It’s the season finale for what turned into a darned good season if you enjoy betrayal, poor parenting, and Manhattan real estate. Finally, SC&P gets a logo, and it’s super classy inasmuch as it is reminiscent of The Price Is Right. The big question is, who gets to move to Los Angeles to handle the Sunkist account? The quick answer is, anyone but Stan.
Roger meets with his daughter and her husband, Brooks, who hit him up for cash. When Roger declines, she asks, “what do I have to do to get on the list of girls you give money to?” So low, but so true. After shooing his money-grubbing family away, he spies Bob Benson wooing Joan with gifts for Baby Kevin. Roger fumes with jealousy because, well, that’s his kid. Later, Roger calls Bob Benson into his office. “It occurred to me that you haven’t had a performance review.” But this isn’t any ordinary performance review as Roger uses it as an opportunity to dig into Bob over his relationship with Joan. He explains that playing with Joan’s feelings is not the way to go about showing Chevy that he’s a family man and comes just short of marking his territory the old-fashioned way. Fisticuffs. Why, what did you think I was talking about?
Ken Cosgrove arrive in Don’s office all smiles and eye patches. It’s Hershey’s. They asked the top thirty agencies to submit RFPs, and Ken is just excited that SC&P are considered a top thirty agency. Don tells him to get Hersey’s in the room and he’ll close the deal.
Jim tracks down Ted to let him know that the folks from Sheraton are in the lobby but Draper has gone AWOL. Again. Don has retreated to his old habits—a dark bar, where he is stewing and getting stewed. A pickled Don wakes up in the drunk tank. When he finally crawls back home, he fixes himself a drink while Megan demands an explanation in a fancy white negligee. “I spent the night in jail. I realized it’s gotten out of control. I’ve gotten out of control…I realized something else, too. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to move to California…I just can’t be in New York anymore. I want to move to L.A.” Megan gets all excited about the idea of Los Angeles and Hollywood. She doesn’t quite realize that Don would leave with or without her.
Pete sublet his sad little apartment and is now living at The Roosevelt until his final move to Detroit. He receives a telegram informing him that his mother fell off of a ship and is lost at sea. After making a few phone calls, Pete finds out that before being lost at sea, his mother married Manolo! He runs out of the office to track down Bob Benson, who casually asks, “How are you?” Pete responds,“NOT GREAT, BOB!” Pete tells Bob that if he wants to run he should do it now because he is an accessory to murder. Although Bob insists that he knew nothing about this and Manny would never hurt a fly, Pete isn’t buying it. But, they still have to make nice with the client, so they fly out to Detroit for a meeting. At the GM headquarters, Pete tries to cut Bob out of dinner plans. But the clients love him, and Bob is sticking to them like glue, so ditching Bob is proving more difficult than Pete expected. While looking at the new Camaros in the showroom, Bob goads Pete into taking one for a spin. Because Pete can barely even drive a car let alone a stick shift (which Bob may or may not have known), he backs the car into the building’s signage. Aside from the physical damage, it reveals that Pete is precisely the wrong person to handle the Chevy account.
Pete returns early from Detroit and learns that his mother is still missing. When Pete and his brother talk to a lawyer about what can be done to bring Manolo to justice and possibly, you know, find the remains, they realize that it would be prohibitively expensive. Like good WASPs, they soldier on and conclude, “Mother loved the sea.”
After watching Ted leave the office with his wife, Peggy arrives the next day with preparations—a very short black dress with a plunging neckline and boobs up to here, fishnet stockings, red lipstick, heels….Peggy walks into Ted’s office as he’s meeting with Jim and Harry Crane and announces that she’s leaving early because she has plans. Ted’s jaw may have hit the table on the way down to the floor, and Harry all but cracked an invisible whip while purring. When Peggy gets home after her date, she finds Ted standing outside of her door. She lets him in and tells him that her date was terrible. There’s yelling, there’s sexual tension, and Ted tells Peggy that he’s going to leave his wife. “Don’t say that, I’m not that girl,” she replies. But he loves her, and they kiss, and her dress falls off, and she finally is that girl. Megan’s skirts are getting shorter and her hair is getting taller. She received a letter for Miss Sally Beth Draper c/o Mr. Donald F. Draper from the New York County District Attorney’s office. Sally has to give a statement regarding the burglar but refuses to cooperate. She says that she’s busy and Don should just go ahead and tell them what she saw. Ooh. Good one, Sally.
The next day, Betty calls Don to tell him that Sally has been suspended from Miss Porter’s for buying beer with a false ID and getting drunk. Well that was quick. Betty asks Don to pick her up because she can’t even imagine having to face her mother-in-law with Sally at Thanksgiving dinner. Betty’s roots are showing, and her façade of a perfect family is cracking, and Don agrees to drive up and get Sally because he knows that it is his own fault. Ted stops by Don’s office to tell him that he wants to go to California, to start over. Don thinks it’s to start over with Peggy, but Ted explains that he needs to start over with his family. “It’s my only chance, Don. I’ve got kids. I can’t throw this away, I can’t go on like this.” But Don has his own problems and tells Ted that it’s too late because they’ve already writing Megan off of her show. He tells Ted that it’ll go away, but Ted knows that it’s not that easy to quit something cold turkey. And with that, Don pours himself a drink before the big Hershey’s presentation. The presentation starts out in typical Don Draper fashion—Hershey’s is the currency of affection, it is the childhood symbol of love, blah blah blah. But then, something goes terribly wrong. Don’s hands are shaking. “I’m sorry, I have to say this. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again. I was an orphan. I grew up in Pennsylvania, in a whorehouse.” Don tells the executives that he read about Milton Hershey in a magazine and how he dreamed of a different life there, of being wanted, and…what are you doing, Don? But he doesn’t stop. He talks about going through the John’s pockets while the prostitutes screwed them, and if he got more than a dollar, they’d buy him a Hershey’s bar which he would eat alone in his room. Why isn’t Roger stopping this? Then, the sobbing. After the meeting, Don tells Ted that he can be the one to start over in California, gets his things, and leaves.
Ted tells Peggy that he’s leaving, and she can stay here and have her career. He explains that he has a family and a life and has to hold onto them or he will get lost in the chaos. “I love you that deeply. I can’t be around you, and I can’t ruin all those lives.” She kicks him out of her office. When Don tells Megan that they can’t go to California, she says that Don wants to be alone with his ex wife and screwed up kids, and that the train has already left the station with her meetings and agents. Don suggests being bicoastal, but we all know how that would turn out, including Megan, who walks out.
Wait, what? Pete’s moving to California, too? Maybe we just change the name of the agency to Sterling Cooper & California.
Sometimes, actions have consequences. Even for Don Draper. The partners call Don in for a meeting about his behavior. Roger says that it’s best for the firm and Don if he takes some time off. Don wants a return date, but Bert won’t give him one. Don walks out without a fight and runs into Duck and Lou Avery, a creative director from another agency, by the elevator. Replaced before he even left the building. Knowing that he has nowhere else to go, Joan invites Roger over for Thanksgiving. Bob Benson is there. When Roger bristles at his presence, she explains that she is inviting Roger into Kevin’s life, not hers. He then has his first Thanksgiving with his new dysfunctional family, and it’s kind of sweet. Peggy, on the other hand, spends Thanksgiving in a tragic checkered pants suit, kicking her feet up on Don’s abandoned desk. Which I suppose is Peggy’s own dysfunctional family. Speaking of which, Don brings all three of his kids to see the house he grew up in. It’s an abandoned shack, in a bad neighborhood, and for the first time, it looks like Sally Draper realizes that her father might just be human.
[Linda Sue Strong is the founder of entertainment blog TerribleTelevision.com and an occasional attorney. Her life has not yet been turned into a reality television show. Follow her at @themisslinda.]