I was going to make a joke about Mad Men having its own “Red Wedding” (the shocking massacre of several lead characters in Game of Thrones) but Mad Men actually gave us their version of it Sunday night with “Favors.” Sally walking in on Don doing the naughty with the neighbor — well, like the Red Wedding, there’s no coming back from that. There’s no reset button that fixes this.
By the time Mad Men finishes its final season, we may end it absolutely loathing Don Draper, and at some point his name will become a verb for something nasty.
We probably saw two examples of some of the best acting on television too — Don and Sally showing us the utter desolation of their souls and the total destruction of a daughter’s trust in her father. We’ve known all along that Don was a s–t — but this was flinging it on the wall and leaving it there, where the stain won’t wash off.
More than anything else, this season seems to be about Don’s death wish. He certainly kills every relationship he’s ever had, with wives, paramours and business partners… and now his own daughter.
Sometimes the show hits us over the head with its symbolism, but “Favors” actually had justification this time. The mortally-wounded rat caught in the trap in Peggy’s apartment was the perfect parallel to the mortally-wounded Don caught in his own trap by his little girl. And like the rat, there was the brilliant moment where Don literally did not know which way to go, as he paced back and forth in his building’s lobby, unable to decide whether or not to run after Sally when she fled.
If there have been any missteps this season, this week’s episode made up for them.