Six years ago we began enjoying the unfolding of a story of the life of Dick Whitman aka Don Draper as he lived life in 1960. This season began in January 1968. It ended at Thanksgiving, 11 months later.
During the years that we've seen his life, and particularly for 11 months in 1968, Dick Whitman aka Don Draper has been going through something - we all have seen it. His past was eating him alive only because he failed to acknowledge it - in fact he ran away from it for 20 years.
In this seasons finale, Dick Whitman realized a possible path to redemption ... ironically through hitting a minister and telling two stories about a Hershey's bar, one of which was a telling of the truth, the one which was such a sad story.
That path to redemption is the realization that three children have been left "in care of" their father, a man whose own father effectively abandoned him as a child.
Go ahead and play the end music while we note that Dick has ceased to run.
A redemption story. It is about a paradigm shift within the main character. At the beginning the character will be less than whole, deeply flawed in a way that reverberates throughout the character’s choices, and seen within his actions. By the end of the story the character will undergo a transformation, a mended, more whole person, not controlled by his or her flaws.
Such a reformation doesn't come without costs. But doing "the right thing" sometimes comes with its own rewards and problems - in a big way think Oskar Schindler described as "an opportunistic and amoral man initially motivated by profit, who came to show extraordinary initiative, tenacity and dedication in order to save the lives of his Jewish employees, ending his life in poverty."
Transformation many times comes with inspiration. In this case it may come with an Emmy or two for acting, directing and/or writing. Because the transformative elements came not from some preacher giving Dick religion, but from Ted who asks Don to let him go to California:
Ted pleads: "I'm the one who needs to start over."
"With Peggy," Don pronounces, not as a question.
"No, with my family," Ted states.
"I don't understand," Don states appearing puzzled
"Yes you do," Ted tells him, "It's my only chance, Don ... I've got kids. I can't throw this away, I can't ... can't go on like this."
"I'm sorry Ted, but I can't help you," Don responds.
Ted tells him, "I don't know what I brought out in you but I know there is a good man in there. I need you to help me put 3000 miles between me and her or my life is over."
A now troubled Don explains, "I didn't make my decision lightly, I need it too. And frankly they're writing my wife off her show it's too late Ted."
As Ted gets up to leave, trying to assure him Don states, "It will go away."
Noticing Don's shaking hand, Ted tells him, "Will you have a drink before the meeting ...my father was... you can't stop cold like that."
With no commercial in between, the scene moves to the pitch to Hershey's. Everyone in this room has a story to tell, Don explains. Don tells a story to be sold using the first person about his loving father buying him a Hershey's bar.
"Hershey's is the currency of affection, it's the childhood symbol of love," Don explains soliciting smiles all around.
"Weren't you a lucky little boy," one of the Hershey's guys responds.
From this classic Don Draper pitch a conversation ensues. But we see an introspective Don/Dick dealing with a comment that they'll begin with his story.
Suddenly Dick Whitman says through Don, "I'm sorry. I have to say this. I don't know if I'll ever see you again."
"What?" asks one of the Hershey's guys after a pause.
Another pause follows as Dick Whitman finds the courage to tell his story.
"I was an orphan, I grew up in Pennsyvania in a whore house. I read about Milton Hershey and his school in Coronet Magazine or some other crap the girls left by the toilet. And I read that ... some orphans had a different life there. I could picture it ... I dreamt of it ... being wanted ... because the woman who was forced to raise me looked at me every day like she 'd hoped I would disappear," Dick relates obviously full of emotion.
"The closest I got to feeling wanted from a girl who made me go through her John's pockets while they screwed. If I collected more than a dollar, she'd buy me a Hershey bar... and I would eat it alone in my room ... with great ceremony ... feeling like a normal kid ... and it said sweeet on the back ... it was the only sweet thing in my life," Dick Whitman says in great pain.
Silence in the room, then one of the Hershey guys asks "You want to advertise that?"
Don explains, "If I had my way, you would never advertise. You shouldn't have someone like me telling that boy what a Hershey bar is. He already knows."
That boy is a Dick Whitman, so very painfully real.
Everyone leaves offering polite discussion. Don and Ted remain in the room. If you watched Ted's face during Don/Dick's telling of the real story, you could see he was hurting for Don.
Don then tells him, "You're going to California."
"Are you sure?" Ted blurts.
"I want you to," Don says.
Again no commercial while the scene shifts to Don coming out of the meeting room.
A puzzled Roger asks him "Was any of that true?"
"Yes," Don says, "I have to go home."
Don wishes Dawn a Happy Thanksgiving and leaves.
The next morning - Thanksgiving - the partners meet and Don is basically suspended with pay or given administrative leave with doubts that he'll be allowed to come back. Not exactly a cliff hanger, but one of many things that happened in this episode creating a twist in direction for next season:
- With "Moon River" playing in the background, Joan let Roger into his kid's life, but not her's, with Bob Benson there as a buffer (and now what happens when Greg returns from Vietnam?);
- Bob Benson outsmarted Pete in Detroit because of Pete's arrogance and lies (which Roger sarcastically noted with a "Not great, Bob.) but apparently Pete is simply going to be shifted to California to help with Sunkist, or is he resigning from SC&P;
- Pete's mother fell off or was pushed off a cruise ship after marrying Manolo who will be very surprised to discover she really doesn't have any wealth but you have to smile at that “She’s in the water with Father. She loved the sea.”;
- Peggy was upset by Ted leaving but with Don out there are two empty chairs and near the end we see her checking one out - but Peggy has her own baggage to deal with having essentially abandoned her own child and running away from her own moral underpinning as a fallen-away Catholic, both which are inescapable;
- The other partners have supposedly replaced Don already, but that will have its own pitfalls - Don was significant to whatever successes they had including creating the new partnership, though he did allow his name to be left off the masthead, fortunately he might not care as long as they buy him out;
- In the process of "saving" himself and Ted, Don stole the California office idea from Stan who is itching to get even, maybe in the final season next year.
But back to the redemption story.
The appearance of Dick Whitman cannot be shared with Megan, though Don tells her he loves her even as he sends her off to California. She tells him she knows he belongs to his dysfunctional kids. And Betty??? Well, Betty has let them know that Sally did screw up at boarding school, already.
"In care of" is the episode name. That, of course, comes from the address line in the letter to Sally "in care of" her father, Don. When Don calls Sally about it he identifies himself as "Daddy" hoping to find some foregiveness.
When he tells her she has to provide testimony by law, Sally replies, “Well I wouldn’t want to do anything immoral. Why don’t you tell them what I saw?” and hangs up.
In the May 19 episode "The Crash" I noted:
In a person's lifetime there comes that series of moments, events, after which you become your own person. You work through the dominance of the personalities and experiences of your childhood. It's when you get over blaming your parents or teachers. It's when you get over schoolyard traumas. It's when you grow up and assume responsibility for your beliefs, words, actions, and omissions - particularly your choices.
Sally Draper was the focus of the first scenes where we see Don begin to take control of his life. In the bedroom after the incidents with the thief and Don passing out, Megan tells Don that Sally tried to be a grown up, but she's just a little kid. In the next scene, a very powerful scene, Don has called Sally to do what an adult must do for his child in the situation - take responsibility. It doesn't come without painful insight:
"I've just been working too much," Don tells Sally.
"I'm so embarrassed, acted like a stupid little kid," she responds.
"No you didn't and I'm sure she's fooled plenty of adults too," Don assures her.
"She said she knew you," Sally explained. "I asked her everything I know and she had an answer for everything."
Then with remarkable insight, she said, "And then I realized I don't know anything about you."
At the close of this season finale, Don has his three offspring in the car and he parks it. Bobby says, “This is a bad neighborhood.” As we hear Judy Collins sing her 1967 version of Jodi Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" we have two images to carry us until next season.
“This is where I grew up,” Don tells them.
We can only hope that Sally in hearing her father telling the truth about himself will understand.
Matt Weiner never puts something into a show for no reason. Here are the lyrics to "Both Sides Now" which say so much about this season:
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way
But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away
I've looked at love from both sides now
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all
Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way
Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost but something's gained
In living every day
I've looked at life from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
Edited by phrelin, 24 June 2013 - 03:01 PM.