MAD MEN: Scene of the Week

Don’t say it’s (almost) over! As sad as I am over the prospect of no Mad Men next week, at least there’s another season to go (and endless years of rewatching as my bittersweet, weekend-long Sopranos binge taught me). But back to the task at hand. In a night full of astonishing moments, we see Teddy unintentionally throw his wife in Peggy’s face, then Peggy dress to kill, then the lovebirds in Peggy’s Upper West Side haunt, and Teddy ultimately choose his wife and California (with a little help from Don) over his mistress. Peggy, back of the head shot and all, is basically Don at his peak, powerful and miserable. And we see how well that life has served Don (more on that in a sec).

On the “lighter” side of things, Pete contends with his mother’s “accidental” death and Bob Benson’s exploitation of his limited driving skills. But as much as we might dislike Pete at times, it was touching to see him at Tammy’s bedside just as it was touching to see Joan give Roger a chance with Kevin (if not with her). Both of these men want to connect with their children. As does Dick Whitman.

A Don Draper pitch is always money in the bank. In fact, I singled one out as the highlight of this season’s premiere. And Don starts his Hershey pitch in a familiar fashion, nostalgia sacrificed at the altar of consumerism. It’s something he’s done brilliantly but ad nauseum. Last night, Don flips the script. For no conceivable reason, except perhaps a desperate need to be known at long last, Don reveals the truth of his upbringing in front of potential clients and co-workers. The Hershey bar is something too sacred to Dick for even Don to lie about. It’s kind of sweet and kind of pathetic. And in the end, it costs Don his job (probably just temporarily), but he loses it just the same. What follows is Don as Dick showing his kids, and Sally in particular, exactly who he is and where he came from. Again, sweet and pathetic. But that pitch. If Don never makes another one (and I’m sure he will), that was a beautifully awful culmination of nearly a lifetime’s worth of lies. And it’s too much for Dick. And it’s not enough for Don. He’s in a bad place. And so are we! Another year until another episode. Unfair! But let’s call it like it is. Season Six was uneven to be sure. But its finale rightfully earns consideration as one of the best Mad Men wrap-up episodes of all time.