The fourth season of Mad Men ended last night, after 13 episodes of following the rise and fall of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.Danielle Robinson, Richard Drew, and Catie Cambria—to provide their takes on all the sex, the clothes, and of course, the drama.They weigh in on this week's episode, in which the characters wrestle with new beginnings.
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Richard Drew (TV producer and creator of the blog Remote Patrolled): The Mad Men Season Finale proved that Don Draper truly does have his mojo back—though not his judgment...
After a blurry one-night stand and a few days in California with the kids, Don proposed to his secretary Megan in a move that left everyone shocked. I barely even knew Megan's name until this week!
For me, it's stunning how much of Don's life is lived on the fly and subject to random fate. If Betty hadn't coldly fired Carla earlier in the episode (a move which only solidified her bad mom status) would Don have even given Megan a second look? Or would he have stayed with steady girlfriend Faye, who must be feeling pretty blindsided now—and perhaps even vengeful (remember she knows Don's big secret!). I loved Faye's tossed off insult—"I hope she knows you only like the beginning of things." It was a spot-on critique, as Megan will doubtless soon learn.
In fact there was plenty of truth-telling from the Mad Men women last night: Peggy and Joan bonded over their lowly status at the firm and vented their frustration at Megan in a rare moment of female solidarity. And was Betty planning to make a play for Don in the final moments of the episode? What a co-incidence the former Mrs Draper got her times confused.
But as Betty's new husband Henry observed, there are no fresh starts—certainly not on Mad Men. Don may have moved on to Megan, but he's still the same, wounded Dick Whitman inside. And after a superlative season we're still no closer to any happy endings...
Catie Cambria (fashion publicist at Donna Karan New York): Harry screams at Betty, "You don't get a fresh start. Lives carry on." And yet so much of the season finale was about the idea of a clean slate, about the real and imagined possibilities of tomorrow.
Don, who struggled with trying to become a better and maybe even real version of himself this season, seemingly slips back into a pattern by dropping Faye and proposing (!!) to Megan. Megan ends up accompanying Don on his trip to California with the children, and she is truly wonderful with the kids—calm, attentive, and loving. I think Don falls for her precisely for that; Faye failed the "mother test," and Megan does not. Megan tells Don in bed that she "knows who he is really is," but of course, she doesn't have the slightest idea. Her worshipful and naïve love for Don is eerily reminiscent of Jane with Roger, and her quick acquiescence to his proposal left me queasy.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one. When Don tells Peggy that Megan has her "same spark" and that Megan "really admires her," you can see the anger and annoyance in Peggy's face. Megan is in hot pink, the partners clapping and celebrating for her, and Peggy is in charcoal gray, her new account with Topaz simply an afterthought. Joan and Peggy finally commiserate, and it's my favorite scene in the episode. "I learned a long time ago not to get my satisfaction from this job," Joan tells her. "That's bullshit," Peggy says, and they share a well-deserved laugh. Joan has her own last laugh—she is keeping Roger's baby, and hoping her husband doesn't do the math.