Sorry this is a bit late, but all the traveling to Netroots Nation and back made it hard to get it out the door!
This episode, as you’ll see from our review, was dense and full of subtle and somewhat more overt allusions. What was interesting to me was how good a job they did in making me, who has spent all season wanting Don to DIAF, feel tremendous sympathy for him. I still don’t think the flashbacks to his youth were necessary, and in fact, I think his monologue about how he actually grew up would have been even more powerful if we hadn’t ever seen any of this. In fact, what made the monologue about rifling through johns’ pants while they were having sex with prostitutes so powerful is that it left so much up to the imagination.
This entire season has been universally acknowledged to be one about how things don’t change, and yet at the end of the episode, there was a sense of hope that things actually can change. I realized that all the callbacks to earlier seasons often served as much to highlight how far these characters had come. For instance, the Pete whose father died in a plane crash is a very different Pete from the one dealing with his mother’s death. Peggy wore the same outfit to “break up” with Ted as she wore during their first meeting when he hired her, and it reminded me of how much she’s actually flourished working with him, even if things ended so poorly. Don calls Betty “Birdie” again, and for once he’s not just trying to manipulate her. And so on. As with many things on this show, there’s a paradox here: Change is both hard and inevitable.
I have no idea where this show is going, therefore. It’s open to all sorts of directions, though I do think with absolute certainty that Peggy will have a corner office by the time the clock switches over to 1970. I’ve seen skepticism in some reviews that a woman so young could have pulled that feat off in that era, but there were actually women who were in similar situations at the time. Change comes in fits and starts and so it was with women’s progression into the workplace.
I loved the stuff with Hershey’s and Don basically coming out and saying that he doesn’t want them to advertise, which is basically an admission on his part that he believes advertising is all illusion. Don has been very defensive about what he does for so long that it felt like a major revelation to me that he thought there were things, even products, too pure to be advertised. Hershey’s looks on the outside like what it is on the inside: Something that is utterly precious and rare in his world.
Of course, I’d point out that’s what’s true of Megan, and perhaps he has realized this way too late to understand he had a Hershey’s bar wife and he just threw her away.
Thoughts? Predictions? Next season is the last. Where is this all going?