Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Mad Men "In Care Of"

Non Spoiler Review:
In Care Of brings the sixth season to satisfying end as Don's conflicting identity reaches some closure. There is plenty of change afoot at SC&P with the Sunkist account promising new opportunity in California. Peggy struggles with her feelings for Ted. And Don's penchant for making decisions for everyone catches up to him.

It's been an arduous journey following Don along his increasingly despicable path, so there was some expectation in how he would end up. I enjoyed the ending and some of the sense of consequences for his actions. Whether we will see a renewed Don next year or not remains to be seen, given we've watched this character slide back and forth so many times now. We could see a very different firm next year, as well, given the expansion of the business to the west coast, and plenty of changes happening in the lives of so many.

Spoilers Now!
As Thanksgiving approaches, Stan wants the Sunkist account because he'll operate out of the new satellite office in Los Angeles. Don warns him his expectations may be too high for California. Roger gets a visit from his daughter and her husband. She snaps at him for not taking him up on his investment and uninvites him from Thanksgiving. Ken and Jim are excited that they're pitching to Hershey and Don needs to take the lead on it.

Roger finds Bob giving Joan a gift for Kevin. Roger isn't impressed and calls him in to give him a performance review, accusing him of having a hand in every rung, and being involved with Joan. He warns Bob he's keeping an eye on him.

Don is forced to call Sally at boarding school because she has to give a statement regarding the burglary and needs to be free December 21. Sally concedes she doesn't want to do anything immoral by missing the summons, but maybe Don could just tell them what she saw, and hangs up.

When Royal Hawaiian shows up at the office, Don is in a bar so Ted has to deal with them. Don is chatted up by a religious man who declares Martin Luther King Jr and the Kennedys weren't true believers, prompting a flashback to the brothel when a drunk preacher was thrown out of the house. Don wakes up in jail in the drunk tank. He's told he punched a minister, and to sleep it off. 

Don has to explain his whereabouts to Megan and admits he's gotten out of control. He also realizes he doesn't want to be there anymore—he wants to move to California. Megan is dumbfounded. She has opportunities in Hollywood but had never considered it. He would have his own small team for Sunkist and he reminds her they were happy there. She breaks down and agrees.

Don reveals his plans to the partners and welcomes them to vote on the matter, leaving them to discuss it. Jim tells Ted this is good for him. Stan goes to talk to Don, who assures him he might be able to get him out there eventually. But Stan says no.

Pete is getting established travelling to Detroit. He gets a shocking telegram that his mother is lost at sea, having fallen off her ship. Pete finds out Manolo and his mother got married on the cruise. On their way to the airport to Detroit Pete confronts Bob about the situation, accusing him of being an accessory to murder. At Chevy, Bob arranges for Pete to drive the show car around the room. It's a standard, which Pete can't drive, and he proceeds to back over a display. Bob assures them they'll pay for that, but they call Pete out for not being able to drive a stick.

Peggy heads out early because she has plans. She goes home to find Ted waiting in her building, needing to talk. She admits her date was terrible. He confesses he doesn't want anyone else to have her and they end up kissing. He loves her and is going to leave his wife. Later, in bed, he promises they won't have to sneak around, but she doesn't want a scandal. She can wait.

Don gets a late night phone call from Betty informing him Sally is suspended for buying beer. She needs him to go get her the next day. Don can't but Betty is at a loss and breaks down that Sally needs more than she can give her. Don concedes and tells her it isn't her fault. 

Pete is back to the office early, admitting he's done in Detroit. His secretary says his brother has been trying to reach him. Pete is outraged even though the cruise is trying to track down Manolo, who is now aware that she had limited financial resources. He and his brother decide that an extended and costly investigation won't bring her back and  let it drop.

Ted sits down with Don to explain he wants to go to California. He wants Don to stay and let Ted go. He needs to start over. With Peggy, Don adds. With his family, Ted corrects. It's his only chance to save his family and he can't throw it all away by remaining in New York. Ted pleads with him to help him put 3000 miles between him and Peggy or his life is over. But Don needs it too and they're already writing Megan off her show. It's too late. 

At the Hershey meeting Don makes his pitch that the chocolate bar is the currency of affection, telling a made up story of his childhood. Don notices Ted is looking lost, and realizes his own hand his shaking from not drinking so much. He abruptly confesses he was an orphan who grew up in a whorehouse and read about Hershey in a magazine. He would go through the johns' pockets and if he got more than a $1.00 she would let him buy a Hershey bar. It was the only sweet thing in his life. Ted, Roger and Jim are astounded and Hershey admits it's quite a story. Ted and Don are left alone, and he tells Ted he wants him to go to California.

Roger asks Don if any of that is true. Don goes home to Megan, and he fills her in on what's happened. She's furious, given she already has a bunch of meetings out there. She tells him she doesn't know why they're fighting for it anymore. They don't have kids. She used to pity his children but realizes they're all in the same boat. He tells her he can be out there all the time with her. She storms out.

Ted breaks the news to Peggy that he's leaving. She learns Don gave up his spot for him. He admits he needs to hold onto his family or he'll be lost. He loves her that deeply he can't be around her. Peggy tells him to get out. 

Pete visits Trudy to say goodbye before he leaves for Los Angeles. She tells him he's free of everything now.

Don is called in to a partners meeting on Thanksgiving. They confront him about his recent behaviour and he gets defensive. The verdict has been reached, Bert says. They think it's best he takes a few months off from the firm. Bert can't give him a return date, and they admit they're all in agreement. Don walks out. At the elevator he runs into Duck and Lou Avery, on their way to meet with the partners. 

Joan has Roger over for Thanksgiving, only to find Bob there. She tells him she's inviting Roger into Kevin's life, but not hers. Stan finds Peggy settled into Don's office.

Don picks up all the kids and takes them to an old house in a bad neighbourhood, telling them that's where he grew up. He and Sally share a look as they stand in front of the decrepit house, as she gets the first insight into her father's past.

The Verdict:
In Care Of was certainly a cathartic end to Don's season-long self-destruction. I'm excited to see where we meet him next year, given it appears (for the moment, anyway) that the Don Draper persona has been shed and we'll find Dick Whitman again. It's likely come at the cost of his marriage to Megan. His meltdown with Hershey was one of the best moments in a long time. It was definitely a surprise that the Sylvia affair didn't play at all in the finale, and chances are when next we see Don he'll have moved out of his building.

Pete's mother and Manolo has been a confusing storyline, and I don't know what we're to take from it—is Bob involved in it? Was it a scheme all along? Or just an accident. But it looks like Pete could be making his own move out west, which felt tacked on at the end.

I'm happy that Ted and Peggy did not work out and we'll be seeing him less next year. She needs to stand on her own two feet, and finding her in Don's office at the end was quite a pivotal moment for her.

So there was no big death, no reveal about Don's affair, but he received a welcome intervention by his fellow partners (including Joan). We'll see what happens in the final season as Mad Men finishes out the tumultuous sixties.

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