AMC likes to run a promotion where they showcase all their original programs while listing attributes that make them all similar. Surprisingly, shows ranging from zombie thrillers to the adventures of a meth dealer all have many common threads. Among these characteristics are the facts that several of the programs carry protagonists that are less than perfect. Lately, on all of these running series’ these protagonists are going through transitions from heroes to villains, slowly descending into despicable behavior. On Mad Men, Don Draper has been carrying this torch all season. He’s been cheating on his wife, getting lazy with his work, alienating his children, and developing an unhealthy alcohol addiction that even Roger Sterling would call a bit much.Has Don always been this way? Well, he does have a habit of making spontaneous decisions that affect others, disrupting others lives just because he’s grown bored of his situation. On tonight’s finale, after a season that began with Don puking in a trash can at a funeral, Don decides that he cannot take New York any longer. The drinking, the temptation, the culture of the city, it has all grown to be too much for Don. He proposes that he and Megan head west for California, where Don will manage the a few small accounts and live what he believes to be a simple life. Of course Megan is ecstatic about the news and alerts her television show and agent that she is heading for Hollywood.But of course that cant happen. Ted Chaough is searching for the same run from temptation that Don is, except Ted is running from his feelings for Peggy. To save his marriage, Ted begs Don to let he be the one to take his business to California. At first, Don tells Ted that he simple cannot help him, but then things get odd. In a meeting with Hersey, Don preaches his usual nostalgic sermon. Always pitching ads that hinge on a happier time that he never experienced himself, Don suddenly cracks. With Jon Hamm swinging for the Emmy fences, Don recounts what a Hersey bar truly meant for an orphan who grew up in a whorehouse, calling it the only sweet thing in his life. The tale is so sad and somber, that all at once you almost begin to re-sympathize with Don.After the pitch, Don tells Ted that he can go to California. When Ted tells Peggy of the move, telling her that it proves his love, she becomes enraged. After all the promises Ted made to Peggy in a steamy love scene, Ted decides to dump her once again. Peggy has some reason to smile though. It turns out, that after Don’s bizarre outburst, and his other strange behavior, the partners have decided that Don needs to be put on a leave of absence for a few months. With Ted moving to California, this means Peggy will be in charge of creative in New York, and at the end of the episode she is seen occupying Don’s office.Don has more problems than being forced out. The man tells his wife that he cannot move to California and she becomes inconsolable, knowing full well that she will have to move to California after abandoning her job, driving a steak further into her and Don’s marriage. Then, Don gets a call from Betty about Sally being suspended from boarding school. The tainted daughter was caught drinking and drunk, and Betty blames the behavior on her broken home. Don is alerted that he has to pick up his estranged daughter for Thanksgiving.After living a solitary life, living a lie, and growing more into a villain every day, Don may have cracked. Maybe Don needs to be honest about the pain he is dealing with. Maybe Don needs to come to terms with where he is from. Maybe its finally time for Don to address Dick Whitman. At the end of the episode, with all of his children in tow, Don takes his kids to the whorehouse where he grew up. After claiming the home as his own, Don stares deeply at Sally, only using a glance to try and say that maybe his life is more complicated than she could ever know.I finally think next year we will see the full picture. We will finally know the real Dick Whitman.
Den Of Geek Score: 4 out of 5 Stars