Mad Men "Tomorrowland" Reaction

Just like in the season premiere of "Mad Men", there was a line in last night's season finale -- said by Don Draper -- that seemed to be dripping with a deeper meaning than Don intended. In "Tomorrowland", just after proposing to his secretary Megan, Don says, "Did you ever think of the number of things for me to get to know you?"

He says those words to Megan, but really he could be saying them to a mirror, because "Tommorowland", like all of Season 4, was about Don Draper discovering who Don Draper is (flash back to the season premiere, where the first words of the season were "Who is Don Draper"). It's easy to watch "Mad Men" and forget at times that Don Draper isn't really a person; Don Draper is a persona created by Dick Whitman, a projected image of an ideal that Dick thinks he should be. In Season 3, we saw Don's perfect world crumbling down around him, and Season 4 was all about Don/Dick trying to figure out who he was and what life he wanted.

In the end, the answer wasn't an easy one. Don went back to California, but unlike previous trips, he was there with his family -- well, his children, and Megan, who was a last-minute fill-in for the recently fired Carla -- and there was no Anna for him to go back to. He had to walk that line between being Dick and being Don, and it seemed like somewhere in doing that, he found the person he wanted to be. Even proposing to Megan was an interesting dichotomy. If he's not Don Draper, then he's never in a position to meet a woman like that. But if he's still trying to be "Don Draper" -- the perfect image he built up over the first two seasons (and the time before the series that we didn't see), then he never marries his secretary. "Don Draper" doesn't do that. But, after going through everything he did this year, Don isn't worried about being "Don Draper" anymore. He just wants to be happy, and Megan makes him happy. Even more than that, to Don, Megan can be the mother that Betty never was (she showed that a few episodes ago, then again with the spilled milkshake incident in this episode) and the mother he never really had.

But it's still clear that Don's never going to be entirely comfortable with his identity. He had opportunities to tell the whole truth to both Sally and Megan, and didn't. I thought it was interesting that in the last eight minutes of the episode, Don interacted with three women in three different ways. Both Faye and Betty know Don's secret, and he pushed them away, while embracing Megan, who knows nothing of Dick Whitman. And while it'd be easy to think that's the answer for Don, the last scene of the episode -- with Megan fast asleep in Don's arms, while Don looked uneasy in being awake -- showed that not everything is calm in the world of Don Draper.

I'm very interested to see where "Mad Men" takes the character of Don next, because he's one of the most complex and interesting characters on TV, and nothing is ever simple with him. But it's always incredible to watch, and "Tomorrowland" was no exception.

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  1. Good points. Don went back to California, but with his children. He had talked to Anna about bringing them out in the spring, but she was never going to be up for that with her advanced cancer.

    So now he's there, in the fall, and Anna's gone, but her influence lives on, in Stephanie. And there's a message, with a physical manifestation: Go find happiness, Dick, with this ring that the real Don Draper gave me. Become whole.


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