Mad Men Sunday is finally here! As we look forward to the return of one of the best shows to ever air on TV, for part one of its final season, we thought it might be a good time to look back at some of the best moments from seasons 4 through 6 of Mad Men. The goal here was to count down the top 5 scenes of the last three seasons, but, as usual, that proved harder than expected. Here’s what we think:
5. Don’s Hershey’s pitch (Episode 613: In Care of)
The moment that Don Draper and Dick Whitman become the same man. Watching Don break down and tell a real story from his childhood is one of the most heartbreaking things we’ve seen on Mad Men. And, Mad Men is full of heartbreak, so that’s saying something. All of the pre-season press material made it clear that season 6 was going to be all about the duality of self, and that’s exactly what was delivered in season 6—especially as it relates to Don. This was the season where we could see the crumbling of Don’s two worlds into one.
4. Sally catches Don and Sylvia (Episode 611: Favors)
The “holy crap” moment of season 6. I’m probably the biggest proponent out there of the theory that Don Draper only cares about 3 people in the entire world, Peggy Olson, the late Anna Draper, and his daughter, Sally. Sally has always known that her father was a bit of a skeeze, but, at times, she had almost idolized that because of her total disdain for her mother. However, it is in this episode that Sally sees Don for who and what he really is and it the point that changed everything for Sally and Don. Sally can no longer pretend her that her father is the good guy. This realization, along with the scene mentioned above, lead to another scene that could have very easily been on this list—Don taking his children to see where he really grew up. Anyone who thinks that scene had anything to do with Bobby or baby Gene are fooling themselves. That scene was about Don letting the last bit of pretense go.
3. Roger takes LSD (Episode 506: Far Away Places)
Let’s lighten it up a bit, shall we? My name is Roger Sterling and I have taken LSD. Though this scene ends in a fairly dark, sad place, with Roger telling Jane he wants a divorce, the lead up is hilarious. The Russian symphony playing when Roger opens the bottle of vodka never gets old to me. I watch it over and over again, and never stop laughing. This moment is also of note as it is in the middle of probably the greatest run of episodes Mad Men gave us, and it also is likely the most experimental episode of Mad Men to date. If you don’t remember or haven’t seen it in a while, go back and watch this episode. It’s well worth it.
2. Megan does Zou Bisou Bisou (Episode 501-502: A Little Kiss)
The moment of complete and total confusion on Don’s face. I feel like I don’t really need to comment on this one, right?
1a. Peggy says goodbye (Episode 511: The Other Woman)
The moment that Don couldn’t let go. You’ll see that I have a 1a and a 1. I wanted to keep this list to 5, but I just couldn’t. And, frankly, these two scenes actually fit together very well. Peggy and Don share something very special. Ironically, Peggy, like Sally, doesn’t know that Don Draper is actually Dick Whitman. And yet, I would say that Peggy, again, like Sally, know the real man behind the suit better than anyone (save for Anna). While Betty, Pete, Burt Cooper, and Megan know Don’s secret, they don’t necessarily know the man as he is. Peggy does. Watching Peggy say goodbye to Don (though, unbeknownst to them at the time, it would be a short goodbye) and seeing Don’s inability to let go of that hand was a symbol of Don’s affection and respect for this very important person in his life.
1. “That’s what the money is for!” (Episode 407: The Suitcase)
The moment where Mad Men became the greatest of all time. This is not an argument for this day, but certainly, at the time the episode aired, The Suitcase felt like the greatest episode of a TV drama ever (there is now an argument for not only other Mad Men episodes from season 5, but also a couple episodes from the final season of Breaking Bad, and at least a couple episodes from The Wire and The Sopranos). The episode focused largely on the relationship between Don and Peggy, which is the relationship that makes this show so special, and an all time great. The episode culminates with two magical moments, including a shared moment of sorrow, between Peggy and Don after Don learns of the death of Anna (from her niece Stephanie, played by Caity Lotz—currently starring on Arrow). The other moment being the argument between Peggy and Don, as seen here.
There are a dozen other scenes that could have made this list: Pete falling down the stairs, Don telling Ginsberg he doesn’t think about him at all, “Not great Bob!,” the Jaguar pitch, Lane’s suicide, the bubble gum in the pubis… the list goes on and on. But, the moments listed here are the ones that stand above the rest in our eyes. This evening cannot come soon enough!
-CJ & LJ