Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "Tomorrowland"

Season 4, Episode 13
Episode Synopsis: In the Season 4 finale, a surprising opportunity rears its head for both Don and Peggy, leaving them with life-altering decisions to make.
Original Air Date: Oct 17, 2010

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Season 4, Episode 13
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Length: 47:39
Aired: 10/17/2010
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "Tomorrowland" Season 4, Episode 13

"There is no fresh start. Lives carry on." — Henry Francis

"The truth is, they are mourning for their childhood more than they are anticipating their future." — Don Draper

Henry Francis could have just as easily uttered the old adage: The more things change the more they stay the same. At the end of a season that began with Don Draper living a brand-new life and working in a brand-new office, how much has he changed? The season-long question was "Who is Don Draper?" and although we watched Don do some serious (and sometimes ugly) soul searching, the answer he comes up with in the end seems a little too familiar.

Sure, there is growth. Don's vacation to California allows him to bring Sally and Bobby into Anna's home, merging the two half lives he'd previously lived. It was a fitting end to those chapters in his life, and now he can move on with his head out of the sand, just as Faye suggests in the episode's opening scene. But the biggest change — Don's sudden engagement to Megan — feels like a step backward rather than moving forward. While Don had the chance to pursue a relationship with Faye, who knew about his past and accepted him, Don chose Megan, a Betty 2.0 who truly has no idea about the man she is about to marry.

Don summed up the episode in his pitch to the American Cancer Society. Don's not so much looking to the future as he is trying to be happy in the present and once again protect his past. He's not the only one: Don's Hail Mary ad in The New York Times didn't win Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce a life-saving client just yet. Instead, the partners are simply pleased just to bring in new business with Topaz Pantyhose. Joan's fear that her past abortions might limit her chance to ever become a mother forces her into a pregnancy and a lie that could have catastrophic consequences. And Betty, who gets a good talking-to from pretty much every character she interacts with, seems to consider a reunion with Don, only to learn that he's moved on. In many ways, the characters are just like Tomorrowland. Disney's vision of the future was always struggling to keep ahead of the lives and times of the theme park's visitors. The future was always struggling to escape the past.

"I feel like myself when I'm with you, but the way I always wanted to feel." — Don Draper

That's not to say that Don and Megan as a couple doesn't make some sense. It's all there in the scenes with Megan and the kids. Heck, it was there when Megan scooped Sally up off the floor after she face-planted a few episodes back. Megan sings lullabies in French to baby Gene. She doesn't cry — and certainly doesn't yell — over spilled milkshakes. Don's conditioned response of anger is one programmed in him by his first marriage, but both Don and the kids are pleased to be able to breathe a sigh of relief when Megan simply wipes up the mess with a smile.

I think Don's proposal to Megan is mostly true. Sure, he has those feelings for her, and I think he can feel like he always wanted to feel with her. But I have some trouble believing that this Don is truly who he always has been. Don looked a little scared when Sally asked who Dick was, and while it was a great moment to see him overcome that fear and admit a portion of the truth to his kids, until he can be fully honest with those closest to him, he'll always be he hiding from himself.

"Just because you're sad doesn't mean everybody has to be." — Glen Bishop

Betty was particularly awful in this episode, even by her icy standards. She unceremoniously fires Carla, who let Glen say goodbye to Sally before the Francis household moves to Rye. "When did you decide that you were her mother?" Betty asks, as the audience laughs along at how ridiculously clueless Betty is. And Glen, perhaps remembering Betty pouring out her soul to him in the bank parking lot in the Season 1 finale, knows better than anyone that Betty's anger is really just a manifestation of how much she loathes her life. Betty pleads her case to Henry, who admits that no one is ever on Betty's side, because she's so clearly on the wrong side of everything.

Yet, it's still sad to see Betty lying on Sally's sheet-less bed completely alone. And in that moment, perhaps Betty thinks better of her choices. Betty is a character who reacts to everything around rather than taking action. She's not moving to Rye to get the fresh start she says she wants, she's doing it to punish Sally. She reacts to Glen's summarizing remarks by cutting Carla loose. But she clearly stuck around to be there when Don arrived. She bats her eyelashes, and tells Don how non-perfect her life is, as if he was somehow unaware. She's still ridiculous, but I think she's at least trying to have a hand in what her life will become.

And then Betty learns that whatever foolish ideas she had about perhaps crawling back to Don won't be realized because he and Megan are engaged. But Betty's response isn't anger or coldness. It is instead a gracious, and (I believe) sincere happiness. This season was supposed to be a fresh start for Betty as well, as she remarried Henry Francis. Instead she went through a bit of a freefall just like Don. If we saw Don hit bottom back in "The Suitcase," I think Betty did so tonight, but I hope that her final moment with Don is indicative of some sort of growth in her to be more fully explored in Season 5.

"That's bulls---!" — Peggy Olson

Peggy's hilarious conversation with Joan after learning of Don and Megan's engagement could serve as an enactment of how the women's movement started. Joan bemoans her promotion with no raise while Peggy groans about Don's engagement overshadowing her landing a client worth a quarter million dollars the first new business in 10 weeks!

Don doesn't yell at Peggy, but his words to her after the engagement announcement might be as cruel as any he's ever said. Sure, he's already made it clear that there won't be romance between the two of them, but did he really need to compare Megan and Peggy? "She reminds me of you. Has the same spark," he says.

Peggy has come into her own as a creative mind, pitching the Topaz clients on the spot, and nailing the campaign with minimal effort. Not that it will make any difference to the men "between marriages," but I believe Peggy will certainly continue to come into her own as an empowered woman. And I can't wait to watch it.

Joan, meanwhile, proved my intuition correct, opting not to go through with the abortion. After all the attention paid earlier this season to the health risks of having had several procedures years ago, I think Joan saw this pregnancy as a last chance to be the mother she clearly wants to be. She's taken Roger's suggestion to fudge the math a little bit and hope that Greg doesn't notice. But the bigger bombshell will be dropped on Roger, who thought this little situation was nipped in the bud.

"I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things." — Faye Miller

I am certain this episode and especially Don and Megan's sudden engagement will divide viewers of the show. (I imagine many people yelling, as Dr. Faye did, "Are you kidding me?") But I think the show set the development up pretty well, so I can buy it, if for no other reason than the relationship should feel as jarring to the audience as it does to Don and Megan's coworkers (and even Don and Megan themselves). And maybe Don's search for himself doesn't matter. As Cara Buono told me in a recent interview, perhaps the answer to who Don is now isn't tied up in who he was before. He certainly responded to Megan when she said, "I know who you are now."

Then again, Faye summarized Don and perhaps Mad Men in one sentence. Fresh starts are fun and exciting, but as the characters often prove, they soon fizzle into more problems. Starting over doesn't necessarily bring change; it's simply a recognition of the need for change. Season 5 will no doubt be a fresh start once again for many of these characters: Joan will probably be a mother, Betty will be in Rye and Don will be married.

But as Don looks out the window in Season 4's final shot, it seems pretty clear to me that he's perhaps already gotten over the shiny new excitement of his relationship with Megan. And it saddens me a little bit. He came so close to real change, only to fall short by his own choosing. He may be starting over, but the path he has chosen is anything but fresh.

A few other thoughts:

• Harry Crane hasn't had a lot to do this season, but he's taken his nuggets and made them awesome. His flirting with the Topaz model was hilarious. (See also: Harry yelling during the extraction of Miss Blankenship's corpse from the office with the aid of his afghan: "My mother made that!")

• Who else can't wait for Roger to bust Don's chops for marrying a secretary after all the crap Don gave Roger when he shacked up with Jane? Also, I guess Roger's suicide watch can go on hold for now, as with Joan's reveal tonight, there will be plenty of meaty things for Roger to play next season.

• The line about Megan's teeth was funnier than it should have been. Sorry, but Jessica Pare has some choppers.

• The image of Don Draper doing a cannonball is something I never expected to see.

• I thought when the discussion of Cosgrove's in-laws came up we'd surely get to see more of the excellent Ray Wise. Alas, that's not the case for now, but it was also an interesting new line drawn between Pete and Ken. Pete has no problem using his family advantages to get ahead, while Ken won't ruin his "real life" to make his work life easier.

• Have we really seen the last of Bert Cooper? And where was Stan? I know they fired a lot of people, but I thought he made the cut? From the looks of the office, SCDP could just as easily move back into a hotel suite to do their business.

What did you think of the episode and the season?

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"There is no fresh start. Lives carry on." — Henry Francis

"The truth is, they are mourning for their childhood more than they are anticipating their future." — Don Draper

Henry Francis could have just as easily uttered the old adage: The more things change the more they stay the same. At the end of a season that began with Don Draper living a brand-new life and working in a brand-new office, how much has he changed? The season-long question was "Who is Don Draper?" and although we watched Don do some serious (and sometimes ugly) soul searching, the answer he comes up with in the end seems a little too familiar.

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Premiered: July 19, 2007, on AMC
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