Was the Hershey’s Meeting Don Draper’s First Step to Redemption?

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
June 24 2013 4:24 PM

Don’s Breakthrough

Did the Hershey’s meeting set Don Draper on the road to redemption?

Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men

Courtesy of Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

Slate’s Mad Men “TV Club” writers Hanna Rosin and Seth Stevenson were on Facebook on Monday to chat with readers about the Season 6 finale. The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Seth Stevenson: How did everyone feel about the final episode?

Johanna Humphrey: I don't know if it was just the music at the end (Matthew Weiner uses the closing music in very interesting ways) or that I was expecting all season for someone to die, but I feel like next season will be redemptive. The closing shot of Don coming to grips with his past might be signaling a reversal of this season, where we saw him sliding deeper and deeper into the abyss. It might not be a happy ending, but I imagine we'll see a different Don next year. (I've said this before—and was wrong.)

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Hanna Rosin: I'm with you, Johanna. Anyway, how much lower can he go? The trick will be to make a clean, open Don still feel like Don. Maybe the harder trick will be to make him still interesting.

Seth Stevenson: Me three. I think viewers couldn't have taken watching Don take another spin on the wheel of suffering. It was time for some evolution. I'm OK with a sobered-up Don in Season 7. Let's have Peggy spiral out of control!

_______________________

Cathy Pike Maynard: I had to watch it twice to absorb it. I thought it was one of the best-written to date. I think it's Jon Hamm's time to win an Emmy.

Hanna Rosin: What was your favorite scene?

Cathy Pike Maynard: My favorite scene was the last shot of him showing the kids where he grew up.

Hanna Rosin: I loved that scene, too. The house was over-the-top, but it was also beautiful. I really bought that scene.

Andrea Serna: I also watched it twice. I loved the closing scene. It gave me hope for Sally.

Seth Stevenson: Yes, I found myself surprisingly moved by the look that Sally and Don exchanged. You could sense their relationship becoming stronger as it overcomes Don's mistakes. And Sally might have realized some of the privileges she takes for granted.

Monica Chiaramonte: I think with this final scene all the flashbacks during the season (hated by so many, not by me though) made sense and made this last scene even more powerful.

_______________________

Sam Perez: SPOILER ALERT! The scene right after Don receives his forced hiatus, we see Peggy in an office. She sits with her back to the camera but facing the windows. Was I the only one who thought we were about to get a flash of Don falling to his doom?

Hanna Rosin: Brilliant! Morbid! It didn't cross my mind, but maybe that's what was being hinted at.

Scott Brannon: Yeah, I was waiting for that to happen as well. Scary.

Seth Stevenson: Now that would have spurred some water-cooler talk! I did feel Peggy's commandeering Don's desk chair—suddenly wearing pants, no less—was a bit heavy handed. I half expected her to find Don's wingtips under the desk and slip them on.

Hanna Rosin: You are all leading me to believe that Peggy will carry next season—Peggy as Don, icy cool, brilliant, hiding secrets of her own. Very “end of men.”

Seth Stevenson: Yes! I vote for a Season 7 with a reformed, optimistic Don and a Peggy who is at the top of her game careerwise but loses control of her personal life. I want Peggy commanding the conference room, then clocking out to do some boozing and to break some hearts.

_______________________

Cathy Pike Maynard: I loved it when he shook hands with the Hershey’s reps and told them that he may never have a chance to meet them again. He wanted to come clean, even to them. I thought it was so poignant.

Seth Stevenson: He couldn't lie to representatives of the product that was the only thing that could make him feel "like a normal kid"—the "only sweet thing in his life." He couldn't spoil it. He doesn't even want them to grubby it up with advertising.

Hanna Rosin: Agree that's what was so moving about that scene, how a Hershey's chocolate bar was genuinely critical to his well being, his sense of childhood and normalcy.

Jeremy Stahl: Watching that boardroom scene, I felt like it was kind of too melodramatic, too over-the-top, and too cringeworthy. But maybe that was the point, though?

Hanna Rosin: I liked it because it took me so much by surprise. It was the way he never changed his posture or expression that moved me. It was also that we have been waiting for this release all season, as he's nearly lost it at board meetings in nearly every episode. And in some ways we've been waiting for this public reveal for the whole of the series. The one problem is: I think the show's writers are more enchanted with Don's rise and fall than the audience is. Am I right?

Laine Doss: I like Don when he's at his oily best. A humble, sober Don? Meh.

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