Mad Men Season Six Recap: “In Care Of”
Does everyone remember Don’s pitch for the Hawaiian Resort back at the beginning of the season. A man arrives, he strips off all his clothes and disappears.
Tonight, Don did just that. He stripped away his barrier between himself and Dick Whitman that’s stood all these years. In the process he lost his job, he lost his wife and he lost his children. As we looked upon SC&P and the end of the episode, he was gone. Disappeared. At his desk, now head of creative: Peggy Olson.
That was a tour de force for Jon Hamm. If the man does not win an Emmy for the moment in the Hershey pitch where he looked at Ted and decided to commit seppuku in front of the execs so that Ted could go to the about-to-open California Branch of SC&P instead of him, he will never win one. As he stood there, emotionally naked for the first time in front of everyone–not just Hershey, but all the partners of SC&P–and told the story of stealing money from a prostitute to get a chocolate bar so he could feel like a normal kid for just a moment, I bawled. No it didn’t close the deal. If anything it was the final nail to convince the partners that “a leave of absence” (with no return date–much like after Freddy wet his pants all those years ago. Oh, that Duck brought Don’s replacement in as Don was leaving? Nice touch.) was the only answer. But after a season of being thoroughly irritated with Young Don flashbacks, it all paid off.
Don just didn’t lose his job. He also lost Megan. He promised her California, and then he reneged. It was the final wake up call. She told him she used to feel sorry for the kids “but now I realise we’re all in the same boat.” Exactly. Betty sees it, the kids see it, now Megan finally sees it. She’s going to California because that’s what she wants to do, not because Don promised it to her. She’s got a career to think of.
As for those kids–the scene with Sally where Don calls her to say she needs to testify about Grandma Ida and she responds “Why don’t you tell them what I saw?” and hangs up was a priceless moment showing she’s taking to prep school like a duck to water. But she’s maybe not doing that well. After all, she breaks the first rule of “Never get caught,” and finds herself suspended after an incident with a fake ID and beer. As the season ends, we find her, Bobby and Gene in a car with Don, standing in the front of the whorehouse. “This is where I grew up.” he tells them. It’s not an apology. It’s not going to ever fix what Sally saw. But it might, just might, be a moment where he lets them see why he turned out the way he did.
“NOT GREAT BOB!” – Pete
Meanwhile Pete is not doing well either. Oh no. Apparently his mother went and married Manolo, who proceeded to take her on a cruise and dump her ass overboard. Whoops! It’s enough for Pete to forget everything he ever learned about not going up against these Don Draper type chameleons because he’ll always lose. He threatens to somehow charge Bob as an accessory for setting his mother up with Manolo in the first place.
It’s funny–now that I know Bob is gay, and that Joanie knows it (even if Roger doesn’t. His trying to threaten Bob not to play with her emotions was hilarious), I’ve stopped worrying he’s going to somehow use and hurt her. More importantly, in any fight against Pete Campbell, I will always side with not-Pete Campbell. So I actually cheered as Bob outplayed, outwitted and outlasted Pete with those Chevy execs, tricking the man who can barely drive a car to get behind the wheel of a stick shift and make an utter fool of himself. (Insert double entendres about Bob’s ability to handle a stick here.) By episodes end, Bob has that Chevy account to himself and Pete is packing to head to California to start his life over. As Trudy says to Pete, he’s free now. Is free something Pete Campbell ever wanted to be? Is free something Pete Campbell ever considered as a goal? No, but he’s got it anyway. “It’s not the way I wanted it.” He tells Trudy. “Well, now you know that.” She always was the smart one.
As for Bob, he’s rising up through those ranks, with Joanie as his look out. Perhaps he’ll even get in good with Roger, who Joan is letting into Kevin’s life, if not her own. Hope he likes the sight of Bob in an apron carving Turkeys. I have a feeling we’re going to see that at Joan’s holiday dinners from here on out.
As for Peggy Olson, the woman who walked into Don’s office at the end of the episode, finally wearing the pants at SC&P, she’s not only rid of Don, but of Ted as well. Remember how I said earlier that Ted wanted to be the one to go to California and Don was stealing it out from under him? (Never anyone mind that the whole “California Office Idea” was Stan’s to begin with.) Ted wanted to be the one to go to California because he needed to get away from Peggy.
He’d slept with her. (Considering the outfit she’d worn to the office that day, I would say she was demanding it.) If he stayed here he was going to have to deal with that, and the problems he’d created by doing so.
Peggy may insist that Ted is a better man than Don, but tonight we saw he has the same instinct as Don when it comes to problems: runway from them. He ran away from Peggy, dumping her getting (very rightfully) kicked out of her office for it. “Well aren’t you lucky to have decisions.” she snaps. What Pete says to Trudy could apply to her too. She’s free now. She has gotten everything she wanted–the head of creative, Don’s old office, all the power. But it’s not the way she wanted it to happen.
And now she knows that. The question is: what does she do with that knowledge?
So that was 1968. We head into the last year of the decade, and the last season of Mad men, with Don perhaps breaking down the walls he has always held up. Will the dawn of the 1970s find him a better man? We’ll know in 13 episodes.
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