It finally clicked with Don, as he listened to Leonard's refrigerator story, that he himself was a product, whose shelf life had expired yet again. It's why he broke down.
But the master of reinvention and moving forward did it one last time. This one took some doing. He had to dig deeper than ever to figure out what it looked like.
But he did, and the hobo moved on.
We didn't see his last great pitch, one that he could live the rest of his professional life on, but it was as much about selling himself back to his employer as it was selling Coke.
It was finding some new bandages to cover his permanent wounds. What is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness.
And in his meditation, Don wasn't searching for happiness or peace. He was searching for another Kodak Carousel, another Lucky Strike.
He found it.
At least for now. Even though his professional life is set, Don will always be personally adrift. Searching. Wandering. Falling, and rising.
The chief secondary character on this show was always Peggy, who found love at work, because the two things have always been inseparable for her.
I'd like to hear from women as to how Peggy's story wound up. Were you satisfied with that ending? And Joan's?
I wish I had found a better handle on how to write about the women of Mad Men. I do feel, though, that Betty's character suffered the cruelest fate. Her character was hardly the most consistently written, either.
I've gone back and forth over the years on January Jones' performance in the role, and I've settled on the thought that sometimes it was very good, and sometimes it was less than. But her "I know," to Don on the phone? The best. Just the best.
As you can see on my site, I stopped recapping Mad Men weekly a while ago. I found that I enjoyed the show much more when I could just watch and be entertained, and had days to think about each episode, rather than fishing for clicks and cranking out a Monday morning recap.
I greatly envy folks like Alan Sepinwall and Molly Lambert, whose Mad Men reviews I've read religiously over the years. Their ability to figure out the point of each episode dazzled me, particularly when the show shifted from a traditionally straightforward narrative to something more artful and abstract. Thank you to them for their work.
I've always said that this show was about the fall of Don Draper.
I was almost right.
It was about the fall and rise, fall and rise, fall and rise of Don Draper.
Cheers to my favorite show.