Bets tells Don she doesn’t love him anymore and he looks like he’s just been shot. President Kennedy also looks like he’s just been shot though, in fairness, he has. It’s the fall of 1963 and
all Bets are off – to Reno, specifically, with Henry Francis her bad boy lover she hasn’t had sex with yet. Don’s big secret was the last straw for Betty. His Principal Skinner style previous life laid bare before her was just too much. As the nation reels from the nightmare playing out in front of it, Don Draper’s life is unravelling like a toilet roll around an Andrex puppy. We haven’t even got to his work hell.
"His Principal Skinner style previous life laid bare before her was just too much. As the nation reels from the nightmare playing out in front of it Don Draper’s life is unravelling like a toilet roll around an Andrex puppy."
It begins with Conrad Hilton telling Don that McCann Erickson, will be buying PPL and Sterling Cooper with it. Don is distraught. McCann Erickson is an advertising sausage factory that will never let him do his job and he loses the Hilton account immediately as a result. This kicks off a chain of events that leads Roger, Don, Bert and Lane to form their own breakaway agency stealing staff, accounts, stationery and office equipment from Sterling Cooper. This takes place over one furious weekend and on Friday 13th of December 1963 the new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce1, is born in a suite in the Pierre Hotel.
Apart from the four partners there’s Pete (who takes some persuading), Peggy (who takes lots of persuading), Harry (who they threaten to lock in the closet) and the magnificent Mrs Harris – Joanie Holloway to you and I. One phone call from Roger was all it took. She needs the cash in with her idiot rapist husband joining the Army she’s going to need the company. A woman like Joanie will always need a project.
"It cuts like only a simple unpleasant truth from a child can. What does your daddy do? He’s in advertising – he says things he doesn’t mean."
But just as his work trauma begins to work itself out, Don’s family life changes irrevocably. Roger lets it slip about Henry Francis. Don confronts Betty and they argue and it’s hella ugly. Before you know it, they sit in front of the children and tell them that he is moving out. Don does his best to put a good spin on it "I’m not going – I’m just living elsewhere” Little Sally tells him exactly how it is "That’s going! You say things and you don’t mean them and you can’t just do that ". It cuts like only a simple unpleasant truth from a child can. What does your daddy do? He’s in advertising – he says things he doesn’t mean.
Rarely has a finale crammed in so much, so skilfully without compromising character or stretching credulity. It’s a terrific way to end what has been a fine third season. Don has to use every ounce of his persuasive skills to get the new agency up and running; he has to build bridges with Roger, acknowledge Pete’s talent and finally give Peggy the respect she deserves. "What if I say no?" she says "You’ll never speak to me again". "No" he responds "I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to hire you"
Maybe there’s hope for him yet.
The best thing about it: Lane Pryce sticking it to PPL was bizarrely thrilling.
The worst thing about it: No role for Big Gay Sal?
The verdict on Mad Men Season 3 Finale: Dig the new breed.
Marks out of 10: 8.5
1 I’m no expert on branding but that sounds like the Hamilton Academicals back four. Get Peggy on it.