Mad Men Thread: Jesus Had A Bad Year

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Don Draper has finally lost his shit. He’s been teetering on the edge
forever, but the meltdown happened in the season 6 finale, In Care Of.
Don’s gotten very drunk many times but he’s never gotten in a bar room brawl
and ended up in the drunk tank before. It wasn’t even the point where Don hit
rock bottom. Crash. He’s consumed with guilt over Sally walking in on him and
now she’s showing signs of alcoholism as well. Hell, even Betty is more
sympathetic than Don right now and I’m a confirmed Bettyphobe. Like his mentor, David Chase,
Matthew Weiner is fearless when it
comes to letting his main character be unsympathetic. It took Gandolfini a stupidly long time to win his
first Emmy. Here’s hoping that this is Jon Hamm’s
year.

California Dreaming: Everybody wants to move to California.
My boy Stan Rizzo kicks off the
bidding and Don soon steals everything but his awful outfit. In Anna Draper’s
day, California was Don’s happy place but it’s not to be. Megan is thrilled at
the idea of moving and becoming a movie star, so she quits her her job at the
soap. Big mistake. Don giveth but
then taketh away from Megan while
handing the California office off to Ted. Confused? I am. I’ll deal with Ted
next.

The Turtleneck As A Metaphor? It’s fall on Madison Avenue
so Ted re-embraces his turtleneck fetish. He also finally, finally re-embraces
the Pegster. He sticks his neck out,
as it were, and then self-decapitates by pledging his troth to Peggy and ultimately
withdrawing the offer. It was sadly predictable, y’all. Peggy told Ted she
wasn’t “that girl” and he proves her right.

Don initially refuses to let Ted take his place in LA, but changes his mind
after the disastrous Hershey meeting, which started out as a classic Don Draper
pitch until he melted and went Dick Whitman on their asses. It was like
watching a slow motion car wreck, but my heart still went out to Don when he
told his hooker related story about his love for Hershey bars. Hamm ripped my heart out and put it back in
again.

Lost At Sea: Don isn’t the only one losing his shit. It was
a tough episode for Pete Campbell as well. His dotty mother Dotty goes on a
cruise with Manolo, gets married to the blighter and goes overboard. Splash. Accident
or murder? It’s unclear. Pete and his uber
preppie brother Bud decide not to
pursue it. Wise choice. The Campbells
have major issues with transportation and should stay off planes and ships.

As always, Pete has to find a scapegoat. This time it’s Bob Benson. Bob
brought Manolo into Pete’s life so it’s his fault. Bob’s sly Draperesque side comes into full view when
he punks Pete in Detroit. Pete barely knows how to drive, so when he’s offered
the chance to play with a muscle car in Motown, Bob insists that he take up the
Chevy guys challenge with disastrous and hilarious results.

Pete was in full-tilt Daffy Duck mode the entire episode: sputtering,
flustered, angry, and ridiculous. Or as Daffy himself would say,
“preposterous.” In the end, he’s kicked off the Chevy account and
makes plans to join Ted in the brand spanking new California office. In 1968,
California was the place you went for second chances. My parents arrived there
in 1963, fell in love with the Golden State, and saved me from growing up in
Utah. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Firing Or Intervention? My money is on the latter even if the
term wasn’t in common parlance in 1968. Don is a partner and would have to be bought
out of his contract. The partners really had no choice after a string of bad
and unprofessional actions by Don with the chocolaty
Hershey meltdown as the cherry on the shit sundae.

Don may have lost Megan as well. It looks as if she’s the other California
dreamer in the ensemble. She appears determined to move to LA without Don,
which means that he’s lost everything. The loss of his job however temporary is
the big blow. Don Fucking Draper is an ad man through and through. It looks as
if he’ll need to get in touch with his inner Dick Whitman if he’s finished at
SCP. Stay tuned.

One thing that Don *should* lose is his insatiable thirst for liquor. It
looks as if he’s trying but we don’t know what effect the meltdown at SCP will have on his tentative efforts to
be sober. I really want to see Don at an AA meeting. The mere thought makes me a
bit giddy. Hey, if he keeps it up, he could be Christopher Moltisante’s sponsor down the road…

The final shot gives us some hope. Don and Sally exchange knowing looks
outside the former whorehouse. Here’s hoping that he tells her the whole story.
It will come in handy when she writes her memoir of her crazy upbringing and becomes
the Frank McCourt of suburbia.

Heavy Handed Symbolism Alert: We see Peggy wearing trousers at the agency
while checking out Don’s office at the end of the episode. Guess that means
she’s wearing the pants. D’oh.

Duck and his headhuntee
arrive as Don departs and the latter says “going down?” as Don approaches
the elevators. Enough with the elevator imagery, guys. It’s time for it to go
and time for me to go as well. I’m already experiencing withdrawal symptoms and
am jonesing for season-7.

Finally, time to circle back to the post title, and let the Byrds have the last word:

3 thoughts on “Mad Men Thread: Jesus Had A Bad Year

  1. Athenae says:

    MichaelF, I loved that one too. I’m stealing it. So many opportunities to use it already and it’s only Monday.
    Best episode of the season, easily.
    A.

  2. mothra says:

    Yeah, I know it would be better for Don to quit drinking, but it’s going to result in some serious DTs for me to see him without a drink in his hand. But the timing is interesting; I would suppose that the late ’60’s is indeed when the ubiquitous drink starting dying down. So Don’s just going with the times. Maybe he and Peggy will finally hook up in season 7…

  3. MichaelF says:

    Line of the night — “I’d tell you to go to hell, but I never want to see you again.”

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