MAD MEN Season 6 Finale Recap: “In Care Of”

     June 23, 2013


For all of the frustration caused by this season of Mad Men (regarding the case of Don Draper in particular), could the show have done any more to hit this episode out of the ballpark?  Out of the ballpark, out of the parking lot, out of the city even.  The long road Don has been on since Season One took a sudden and fascinating turn in “In Care Of.”  Mad Men has often ended season with game changers — new firms, new relationships, or other big changes.  This year though, it has ended with a sudden cleaning of the slate.  The lives of Don Draper and Dick Whitman, kept so far apart in the past, are converging.  It’s a wonder to behold.  Hit the jump for more on why ”Los Angeles is not like what you see in the movies. It’s like Detroit with palm trees.”

mad-men-season-6-posterSo many things came to a head in “In Care Of,” culminating in the slow death of Don Draper and the emergence of Dick Whitman.  Like most of the season, there were parallels between Ted and Don’s story, as well as Pete and Don.  Ted, a good guy, gets in a Draper-esque situation through his affair with Peggy, but unlike Don, he’s unable to live with himself.  Ted wants the same chance Don does with L.A. — a place to start over.  By the Hershey’s meeting, Don sees the Ted can still be saved, but that he, maybe, cannot.

Don’s sacrifice set Ted on, perhaps, a course correction that could leave his family intact.  For Don and Pete though, it’s too late.  Trudy had a great line near the end the episode, when a beleaguered Pete stops by before heading out of town, saying, “it’s not the way I wanted it.”  ”Well now you know,” Trudy returns blankly.  It could have been Don uttering those words to Betty, or Megan, or even Sally.  But that hindsight doesn’t change anything.  It’s just a sad fact.

Similarly, Megan walks out on Don after feeling divorce is their only option.  The partners are fed up, too.  Many viewers joked in early seasons that at some point everyone’s alcoholism would take its toll, especially as societal norms changed.  Here’s Don now, shaking at meetings, and co-workers all but saying he’s an alcoholic.  Strangely though, it’s still somewhat of a surprise.  It’s almost like the sudden realization that a friend is actually in trouble, acknowledging you saw the signs, but weren’t sure when it would be to the point of intervention, if ever.  With Don, the day has arrived.

Don’s revelations about  the honest truth about his past have always been keystone moments in the series.  To whom he says what to has important ramifications — who is in the circle of trust, and why.  When Don gives up his “Dad tousled my hair and gave me a candy bar,” with his hollow Don smile, to tell the true story of the fact that the closest he ever felt to someone growing up was someone he used to steal for … it might be one of the most important moments of the series.  Don told the truth to strangers, to co-workers and to old friends, but not in the way he should have, but in the only way, at the moment, he felt he could.  Does it excuse his past behavior?  No, but like Sally at the end when Don showed her and his sons where he grew up, there’s the slightest hint of warmth in the overall side-eye.

mad-men-in-care-of-jon-hammSpeculation has been rampant since the beginning on the series about the falling man imagery and what that would mean for Don, and some have astutely pointed out that it seems the series will end with the death of Don, but the rebirth of Dick Whitman.  Nothing seems more likely than that after “In Care Of.” If that’s the case, then so be it — it seems like next year will be a great ride.  ”In Care Of” may go down as one of the best Mad Men episodes today, because it opened Don up in a way we’ve never seen.  Namely, adult Dick.  Welcome back.

Episode Rating: A+

Season Rating: B+ 

Musings and Miscellanea: 

– Stan wanting to start his own office up from L.A. was surprising.  I feel like Stan has never showed anything close to that much gumption before.

– Will Don and Megan really get divorced?

– “You punched a preacher, you should be in Rikers” – jail guard.

– The final Ted versus Don showdown: who goes to L.A., and whose life falls apart in New York?  Sorry, Don.

– Loved the imagery at the end where Peggy was in the traditional Don silhouette in his office.  Get you some, girl!

– Speaking of which, I loved Peggy “teasing” Ted with her boobs pushed up in that mini dress, saying Chanel No. 5 is all she wears!

– Great moment at the end with Sally gave her father a look that showed her starting to “get” it, and also appreciating the honesty.

mad-men-in-care-of-christina-hendricks– Duck taking Don’s job?  Makes sense that Pete would help repay him like that.

– So did Manolo kill Mrs. Campbell?  And did Bob Benson order the hit?  And are Joan and Bob really involved, or just “buddies,” as he said? I loved Roger being jealous and pulling Bob aside.  There’s still a lot more to him than meets the eye … and her going overboard seemed to suggest the falling man imagery again.  Will Bob push Don off the ledge literally?

– “You know what they say about Detroit, it’s all fun and games until somebody shoots you in the face.” – Roger

– Pete’s reaction to his mother’s death (and his brother’s reaction as well) was in such a Campbell way.  He and Don grew up opposites — Pete had everything, Don nothing.  Now Pete knows what that feels like, while Don is back to rebuilding his life again (although this time, with the kids in tow).

– Don calling Betty “Birdie” and letting her know it wasn’t all her fault Sally is messed up was a sweet moment.

– “You  want to be alone with your liquor and your ex-wife and your screwed up kids!” – Megan

– “How do I get on the list of girls you give money to?” – Roger’s daughter, who is “bleeding him dry.”

– Lots of great interactions between Ted and Peggy: ”I told your neighbors I was a cop.” “You’d better go before they kill you.” / Ted: ”I don’t want anyone else to have you!” / Peggy: ”Well aren’t you lucky. To have decisions.”

– What a great episode, and a fantastic end to a very frustrating season.  You pulled it around again, Weiner, you son of a gun.  A big thanks goes out to everyone who kept up with these reviews and commented, you guys offered some great insights throughout the season, and some great support during some of the more trying episodes.


  • Matt

    Interestingly I saw the episode as worthy in its handling of a number of plot points and setting them up for next season, but aside from that I didn’t consider it to be entirely engaging in the immediate.

    My favorite episodes have always been the spacey ones or the ones that involved some sort of dramatic shake-up. This episode was really more of a continuation of plot. Nothing all that surprising and that which was surprising (Don’s being on “leave”) sort of leading in an indiscernible direction.

    I’m glad he and Megan are over. I never found her character or their arc entirely engaging. It had a sort of inevitability without the dramatic tension to sustain it.

    I can say for the first season end in a while that I really don’t know where the show is headed. But something tells me it won’t stray far despite the feeling it may. People don’t change, as Weiner always hits home. And I don’t think they really will.

  • Oz

    First, you are doing a fantastic job Allison. I prefer your reviews over, say, the ones on Hitfix or even the NYT. You just explain things concisely.

    Second, I thought this final episode was brilliant. I hope next season will have majority Don-centric episodes. While I care about the other characters, I care much more about Don.

    Gotta say, MAD MEN really is one of the best dramas in television history–top five at least.

    Glad Megan is done. I want more Bob Benson and less Ted. Peggy, I think, will get her name on the company.

  • Fiz

    “Duck taking Don’s job? Makes sense that Pete would help repay him like that.”

    I interpreted that scene as Duck bringing in the candidate to replace Don, since he’s a headhunter now.

    Surprised you gave it a B+, as frustrating as you’ve said you found the season.

    • Matt

      That was definitely a headhunter situation. Surprised that wasn’t picked up. Hence, Don’s brief words with the character who was not Duck.

      • Clayton Cargill

        That guy whose name I can’t currently remember, was one of the first people who tried to get Don to come on at another firm. I think that’s a callback from maybe season 2. The guy.

        His name is Lou Avery, from Dancer Fitzgerald. But I think he interviewed Don for a job once before Don got made a partner.

      • Clayton Cargill

        OK, I’m wrong. It’s a callback, but a callback from here: ( i stole this from another review)…

        Lou was the obnoxious rival adman who spilled the beans that Vick Chemical was leaving SCDP while Don and Roger were at the airport en route to pitch Chevy.

  • carl napolitano

    Great ending to a great season! I didnt feel the frustration that other have had with this season. I’m not sure what one could really complain about.

  • Lance

    Wow! What a fantastic episode.

    To see Don — rather, Dick — open up about his true self, the self he’s always loathed and tried to keep hidden, was something amazing.

    The ending was spectacular. Could there be any hope that his relationship with Sally can be saved? Definitely _have_ to see the last season to find out, now!

  • Rob

    A cool tidbit, the song “Band of Gold” played at the bar which also played during the opening pilot episode.

  • Michael S.

    We’ve seen Don hit rock bottom, rise up and reinvent himself. But eventually he always falls back into his old habits. This episode however feels like a true step foward. Maybe at the end this show we could finally find Don Draper at peace.

  • Daniel O’Reilly

    I think I said this before, but the frustration was the point. Everyone was fed up with Don, including Don. The season was always leading up to this and will likely play much better on a second viewing.

    • Clayton Cargill

      I agree with this. When you think they’re going to do some Deus ex Machina stuff to yank this guy back to the top, they instead just let him take himself right down the drain he’s been circling.
      If you know that while you’re watching, you can better appreciate the downward spiral for what it is. And you can pity the man rather than loathe him.

  • -

    Wow, that was the best episode of the show since ‘The Other Woman’, by far. Incredible.

  • Redjester


    That was, simply put, one of the best hours of television I’ve seen, well, ever.

    And no I don’t think I’m giving in to hyperbole. This episode was television at its finest.

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  • Homer Lannister

    A very frustrating season? that’s what I would have called season 3 of game of thrones, not this season of mad men.

    • OhDawg

      Never felt the frustration either. I think it’s frustrating to reviewers who are required to comment and offer insight before the thing is completely done (it’s the David Simon/The Wire thing where he was frustrated because he wanted every season to be judged as a whole rather than on individual episode basis). I have a tendency to go along for the ride, and I never felt I ran out of patience with the show. Also, Mad Men has been very demanding in that regard since its first season, which didn’t really come together until Dylan’s “Don’t think twice it’s alright” (aka “One of the greatest songs ever written” ) played at the end of the last episode.

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