“Mad Men”: Episode 13, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”

Yowza. The only thing missing from “Mad Men’s” season finale was the theme from “Rocky.”

We were treated to the sight of Don Draper getting off the ropes, finally, after getting a big injection of his old smooth-but-smoldering fire back as he fights back and plots the course for the rest of his life. I’m guessing this episode, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat,” will be popular with the fans, but crix may carp that it was a little too “Dallas” in terms of the tidy storytelling. The seg penned by Erin Levy and Matthew Weiner and helmed by Weiner (as he did for the previous season closers) seemed to offer much more in the way of conclusions and set a deliberate course for next season than past “Mad Men” finales. But I’m in the fan camp and can’t complain. The lighter moments sprinkled throughout the episode offset some of the on-the-nose plot points – All in all, I loved this season. Sorry to see it end.

This episode was monumental for Don, natch. What the JFK assassination was to Betty, the jolt of  McCann-Erickson buying Putnam, Powell and Lowe (and Sterling Cooper) was to Don. (I kept thinking about Albert Brooks in “Lost in America,” telling anyone who’ll listen that he’s a senior vice president at M-E.) All the hard knocks and hard lessons learned of the season came to a head in fueling his single-minded determination not to become a cog at what he considers “a sausage factory.” It’s also made clear by the flashbacks to his boyhood with his hot-headed father that he wants to do everything he can to avoid being beaten down by life, to literally getting killed by a kick in the head from a horse.

By the end of this episode, as Don moves into his new apartment, you realize that for the first time in years he’s really making a fundamental change in his life. He’s (mostly) let go of the ruse of Don Draper, he’s letting go of his idyllic vision of the wife and family, even at the great cost of hurting his older children, and he’s starting to actually think about how he treats other people.

From the start of this season, Don was backsliding into his old patterns of fooling around in varying degrees (the one-night stand with the stewardess, the deeper entanglement with Suzanne) and keeping everyone around him at arm’s length. I thought it was interesting that we didn’t see Don running back to Suzanne, or into another’s arms even though nothing’s really stopping him. He’s pouring everything he’s got into the new venture. As he told Bert, “I’m sick of being batted around like a ping pong ball. I want to work. I want to build something myself.”

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  1. Lee says:

    So true, Cynthia, about the platonic love that Don and Peggy share. It’s almost, for lack of a better word, Pure.
    What . . . utter . . . crap! This is taking the relationship between Peggy and Don a bit too far. It’s PURE? Give me a break!

  2. Rosie says:

    “Betty wasn’t too big of a factor overall in this seg. But the more I think about it the more I’m thinking that her relationship with Henry “I’ll take care of you” Francis is pretty unhealthy. How much time have these two actually spent together?”
    Human beings will never change. I’m not talking about Betty Draper. I’m talking about you and the above comment. You’re actually going to judge a relationship even before it really starts, based upon the fact that Betty has not known Henry very long? Do you honestly think you can judge how a relationship is going to last based upon how long a couple has known each other before exchanging wedding rings, let alone becoming romantically involved? Are you really that arrogant?
    Don’t you realize that there is no requisite on what makes a relationship last? Or did you make that so-called observation about Betty’s relationship with Henry, based upon your dislike of her?

  3. Terra says:

    Yes, the bedroom stuff was getting too much. Aren’t there other ways to explore characters without so much sex? (it was getting to be part of every scene — too sex cluttered)
    I am wishing there were an episode of JUST Don’s childhood life — like a significant moment in time in its entirety.
    Henry is too good to be true.
    The women on this show are oftentimes more interesting and complex characters than the men. I like that.

  4. Policy Wonk says:

    Significance of Mad Men to television dominated by forumulaic forensic supernatural extravaganzas?

  5. Paul Jefferson says:

    So true, Cynthia, about the platonic love that Don and Peggy share. It’s almost, for lack of a better word, Pure. Fellow posters have often wondered if they will ever get together as a couple…I hope not…but it would dynamite to see a conversational scene between them where it comes close…That would be acting!

  6. pete says:

    Last two episode were excellent. They’re right back on target again. Taut. Well-paced. A good balance of personal drama (not soap) and business. My only concern with next season is if they hop ahead two years. I want to experience the immediacy of this bold step the characters are taking. I agree, the business side is the most fascinating to me, too, since it’s so nuanced with the period. Don’t put all of this in occasional flashbacks, please.

  7. Alison Woo says:

    Just when you think you suspect how it will end, the show proves again why it IS the best show on television.
    It was so interesting to see Don have to reevaluate his relationship and say what needed to be said to Roger, Peggy and Pete. They want his respect. He had to give it to them and hopefully, he will value relationships from this point forward.
    Thank goodness Joan has returned.
    The series is now set up to go into a new and very bold direction for Season 4. And seeing how all the parts wove together for a deft fabric makes me want to see it all again from the first episode.
    Bravo, Mad Men! You are spectacular! And thank you Cynthia Littleton. Your review is the one I look for most!

  8. Greg says:

    Awesome episode! Maybe I’m in the minority, but I greatly prefer the business end of this show to the bedroom drama.

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