‘Mad Men’ Director on Don’s Future, Joan’s Romance and Glen’s Return (SPOILERS)

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Image Courtesy of Justina Mintz/AMC

Spoiler alert: Do not read unless you’ve watched “The Forecast” episode of “Mad Men.” 

Sunday night’s episode of “Mad Men,” titled “The Forecast,” saw the characters contemplating the future, for better and for worse. The episode’s director, Jennifer Getzinger, talked to Variety about the roller-coaster ride that entailed for Don Draper, who perhaps didn’t like what he saw; Joan, whose L.A. fling may have turned into a lasting romance; and memorably Glen, whose return reminded us that Betty is still, well, Betty.

What would you say is the theme of the episode?

It’s about the future. But what I love about it was while everyone was talking about the future — Sally saying “I’m sick of people asking me what I want to do when I grow up,” Don having to write the speech, Richard and Joan, a lot of that became about their future — it sounds like a simple theme, but yet everyone’s idea about it was so different. And you realize there is no answer. Everyone has different dreams. So Don is sitting there looking at all of it — does any of that lead to happiness? Is any of that the answer? That’s a huge question. What does it matter? To me, it’s about that. How can you even move forward toward the future when you don’t have any idea what that path looks like, what it’s supposed to look like, or how that’s going to lead to happiness or contentment or peace?

That seems ominous heading into the final four episodes.

Yes, but I think it makes sense. It needs to be that. It feels like there is this moment. The show is coming to an end. Everyone watching it is wondering, what are their futures? Where is all this going? It was nice to let all the characters question it themselves. And now we’ll see the rest of it play out. 

The assignment of writing the speech — combined with the Realtor’s inability to sell his apartment — seemed to send Don off the rails.

It was the most casual thing — can you just write this thing. He could have just written the most cliched thing. But where he is in his life, the idea of the future of what’s next is so daunting to him.

And then there’s Betty, who proves yet again she’s not the best of mothers — choosing to stay and talk to Glen, rather than comfort her daughter.

I never think she’s a terrible mother. She doesn’t understand Sally. She’s not capable of comforting her. Her big dramatic explosion, Betty just thinks here’s this little girl who’s having a tantrum. She discounts her a lot more than she should.

Were you glad you were able to bring back Glen?

I was really glad that we found a way. He’s been such an odd character. He would go away and disappear. I love that he and Sally have stayed in touch. It reinforced the strange relationship she has with her mother. For Glen to come back was a nice way to show it. It also shows that she’s growing up, that he’s growing up and going to war. It’s showing all the changes that have happened — they’re not these awkward kids anymore. It’s kind of sad for Betty to show that she hasn’t changed or grown very much because she enjoyed his attentions more than she should have. The kids have grown and changed, but she hasn’t. She’s really just remained the same.

At least she turned her cheek.

She almost wanted to (kiss him) or made him think she was going to. It was a bit of a flirty thing going on there.

At least Sally didn’t see it, though she does throw it back at Don later with that great “ooze” line.

She saw enough when her mother was clearly flirting with him. Just even watching that was enough for her to be clearly disgusted.

Talk about the arc that Sally has been on. It’s transformative.

It’s amazing what her journey has been. She’s come a long way. I love that scene in the bus terminal when she stands up to Don. She does it in a way when she’s not screaming at him like a petulant child. She’s just saying to him in a matter of fact way, I just want to be done with you two. It’s really interesting the strength that just grown in her. It is just beautiful.

That leads up to their great father/daughter exchange, when he tells her, “We’re a part of you, and you’re a beautiful girl. It’s up to you to do something greater with it.” 

I love that line to her. She just called him out in a very real way. Basically saying, “You and mom are both superficial.” That’s the worst thing a kid can say. “All I want is to not be you.” It’s so hard to hear that. What he says back to her is an important thing for her to remember. That’s actually really good fatherly advice: “You have to be more than that.” It sounds so simple. That’s a big deal. I felt like wow, Don was actually a good father in that moment. Every once in a while, he can pull it off. Betty almost never gets there, but Don can.

Sally’s off now on a teen tour. Is that the last we’ll see of her?

I don’t know. I didn’t read any of the scripts after mine. I purposely didn’t want to know. I can’t keep a secret for an entire year! I want to watch it the way viewers watch it. I don’t know what happens next.

Moving on to Joan. Why did she lie about not having a son when she first met Richard?

I think the big thing with the lie was it had to be as simple as it could be. She had to decide she was telling him it and I’m just going to keep talking. She doesn’t labor over it. “We’re just having this fling, and I’m just going to enjoy it. I know if I say it, after everything he just said, it would change it.” I love that later, when Richard says, this could be potentially more than just a fling, he’s right. Christina is such a lovely actress and she and Bruce created a wonderful chemistry that was sexy, playful right from the start. It’s not easy to create that kind of connection so quickly. Christina sparkles in so many great moments in this episode. It’s a much more positive storyline for Joan than we’ve seen in a while, which is nice.

Yet she throws back at the babysitter — and essentially her son — that line, “You’re ruining my life.”

I don’t think it’s anything more than an emotional outburst that comes out in the moment. I love when she talks to Richard, she’s like” OK, then I’ll give up my son.” Either you’re on board or you’re not. She was being totally sarcastic.

Is there hope for them?

I think there is. I honestly don’t know. But I think there is. I felt at the end this might really happen. He’s stepping up for her in a way that nobody has in a really long time, if ever. Roger couldn’t — it’s his kid, and he couldn’t do it. Even though it was a subtle and tentative commitment, it was real.

And then there’s Peggy, who keeps going to Don for affirmation, and never getting it.

It’s so true! We all do that. She so needs that from him, but he’s at a stage (where he can’t give it). That’s exactly what he would have said when he was young. He treats it like it’s nothing. But she also just has become so strong. There are some good things about her relationship with Don. It’s not just about him s—ting on her. Certainly in this episode, with that evaluation. But they’re almost brother and sister. They’re kindred spirits. There’s definitely a connection. They understand each other in a deep way, even if they do have these battles.

Once again, the episode ends with Don all alone.

That’s what his life is these days. His empty apartment. Pushing Peggy away. He’s shedding his old skin. He’s more alone than we’ve ever seen him.

The song, “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” was a haunting note to end on.

Matt (Weiner) picked it. He’s so great with songs. The sound and tempo fit so perfectly with the mood of the shot. The song had such a beautiful sadness to it. It’s this sad goodbye — selling his apartment, moving on from this chapter of his life. Here he is alone in the hallway. What is he going to get, another apartment on the lower east side, like he did before? Start calling call girls? Where is he going to go from here?

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  1. kathleen Slater- Brownsword says:

    Hi, i have just watched the season7DVD final,so disappointed, I don’t think that Don would have been the type to end up in a retreat chanting OM,his character has been ruined n this final, he would have returned to his children, he would not have wanted them to be lost like he was, a very poor lazy end to a brilliant series,I wanted to cry! please bring back more exciting episodes.

  2. Lonna Saunders says:

    Error in story. Don says when he is having dinner with Sally’s friends that his apartment is on the Upper East Side. In this story, it says LOWER East.

    • Peter Dicuartano says:

      I think that Don had a place on the Lower East side after he and Betty had divorced. The director was wondering if he was going to go back to that part of town (and his previous behaviors) now that he’s moving away from the Upper East side apartment where he lived with Megan.

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