There are colossal spoilers for the third season of ‘Mad Men”coming up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We’ve all missed our alarms. It throws off your day. The late start makes you feel as if you have something to prove for the day it’s like you have to accomplish a difficult task or otherwise the nine to 12 hours you’ve been awake turn into a massive waste of time.
Don Draper wakes up in just this fashion in the opening shot of ‘Shut the Door. Have a Seat,” the final episode of ‘Mad Men’s” stunning and impressive third season. Don no longer can coast through life. The time to figure out who he wants to be amongst his family and co-workers has arrived in full force as characters’ betrayals of season three come to the forefront of the finale.
The ghosts of betrayal come to haunt many of the characters in the world of Sterling Cooper as they are told to shut the door on their past and take a seat to figure out their futures. Almost immediately Don is told, as he sits on the Hilton couch across from Connie, that the British company PP’L is selling Sterling Cooper (in addition to itself) out to another agency. Lane Pryce is similarly tricked when PP’L fails to tell him of their plans for a future that does not involve him in the slightest. The small amount of trust Don had to put into his marriage is tested as Betty sits her husband down in the kitchen. Mrs. Draper has finally had enough of the secretive and imperfect lifestyle Don lives and files for a divorce lawyer. The poor Draper children sit on the living room couch with teary eyes as their parents inform them of the separation. Perhaps the most moving and sincere presentations of remorse was when Don sits in the home of Peggy Olson, his prodigy, and professes how much he needs her in spite of the distasteful ways he has treated her over the past year.
‘You’re not good at relationships because you don’t value them,” Roger Sterling said to Don as they discuss the future of their company. Throughout the finale, Don has to prove, honestly and deceitfully, that he does in fact value both his family and his co-workers more than they know.
And writers Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy could not have presented the changes that are about to take place due to these betrayals in a more skillful fashion.
Not only did this stunning finale, directed by Matthew Weiner, raise a lot of questions about the futures of the characters at Sterling Cooper, but it did so in a way that was satisfying and even exciting.
In a rare flashback, we learn that Don’s asshole of a father died because he believed that he could take care of the farm by himself. Don realizes that he cannot make these life-altering decisions without some help.
Thus begins the ‘Ocean’s Eleven” style presentation as Don and company work to bring together a winning team for the newly formed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising agency.
Each character is given the push they need to join Don’s troops: Pryce gets a chance to stay in a country he has come to love; Bert Cooper is given a role in the company; Roger is placed in a position of power; Pete receives the approval and adoration he has always hoped for; Harry isn’t given much of a choice; and Peggy’s value is finally revealed by the one man she truly looks up to. We always knew Don was good at selling a pitch; but hell, this is the best one he’s made yet.
While new beginnings are taking hold in Don’s work world, his personal life comes to a crashing halt as Don realizes he is not the only one who has committed adultery in his failed marriage. Betty, who has finally found a man who puts her on a pedestal, chooses to fly away leaving her old life behind.
Where does this leave the beautiful Betty Draper next season? Without any connection to the advertising world that ‘Mad Men” revolves around, January Jones would seem insignificant if not unnecessary assuming the divorce between the Drapers holds. In spite of this, it seems unlikely that Weiner would choose to put Betty’s character in the shadows. I hope that she will find a place within the show that does not involve her attempting to reunite the family. By the episode’s end, it truly seems that the Draper marriage is over.
In the wake of the failure of Don’s family life, the liberation from his burdensome marriage allows for a re-birth with his new company along with a brilliant score of characters. The chemistry between Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss has never been better as these two remarkably similar characters voiced their respect for one another. John Slattery and Christina Hendricks flawlessly portrayed the banter and underlying feelings between Roger and Joan.
Joan’s return to the Sterling Cooper world was a stroke of genius. It is where she belongs and presents herself as the remarkable woman she truly is. The best I can do is echo Don: ‘Joan. What a good idea.”
As the workers of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce work harder than they ever have before, the immense feeling of possibility is impossible to ignore. The 1960s were a time of great change in American society. Kennedy was assassinated, the civil rights movement skyrocketed into effect and the future of the country has never been more uncertain.
Don may have slept through the alarm that was ringing around the nation at the episodes start, but by the finale’s end, Don’s wake-up call has come in loud and clear. While he may not be completely prepared for the surprises ahead, at least he is awake.
Rosenberg is a member of
the class of 2012.

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