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Cable Television Rundown: Mad Season (In Reference To The Show, Not The Band, Good Reference, Though)

Hi Don. I messed up.

A year ago around this time, I prematurely labeled season three of Mad Men a bust. I complained about the fact that Don and Betty's at-the-time-unborn new child was a lame plot thread; instead, baby Gene's birth was a somewhat minor but poignant plot point when he was named as such after Betty's father with the same name passed away. I totally misread thinking that Don was going to go off on his own business; instead, the workplace drama that I so enjoyed was simply increased by the addition of the new British ownership. (And, we got some hilariously dark moments out of the Brits, most notably from the episode "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" in which the British character Guy walks his foot into a lawnmower.) And, Peggy and Pete's secret baby was not addressed a single time throughout the season. Clearly, showrunner Matthew Weiner knows what he's doing. For that, I apologize for my premature backlash.

So, last night's season three finale, "Shut the Door. Have a Seat" pretty much proved me wrong in every point. The work-related drama was at its finest, with many "Shut the door, have a seat" type of conversations going down. PPL, the company that purchased Sterling Cooper at the end of last season, was selling the advertising agency again, which led to a lot of intriguing work-related conversations. Don and Roger went on a reconnaissance mission to swoop up as many of their preferable employees as possible (Pete, Peggy, and Harry, plus the return of Joan!) The new-fangled firm that got set up in Don's hotel room, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, is now quite the plucky, fun firm to root for. In a season with the main theme being "change", the change from a high-flying swanky office setting to a very Michael Scott Paper Company-like makeshift office fits right in with those themes. So, the workplace drama that I so love got even better.

But the real kicker in this episode was Don in the dark with Betty after he inadvertently learned of her relationship with influential figure Henry Francis. After seeing Don's memories of how his father really died (death by horse spooking?), and feeling perhaps a smidgen of sympathy for the guy, Don comes into their bedroom, drunk, and calls Betty a whore. My jaw literally dropped. I teared up a little. Yes, this whole season we saw what a hypocritical jerk Don could really be, and yet he still gets the upper hand (somewhat) when it comes to what truly breaks their marriage apart. Truly heartbreaking. Okay, Mad Men...you win in domestic drama this season, too.

I could go on forever about the subtext of the gender politics between Don, Betty and Henry Francis, or between Don and Peggy, or Roger and Joan, or Joan and her husband, but there are other places on the interweb that do that much, much better. And I could go on and on about the well-constructed season long arc that culminated in the most orderly finale that could possibly occur: the breakdown of Sterling Cooper and the breakdown of Don and Betty's marriage, but other places on the interweb do that much, much better, too.

Instead, I will simply give season three of Mad Men the respect it deserves by saying, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Mad Men. I promise that the fourth season will be just as good, if not better, than the third season. Now, can it be Summer of 2010 already?

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  1. Blogger chris | 10:23 AM |  

    Haha Mad Season! Good reference fo sho!

    My favorite part of last night's finale has to be Peggy's reaction to Don's "pack your bags, you're coming with us" mentality. I am very excited to see what happens with her character next season.

    Mad Men now ranks, for me, up there with The Wire and Twin Peaks.

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