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Monday, October 18, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 finale

Wow, a little soapier than I would have expected or even really wanted, but still a great hour of TV.

Another poster on Basket of Kisses (Meowser) said:  “. . . it’s meant to be seen as Don marrying someone he hardly knows, so we hardly know her either. He’s doing exactly what he did with Betty 13 years ago — this woman is beautiful and happy! And she has no idea I’m a big faker!”
That was exactly what I was thinking (though stated more articulately than I would have put it). I like Don a lot and I cut him a lot of slack because he got dealt a shitty hand and he’s trying to make lemonade (excuse the very mixed metaphor). We've watched him for 5 years (of his life), and during that time, he's done some incredibly mean and thoughtless things, often to people who did not deserve it, but somehow this latest action seems worse to me. With all the swimming and journaling, he’s learned nothing and he hasn’t grown one bit. "Who is Don Draper?" He’s a little boy, deluding himself and grasping at straws. He knows exactly what Megan's getting into, even if she doesn’t. He's tying her to him, just so he can be with someone who makes him feel like he wants to feel. For 5 minutes anyway. Until the self-loathing kicks in again. In the final scene, he's looking at the window – already checking out the escape routes!!  He was infatuated with Suzanne’s innocence and sweetness also, but he left her **sitting in the car** when the time came to deal with his real life. God knows how he’ll throw poor Megan under the bus when the fantasy is confronted by reality, as it undoubtedly will be.  I found myself thinking about what Allison had said to Peggy a few episodes back, along the lines of, "how can you stand it - he turns on the charm and then turns it back off."  He's so charming and appealing with Megan, but we all know it doesn't last.

Someone on the blog said that the episode should be called "Dr Faye Dodges a Bullet."  Tee hee.  And lots of people thought Don's proposal was a dream sequence, just like I did - funny.

I think Heather Havrilesky on Salon.com nails it (though Deb Lipp also has an excellent post on this topic):

. . . What Faye doesn't know is that there's nothing Don Draper fears more than "trying to be a person like the rest of us." Accepting that he's just another man on the face of the Earth is the last thing Don wants to do. He is oppressed by his own overwhelming compulsion to play the dashing hero, even when there's nothing at all heroic about his actions and he knows it, even when he simply takes cowardice and dresses it up with a shiny cape. "When a man walks into a room he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere. Just ask him for one," Don wrote in his journal back when he was sobering up. "If you listen, he'll tell you how he got there, how he forgot where he was going, and then he woke up." In the season finale, Don forgets where he's going, and he decides to tell a brand new story.

. . . Megan is fearsome because she's far craftier than Jane. In fact, Megan is the Don Draper of love: She says exactly what her client wants to hear. She decides what she wants to believe and then sticks to that story and doesn't waver. But can Don possibly respect someone who believes in him religiously when he hardly believes in himself?

. . . The central identity parable of "Mad Men," which seemed like a simple act of deception in the first few seasons, has deepened into something richer and more ominous. Don Draper reflects the American compulsion to sidestep the hard work of living a flawed but authentic life for the empty illusion of perfection, as shiny and skin-deep as an advertisement that promises the impossible.

Other thoughts:

I was sincerely surprised that Joan didn’t abort – I thought that theory was CRAZY and I was sooo wrong. I did not see that coming. A little soapy, but whatever. Probably more true to life this way.  Does make her line to Roger a couple episodes back "we avoided a tragedy here" seem very odd.  Is that some sort of pro-life message?

Loved Betty making a play for Don just before he drops the bomb on her. She was a lot more dignified over that "good news" than I expected.

Loved Peggy in this episode (as always). Loved her confidence and her success.  Loved her exchange with Joan - best moment in the entire episode. Some folks on the blog said she was crushed by Don's engagement because she's in love with him, but I agree with others who said she was disappointed in what was clearly an immature choice and one that does not continue the progress he was making toward a more authentic life.

Faye just broke my heart - hunched over her desk crying after she hangs up the phone.  I knew she and Don would never end up together, but she was a terrific character and role model (and a psychologist to boot!) and the way he ended with her was just awful.  I wonder if they're going to ever show her finding out it's Megan - she'll flip!

One more comment – about half the ads during the show were for the new AMC show, The Walking Dead, about zombies.  I got pretty sick of it - how can AMC think that Mad Men fans are going to watch this show? Ridiculous. Kinda insulting too. (I'm sure some will, but I can't believe there's much overlap between MM fans and people who like zombies. Just sayin')
Best lines:

Faye to Don: “I hope she knows you only like the beginning of things.”

Peggy to Joan: "I just saved this company . . . but it's not as important as getting married.  Again."

Henry to Betty: "There is no fresh start. Lives carry on."

Roger, about "Miss Callvieu" (Megan): "Who the hell is that?"

Pete, when he hears Don and Megan are engaged: "Reeeally?" (More the delivery than the actual line!)


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