* In the first shot of the episode, the new SC&P logo obscures Don’s face.
* Very autumnal color scheme. Welcome to the Fall.
* Stan has ambition! “That’s not the way I saw it.” “That’s not the way you saw me.” Poor guy finally takes the risk of peeking out from behind his beard (remember he was the one who advised Peggy not to hire Ginsberg precisely because his obvious ambition was worrisome) and this is how he gets repaid.
* Roger: “You learn more from disappointment than you do from success.” This should really be the motto of this show w/r/t its critics.
* Don: “I love Hershey’s.” Add that to the list, right underneath “puppies.”
* You know, Roger had a nice little hot streak here at the beginning of the episode. “It’s all fun and games till they shoot you in the face”; “Bob Benson’s here to see you.”/”Really?”…Roger truly is one of the funniest characters on television, and it makes him palatable to us just like it makes him palatable to the other characters.
* He does have his flashes of insight, though. Sussing out that Bob’s got ulterior motives is good old-fashioned accounts-man people-reading.
* So Sally got into that school and is already half a semester in. I guess that’s plenty of time to learn how to mercilessly subtweet your dad on the phone.
* I never really picked up on the idea that Don’s drinking this season is unusually heavy. That was evident back in season four, after the divorce and before Megan, but here, I dunno, it went over my head. But of course we’ve seen him drinking alone in a bar probably half a dozen times in 12 hours.
* This final drinking-alone-in-a-bar scene is tied to the original by Vietnam. Don’s content to dress down the preacher until the guy insults RFK and MLK and slain soldiers, one of whom (or so Don’s subconscious believes) he helped get married in Hawaii. Don’s conservatism is clearly the part of his post-Korea constructed persona he’s put the least energy into maintaining, and he’s repulsed by violence wrought against people who weren’t asking for it. So he insults Jesus a couple times, calling him a Nixon voter and/or a guy with a pretty sloppy handle on things, and then whiteknights for the fallen by assaulting a minister and winding up in the drunk tank. The social upheaval of 1968, poured into a tumbler and served straight into Don Draper.
* Those autumn colors really made it look like the walls were closing in around Peggy as Ted and his family parade through.
* Megan in white.
* Don’s lost control again…so he wants to move to California??? Given that I had every believe he’d actually do so, and that the big shock to which this season was building was that the final season of Mad Men would take place in Los Angeles, I was quite stunned by this. But I shouldn’t have been. Don’s always trying to recreate the magic of his West Coast sojourns. And that he’d just done so, so unsuccessfully, three or four episodes ago should have been all the indication I needed that he wasn’t gonna pull it off this time.
* Not only does he steal Stan’s idea, he plagiarizes his description of it. It’s “the cure for the common breakfast” all over again. (Maybe that’s why we got a glimpse of Danny again in the California episode.)
* That final shot of Don and Megan hugging each other, ready to make a fresh start — so soapy! Love it.
* Oh my god Manolo killed Pete’s mom.
* It’s only Tuesday, but already Vincent Kartheiser’s line reading for his response to Bob asking him how he’s doing is the stuff of internet legend. “Not great, Bob!” That’s a top-five elevator ride on this show, for sure.
* Peggy looking rrrrrrrrrrrrright. Wow. Love how she obliterated the brown palette of everyone’s outfits with that black and pink thing, too.
* “GM ’69″ lol
* Bob standing there with the keys to the car; Pete realizing he’s been beaten before the game even really started. Poor Pete. He tried, he really did.
* The thing about Bob, though: provided you believe Manolo acted on his own, is Bob even dangerous unless someone comes directly at him? Pete was keeping him around as a secret weapon, but do we have any indication he’s up to no good? Left to his own devices, would he become the Don Draper of accounts, phony but legitimately talented and valuable? Or have his attempts to worm his way into Pete and Joan’s lives shown us that there’s something more profoundly troubling about him? (The thing at GM, whatever, Pete brought that on himself, like Don getting Roger stuffed and drunk and walking him up 23 flights of stairs before the Nixon meeting back in the day. I’m talking the potential that he could really hurt someone.)
* If it weren’t for Don’s Hershey’s meltdown, the entire multi-scene Ted/Peggy sequence would be the centerpiece of the episode, maybe the season. It’s not the heaviest thing that ever happened, but it’s one of the most carefully, unflinchingly observed things the show’s done; its sense of humor, drama, and sexiness is really finely tuned. It’s funny that Ted lurked outside her apartment and told her neighbors he’s a cop like that’ll make his presence easier to excuse. It’s funny that when he opens her dress she’s wearing a lacy black bra and when she takes off his jacket he’s wearing a gooberish blue turtleneck. It’s funny that her hot pink lipstick is all over him. (Kudos to the New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum for recognizing this as the “Mark Your Man” callback it is.) It’s sexy that he told her he doesn’t want anyone else to have her, and that she gets turned on when he tells her he loves her, and that she looks so good. It’s dramatic that it has this tone of conspiracy, and that he gets right in the shower after it’s over, and that he goes right from one bed to the next. Fine, fine writing and filmmaking, and a payoff for an entire season, and the storyline’s not even over yet.
* Bob killed Pete’s mom and stole his job, at least as far as Pete could tell.
* Part two of the Ted/Peggy storyline also feeds directly into Don’s climactic collapse, and goddamn is it deft. Imagine being someone who literally has to beg Don to save him — especially after this season, in which Don’s reckless, impulsive narcissism regarding business decisions has been smashed in everyone’s face like James Cagney’s grapefruit. “I know that there’s a good man in there,” Ted tells him, and at the moment he says it you just know that a large segment of the audience (certainly a large segment of the portion of the audience comprised of TV critics) thinks he’s just plain wrong. Don says he couldn’t help Ted even if he wanted to (which he already maybe does), then advises him “It will go away,” which I guess he should know, although he failed to mention that having one of your kids walk in on it will help move things along in that regard. Ted replies with the most telling and gutting half-sentence in the history of the show: “My father was–” half-second pause, doesn’t miss a beat “You can’t stop cold like that.” And suddenly Ted makes sense: the slightly manic optimism of his pitches, his oedipal relationship with Don, his abject horror about himself and Peggy. He’s an adult child of an alcoholic, and he knows what addiction can do to a family.
* Now we’re at the Hershey’s pitch. Don’s in control, but we know something’s wrong, because we know he’s bullshitting, and his best pitches don’t bullshit. The Carousel pitch is the classic example, but think back to all his man-who-wasn’t-there pitches from earlier in the season. He may not have known it, but he was telling the truth in them, about who he is, about what he wanted. Now? “My father tousled my hair. his love and the chocolate were tied together.” Fuck outta here. “Hershey’s is the currency of affection,” says the son of a whore, raised in a whorehouse, deflowered by a whore. “The childhood symbol of love,” says the boy who saw hobos symbolize his father with the mark of a dishonest man, who was beaten and hated. “Sweet tales of childhood” is the angle for the ad, and Don’s got the shakes.
* Then he gets real. Holy shit. What does Hershey’s really taste like? The life of orphans whose caretakers want them around, of families that are real, glimpsed in a magazine left on the toilet by prostitutes. It tastes like “being wanted.” It’s something purchased with money stolen from johns, then eaten “alone, in my room, with great ceremony, feeling like a normal kid.” It tastes like something worth destroying this client relationship for, because he wouldn’t want to sell it anyway, it’s too special, and people already know what it tastes like anyway. Ted certainly knows, and Don won’t take it away from him, at long last.
* So yeah. Wow.
* “To bring your mother’s killer to justice?” “Ballpark.” The brothers Campbell, ladies and gentlemen. “She loved the sea.” You assholes. Wow, this is a magnificent Pete episode, and it’s not even over.
* “The world out there…I have to hang on to them or I’ll get lost in the chaos.” There but for the grace of Don goes Ted Chaough.
* “Aren’t you lucky. To have decisions.” Yet who winds up in Don’s chair, in Don’s office, striking Don’s pose? Hope springs eternal, Peggy Olson.
* “FUCK the agency. I quit my job!” Megan doesn’t have decisions either. Well, she has one, and she makes it. We’ll see if it sticks.
* Pete’s free. “It’s not the way I wanted it.” “Now you know that.” Decisions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And yeah, beautiful, beautiful Pete episode.
* Don getting fired (“fired”) is something I saw coming but never said I saw coming so it doesn’t count for you but man I feel smart about it. But yeah, that guy was just fucking up left and right. Missing Sunkist, tanking Hershey’s, screwing up the public offering no matter what else he did right at the time, all those blown pitches, MIA half the time, making life miserable on purpose for at least one partner and the chief of copy…He had to go. It spoke well of Joan and Roger, and even Jim and Bert, that they looked unhappy about it.
* Let’s add Duck Phillips to injury, sure, why not.
* Bob in an apron with a knife hahahahahaha
* I like Roger’s tweedy jackets, like a Rat Pack grandpa.
* “This is where I grew up.” The poverty that haunted the season in flashbacks and in riots is stared in the face. A little boy eats a popsicle, melting, as Mad Men has told us before, with every second. Sally looks at Don, and maybe sees him for what he is. The end.
* That was a quietly incredible episode, one that tied everything together in unexpected ways, making everything feel meticulous but not like the innards of a clock. I love this show.