Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Mad Men Season 7, Ep. 10 – “The Forecast.”
“You’re a very beautiful girl. Its up to you to be more than that.”— Don
Mad Men has always been about Dick Whitman’s journey to find himself. He created the persona of Don Draper and spent the better part of his life attempting to fulfill those self-imposed requirements. Now that that façade has all but crumbled around him, he has the opportunity to start a new life again, perhaps this time with a little bit more self-awareness.
The problem is, for the all the failure life as Don Draper has wrought; it has also brought him unmitigated success. Faced with the task of outlining the future for SC&P, Don realized that the only thing on the horizon is just… more. He has been fighting for so long now that he has, for all intents and purposes, won; he has no idea what to aspire to next.
Interestingly enough, as Don was advising his realtor that an empty apartment should be easier to sell because people could imagine anything, he was living the reality that most people would prefer to have their imaginations decided for them. His professional life is completely wide open and the possibilities have left him frozen and unsure.
And perhaps a bit disappointed. Don has spent his life telling people what they want and now that he’s the one looking for answers, no one was able to tell him what to want.
Another man facing a similar new lease on life found his way into Joan’s life this week. Richard Bergoff threw off the shackles of married life to live a life free of rules. Of course, when faced with the chance to spend some of that life with Joan, he realized some rules and commitments aren’t so bad.
But the fact is, people like Don and Richard and even Betty can get away with these restarts due in large part to their ability to endear themselves with their bad behavior. And they probably wouldn’t be able to pull that off if they weren’t so damn attractive. Over the years many people have tried to act like Don, like Pete or Mathis, and those attempts blew up in their faces. Yes, Don is charming, but a lot of it would be a lot less charming if he were less attractive.
Betty’s bad behavior is harder to understand. Of all the moments I imagined would be included in the final season, I never though we’d get another scene of Betty and Glen to creep us out and provide some closure. As much as Glen has been a part of the series, this was the first time he saw Betty since he was a kid. I’m sure his friendship with Sally was always genuine, but the moment he saw Betty again, he only had eyes for her. It was a little touching and a lot inappropriate. Basically everything you would want in a final Glen and Betty scene.
Ironically, in one of the few episodes that showed Betty and Sally getting along, Sally also verbalized her basic desire to be nothing like either of her parents. It’s strange that of all Don and Betty’s flaws, Sally picked their attractiveness to reject considering it’s the most obvious thing she inherited from them. Sally has inherited a lot from both of them, but she has also developed the fortitude to not make their same mistakes. She’ll have her own mistakes to make.
So where does that leave Don and, more importantly, the fate of Mad Men? Will Don finally figure out what he wants and who he wants to be? Or will Mad Men stay true to its theme that people can’t really change, not matter how much they may be told they want to? We only have four more episodes to find out.
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