It's going to take you a moment to realize where you are. You're free.
I hope this doesn't mean Peggy falls out of a window. Show, I am warning you.
At what point is death a relief? When it's your mother? Your marriage? What about your childhood? What about the lie you've been telling the world, and yourself, for all of these years?
(Alternatively, is this whole show an elaborate dick joke? Dick is back. Dick rises again. There's no keeping Dick down.)
Last week, we waited for the unknown. This week, we confront things head on. That's right, my fellow mad comrades—after six years, our characters finally decide to face their problems and acknowledge them.
Peter has long lived in the shadow of the family name. That's all his father gave him (which is more than Sally Beth Draper can say, but I digress). His mother found him unlovable. And now he's rid of them both. Everything he wanted, in the worst way. The Campbells do not fare well on transportation. But even with the grief, the grief he doesn't show and maybe doesn't even much feel, there's relief. Freedom. Nobody knows Pete's insides as well as Trudy, undeserving as he is of her. Rid of Don, his parents, his hairline, his wife and kid, he has a blank slate.
Well, not at the moment. But not terrible, either. Mother always loved the ocean.
Megan is finished. Don, I'm pretty sure "We'll be bicoastal" isn't a plan. Even if you've looked at life from both sides now. A bunch of you called this (I really thought she was cheating on him the whole time, and I'm still disappointed that wasn't true). She's young, and beautiful, and famous. She refuses to be Mrs. Draper, and I'm okay with that. Honestly, I'm sure there's a lot I could say about her arc and how she compares and contrasts with Peggy, but I can't do it. I don't give a shit about Megan, and I never have. I think Jessica Paré is a mediocre to poor actress on her best day. I've never been invested in her character, and I was even less invested in this marriage, and I don't think she adds anything to the show. She fits my theme of facing your problems and getting rid of what doesn't work, and I hope the show itself gets rid of her and how she doesn't work. That's all I have to say on her.
Unlike Megan, Peggy is (a) interesting and (b) seemingly powerless.
Well, aren't you lucky. To have decisions.
Increasingly as the season went on, I did not feel Peggy doing anything. Rather, she was reacting to things being done to her. Ted ordering her to betray Stan. Don congratulating her on the Chevy merger and ordering her to write the press release of her nightmares. Abe influencing her to by an apartment in a neighbourhood she never wanted. (She doesn't even stab Abe on her own! He runs into her knife!) Abe dumping her in an ambulance. Ted's grossly inappropriate inability to act like an adult ("You can't smile at me like that."). Ted refusing to let anyone else "have" her, and then leaving her for L.A. all the while telling her that she will thank him.
Because God forbid she have a say in her own future. Women. (This gif is from a previous episode.)
The thing is, he's not wrong. Just like Don wasn't wrong last week. Not in words, anyway. I mean, she shouldn't actually thank him, because Ted Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes is an enormous coward and I want to strangle him with his own turtlenecks, but this is her time. Don has never been the main character of the show I am watching. As I've said before, Peggy has to go through this. Everything withered in her life has blown away—Abe, Ted, Don—to ready her for the future. She will move forward, and it will be glorious.
In the meantime, of course, it sucks. I don't think she "loved" Ted the way Ted "loved" her. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like hell, the way he treated her. She tried to be a level-headed adult, while he used his "love" for her to screw her over professionally, convince her that he would leave his family, and then leave her for California. (BECAUSE HE JUST LOVES HER THAT MUCH. WOW, TED, YOU'RE SUCH A MARTYR. YOU'RE LIKE GANDHI.) But she's finally been forced to face the fact that Ted isn't good for her, just like Abe wasn't good for her. ("He's not that virtuous.") She's come to the realization that she's been living a life without choices, no matter how much she has achieved. But she's done with that. The best thing that has happened to her on this show was Bobbie Barrett telling her to be a woman, and tonight, she owned it. Chanel No. 5 is all she wears.
This present isn't for you, Ted. Because you are the worst.
Maybe it brought her sex without love, the momentary heartache of an affair gone wrong, but she will transcend all of that. She's been put upon all season by everyone around her, and at first glance, it's easy to see her a victim. A product of all the men around her. But motherfucker, watch your back. This girl went from mousy secretary to pregnant copywriter to Freddy Rumsen's office to copy chief, and now she's in Don Draper's chair. (Honestly, if you want to plot her progress, just follow her outfits from Season 1 to present.) The funniest line in this episode is about how Ted thinks he'll be able to manage Peggy from L.A. And that's how she wins. They think they're managing her, when really, they're just stepping stones in her long, slippery, but ultimately triumphant climb to the top.
But until that day comes, Bob Benson is secretly ruling
Westeros Sterling & Cooper with an invisible iron fist.
Yep. Seems about right.
I don't know what to do with this. Did he really not know about Manolo? Or was this the final act of sinister friendship he performed for Peter—to rid him of the curse of his parents? What does he want with Joan? Will Roger survive his schemes? Is that turkey he's carving, or the flesh of his enemies? Maybe we'll never know.
And with that, we are brought back to Don the Dick Whitman, whom the show still thinks is the main character. His hands are shaking, like Betty's all those years ago, as he tells the sad tale of the sweetest whorehouse of his childhood, where a dollar from a john meant a piece of chocolate. Don has been running from this his entire life. From his father to his loveless aunt to the prostitute that raped him, Don has thought only of escape. Of Vietnam, and Hawaii, and California. Finally, finally, he has to stop. Turn around. Look at life in the eye. Just as the company has, at long last, recognized not only that Don is a Serious Problem, but they don't need him anymore, Don himself has realized who he is. He's the love-deprived child of a dead prostitute and drunk father. He's a screwed up alcoholic who's been too busy crying about his lost childhood to be a father to his own kids—and so perpetuating the cycle. On and on, a carousel. The Wheel. And now that he's spoken the words aloud, and brought his children to the home of his childhood, he realizes—it's not so bad.
This is where I grew up [to be a terrible father and person but maybe that can change now that I've gotten all of this whore stuff out in the open, I mean do you think I'm at all fixated on that point?].
It's 1968. This is the year everything explodes. But there is a moment when, as a brick flies towards a window, it comes head on with the glass. Earth and fire, greeting each other just before shards fly everywhere. Peter, facing his mother's death with no small amount of relief. Betty, finally facing the fact that she is a mother, that she is in many respects her own mother, and she has not created the perfect life but a broken home for her children. (Betty, for once in your life, listen to Don. It was way more his fault than it was yours, I promise.) Megan, realizing that she's got more in common with her husband's children than she does with her husband. Joan and Roger, who are finally recognizing each other for who they are—parents of each other's child, and nothing more, and nothing less. Peggy, who is SO OVER THIS SHIT. The company, who will no longer tolerate a prodigal son. And the son who realizes that this is no longer his world. This is Sally's world. Generations and regeneration.
Sally, now that you know something about your father (two things, including what he looks like on top of the neighbour in bed), don't you kind of wish you didn't?
Don Draper is dead. Don Draper was never real. The company has pushed him out of the window, and he's fallen. He is Dick Whitman. He said the words aloud, and the world ended. He has no job, no family, no dream of a desk becoming a Californian empire. He brings his future, his children, to the dilapidated ruins of his past. This is now. No more running. Death won't make you whole. California won't make you whole. It's time to let go of childhood and the endless possibilities that arise when invent yourself out of thin air, and you make yourself into no one. It's time to be a real person. Who is this man, who has to live his life now? Who can't define himself by the lies he tells for others? Who has erased the lie he has built for himself?
It's going to take you a moment to realize where you are. You're free. It's not the way you wanted it, but now you know that.
Next year: Who knows? Peggy wants to know what's going on. Joan stares.
Dude, your guess is as good as mine.
I think Season 6 was wildly inconsistent, but the fault lies in too much ambition, and I can forgive that. But the characters are where they need to be, and that last shot of the power trifecta plus Joan was terrific. Never make the mistake of thinking Bert Cooper is out of the game. I predict they'll manage just fine without Don, and perhaps Don will even manage just fine without them. I'm still pissed neither he nor Ted (nor Harry nor Megan) are dead as doornails, but baby steps. Maybe we'll open with everyone stupid in California, and Peggy running New York with Joan as head of television.
Or else Benson murders them all with his shorts and takes off for New Caprica. Who can even tell. In the meantime, it's been my pleasure parsing the Many Idiocies of Don Draper with all you fine people.