Mad Men: “In Care Of” Season 6 Finale Review

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Mad Men closed out its sixth season with a near perfect finale that wrapped up various storylines and sent us into the final season.

With so much history now behind us with this series, we got some seriously major developments and even a few payoffs that made this one of my favorite Mad Men finales.

As the episode started, things looked pretty good for SC&P. Sunkist would like a man on the ground in Los Angeles. Pete is ready to head to Detroit. Hershey’s wants to set up a meeting.

The setting was quite different as well. Richard Nixon has won the presidential election (“Nixon is the president, everything is back to the way Jesus wants it,” Don says). Sally is already in boarding school.

But this feeling of 1960s utopia quickly comes crashing down. Don fails to take care of his drinking problem and winds up in jail for punching a minister. Sally gets suspended for buying beer. Peggy is jealous of Ted’s wife. Pete has some major family issues. It quickly becomes hell on Earth for Thanksgiving 1968.

When Don gets home from his night in lock-up, he offers the move to California to Megan. She questions at first, but LA is a good place to be for a young actress. California has always been a safe haven for Don. Could it be the thing he needs to get his life in order?

Meanwhile, Peggy and Ted sleep together. You got to love Ted’s suggestion “Let’s go to Hawaii,” after Don and Megan started out there this season. But how genuine is he? Not very apparently. He goes to Don to try and convince him not to go to California so he can go with his family instead. “I know there is a good man in there,” he says to Don. It’s the same reason we’ve been watching the show for this long.

With the classic Draper swag, he sells Hershey’s beautifully by lying about a moment where his father bought him a Hershey bar and it symbolized his affection. He looks at Ted, his hand shakes, and then he did the unthinkable. Don tells the lonely truth about his relationship with the Hershey product at the whorehouse when he was a kid. He speaks candidly about his past for the first time with someone who isn’t Betty or Megan. As the Hershey’s folks leave the meeting disappointed, Don tells Ted to go to California. It seems he has come up with a new solution to his problems. Don doesn’t want to run away, instead he’s finally going to be honest and open.

He tells Megan and she freaks. Another marriage appears to be down the toilet for Mr. Draper as Megan argues with him and says she can’t do it anymore.

Things just keep getting worse as he all but gets fired. It was terribly hard watching Joan, Bert, and Roger tell him not to come to work. Don asks for a return date and they refuse. Could this be the end of his career? Just as things seem to be turning around for him! I’d say Don needs a drink, but that would be another step backwards.

Peggy doesn’t have it much easier as Ted tells her of his plans. “I have to hold onto them or I’ll get lost in the chaos,” he tells her, taking the words Don should have said years ago right out of his mouth.

But Peggy’s season ended with her sitting in Don’s chair, looking out the window in almost the same position as silhouetted figure in the show’s opening credits. She’s on the same destructive path as her mentor it seems.

Still though, the episode ended with a glimmer of hope. Don took his kids to see where he grew up. That final look between Don and Sally was brilliant. She deserves some answers, and Don is finally ready to give them.

Now, since death has been such a major shadow looming this season, the finale had to have at least one. Pete’s mother falls off a ship after marrying Bob Benson’s partner. Was it a murder? Pete suspects so, and he accuses Bob left and right. But after his brother says it won’t change anything to pursue the investigation, Pete simmers down and accepts what happened.

It also seems he’s jumped on board with Ted to go to LA as well. So we got a touching goodbye to his child and Trudy. It was great to see her almost rooting for her ex-husband. Everyone on this show is so lost, yet they get support from the most unexpected places.

Roger and Joan had a small subplot this episode as well. If any Mad Men couple is in need of a cliche final season get together its these two. When Roger’s daughter denies him a seat at Thanksgiving, Joan ends up inviting him over. Although she is hanging out with Bob Benson a lot, who he is terribly jealous of. With Joan’s last look at her child’s true father, I believe the finale season could bring these guys together for good. If anyone deserves a truly happy ending on this series its Joan. Hopefully Roger is the best route to that happy ending.

And now we don’t have any Mad Men for what I’m sure will feel like forever. This is a rough finale to leave off on too. So many new directions and questions. But the payoffs were huge. Who ever thought Don would come clean about his past. With a show that is still this good six seasons in, the eventual final season will likely be worth the wait. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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