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"Mad Men" recap: I got you, babe

madmen-413-joanandpeggy"Tomorrowland" is the title of the "Mad Men" season finale, and the episode looks forward. Season 4, Episode 13 left us feeling optimistic, the way people who visited Disneyland's look into the future must have felt -- until the second half of the 1960s rocketed us into a future that wasn't as bright as we thought it would be. It was a most satisfying ending to thise great season because it makes us eager to see what happens next but filled with dread, too.

Don Draper makes one of his signature impulsive moves, trying to improve himself. Peggy Olson gets high on work. Betty Francis acts like a child. And Joan Harris takes care of herself.

"Mad Men" recap: Don changes the conversation

MadMen-Episode412-donpetebert-teaserLosing Lucky Strike has left Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce weak and gasping for air in Season 4, Episode 12. But, as research king Geoff Atherton says, the agency still has Don. Don proves himself again as he makes a bold move to change the agency's fortunes. Whether it works will be subject of the season finale.

Early in the episode when the agency appears to be crashing down and Don doesn't know what to do, Peggy reminds him that he always said that if you don't like what people are saying about you, change the conversation. Don, the self-made man, can't just let fate have her way with him. He has to do something.

"Mad Men" recap: Welcome to My World

MadMen411-PeggyPlaytextease"It's the end of the world." The word gets out that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has lost Lucky Strike, and everyone at the agency is shaken in Season 4, Episode 11. Don vows that things will be OK, but nobody is sure that the agency will survive.

And anyone who has been through the economic downturn of the past couple of years knows what the SCDP people are feeling when they watch as their company's fortunes take a horrible turn for the worse and they don't know whether they'll be out of a job soon. It's frightening, but oddly exhilarating, too, as Stan the pig says, "It's the last days of Rome. ... The energy is very good."

"Mad Men" recap: Sometimes, it's hard to be a woman

Mad Men-Episode409-Sally Draper-teaseThe women and girls take center stage in Season 4, Episode 9 of "Mad Men." They show their competence, their power, their lack of power, their confusion, their ability to leave men confused. The episode ends with a workplace tableaux that I found familiar and wistful. The episode title is "The Beautiful Girls." We get a glimpse of the political and social problems of the 1960s.

"Mad Men's" Matthew Weiner gives us another shocking, funny side show, too. Here is my warning of spoilers ahead.

"Mad Men" recap: And then he woke up

Mad Men Season 4 Episode 8The self-made Don Draper begins to make himself over again in Season 4, Episode 8. He has reached a turning point. He's ready to curb his drinking, ready to immerse himself in his work and maybe ready to find someone to get close to, someone to replace Anna. This episode was different from any that has gone before in the series. For once, we hear Don's voice as a sort of narrator, as if he's living a Cheever story. Maybe that's who Don Draper/Dick Whitman is becoming: a Cheeveresque writer. This episode even had a water motif, like Cheever's "The Swimmer."

The episode is titled "The Summer Man." Don begins a journal in a spiral-bound notebook, and the date we see is June 1965. He says he's never written more than 250 words, even in high school. He also says that he was lazy and that things would have been different if he had finished high school. We see him swimming at an athletic club, and when he comes out, he says he smells summer. The music playing is The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Don is in a new world. The year 1965 is when the postwar period was over, and we started to be more concerned about Vietnam and rock'n'roll was the soundtrack.

"Mad Men" recap: Don and Peggy

Don and Peggy spend the night together in Season 4, Episode 7, but they keep their clothes on and their feet on the floor -- for the most part -- as they work, argue and confide during a long night in 1965. They find out more about each other, learn a couple of juicy secrets about other people and have some close encounters with animals -- not including that odious art director. Don gets a phone message from California and spends most of a day and night avoiding the call that he knows will be bad news.

"Mad Men" recap: Peggy wins

While "Mad Men" was winning the Emmy for best drama series on NBC, in Season 4, Episode 6 of the series over on AMC, Don Draper was winning a Clio. And show creator and writer Matthew Weiner was commenting on awards and credit.

"Mad Men" recap: Whose truth?

Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) took center stage in Season 4, Episode 4. Each of them has a private moment of headbanging frustration.

Do I need to warn you about spoilers? Good. Let's go.

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