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In the season three finale, Don recruits Peggy to his new firm by telling her why she's such a good copywriter. She understands how America wants to feel whole:
"I see you as an extension of myself... Because there are people out there who buy things, people like you and me. Then something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that. But you do. And that's very valuable."
Roger Sterling, walking out of his father's advertising agency in December of 1963, wonders: "How long do you think it'll take us to be in a place like this again?" Do you want to tell him, or should I?
It's bold of Man Men to jettison the institutions—Sterling Cooper and the Draper marriage—that have thus far defined it; a question for Season Four is how these people will act, cut loose from the roles they'd previously been pressured to fit.
The cute getting-the-band-back-together contrivance of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is Matthew Weiner's attempt at making major changes without completely recasting a TV show with popular characters. (Hell, even I hope we haven't seen the last of Kinsey, Cosgrove and Hildy.) So it's hardly the case that Betty will ever be able to say, of Don, that she hasn't seen him in years.
But still. In a widely circulated interview shortly after this season finale, Matthew Weiner responded to some internet chatter:
It's so unambiguous to me that this marriage is over, but the audience seems to cling to the idea that they should be together because we want to believe in those things.
Mad Men is a show good enough to sell its viewers on the idea that we really can "travel the way a child travels: around and around, and back home again"; and it's a show good enough to acknowledge the sales job.
It's not really the case that the Draper marriage is something worth saving, any more than the sexist, anti-egalitarian but familiar Sterling Cooper is; still, it's not just Sally Draper who wishes that this closed-off philanderer and daddy's girl and resentful mother could learn (relearn?) to be happy together, all evidence to the contrary.
One of the many traumas of divorce is the way it compromises memories—puts us, somehow, on the other side of ours. Which, of course, we are.
Alice Munro's greatest story, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," concerns a long marriage, happy and sustained despite all the infidelities, evolutions and reinventions that challenge couples in Alice Munro stories. And then, just when this elderly couple is ready to settle down and stop transforming, the wife begins to lose her memory, forsaking her forgotten husband for a new crush at the nursing home. We spend our lives trudging ever forward—and finally, the other side of the mountain is all that we can see.