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The Best of the Mad Men Recap Reader Comments: ‘In Care Of’

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) - Mad Men
Photo: Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

In his last Mad Men recap of the season, Matt Zoller Seitz called six the “weakest season,” but dubbed the show overall  “consistently surprising, clever, intelligent and mostly fair-minded,” a drama that is “genuinely interested in the construction of the human personality in all its contradictions, and in the ways that history does and doesn’t affect the individual lives that pass through it.” He questioned our ability to judge any of the characters in the Weiner-verse, and decided he “wouldn’t have minded if they’d killed off Don,” and refocused Peggy as the protagonist. As usual, you took to the comment section to obsessively scrutinize “TV’s most obsessively scrutinized drama.” Here’s what you had to say about “In Care Of.”

You condemned not-so-nice-guy Ted Chaough …

“I find [MZS’s] response to Ted unbelievable. He is clearly the most selfish person this series has ever seen. (Also more needy and a bigger PIA). Here’s hoping that Peggy steals his job … and he ends up parking cars in LA … As [MZS] said, I need to give it a few days but just take the final partner’s scene. Don sacrificed (for reasons good, bad or indifferent) his marriage by agreeing that Ted could go to California. Ted sleeps with Peggy, realizes he is a worm and in over his head, and begs Don to rescue him and then to paraphrase one of the partners … ‘Don’t worry Ted feels he can order Peggy about from California and make you completely superfluous.’ This behavior makes Bob with the stick shift look positively beatific.” —Commenter randomx6

“[Ted]’s been repeatedly established as being far less creatively talented than Don (or Peggy). Ever since the merger, he’s been incredibly territorial. A few weeks back, he was convinced Don was engaged in some high-level pissing contest with him, when Don, was, in fact, completely preoccupied by his affair with Sylvia. Last week’s episode was about how Don and Ted are infants, with Don literally becoming the baby in the recreation of Peggy’s ad, and Ted throwing his tantrum about how he wanted his juice. At every instance, Ted has demonstrated himself to be petty, self-absorbed, childish and kind of stupid. I think his whole character was established in the ketchup episode, when Ted came in and pitched an ad that was everything Don believed the campaign shouldn’t be.” —Commenter DJF881

“Ted is not a nice guy. Or rather, he’s not a good guy. He can be “nice” when he wants something but I don’t think he’s that good of a person. As for what his excuse is, he’s the adult child of an alcoholic, maybe? Don’s the alcoholic and Ted is what you get when you grow up with Don as a father.” —Commenter fightingirish

… but finally managed to rally hope for Don. 

“I’m surprised by how little sympathy Don gets from viewers. We may not like the way he treats people, but I think the show has tried very hard to make the case that Don is Don through no fault of his own. His relationship to his past and how that affects those around him has been The Whole Point since the beginning and I’m surprised that so many people seem to no longer be “invested” in that story line. That, to me, has always been the real stuff of Mad Men, annoying flashbacks to the brothel notwithstanding.” —Commenter Classicist

“I saw the California thing as an example of Don’s go-to reflex when thing’s get tough. His first inclination is to run; to adopt somebody else’s dream. He essentially usurped Stan’s vision, dream & idea when he decided he wanted to run & escape to California. The most poignant decision this season was his decision to stop running — from everything. Giving up California wasn’t to be cruel, but the decision of a man to stop running & hiding behind other people’s dreams & to break the cycle & accept himself & his past.” —Commenter mm3 

“Yes! He looked at Ted, sick with the urge to run, and realized he didn’t want to do it anymore. I also loved that he refused to corrupt his one sweet association from childhood. I have hope for Dick Whitman!” —Commenter banga

*”I thought the final scene was incredibly moving. The whole episode was about parents and children. Don’s realized (and I don’t think it was one single moment of clarity — more like a string of smaller ones) he didn’t want his children to be as miserable as he was/is.” —Commenter mblankman

You engaged in a nuanced discussion of race …

“For those keeping score, that’s now twice this season they used a black person to symbolize the potential sinister nature of Don’s background to his children. I mean really.” —Commenter Classicist

“In this case, I really didn’t read that as ‘sinister.’ The kid’s presence read more as a symbol of the underprivileged and the ‘othered’ — Don’s past as an outsider, as someone unwanted, pushed to the side, almost invisible.” —Commenter AgentNoun

“The kid wasn’t supposed to seem sinister, but his inclusion in a scene where we’re supposed to believe his kids, or at least Sally, come to realize that their father may have a shitty background is, I think, problematic, especially when you consider the show’s weird relationship with race.” —Commenter Classicist

“A lot of white working class neighborhoods became black ghettos in the wake of the Great Migration. The white residents of the areas left either because they benefited from the post-war boom and could move to better areas or because they ceded the land to the influx of black people who moved into the neighborhoods. They stayed that way for decades until today’s current gentrification/whitewash trend in which affluent whites came back to the areas and started pushing the poorer residents out. Harlem is a huge example of this. The kid wasn’t supposed to be sinister so much as a representative of residential trends in America’s cities/towns.” —Commenter HollowayNotHarris

… and appreciated some of the more subtle elements of humor. 

—“I loved the last twist of Don essentially being fired, which almost played like one of those ‘what would REALLY happen’ type of comedy sketches, poking a huge hole in the ‘everyone puts up with the genius’s reckless antics because he’s he’s a genius who’s great at his job!’ cliche. He tells Hershey’s he only ever got their chocolate when a prostitute he grew up with gave him one, and he’s SURPRISED this is problematic for the agency? The only reason this comes as any kind of surprise is because we’ve been conditioned to expect he could get away with anything by now.” —Commenter KrisPigna

“Just want to point out that Cutler is a habitual perfume identifier. Amazing character quirk. At some point, I believe on the morning of the merger, a secretary walks by and he stops, sniffs, and says ‘Shalimar?’ Too funny.” —Commenter elscorcho

You decided Vincent Kartheiser deserves an Emmy …

“I know I’m not the first or only person to comment on this, but it really is time for Vincent Kartheiser to get that Emmy nomination. He killed it in all of his scenes last night — the elevator ride, the phone call with the investigator, the shot in his daughter’s bedroom. I’ve never been a huge Pete fan, but I found myself completely engaged any time he was in the story this season. Looking back, the showdown in Bob’s office and the dinner scene with Peggy were my two favorite scenes of the whole season. (And that tumble down the stairs! Priceless.)” —Commenter somenights 

“Give Kartheiser an Emmy just for his delivery of ‘Not great, Bob!’ I loved it more than anything else this season.” —Commenter rainydaywoman

“I’ve now watched ‘Not great, Bob!’ about a hundred times. Each time is funnier than the last.” —Commenter thatsnotthatmuchcheese

“Vincent K has been so undervalued in the awards for so long. I’ve also never been a huge Pete fan, but when you really look over Pete’s arc, his dedication and ability has been astounding. Especially, when you catch a glimpse of Pete back when he was just a young accounts snot with a head full of hair.” —Commenter Davissa

“Pete is so flawed. And yet, I always want his life to get better. Great work Vince Kartheiser.” —Commenter cookiedibbs

… and made some interesting future predictions. 

“Unlikely Season Seven Scenario #417: Paul Kinsey, having regrouped after his stint with Harry Krishna and unsuccessful foray into spec TV script writing, gets back into the ad game and joins SC&P’s Los Angeles Office.” —Commenter seanlaw81

“Also on the foreshadowing front: Don was wiped out of the company name … I have a sneaking suspicion we’ve seen Don’s last day as an ad man which would be tragic for his odds as the guy to fall out of a window.” —Commenter LikeJordan45

* “I thought Peggy’s last scene where she’s sitting in Don’s chair was some major foreshadowing. She’s been climbing up the ladder rung by rung. Now Don and Ted are both gone. And after the Ted incident, I could see her having a “no more Mr. Nice Guy” attitude. I bet she’ll be the new creative director (and maybe a partner?).” - Commenter becks13

* “Both of Peggy’s mentors are gone and she’s wearing pants. It’s time for her to show the agency and Madison Avenue what she can really do. Here’s to Peggy owning everyone in Season 7.” - Commenter HollowayNotHarris

The Best of the Mad Men Recap Reader Comments