This is how you reinvent a television show in one episode. The conclusion of Season 3 brings us to the conclusion of “Mad Men” as we’ve known it, and sets the stage for the show’s latter half. By the time the credits roll on this spectacular outing, Sterling Cooper is no more; same can be said for the Draper marriage. And yet, with all those changes, the band is still playing on. Don, Peggy, Pete, Roger, Joan, Harry, Bert, and Lane are striking out on their own, and they do so in fantastic fashion. Every single scene in this episode is a home run; yes, every one. They deliver payoffs that have been building over the course of three seasons, almost all involving the relationships in Don’s life, be they personal or professional (or, in some cases, a mix of both).
Best Scene: This one comes right off the bat and sets the whole episode in motion. Conrad Hilton summons Don to his hotel suite to inform Don that Sterling Cooper is being sold yet again, which means he can’t work with Don anymore. I’ve watched this one scene at least a dozen times, and each viewing I seem to take something new or different away from it. This time around, I see Hilton’s side; Don does take the end of this relationship too personally, probably because he’s just gone through hell in his own family. Either way, it’s the kick Don needs to wake up, sparking him to take back control of his own life and career after a year spent twisting in other people’s winds. It’s also the end of a remarkable story arc for this season, and maybe my favorite secondary character in the entire series.
Favorite Tiny Moments:
• Joan walks back into the office.
• Kinsey realizes he wasn’t chosen—but Peggy was.
Best Lines: Hilton to Don: “You know, I got everything I have on my own. It’s made me immune to those who complain and cry because they can’t. I didn’t take you for one of them, Don. Are you?”
Bert: “Young men love risk, because they can’t imagine the consequences.” Don: “And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you. … I’m sick of being batted around like a ping-pong ball. Who the hell is in charge? A bunch of accountants trying to figure out how to make a dollar into a dollar-ten? I wanna work. I wanna build something of my own.”
Peggy to Don: “I don’t want to make a career out of being there so you can kick me when you fail.”
Don to Peggy (later in the episode): “There are people out there who buy things. And something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that. But you do. And that’s very valuable. … With you or without you, I’m moving on, and I don’t know if I can do it alone. Will you help me?”