After a burgeoning sixth season of Mad Men, it all came to a close tonight with the episode, “In Care Of.” What was your initial reaction? Share your thoughts here!
The opinions of Mad Men season 6 are as varied as Peggy’s hairstyles. “In Care Of” wrapped up the penultimate season (according to creator Matthew Weiner, season 7 will be the last) and, as every season before it, is meant to stand alone as an ending to the entire show, if need be. What did you think? Did it feel incomplete, or like it could have ended Mad Men on a solid note?
In summary, this season saw a monumental amount of tension build, harvested a few stand-offs between characters, and witnessed some bridges burned for good. Roger’s mother passed away, while his rights to his grandson were also pulled out from under him by his daughter. However, he was almost vindicated this episode, when he was let into Joan’s home for Thanksgiving, but not for her sake, she clarifies, for their son’s.
One of the main discussions of this episode centered around the firm’s decision to expand into a new LA branch. To become bicoastal and embark on this new journey had Ted, Don, Megan, just about everyone vying for the chance to start over and escape their New York City lives.
Pete, who we’ve seen inconvenienced by his mother’s rapidly deteriorating mental state, was ‘freed’ of the burden of having to take care of her when it’s learn she has been lost at sea, conveniently after marrying Molano. Also cut off from his wife, Trudy, and daughter, Tammy, he has a sincere scene with his estranged wife, bidding farewell before he goes to LA. Bob Benson, a power player in this season, is unsurprisingly berated by Pete prior to a work trip to Detroit, but ultimately appears relatively unscathed by the end of the episode – he didn’t run over a GM display – that was Pete’s doing when he put the car in reverse instead of drive – and he celebrated Thanksgiving with Joan. Roger was also invited to the dinner, unbeknownst to him Bob would be joining them.
Benson gained the trust of the SC&P (the freshly-merged ad agency of SDCP and CGC) and even heads up part of the crucial Chevy account. Benson’s in good with Joan and tries to gain the admiration of Pete, but ends up rubbing Pete the wrong way (literally, kind of), and the two find themselves in a cold war.
A number of social upheavals occurred over the season, which takes place in 1968. The characters felt the tremors of the Vietnam war and the consequential riots. They also faced the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s also the unsubtle shift in the fashion trends, heading into the 70s – the last time we see Peggy she’s rocking a print pant and matching top.
Peggy and Abe had a rocky season 6, only made worse by the brownstone they purchased in a rough part of the city. When Peggy accidentally spears Abe, mistaking him for a criminal, the two officially call it quits. Peggy fell quietly in love with Ted Chaough, who seems to reciprocate. They do sleep together this episode, after Ted promising he will leave his wife and start anew. However, he decides to do the moral thing and put a contient between them before he can act on this promise.
Don and Megan’s relationship is tumbling downward, only worsened by Don’s tumultuous affair with Sylvia Rosen, the woman married to a doctor that lives in the apartment building. It doesn’t help that he also decides to rekindle his love with Betty for one night, and that she walks away with her head held high – much higher than Don’s. When she informs Don of Sally’s suspension Miss. Porters, she seems vulnerable and has regressed to the old days when they were a young couple in love.
Despite her at-times cold exterior, we see that she does in fact feel bad that she can’t give her daughter a perfect life.
Megan and Don seem to be failing on all accounts, given that Megan left Sally and Bobby alone and had their apartment robbed by an impostering “grandmother.” Megan is trying to build her career as an actress, but struggles to work her way up, even after landing two different characters on her soap opera. When the opportunity to relocate to Hollywood arises, she jumps at the chance. It’s unsurprising that she’s furious with Don when he says they will not be going after all – her character was already written out of the show, she had had meetings set up on the West Coast. She storms out of the apartment, and while Don proclaims his love for her, she neither reciprocates, nor indicates they will be together much longer. Would Matthew Weiner give Don yet another divorce in the last season? Maybe.
In a pivotal moment, Sally catches her father in a very compromising situation with Sylvia. Her response, of course, is to get as far away as possible, which naturally means boarding school. Betty is quite proud of Sally for choosing a future, but is Sally getting herself into a world of trouble?
The answer is yes. Sally is suspended not long after starting school, for being drunk and buying beer for her classmates. When she talks to Don, her sass is at an all-time high, while it’s not completely warranted, Sally always has been sarcastic and known to err on the side of rebellion.
Peggy Olson might be one of the most fascinating female characters to watch in recent years. There are timelines out there than can depict her rise from secretary to chief copywriter more eloquently than we could explain here, but that shot of her in Don’s office, sitting in his chair, wearing pants (this is a big deal), she has achieved something few probably thought possible at the time. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but by the show’s end, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Peggy running the show as SC&P, or even opening her own firm.
Don might have been more honest in this episode with his co-workers and family than he ever has been before. From his Hershey’s pitch, finally divulging the details of his less-than-picturesque childhood, leaving the Hersey’s execs and his fellow partner’s mouth’s agape, to showing his children the home he grew up in, now decrepit and decaying.
All season long we’ve seen Don spiraling, and he has finally, maybe hit rock bottom when it is suggested by the partners that he take an indefinite leave of absence. This point is emphasized when asked, ‘going down?’ Yes, yes he is.
The question is, with Mad Men heading into its final season, how many of these changes will really stick? Will those heading to LA stay there for long? This was certainly an eventful episode, full of subtext, actions and consequences.