, was "Boy, Faye could get such revenge for being dumped just by telling people what she knows about Dick/Don. " I am making too much of the beware the wrath of a woman scorned? She did seem pretty upset...any other thoughts?
I liked the Eddie Haskell reference, because my reaction to Megan since the get-go is that she is "vulpine". Behind the sweet demeanor, lies a predator ready to pounce. I never did warm up to Faye, but she was not calculating.
Regarding era trivia, I recall purchasing pantyhose in 1965. A pretty new concept, and they did not come in little eggs at that point. However, I distinctly remember buying a pair at the store on the first floor of my Chicago Loop office building.
Thanks for all your comments! Again, it's been a highlight of the season discussing the show with you all.

Eveningstar, thanks! I would have been about Bobby's age, so the show also reminds me very much of my childhood, in many ways.

Steven, yeah, I don't trust Megan either, but I guess that's evident from my comments. I don't think she's a major conniver as much as a girl using her feminine wiles in a way that was quite natural and accepted in that era to get a husband. I also think that even if she's as sweet as she seems, she's not going to stay that way after being married to Don for a while. As for the show, I like your analogy about the self-destructive friend. People complained this season was too dark. I think dark can be fascinating, but it has to go somewhere. Feels to me like many of the characters are spinning their wheels, especially Don. Given the tight focus on him in the show, that's going to affect the viewers. And I find Betty's character to be the greatest disappointment in terms of the conception and writing of the show. They really missed an opportunity there, and instead turned her into a shrew. I'm not in the "Betty was molested" camp but think it's more what someone else says here in comments -- that she's emulating how she was mothered, herself. I'm assuming she's disappearing from the show (at least largely) and I doubt anyone's going to miss her! But I actually found her firing Carla quite believable -- it fit with the move and also Betty's resentment of Carla's mothering of her children and the kids loving her. And yes, they showed us more ad work in the earlier seasons, but as I've said before, I think coming up with believable successful campaigns isn't nearly as easy as it seems - including for TV writers creating a script!

Gwool, thanks! Per note above, I would be the age equivalent of Bobby, so the show is very evocative for me, too. As for men being "challenged by strong women"...uh, yeah. Many are. Even strong men. Even more so back then, but still happens today. Trust me on this one.

Chuck, I actually agree that Don marrying Faye might have been a mistake as well, especially given she's not interested in kids. But it also would have (as others noted in comments) involved her taking care of Don to a large degree. He did seem to choose well for his kids, and that's something -- but I also think he very much liked the freshness of Megan and the fact that she adores him and sees him entirely positively vs. more realistically as Faye did. And unlike Megan, Faye knows his true story and has seen him at his worst.

Peppermint, I was sad to see Carla so briefly and then have her go, too. Although someone's guess that Don may hire her seems likely. As for Don being happy -- to me, he seemed giddy, emotionally inebriated, not happy in a deep, thoughtful way. And that wide awake scene at the very end suggests he's not content.

Scarlett, there was a line I didn't work in, Steph saying something about "you can't mess with that" -- about Anna leaving the ring to Don when Don offers it to her (she also says, "And I don't believe in it" about marriage.). I think that little bit of dialogue is meant on a more than one level, including what you're implying.

Denise, late welcome! Glad you joined us now. Per my comment above, I agree that Faye wouldn't necessarily be a good Mrs. Draper, either, but as you say, Don's not dealing with the real issues.

Bluestockingbabe, the jury is out on Megan until next season, but I see more subtle manipulation there than you do, including just what women were trained in that era to do to get a husband -- and then after you're married, you become your real self, warts and all. I also think that the stress of being married to Don may change her. But I definitely don't see her as mature and self-actualized as you do. She seems largely unformed to me, and compliant to others, as many young women are.

Abra, I think we're actually meant to see the Megan thing as arbitrary. Joan underlines this by saying to Greg, "as if he's the first man to fall in love with his secretary!" Don thinks it's some cosmic stroke of fate when in fact it's the oldest cliche in the book. That's why women in that era wanted those jobs, if they wanted to land a successful man as a husband - they knew these guys were ripe for the picking. And as the divorce rate went up, chances got even better! As for Peggy and Cosgrove, I think she'd agree with his view about life. I think what she was calling "bullshit" on was not the idea of a personal life, but Joan's holier-than-thou line about how she's made sure her own life isn't too consumed by work.

Jill, wow, I love your insights about Betty as not just Barbie but Sally's Barbie! And I actually had a Barbie doll growing up that looked a lot like Betty, with a blonde bubble cut hairdo. And you're right that she was dressed like dolls of that era often were (altho mine had some killer tight sheaths as well) -- a bit more 50's than mid-60's, I think, but to me that fits because Betty isn't leaving the 50's behind, at least not yet. Per notes to others above, I see Megan somewhat differently than many do, but time and Season 5 will tell.

Brian, as others have said, I think it's largely about showing the agency isn't dead, as well as opening up an entirely new line of work, catering to "women's products." That will be HUGELY lucrative in the coming years (in fact, the gold mine of advertising). And $250k isn't peanuts. The partners all just chipped in about $400k to stay afloat for another 6 months, so Peggy's contribution equals about 3 months of operating expenses.

July, I think you or someone else mentioned that bit about the name before, and it is fascinating and I'm sure not coincidental. And Faye is blonde, and rather than being the crazy one, she's the psychologist trying to help heal Don (so she's a female Arthur Miller??).

Gabby, I've been a defender of Weiner's son's acting in the past, but he didn't work for me the last 2 episodes, so agree that he's starting to get out of his depth in acting. I also didn't see any very compelling point to his character recently. As for Joan's pregnancy, yeah, it seems more convenient for it to not work out, doesn't it? And that would deepen Joan's emotional state and perhaps bring an opportunity to find out more of her back story at last (which I very much hope we do). As for Gene, it does seem that way! He looked much smaller in California. But then, we're a very big state.

Dante, great catch on the book! I didn't get the title. And I think you're spot-on with the meaning (and...nothing is trivial or incidental in this show!).

Georgia, per comments above, I also don't think Faye and Don should have ended up together -- especially as it wouldn't be good for her. I think Don needs to get some help and do some healing before he marries again. But that would be "In Treatment" instead of "Mad Men," wouldn't it??

Thanks, Gratefuldan!

Teresa, thanks! and I agree with your assessment of Betty (as I mentioned in another reply to comment above). Nothing more sinister, in my opinion, than having a cold, controlling mother who she is emulating. I do see Megan differently, per this commentary and response in comments above, but we'll see how it turns out next season. Agree Peggy is more threatened about losing her work status (remember she was worried about hiring guys as copywriters for the same reason). I haven't researched pantyhose, but had the sense they came in more late 60's as well, although mini-skirts really drove tights and pantyhose through the roof, I think, and we're almost there (66, I think?). Peggy is a smart Manhattan woman now, so she could be ahead of the curve. And the clients did say they were a small, struggling company -- sounds like a start-up with a new product to me.
Another great post, thank you. One little note. You brought up Goodfellas. Don doesn't want to be a real person, just like Henry doesn't want to be a working schmuck. Well, when Don finishes talking to Faye, he tells Megan simply, "it's done." exactly the two word message delivered to Jimmy in the phone booth after they offed Joe Pesci instead of "making him." Instead of marrying Faye, don emotionally offs her, because that's the price to pay for avoiding that worst of all fates, becoming a real person.
Stacey, I agree with Don using Faye to get on an even keel (he even says she's been very important to him, which sounds like a cliche kiss-off line but I think it's true, just not meant so much romantically). I think the Ossining house is toast, but who knows -- that could set up all kinds of psychic drama, to move the new wife right in place of the old one. It will be interesting to see if Megan wants to be a housewife or if she meant it when she said she wanted to do what Peggy does. Could create some interesting tensions if the latter, so that's what I'm betting on! and I agree that MM seems to deal with important events more in the margins -- just as most of us experience them while going about our daily self-absorbed lives. But I do wish they'd dealt more with the social and cultural changes, and if they move into the late 60's without doing so, the show will lose me and I think many others. You can only hold off the 60's so long, and 1966 would be about the limit! And that's interesting about the name "Megan" -- Perhaps it's not her real name? Maybe she Americanized her name when she came to NY. Not uncommon. Maybe Don won't find out her real name until they're married - that would be just.

thanks, Adele! I don't know that I'm mad (ha) at Don as you say so much as feeling the need to call him to account (ha again, an advertising pun). Loved your thoughts on "I Got You Babe" -- sounds exactly right to me. And I also thought the Calif scene in Anna's house is meant to symbolize Don integrating his 2 identities, but I just didn't think it worked. Fell flat -- too little, too late, and it's not like he told the truth, anyway. If he'd really integrated, he'd have told Megan all before proposing -- and he didn't tell her a thing. As for Betty, I think she's moving out of the show, and again, I find it disappointing that so little was done with her character development. But maybe I'll be surprised - maybe she'll stick around, Henry will divorce her, and she'll join a consciousness raising group. That could be fun. (And thanks for the invite!)

Cindaah, thanks! I didn't think of Groundhog Day but I'm sure that occurred to them as well. (I did think of the Talking Heads singing, "Same as it ever was." Ha.) And yes, I think the milkshake scene was the capper for Don realizing he could have a nice person as wife and stepmother to his kids. But again, let's see if she stays nice! (and happy - the two are related)

Damon, I agree there are no happy endings for Don -- at least not yet. That's why I'm surprised people think everything will work out with nice Megan. This show doesn't work that way!

Tennessee, lots of great insights from you as always! I do think partners can challenge each other in a loving and supportive way. That's precisely what Faye was doing when she talked to Don at the start of the episode (and even Megan a bit when she suggested his now spoiled "vacation" that he was complaining about could become an "adventure"). It's not the opposite of love or support, by any means. (Accommodating and placating someone isn't love, after all.) I see his other relationships much as you do, and agree Betty is a tragic figure (and to risk repeating myself, a tragic waste of a fictional character!). But I disagree that Megan "is the one who fits all his needs" -- I think she is doing so NOW, and in a very deliberate way. Not that that's uncommon, when people are courting and on their best behavior. It's also very common for women to do with men, especially in the early stages of a relationship. But what about Megan's needs? You don't mention them. What happens when she expresses those and asks anything of Don? She hasn't so far, but instead only been the model of compliance and pleasure for him. Unless she's going to be a Stepford wife, that's going to change at some point, and he'll be called on to do more for her. Is he up to it? Megan is a cipher, but we know a lot about Don. As Bert Cooper said, he isn't good partner material. That alone means their supposedly happy impending marriage doesn't have good odds.

Ryan, thanks and will read it later!

Pbarbatus, I like your dissection of that triangle! Agree with all of it, including that Faye is "superior" to Don in some ways.

Readwillet, I thought that exchange was very very telling as well. It doesn't matter who Megan really is; it's all about what Don thinks she is. She's there for him, not vice versa (per comments I just made to Tennessee). Laughed heartily at your Children of the Corn comment. And yes, I dearly hope Carla is back -- I love her. Would be easy to see Don hiring her to help with the kids, especially if Betty decides they should go live with Don and new wifey (maybe thinking it will break up their marriage). And thanks for the compliments!

2SB, thanks!

Lorrie, thanks! As for what's outside the window, I didn't see anything but the city at night. I think we're meant to see Don as simply lost in thought and unable to sleep. As for Betty and Glen, my guess is that mostly she's embarrassed when she sees him because she herself got sucked into an emotional connection with him. Seeing her daughter with him makes her realize how strange that was. And I love "Christ on a cracker" too and crack up every time Pete says it (but then I crack up at almost all of Pete's lines).

FWJ, thanks! Agree that Don's choice of a good mother to his kids (at least thinking she will be) wasn't unusual in that era. And you could argue it was superior to picking a woman who wouldn't be good with them just because he's in love with her. And now that you bring it up, I'm wondering how Joan's going to explain that late baby to her MD hubby?? Surely he knows how to count a pregnancy term, even if many men those days didn't.

Runaway, thanks!

David, some of us guessed that Joan didn't go through with the abortion. And we were right. I agree about Hamm's acting in this episode - he plays self-deceived insincerity to a T. And yes, as I mentioned, Faye called this one, but then forgot her own prediction, to her pain. She'll probably do better with the next guy. I laughed at your Talented Mr. Draper line. I'm not sure about that, but yes, a few tweaks of the knob, and who knows where any of us might be?

Teyuna, I grew up in that era and it hits me emotionally for that very reason, too. I also thought Glen's line was both anachronistic and way way too psychologically insightful for his age and that era. And it's not like we needed to hear that -- we know that insight into Betty. Agree that Megan seems too perfect (per all my comments above as well as blog). I'll check out that flowchart -- sounds hilarious!

Teresa, it's notable that Don doesn't drink much around Megan. But just wait until they're married....

Juliet, loved your comments! and thanks for sharing the Canadian insights -- very helpful. I don't see Faye as you do -- I don't think she announces her Jewishness, but nor does she hide it. I mean, what do you do? Do you announce your religious background every time you meet someone? Why do Jews need to do this anymore than anyone else? She speaks Yiddish to Don, she tells him about her somewhat mobbed up father -- I don't see her as deceptive although she is careful not to open up too much too soon. But that's just what mature women do when dating. And she suggests he get a lawyer and that he'd be treated fairly leniently given the circumstances. That might be optimistic but it's not "psychobabble" as you suggest. She's of the mind that Don can't really be free or happy until he faces his past and I think she's right. Not only that, I think Matthew Weiner thinks she's right and that that premise is at the heart of the entire show and the conceptualization of his character (what else have we been seeing and talking about for 4 years about Don?). All that said, doesn't mean I or anyone think Faye is a perfect person or right for Don. I don't think a woman or a man has to be all one way or the other. The very problem I have with Megan is that she's being presented as essentially perfect. That's how Don is seeing her, and it has to be romantic fantasy, because no one's perfect. She may have deeper flaws than Betty or Faye, but who knows that? Certainly not Don, not yet.

Lana, I don't see Faye as vengeful like that. I think she's too mature. I do wonder if Don will be afraid of her doing that, but so far he doesn't seem to be.

Cloudzie, predatory might be a strong term but per all my comments, I do see Megan more that way than many people do. I think she's definitely pursued Don in the old-fashioned way (as I said, the old "He chased her until she caught him.") And thanks for the pantyhose history!
Okay - this is for all of those commenters both here and on Original Salon....I posted this here after the so-called "Joan abortion episode." Sorry, can't resist :-) : "Anyway, back to Joan, she was affected by the young girl heading into the doctor's office for the procedure, she remembered what Roger had said about telling Greg it was his child, and that's why we have that nice shot of Joan booking it back home on the bus. This entire arc was built for this purpose: Joan is going to have a baby, and Roger is the father." -------sharfor, September 27, 2010 04:20 PM
Nelle, I concede to you on the Jewishness. You're right she doesn't have to announce it. But what do you make of the act she pulls in the focus group? Changing her clothes, pretending they forgot her nametag because "I guess they don't think I'm important." If we're going to fault Megan for being manipulative she's got to at least be more manipulative than her supposed nemesis. I've always found her vaguely repellent, especially the way she is with other women. There's a distance and consdescension, as though she considers herself just a little above them, so I can't champion her as Don's "equal", unless we're considering them equally assholes.

And yes she accepts him as he is. But, hey, she comes from a family of gangsters, so it this mature, or co-dependent? I think she's being incredibly naive to think that heading into Viet Nam the U.S. government would be lenient. She sounds like one of these women who likes the role of telling someone how to live, but really doesn't know what the hell she's talking about. And every time she brough that up I saw Don struggle with wanting to believe her, but knowing that she really doesn't have the legitimate experience or knowledge to understand the risks.

Of course she's right that he has to face his past. But, heck, he also has to face his future, and what he wants and what he's always wanted, a family. She doesn't, and made that clear. So how is he being mature and realistic to marry someone is uncomfortable with children. She's living in some la la land where her and Don will fuck in his apartment on second weekends and she can avoid his kids, or have some kind of vaguely chilly, but civilized relationship with these poor children who have known so little concrete love in their lives. SHE's not facing his past, so how does she expect him to?

Don is instinctive. He saw how instinctively maternal Megan was. Believe me, as someone who still remember what it's like to have young children, you can't fake that milkshake moment. And the powerlessness he's felt watching his children being neglected by a frigid, self aborbed mother probably just rose up in him and evaporated for the first time since they've been born.

I think for a parent to watch your divorced children happy with another adult is an incredibly powerful and seductive feeling, and I don't think Don is being as "childish" as everyone else thinks he is. I think at some level he's trying to be a good father. But he's never had much of a model.

Of course Megan isn't perfect. But I'm not going to defend Faye just because we know her better.
Joan told Roger that Chris had been gone for 7 weeks at the time she realized she was "very late" which implies she'd be around 3-5 weeks "late" in giving birth to Chris's baby. My sister was born in 1966 and she was 3.5 weeks "late" (and no doubt as to parentage, she's a clone of our father). They didn't have ultasounds, its not like today where they could pinpoint things. She can get away with a baby being very late not arousing too much suspicion. But I suspect he will never make it back...
I won't harp on this. But I have also haven't forgiven Faye for the "ask your girl to make the reservation" line. I mean, really. This is how actualized women are supposed to behave? I hope not.
Thank you for your wonderful commentaries. I have found gold in them!
As a one-time Peggy, I believe, and it is borne out by the Joan scene, that Peggy was concerned about an interloper for Don's professional attentions and admiration, not any romantic feelings. Also, she is concerned that this turn of events will make people even more convinced that Peggy also slept her way into a copywriter job.
Has anyone here ever been the secretary to a powerful man? Women of that time had few 'respectable' choices: middle class: nurse or teacher. Working class: secretary or bookkeeper. All kinds of caretaker jobs.

Being a secretary didn't mean that you were on the make. I was a legal secretary before I moved on to legal assistant/paralegal work. It was the men I worked with that were on the make. I didn't marry or date any of them. That was true for most of the secretaries that I knew, but we all knew that the wives thought we were after their husbands, even when we were married women ourselves.

The writing in this show has seemed skewed towards the patriarchal view of the men of that time and doesn't really get the women right. They all seem a bit more like caricatures than characters, particularly the married female characters. The characters with jobs, such as Joan, who knows she is not going to be fully respected, get a little deeper exploration. Peggy is an explorer and doesn't know what to expect, except she is clear about the not fully accepted or fully respected burden she carries as a woman in a field dominated by men. These are all themes that men of my generation have been hearing from the significant women in their lives forever, so the writers know the subject matter better.

Megan isn't as easy to characterize. She is of the next generation and we weren't all one thing or the other, I think that her character development is going to be interesting to see.

Nelle, you've really outdone yourself this season. This blog and the comments section have been truly half the fun of watching the show.
"...Poor Betty. I once had hopes that she'd wind up with a better fit to her life but she remains her own worst enemy. Her freak-out over Carla and glen was in character but Glen's exchange with her seemed awfully precocious...."

but, if you remember, Abrawang, from the first, he was always a precocious kid.
Critique of Don't moral character seems to stem stems from his having sex.
Unfortunately, most of this criticism is rife with jealousies and
projections, as if from children. Too often it is ultimately based upon who
the critic thinks is an "authentic" woman, an "appropriate" woman, or a
"plastic" woman. It also reads as a retread of essentially Victorian
values, wherein a woman's sex implies obligation on the part of the man who
enjoyed it. When you look at Don's actions out of the bedroom, have they
been anything but honorable? Has he cheated folk in business? Has he
physically hurt anyone? Has he been anything but honest with people in his
personal or professional life this year? Are his agonies anything more or
less than human?

He missed his kids, that's inarguable, and what time he had with his kids
was hardly "inauthentic." Many have critiqued Don for himself being
inauthentic, as if his name was the one true element of his identity, but it
was clear as he held his boy high or as he squired Sally around the city
that he loves his children, whether or not, as he says, "he doesn't know how
to be with them." Some have argued that he should have made more effort to
have more time with them, but I suspect such criticism comes from folk who
have little to no understanding of what it takes to run a business, or
worse, from folk who believe that he sacrifice his business life and/or his
libido toward being more full time with the children. But in reality, how
desirable would Don actually be to any of these women scrabbling or arguing
for his affections, critics included, if he were a pauper Dick Whitman vying
for family? And make no mistake, that's what Don is about, in both business
and personal life. Or in another frame, Don is searching for integration.

Once he corralled his drinking problem, and he did, he treated his
co-workers with respect. Some would like to maintain a haughty skepticism
regarding his drinking, assuming that his in fact an alcoholic rather than
someone who is not an alcoholic who drinks, then drank too much, then
reigned it in. For some. like prohibitionists, any drink is too much, but
such puritans often don't like recreational sex either, even when among
healthy, mutually consenting adults. And in business, Don likes to assume
that his partners are mutually consenting adults, that they agree to do the
work they are paid to do or that they pay him to do and that all should be
judged on the work. Has he ever been disrespectful of Peggy's
contributions, help or progress? Has he ever disagreed with Joan's
decisions? He paid Pete's ante, continues to work with Roger despite his
screw-up and Cooper's proclamation that he isn't good "partner material."
In fact, he has gone above and beyond to protect and further the office
"family." Don likes his work. That's an important fact to keep in mind.
No matter what you may feel about advertising, Don likes it and that puts
him on no higher or lower moral ground than a successful artist or a
successful plumber, or a blogger.

No, the root of most critiques of this character comes down to his sex life,
who he beds and why. And it is critique that is based upon mostly
presumptive fallacies. Firstly is the notion of who someone "should" be
with, as if sexual attraction or types don't have meaning, as if a man can
not have a preference and still be moral. Don has a preference, and that
preference has grown. At first it was lithe and nothing more. But after
developing and exploring his friendships with Peggy and Faye and Anna, his
type has expanded to include an interest in his work, in which Betty and his
many early paramours either had no interest or actual disdain. That he
selected women who were beautiful to him, is that a crime? Is it even
morally suspect? Is it a crime that he did not find Peggy sexually
attractive? Of course not. Is it even morally wrong? No. So what
underpins this notion of an "appropriate" match?

This comes down to who you "root for" and what you think the "prize" is. It
is the mystery of projection and identification. Nelle, you think
authenticity is a man meeting someone who challenges him, i.e. forces him to
face things and get educated about himself, much in the same way you
challenge us, your readers to face the "truth" of Mad Men and Don Draper,
but if Don challenges a woman in the same way, and he has, Nelle, you call
that abuse. It's a telling bit of projection. Clearly you, and others,
identify with Faye, and why not, there is much to admire about Faye. She's
bright, put-together, courageous, empathetic. But that doesn't address the
magic, mystery and weirdness of attraction. If Don had no kids or no desire
to be with his kids (though if he did that, no doubt the attacks would mount
on that choice as well), Faye would be perfect for him, and he might even
think so. But you make the same mistake you accuse men like Don of
making--assuming that kids are not in his picture. You think that because
Don had affairs while with Betty that he did not love or consider his
children. And in the beginning of Don's affairs, that would be true, but we
watched Don develop a true love of his kids last season and we watched Don
agonize over Sally's suffering this season, we watched him enjoy his kids
this season, what in the world would lead you to believe that he wants
nothing less than opportunity and joy for his kids, in all that he might
provide? You seem to think the prize is the moment when Don faces front and
center and says, "Women, I have wronged you. I should not trifle with your
sex, because if I boink you I should understand that in boinking you I am
acknowledging how amazing and wonderful and wise you are. I should admit
how lost I am without you. I proclaim you are smart, at least as smart as I
if not smarter, and you are wise, and you are brave, especially because you
are dealing with men like me." Like Betty, you want Don on "your side."

Unrealistic and not perceptive. Don already assumes a woman can do any kind
of job. He's as nonplussed about the "old boy" club as Peggy is, as a
stranger to it as she, as has been demonstrated time and again. He knows a
woman is no different than he is regarding sex--everyone wants what they
want. He has been lost without women, but he found a way to be whole
without one this year. What he finds missing, again and again, are his
kids, his actual kids and the kid he was.

A life with Faye does not include his children, and Don wants to include
them. He may not know how, but he wants to learn, and when he say that the
solution to spilt milk was mopping it up, no anger, slaps or freak-outs, he
saw that his kids did not have to repeat the cycle he endured, that he
recreated with Betty, a dark, brittle life of roiling anger and
recriminations, secret agendas and snap judgments. You said a challenge can
"challenge each other in loving and supportive ways" but that
"accommodating...isn't love after all." Say what? Though challenge might
be loving, what if you don't need challenge but something else? Don's not
skirting challenge--he never has. His whole life has been one challenge
after another, and he has survived. Do you think he should have stayed in
Korea? Do you think he should have stayed with Betty? Do you think he
should have done any major business decision any differently than he has?
And since when is accommodation not loving? To accommodate differences,
difficulties, balance, similarities, desires...no higher form of love.

Don moves forward. He wants to understand the past, he is facing the past,
but he needs to move forward, as all healthy people do, and more, he wants
professional success and satisfaction and family success and satisfaction.
We might even say that he wants a form of artistic excellence, a synthesis
of self and expression, and to do so means dealing with the past in a way
that allows for genius. Faye, for all her strengths, is stuck in the same
dilemma that stresses Don, Betty, or any adult. She has found a way to a
career, but for her that path excludes children because she doesn't really
like kids. It's not that Don is unsympathetic to the choice, but he
believes in the impossible if the impossible is a happy home life and a
rewarding work life, a synthesis of the happy home life and the happy work
life--and why should it it be any different? Can you imagine Don tossing
his kids about in the water with Dr. Faye? And how would Faye deal with a
dress spotted with spilt milkshake? If you don't think that's important,
then you don't understand Don even half as much as you think you do. Men
can love their kids and want to spend time with them, and suffer the same
conundrums that women face regarding work and home life. You can't be in
two places at once. You need balance. You need a partner, not a challenge.

Did he owe Faye anything beyond what he gave her? Because she wants
marriage with him does that mean he has to want marriage with her? Because
she was there when he was down, does that mean he has to love her as family?
It would be nice, in this world, if good deeds with people we like yield
what we want, but why be as heartbroken as Faye over Don choosing Megan?
Men know it--do a good deed for a woman, even while sleeping her, and still
she'll choose someone else. Happened to Don, even. So if a woman is free
to choose her own mate, why can't a man?

Some have critiqued Megan herself as nothing more than "another Barbie Doll,
just like Betty," as if even Betty were reducible to a mere plastic trinket,
have complained, like Peggy, that's she's just another pretty face.
Nonsense, and as guilty of judging a book by its cover as these self-same
critics accuse Don of being. Megan has been productive, helpful,
interested...and you diss these qualities as being "pliant." Do you live in
the real world? Why would anyone in their right mind pick difficult,
unhelpful, and unproductive unless they were, like Don was in earlier
seasons, working out a past with a similarly difficult family or trauma?

But, it's often excused, characters like Don "invite" criticism. And why?
To suggest that Don or any other character invite the kind of critique you
offer is akin to suggesting that a victim of abuse invites violence. It may
be structurally true, though I doubt that in this case, but it is always
morally questionable. Bullying too often cloaks itself with "isms," even
feminism. To bully Don for having sex outside the marriage was one
thing--there was some basis for that. To bully Don now, divorced,
floundering, it's unfair, Victorian even. This strange underlying sense
that the women he has bedded have had any loftier moral purpose than he,
anything other than pursuing their libidos or relationship agendas or
personal needs--I believe the assumption is fractured at best. Don has
clearly changed since his married days. He seriously considers the
ramifications of his sexual encounters. Where once he would have even
reveled in anonymous coitus, his dalliance with the unknown waitress brought
him shame and change. He even looked at the ramifications of his disaster
with Allison and though he also noted that dinking and dumping the
secretary was bad for business, there were clear indications that he is
beginning to understand the pain that comes with recklessness, both for him
and others. He is growing up, and realizes that the image he has been
projecting was/is hollow. Sometimes his understanding trails his hypocrisy
but he is not perfect, he is representation of a flawed, growing man. His
brilliance is more than merely coming up with fitting ad campaigns, it is
in learning from experience, an activity in rare supply in our culture even
today, perhaps even in our species, given our penchant for repeating our
personal and societal booboos.

But enough my own pretensions of perception. Let's look at an instance of
Don's supposed hypocrisy--his declaration toward "quitting tobacco." Much
is being made of his continuing to actually smoke. First off, who doesn't
initially stumble between intent and follow- through, who doesn't declare
intention before action, and most importantly, who doesn't try to
incorporate a moral stance, a value in the day to day needs of getting
along, in bettering all of life, from the financial to the romantic?

An aside: there was an obvious analogy between Heroin and tobacco in last
week's episode, but there was another, less obvious parallel...between
beans and tobacco! Both are products trying to hide their effects on
bodily functions, both really don't need selling, both try to reframe
declining revenues as seasonal or cyclical effects, all notwithstanding
that one is a staple food and the other is a staple destructive drug.

Why do I bring this up? An essential stressor in Capitalism is the sale of
unneeded product under the guise of need, where the transaction itself is
sold as as an authentic relationship as that between families, between
lovers, between food and hunger, and even as that between a drug and its
addict. But in such a transactional culture, even authentic relationships
can become commoditized. These truths and veils are what Don and Peggy and
really, nearly everyone else on the show have been exploring, surviving,
adventuring through, crafting, testing. All are struggling to find
authenticity in a world that is hungering for both increased sales amid
shifting values and more authenticity amid increasing corporatism and
commoditization. Once you find authenticity, authentic needs, how do you
consume it, them, in a healthy way, while the economic paradigm of your
culture would prefer addiction?

In my opinion, that is the essential question and therefore the genius of
"Mad Men."

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you
do it."

~Mahatma Ghandi
I too think Megan isn't such a bad choice, and I'm relieved that Faye for Faye's sake that she didn't get stuck with him. But it's the way it happened - what a Dick you are, Don!

And giving her the real Don Draper's engagement ring? Bad luck if I ever saw it.
Nelle, I stand corrected on the context of Peggy's "bullshit" comment as I thought it might pertain to Cosgrove. But when you say that Don's proposal was meant to be arbitrary, by that I meant that it didn't seem true to his character. There wasn't enough set-up or development to make it seem plausible. No issues though with how typical it was of the times and megan's reaction was certainly believable.

Rocky57, maybe Glen was precocious from early on but his statement that Betty didn't have to make everyone else unhappy just because she was struck me as something only a much older person would say.

Great discussion Maddicts and Nelle, thanks again for your commentaries and your spam-fighting.
Thank you, Nelle! You should be paid handsomely for your exceptional writing about MM. Maybe next season ....
When Don pitches his ad idea to the ACS I am certain he was referring to this ad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmzDLzqQ-A0. The "like father, like son" ad profoundly affected me and I was all of 5 or 6 when it aired. To this day I remember it like it was yesterday. What I love about Mad Men (besides everything else I love about Mad Men!) is how it makes me feel. I feel transported back to the time when everything seemed burnt orange. The California scenes reminded me of the I love Lucy California episodes or my first trip to Miami when I was 6. There is something so remarkable about the way Weiner can get at those nostalgic emotions so perfectly without ever being artificial.

Nina61
Hey, can anything be done about these damned spammers posting lists of their crappy merchandise? Multiple posts at that. I mean, we ARE talking abut a show about advertising, but even so . . .
Indeed - in regard to the American Cancer Society campaign, there was much afoot even in the mid-60s to try to get kids NOT to smoke. I had a memory sparked when I saw another letter writer refer to something she was exposed to in the Fifties about the dangers of smoking.

When I was in 11th grade (Sept 1964-June 1965), my English class met in the school auditorium with several other English classes. Due to our baby boom generation, my school simply couldn't handle the overload - so the entire auditorium was filled with students throughout the day. (My school was bursting at the seams; when I was graduated in 1966, there were 1,500 of us in our senior class; 3,000 total school enrollment. Yes, you read that correctly.)

One day, we had a full hour devoted to the evils of smoking and what it could do to the human body. I'm not sure why English class was chosen - however, I do think the same program was presented all day long to auditorium classes. The person giving the lecture brought a film, slides, diagrams - and he also brought along lungs. As in: human.

One lung from a non-smoker was disease-free, kinda pinkish, looked normal. The other lung was ostensibly from a smoker (ah, who knew, really?) - and it was nearly black. I sat near the front and I still remember watching him lift that blackish lung up as best he could for the auditorium to see. Kids gasped, cried out, and one kid near me slumped and passed out. It was pretty horrifying for us at the time.

Obviously, I never forgot it. My dad smoked all his life and exposed us to second hand smoke constantly, but I never smoked and neither did my mother. My brothers smoked for awhile and then quit as they approached their 30s.

I'd say that Don Draper is right on time with dumping tobacco and getting on the anti-smoking campaign. Very clever arc, if you ask me.
"...I think for a parent to watch your divorced children happy with another adult is an incredibly powerful and seductive feeling, and I don't think Don is being as "childish" as everyone else thinks he is. I think at some level he's trying to be a good father. But he's never had much of a model.

"Of course Megan isn't perfect. But I'm not going to defend Faye just because we know her better."

"I won't harp on this. But I have also haven't forgiven Faye for the "ask your girl to make the reservation" line. I mean, really. This is how actualized women are supposed to behave? I hope not."

Juliet Waters, you said it so more succinctly and graciously than I. Bravo. My sister runs her own business, is a brand new single mom, just divorced her ex, and thank God she did. Given the complaints about Don selecting Megan, you'd think he was a rapist or Bernie Madoff. But people need what they need. My sister's ex is so lazy, the guy can't even twist in a new lightbulb without huffing and puffing about how much he's asked to do and hiring a handyman so he can noodle for hours on his laptop and smoke weed. Granted, she's spoiled, grew up with a builder father and brother, men who know how to and want to "make something" (as Don said toward the end of last season), and granted, now that their divorced he's clearly loving their daughter and bringing good things to the table, but for heaven's sake, the non-stop arguing over any request of help, his unrelenting b.s., Don is an angel in comparison.

As if Don should somehow do it all himself! "How dare he not drag his toddler into a business meeting. How dare he ask someone to watch over the kids while he works." That's what the critiques boil down to. And of all the folks my sister identifies with on the show? Don, who like her, has had the hardest time finding a mate who knows how to enjoy a homelife as well as appreciate the spouse's work, who knows how to work, who knows how to help because it's what he/she wants too, and who has a libido that also went woefully unsatisfied in marriage. And she, like Don, had the maturity to realize she had to correct the part of herself that would pick a person like Betty. That's what Don's been doing. Faye helped, no doubt, but as Juliet pointed out--toward what?

Wait until next season--all these shallow guys critquing Megan's teeth (adeptly satirized in the last episode) and all these jealous women wondering what schemes she has up her sleeve or are waiting to watch her get shafted by Don are going to be surprised. Don and Megan will work together, love together, live together and will die happy(though Don will dies of cancer), and their kids will grow up brave enough to do what they want and well adjusted enough to pick good friends and partners, and Megan will do as she stated and do what Don does--run creative in an agency--and she's going to love those kids like Don does.

Some point out with smug satisfaction that Don answered Faye's question of "who is she" with "Does it matter?" as if that was a clear signifier that it didn't matter to Don. But Don wasn't saying that, he was saying that he would not reveal the name of the woman who replaced Fay because he wanted to protect that woman from Faye, but he's to courteous to say "I'm afraid if I tell you her name you'll do something rash and hurtful to her."

He loves Megan. Unless it's Peggy he really loves. I'll allow for that, but either Megan or Peggy play the part of a fictionalized Myra Janco.

From Myra Janco's account of her marriage with Chicago advertising great Draper Daniels (he called himself "Dan" because he didn't want people to know his mother gave him a sissy name, and he group up dirt poor):

"On Monday, Dan called a meeting at the office. Nobody in our company knew of the engagement—or had any idea that we were seeing each other. Dan called all the employees together—there were about 65—and announced that there had been another merger. Then he said, “Myra and I were married this weekend.”

Our staff was a little shell-shocked. A headline in the newspaper the next day read: “Another Merger at Draper Daniels.”

About two weeks later, we honeymooned in the Bahamas, which was where Dan taught me how to fish and I caught my first big wahoo. Looking back now, I realize I never regretted marrying him, even though I resisted pretty strongly at first. I think it shows that sometimes we don’t know what’s best for ourselves. I had been so work-oriented and had resisted so strongly that Dan saw no choice but to come after me. I’m grateful that he did.

The Draper Daniels I knew became a one-woman man after we married. He also quit drinking, when I told him I didn't want to work with a lush.

We lived a good life. We had a nice apartment in Chicago and bought a farm 97 miles away, near Ronald Reagan’s hometown of Dixon. If you walked around the square back then, everybody, it seemed, looked like Ronald Reagan.

Years later, in Florida, after Dan lost his battle with cancer, I was cleaning out his old highboy chest and I found two rolls of nickels in a drawer. I had no idea what they were doing there—but I thought immediately of Vivian Hill, the woman who had introduced us back in 1965. I remembered how Vivian used to keep these rolls of nickels lined up in the crevices of her desk drawer and would often make bets with people. She’d say things like, “I’ll bet you two rolls of nickels that Procter & Gamble is going to move from this agency to that agency.” I was still in touch with her so I rang her up and said, “Vivian, the strangest thing happened. I opened up the drawer to Dan’s old highboy and I found two rolls of nickels, like the kind I would sometimes win from you.” And she started laughing.

I said, “Why are you laughing?”

“Didn’t he ever tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

So Vivian told me a little story about Dan, a story that I didn’t know: The morning after I had met Dan in 1965—the night we talked for five hours, then went out for hamburgers at the Wrigley Building—he had gone to visit Vivian and said that he wanted to buy the company. I knew that part, but I didn’t know the rest of it. He also told her, “Vivian, just for your information, within two years that woman is going to be Mrs. Daniels.” She bet him two rolls of nickels that he was wrong. The day after we were married, in 1967, she paid off the bet.

Dan kept the nickels."
Illovox, I really enjoyed reading every word of your comment. I think you expressed everything I have been thinking about the show. Thank you!
i usually am inclined to agree with you Nelle, but not completly in this instance and its only in regards to one point which is WHY Don quickly snagged Megan. don is escaping. no doubt about it, for the reasons you stated but i want to add a bit on that. Being with faye and having to take his head out of the sand is too difficult-- almost unnatural for him. he has been this way since childhood, wanting to escape in to someone he dreams of being. and the only way he can capture that is by building a faux pas life, everyone in his life is like play dolls to be arranged to his satisfaction and he is the maestro-- creating the ideal, picturesque surrounding in order to feel whole. He knows Faye isn't the type of person to humor that type of shit. He saw a chance for honest introspection and he ran, ran as fast and far as he possibly could. Nelle, you see it as a choice imbued by infactuation yet to me it more like a knee jerk reaction. He has made some progress this season yes but it was somewhat forced on him my circumstances, not by will and the circumstances were too much of an unwelcomed surprise and his facade cracked so we mistook his cracking to be resolve for change. but as this season finale episode amply illustrates, that is not the case.
He recognized Megan as an easy target to manipulate in to his grand scheme of things. He has no love, Don knows this very well that’s why its so easy for him to lie to her and offer her Anne's ring. ≠
Even most of us who credit ourselves as being self ware, and conscious continiously battle not to fall in to all demons, who when we give them free reign are familiar, though not safe and self destructive—its where home has been for a while and it’s a long journey to evolve past that. almost like addiction, it’s a daily battle to keep new lesson learned on the fore front of your mind while willingly further explore the depths of oneself.
The part about Anne's ring pissed me off. How could he give the last thing Anne left him to this naïve girl? Then it struck me, Don needs that comfy place (though Anne never pried and he never told her about his unethical work behavior or his infidelities--so Anne never had the full picture, she just knew the most about him)which Anne served and Betty long ago stopped playing so he needs his placebo, his habituated state of denial. Megan is the prefect candidate to build his nest of denial with.

would love to read you thoughts on my points...if you got the time
oh did anybody notice Peggy's face after her lesbian friend (forgot her name) brought the model in? not sure if it's disappointment or seeing first hand that her friend has a girlfriend (after all she is a catholic) .

ive always loved jovial Ken, he seems like a great guy all around. i was anxious about his love life, almost wanted him to hook up with Peggy but I guess that'd be too predictable--almost soap operaish.

And Campbell's brief reaction when Don anncouced his engagement, "really?" remember a few episodes back he arrived at Don's place unannoucned early in the morning (i think) and Faye quickly left.

Does anyone wonder about the sista Lane was seeing before his father beat him in to "putting his life in order"??
Hello Nelle. I've read your blog this season and it's been wonderfully insightful. And at times, your commentary has opened my eyes to things I missed.

I wanted to talk about Betty and what I think is her "problem". There is something I don't think anyone has brought up about Betty. After watching the finale the first time, I thought, like so many others, that Betty was an immature bitch. On 2nd viewing, I realized something else, and it came when Glen said she was "sad". Betty is depressed. Very depressed. She should be happy. Looking at her life from the outside, everything should be fine. But nothing makes her happy. And nothing can as long as she's in a depression. A number of things can happen with her story. She could see the therapist that Dr. Edna suggested. She could have a nervous breakdown, especially after Don's revelation. Or, like so many suburban housewives of the era, she could go to a doctor who prescribes her some "mother's little helpers". Wasn't that all those little housewives needed? A little boost? First come the amphetamines. Then, when those are too much to handle, the sedatives come in to calm them down. The next thing you know, she's addicted to pills. It happened then just like it happens now. Or all of these things could collide in her life. If Henry does have a drinking problem (which we were teased with), their life together will fall apart. And then what will become of Betty? Would Betty finally reach deep into herself and find the strength to stand on her own? I felt much more sympathy for Betty after the 2nd viewing. She needs help because she can't help herself. But given the era, will she get the help she needs? I wonder if Betty will have the ability to gain insight into herself that has, so far, escaped Don.

Also, I wonder if Joan had another reason for keeping her baby? She's had two abortions. Maybe the doctor told her that if she had another abortion, it would hurt her chances of ever having a baby?

I also loved Carla's line to Betty, "You best stop talking now.". The way she said it, there was a lifetime of hurt and pain and anger in those words. An entire episode could have been written around the feelings Carla put behind those words.

It was great reading your thoughts this season. I look forward to joining you and the other readers here next season.
to aerynsunx:

great point about Betty. depressed people do behave in anti-social ways, they lash out and highly irritable, betty exhibits all of those symptoms and more. she is intensely depressed. i remember the first time i realized the depths of her sadness was when she talked about how her mother was and the fact that she gave up her modeling careers. betty seems to carry around some much-- suppression. perhaps she'll blow again a la shooting the neighbours pets. we might not know who don is but we know what drives him to do what he does, but Betty--never had a clue. dont even think she has an internal motivation towards anything besides fullfilling the role she was raised to become. maybe thats where her crisis lays, like don she doesn't know herself and runs away from finding out-- instead she represses and remains depressed.

when carla stood up to Betty "it was a mistake, there is no need for that kind of talk" and "well someone has too look after those children"i was like HELL YEAH!! she has silently witnessed the dysfunctional parenting and lives of Don and Betty for so many years. wanted to slap betty when she said "where are your kids, are they all doctors and lawyers?" and carla retorted "you best stop talking now" it was a hurray moment for sure.
Again, more eloquent than I:
Sorry bout that--links don't post here. Bummer...
Nelle, I've been reading your posts every week after Mad Man airs and have liked them all--but this, this one, is absolutely fantastic! Brilliantly written and totally wraps up exactly how I felt with this last episode.

By the way, I'd also predicted that Joan would keep the baby and Don would marry Megan. The question now is this: Megan is a younger, fresher, newer more 'Sex and the Single Girl' version of Jane and Jane, as we know, has become a disappointing nightmare for Roger so: how exactly will marriage to Megan play out for Don? Does she truly have--as Peggy obviously fears--career aspirations? Is this a stepping stone--as Sex and the Single Girl advised her generation--for bigger and better things and will Don then, thus, lose the comfortable nanny/whore that he clearly envisions?
Here is the Don Draper I know, and this is why I admire him.

Don Draper is in charge of creating his life and takes responsibility for that. He is authentic.

I take umbrage with those who continue to assert that Dick Whitman is the real person. Dick Whitman was not the real person. Dick Whitman is the persona created by his family and society and was foisted upon the child. "you are the bastard child of a whore who did not love you or want you." "You are too weak and flawed to be my son." "You must die for your country in an ill conceived war." "You do not have the credentials to be a copywriter at Sterling Cooper." Don rejected Dick. More specifically, he rejected the false persona and limitations of his family and society in order to be the person he really is.

Don Draper is indeed Don Draper, and he is in no way Dick Whitman.

I admire Do because he is an alpha male. He takes action when action is needed, and he is willing to accept reponsibility if his actions are wrong. time and again, Don is the one filling the void and making the decisions at work.

I admire Don because he believes in meritocracy. Not once has he demeaned Peggy or Joan through stereotypes. He is willing to meet them on a level playing field. He plays hard with them and everyone else in his professional world, but he never cheats.

I admire Don because he loves his children and takes seriously his role as pater familias. When he thought he might go to jail, he set up trust funds in his wife's name to ensure that they would be cared for. Don is never seen as anything but a loving and caring father, albeit an often confused one. (I am the president of that club.)

Even though I admire Don, he has one flaw that I really dislike. He has never learned how to be a good and faithful partner in a romantic relationship. Because of this, he has hurt a lot of women. I understand that being the bastard son of a whore and being given away by his mother has severely injured his psyche. I also realize the parents that raised him were of little to no help in the healing. Even so, he has to do the hard work needed to heal these wounds so he can stop hurting the women in his personal relationships (specifically his new wife).

I disagree with Nelle's assertions that is great to be Don Draper. I suspect it is damned hard to be the alpha male in your world. Just look at what happens to the aging of everyone of our presidents. Don is making his own identity, life and world.

I admire him for that.
I agree with Lea Lane that you should be paid handsomely for what your do. I just saw a good deal on puma gucci$35,nike jordans six ring,yeezy$%5!! Maybe I'll get you some! tee hee

Seriously thanks for great Monday mornings and giving us Madadicts a place to enjoy. I always enjoy your comments and analysis and those of the other commentors. Looking forward to the next season!
Obviously I'm not quite willing to let go of MM this season. I just came back and read aerysunx's and madmenmaic's comments about Betty, and of course she's depressed. I knew it in the first season, but as her behavior toward her children grew worse and worse, the child-like primitive part of her so stood out that I kind of forgot about Season 1.

I suspect that the trigger to Betty's depression was her mother's death, and that was never really resolved. Betty's childhood was a set-up to make her feel never quite good enough, so it didn't take much to tip her into depression, and the conventional wisdom is that the loss of a close family member with whom you've had unresolved conflicts hits you harder than the death of someone, with whom conflicts have been resolved.

Given the state of 1960's psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, unless Betty gets a Dr. Edna of her own, her prognosis is not good. It turns out Henry is expecting her to be an adult; she can't self-medicate with alcohol as much as she could when Don was around.

She's still beautiful, but by 1960's standards, getting a little long in the tooth, and she has 3 kids, who have the annoying quality of needing parenting. Of all the narcissitically wounded people on MM, she has the least shot either for escape or self actualization.

Perhaps her character has been written the way it is, because January Jones doesn't want to stay with the show, or perhaps things are set up for Betty to become one of the 1960's lost ladies, energized by amphetamines and soothed by Miltown or Librium.

I graduated from high school in 1965, and most of the kids, I knew, who were into drugs found them right in their mothers' medicine cabinets. I even remember pregnant women taking amphetamine-based diet pills so that they wouldn't gain too much weight.

I'm still angry at her for the way she treats her kids, but poor Betty.
As much as I’ll miss Mad Men, it’s your commentaries that make the experience of the show much richer. My one comment is that I hope you are wrong, (but after viewing, one more time, the last scene between Don and Betty), you may be spot on about us seeing the last of Betty. I agree they haven’t allowed her character to evolve much the season, other than to regress and become more childlike. I concur that Betty is a tragic figure, but in the moments when she shines, she is breathtaking. When they were in Rome there was a glimpse of the person that Betty could have been in different circumstances; she seemed beautiful, smart, composed. I loved those scenes. For me, Betty’s weaknesses parallel that of my mother’s and just how her options were limited. (Sally and I were the same age in 1965) Mom had four children at home, a husband who drank and philandered with other women, pushing her into an abyss of depression that lasted decades. For Betty, because of the times, there won’t be much they can do with her character other than to have us witness her digressing even deeper. Self-actuation hadn’t really caught on until much later. When my mother was going through her “stuff”, I remember my grandmother saying to her, just get over it. How sad! I would love to see Betty becoming the loving, affectionate, compassionate women hinted at by the writers at times, but from personal experience, that type of evolution wasn’t very likely until much later.
Your well-written insights have made this the most satisfying season of "Mad Men" for me - thank you!
I agree quite a bit with Illovox's first post, however Carla's admonishment applies to it.

For me, Don's character is summed up in the Pilot. The opening shows him at a bar, sitting by himself wracking his brain for a Lucky Strike angle, while his coworkers are laughing it up. He's a striver at work, who tries very hard to get it right but sometimes fails, for lack of inspiration. Even when the right answer eludes him, he can easily reject the wrong one (the Freudian Doctor who reported on a "death wish" that smokers secretly harbor), even if it comes from someone who, like Dr Faye, is an expert. Nor is he averse to engaging old black waiter, whom most of his colleagues would treat as too far beneath them to have a valid opinion.

He's a bit dissolute, self-indulgent and like to distract himself with casual sex. But just when he's toast, he grabs "It's Toasted" and turns it into a winner.

As the opening shows his work life, so the close sums up his personal life. The end song is "On the Street Where You Live" but his enchantment is with his kids.

The kids, though sometimes neglected, are what he holds dear more than anything. And so, Megan is an obvious choice.
I think Joan's husband is wearing the Red Shirt. If he comes back from 'Nam alive, he'll be badly damaged.

I've been wondering if anyone's going to become a Flower Child in a couple of years.... Will Betty flip out and join a hippie commune? :)
As usual, you make me see the show a bit differently than before I read your piece and that's quite an accomplishment. rated
Fascinating. Really enjoyed your insights. I have only just finished season 3 - I'm a very latecomer to the show. I'm hooked. Can't wait to start season 4 so I can't discuss in greater depth with you. It was long and I have to get to bed, but I just couldn't stop reading! ~R