TV

Don Draper hits rock bottom in 'Mad Men' finale

June 24, 2013 at 9:10 AM ET

Image: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men".
Frank Ockenfels / AMC

Don Draper might not have jumped out the window, but his life at Sterling Cooper & Partners came to an abrupt end in "Mad Men's" season finale.

For the first time, the great pretender lifted the curtain hiding his sordid, tragic past, but no one in his new world wanted to see it. Don Draper was hired and championed for the façade he created -- Dick Whitman is not welcome on Madison Ave.

After skipping another meeting to get soused in a bar, Don found himself in the drunk tank -- which seemed to be a wake-up call. Megan found him the next morning draining all their liquor -- in the sink instead of down his throat for a change.

And so for one of the firm's most important pitches -- to Hershey's -- Don was on time and sober. (Except for the drink a knowing Ted urged on him so that he wouldn't get the shakes, or worse.)

For a moment, the clients were enchanted by Don's portrayal of Hershey's as "the currency of affection, the childhood symbol of love."

Unfortunately for SC&P, Don chose that moment to bare his soul -- revealing that he grew up as an unwanted orphan in a whorehouse. As a kid, Don said, a Hershey bar "was the only sweet thing in my life."

Now, Don is surrounded by sweet things -- adoring women, children of his own, and all the trappings of success -- but his soul is too bitter to taste them. On Thanksgiving Day, SC&P called him into the office and game him the boot.

"In Care Of" was a lovely bookend to "Mad Men's" fourth-season finale, "Tomorrowland," in which Don proposed to his secretary -- using the engagement ring the real Don Draper gave to his wife Anna -- during a trip to California with his kids.

When Sunkist requested a SC&P rep work with them in Los Angeles, half the staff at SC&P were seduced by the sunshine and palm trees' siren call -- and the promise of a new start. Of course, Don claimed Stan's idea of a satellite for himself and announced his plans to the firm. Megan, thrilled to finally take advantage of all the Hollywood offers she'd received, quit her job.

Then Ted convinced Don to let him go instead, because the only way he could save his marriage was to put 3,000 miles between him and Peggy, with whom he'd finally shared a night of passion. Don agreed, infuriating Megan, who walked out after his "bi-coastal" platitudes.

But even Pete is going west. After learning his mother was "lost at sea" (someday this show will run out of metaphors), likely murdered by her nurse-turned-husband, Pete's face was shot off (metaphorically) in Detroit -- by Bob Benson!

Don's double-identity heir apparent will be running SC&P next year, right? Bob Benson has definitely played the best cards, even sharing Thanksgiving with his BFF Joan and Roger, whom she'd invited to spend time with their son.

In another neighborhood, Don is spending Thanksgiving with his kids, but there's no turkey in sight. Instead, even Sally is at a loss for words as he shows them the decrepit whorehouse where he grew up, where a little boy is playing on the front steps.

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