My feelings on Mad Men’s season six finale ‘In Care Of’ very neatly summarise my impression of season 6 as a whole. There are moments of brilliance, and the show still manages to be effectively unpredictable, but as a whole there feels as though too much is happening; it all feels a little messy and the episode ends up feeling less significant than the sum of its parts. However the final scene of the season goes a long way to taking a highly turbulent season that takes place at a confused and violent time period of the 60s and effectively centring all that craziness around Don.
*SPOILERS* (All my reviews have spoilers but these are more potent)
I feel like I enjoyed this episode a lot less than most of Mad Men fandom. Some people have compared it (with knowing exaggeration) to the Games of Thrones’s Red Wedding in terms of the shocks it delivers, but for the most part the episode didn’t really hit me on an emotional level. The episode felt disjointed and lacked the seamless integration of plot lines that memorable Mad Men episodes share. The episode had no streamline momentum; each storyline peaked at different points, some ended there, some puttered on and in the meantime Peggy has a dead rat in her apartment.
The ubiquity of drug use has run rampart this season. Sure it relates to its prevalence in America circa 1968, but it also underlines this season’s – and 1968’s – tackling of chaos and waywardness and the futile attempts to manage it. This theme has been well managed by this season, but by its very nature, it leads to episodes and characterisations that don’t really amount to much. Now Mad Men has never focused heavily on driving forward narrative arcs, but by the end of each episode we should get a better sense of these characters, who they are and what they want. What we get in this episode is two very enjoyable story lines that don’t really amount to much and a couple of less interesting side tales of office politics.
I was a little late to this episode, due to an avalanche of uni assessments that I left as late as possible to start tackling. A few day after it aired (in the US), I saw on my Facebook newsfeed (not naming anyone……SUE!) ‘Ugh.. Don and Betty. Yuck. And why!?’. My first thought was, ‘cool, someone who watches Mad Men’. My second thought was ‘Wait…..What????!!!!!’. So my whole viewing experience came down to waiting for that moment. It was to the show’s credit that it didn’t really feel like a big deal, or even a major faux pas for Don, who I think we all gave up on seasons ago, in the fidelity department. And for whatever their relationship lacked, Don and Betty always valued their sex life.