Mad Men Season 6 Finale: “In Care Of” Reviewed via Instant Message

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I’ve been too swamped to write a proper review of the Mad Men  finale, so I present to you this lively AOL Instant Messenger exchange. Doesn’t cover any plot points really, just…general Mad Men griping.

FRIEND 1:

basically the whore house changing his opinion of things regarding sex and power doesnt really jive with the theme of the measures he goes through to reject his childhood. the writers have created a contradictory character. early in the show they showed him rejecting the ways of his past, but now they show him embracing the ways of his past, and there isn’t any explanation for why or how it could work. draper’s character actually made a whole lot of sense when his childhood was on that farm with a douche dad and meager means because he rejected all that wants to be the opposite of it. draper is pretty much the opposite of that. but when the show added in the whore house, they muddied that idea because they imply that draper learned his views of women from that, but that doesnt make sense because he his character was always about rejecting what he had learned. so if the real character of draper lived in that whore house, he would most likely now be super uptight, so much so that he would probably go the opposite route of being whorey and instead would be all about monogamy

FRIEND 2:

im just gonna make leah respond to that, idk either way lol, i honestly dont

FRIEND 1:

i dont believe the writers have draper as fleshed out as the fans of the show do
i think that when they use bad plot its becuase they use bad plot, not becuase of some super plan
so far this is two season finale’s ive seen where the plotting all depends on draper being very unlike he normally is
its like the writers dig themselves into a hole they cant get out of, so they just make draper suddenly fall in love with megan
they did the same kind of thing with this finale

ME:

i mostly agree that don is not a consistent character. i also agree that the last two season finales were very good episodes with NO underpinning throughout the season which they both capped off. don and the other characters doing inexplicable things, or having inexplicable things happen to them, is kind of matthew weiner’s fallback for the finales now because he wants to imply that ~the late 60s were chaos~ and ~nothing makes sense anymore~. he’s getting lazy with the characters, making their actual actions sloppy and sudden, and the show no longer has that strained tightness that made it so stylish and exciting in the first couple seasons.

but i did kind of get the feeling that what weiner is doing with don is deliberate (if poorly planned/executed). when the show started, we thought of don as poor, unloved, taught to be stoic in the face of hardship and starvation. but it’s not like his adult self actively REJECTED that ideology and strived for riches and family. we saw dick whitman get really affected by small acts of kindness, particularly those that touched his sense of spirituality (like the hobo). he obviously craved comfort and beautiful things, even if his childhood was emotionless and shitty — he was the OPPOSITE of his parents even then. he naturally grew into a man who’s forever pursuing love, validation, wealth, but never wants to admit it and feels a little guilty even as he’s enjoying it.

but as the show has gone on, don has obviously started to age and disintegrate, and experience the bitterness that middle age and cutthroat business practice invariably brings. he clutched desperately to megan and made that impulsive decision because he wanted to stave off age and emptiness (which was building up on him all through season 4) and now that he’s seen his second marriage fail, he knows time will never be on his side again. the whorehouse is essential to that realization, because that was when he started to discover the unique validations of sex. the power dynamics of sex, of men and women, has always been essential to the draper character, but now that he’s past 40 and getting all decrepit, it’s become a bit of an obsession.

i mean, look at the linda cardellini storyline. that was don’s pathetic way of reigniting all the forbiddenness of prostitution and the thrill he got as a teenager, being around young servile women. getting his way with a woman, alternately controlling and comforting her, has gotten don off like nothing else — from betty to megan to all of his longterm affairs. he needs to feel like a man. not the way his poor impotent father taught him, but how the prostitutes taught him. the farm is where he learned about duty, love, business, loyalty (everything that made him complex and great in seasons 1-3). the whorehouse is where he learned about desire (which made him sexy and intuitive about advertising in season 1-3, and progressively more desperate in seasons 4-on). it makes sense that the whorehouse would now be the most significant cornerstone of his life, as he starts to realize that most of his mistakes have not been related to love or business, but desire. he’s doomed to WANT, he’s doomed to ENVY, he’s doomed to RUN AWAY from reality and into small brief comforts. that’s all whorehouse.

and that’s me being generous – i think weiner made a lot of that up as he went along, and like i said, the more loose and cobbled-together feeling of the show has more to do with weiner’s laziness than actual intention. but i think he’s stumbling upon a lot of significant truths about the character, and refocusing on this other stage of draper’s past doesn’t necessarily negate the character we know from the first few seasons. in many ways, don is only a shell of his former self now, so it makes sense that he’s feeling ideologically connected to a totally different part of his past.

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2 thoughts on “Mad Men Season 6 Finale: “In Care Of” Reviewed via Instant Message

  1. Really interested discussion of Don as a character. I still don’t know what to think of the finale. I am glad that Don kind of broke character, but I agree it kind of came out of nowhere. I thought the Peggy storyline and her evolution has been much tighter. We’ll see what they come up with to put things back together.

    • Thanks for the comment! Yeah, Elisabeth Moss has been acting the shit out of Peggy this season. I would have preferred more of a work-related storyline as opposed to her drama with Abe, but I love where she ended up: in Draper’s chair. Definitely going to be a fascinating place to pick up on her next season.

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