The season-ending episode of Mad Men beckons us tonight, our last weekly window into 1962 for 2008 - the final glimpse of the strangely disconnected world of Sterling Cooper, with its various plot lines lying askew like a pair of untied Chuck Taylor high-tops. How those strands are relaced tonight will determine how the series lopes into the mid-60s, and where its center of gravity lies - in trippy faux existential crisis on the beach in LA or in the trenches of the New York ad wars.
M.A. Peel hosts our final run at newcritics tonight, and she finds both of those competing worlds in crisis:
Crisis. It’s a very powerful and distinct word in the English language. It’s married to certain other words: the Cuban Missile Crisis (more about that later), the Energy Crisis of the seventies, the Savings & loan crises of the eighties, today’s Wall Street Crisis, the generic midlife crisis and spiritual crisis.
As we prepare to leave Don and the gang at Sterling Cooper, this is what we find:
Betty is in crisis from being forced to acknowledge Don’s cheating; Roger’s crisis is the classic midlife variety, with a woman younger than his daughter; Freddy Rumsen’s is the crisis of midlife unemployment; Pete Campbell has had several, from the death of his father to that of elusive parenthood; Joan’s is the most horrific—sickening proof her fiancé’s abusive nature—and not running from it.
And then there’s Don.