‘Mad Men’ 10/17/10: Don in love? Yeah, right

THE THINKER: Don Draper in another moment of contemplation over the meaning of his life in the fourth-season finale of “Mad Men.” Photo: AMC

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2010 — Don Draper in love?  That appeared to be the case Sunday night as ‘Mad Men’ ended its sensational and oh-so unpredictable fourth season on AMC.

Unpredictable?  It was impossible to foresee that swinging bachelor Don (Jon Hamm) would suddenly flip head over heels for his willowy secretary Megan (Jessica Pare), confess that he’s in love with her, and then present her with a diamond engagement ring that he just happened to come by a few days earlier (left to him by the late Anna Draper).

Hey, Matt Weiner, what have you done with our Don Draper?  Up until this season-ending episode, it didn’t seem possible that Draper – who we’ve gotten to know all too well as a hard-drinking hard case who conquers and discards women like he’s James Bond – would ever fall this hard for anyone and then decide to get married and return to the kind of domestic situation he fled when his marriage to Betty (January Jones) fell apart.

And speaking of Betty, the shoe now seems to be on the other foot.  As Don contemplated a future of wedded bliss with bright-eyed, French-speaking Megan, Betty’s marriage to Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) appeared headed for the rocks.

Their status was left up in the air as the season finale came to a close on Sunday, but earlier, Henry angrily confronted Betty for firing Carla, the Draper household’s long-time nanny and housemaid, and not telling him about it.  Icy Betty abruptly fired Carla after Carla permitted troubled neighbor boy Glen Bishop (Marten Holden Weiner) to go upstairs and say a quick good-bye to Sally (Kiernan Shipka) before the family moved.  Betty, who earlier banished Glen from seeing Sally, ran into him as he was leaving the house.  “Just because you’re sad doesn’t mean everybody has to be,” Glen told Betty before running off.  By the end of the episode, Betty was completely alone, hauling off the last box from the home she shared with Don, after hearing his news that he’s getting married and settling down again.

Reactions to Don’s engagement news varied according to gender.  His male partners at the ad agency congratulated him heartily, as did his chief copywriter and protégé Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss).  But privately, Peggy expressed herself more candidly when she bonded over cigarettes with Joan (Christina Hendricks) in one of the episode’s best scenes.  Peggy had almost single-handedly landed a new client, Topaz pantyhose, but her achievement was over-shadowed by Don’s engagement news, and Peggy decried the fact that one young woman’s engagement was more important than another young woman’s victory in the business world.

The fourth-season finale – titled “Tomorrowland,” after the then-futuristic Disneyland attraction – seemed to be aimed chiefly at setting things up for Season Five, particularly where Don and Betty’s respective home lives are concerned.  For Don, blasting off for his own personal Tomorrowland meant severing his budding romance with Faye Miller (Cara Buono), who didn’t take his engagement news well at all, and getting his financial affairs in order with the selling of two houses, his own former home in Ossining, N.Y., and the late Anna Draper’s house in southern California (during a trip to Disneyland with his children and Megan as temporary nanny).

With most of the episode given over to Don’s love life, the season’s most critical storyline, the future of the struggling ad agency, was left unresolved.  To find out what happens there, we’ll now have to wait all the way ’til next summer for Season Five.

What did you think of the ‘Mad Men’ season finale?  Are these 13-week seasons too short or what?  And what do you think about having to wait until next July to find out what happens next?  Wouldn’t it be great if ‘Mad Men’ could return sooner?

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

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