Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 13:
So much of this season has felt like the prelude to a disaster. Last week we passed through the eye of the storm and last night, for the first time in such a long time, Mr. Weiner allowed us to let go of our breath, sink back into our chairs and finally, enjoy it all a little.
For now, at least, the worst is over. So let’s all eat Trudy’s cakes and sandwiches and remember why it was we wanted to get into this business in the first place.
Much criticism has been leveled at this third season for walking away from the office dynamics in favour of the crisis on the home front. Last night it struck me that this was most probably all part of the masterplan (duh). As Don lost his way, so did we, as he became increasingly disinterested in work and arrogant in his approach to it - alienating Peggy, Roger and feeling Cooper’s bared teeth - the day-to-day business of Sterling Cooper receded into the background. It just didn’t seem to matter as much any more. But last night Don was forced to make a decision, to stake his future on a job he’s shown brilliance at performing, but an inability to commit to. Last night, Don wasn’t too good for advertising any more.
As that song most eloquently puts it, ‘When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.’
Last night was about letting-go and starting again, with his family falling apart, Don grappled to put, ‘everything back the way it was,’ at Sterling Cooper, but learned that sometimes the best you can do is start from scratch. Thus, Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Price was born. Roger and Don were re-united once again, Peggy and Don reconnected and Joan, oh Joan! was back to save the files and the day! Sweet sweet release!
The building of this new dream team had all the cinematic excitement of the training montage in Rocky IV (and I mean that as a compliment). First the four key players aligned on their dastardly scheme, then Peggy threw a curve ball in Don’s arrogant face, and we got another dose of comedy genius in the form of a Pete Campbell all tousled (and dare I say it looking damn fine) in a bath-robe and suit pants with Trudy listening in from the bedroom. The emotional denouement was delivered via Peggy and Don, with Don making the kind of heartbreaking plea to Peggy he was ultimately unable to make to his wife. The entire arc was littered with comedy gold, from Pete forcing Don to articulate his ‘talents’ to his face, to the look on Campbell’s face when Peggy walked through the door on Sunday afternoon and her subsequent refusal to get Roger coffee. I am Peggy, hear me roar… then go f**k a duck (god, I can’t believe I only just thought of that now.)Seeing Don finally let go of Betty was the thing we didn’t realize we’d secretly been wishing for until it actually happened. Thank. God. While I still seriously question the motives and integrity of Henry, seeing Don and Betty finally give into the inevitability of the ridiculousness of their match, was like being released from a set of handcuffs. Again, the woman was icy and immovable, letting Don call her a whore without uttering a word to him of his own frequent indiscretions, but their final phonecall, filled with weary resignation said it all. ‘I hope you get what you always wanted,’ Don said to Betty – because all she ever wanted was certainly not Dick Whitman. Don is a broken man - in the same way Peggy is a broken woman – he will save his fight to rescue someone equally damaged, or damaged in the same way as he is.
And so it all came full-circle; the death of Don’s father, Betty on a plane to Reno, Don moving into his new apartment and his new life, Sterling Cooper half-empty of talent and a new little family born in a suite at The Pierre… all to the lilting tones of the incomparable Roy Orbison …
“Shahdaroba, Shahdaroba, means the future is much better than the past,
Shahdaroba, Shahdaroba in the future you will find a love at last.”
That means you Roger and Joan.
Until next time. This has been, Mad About The Men.
Line of the week: Roger on Jane: “Most interest that girl’s ever had in a book depository.”
Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photos by Carin Baer