Mad Men season finale
November 11, 2009 5:45 AM   Subscribe

I don't understand Connie Hilton's role in the last episode of Mad Men.

So: a company called McCann is buying PPL, which is the company that bought Sterling Cooper...how does this equal Hilton dicking over Don? How does Hilton have anything to do with it? Why does Connie say he has to move his properties out of New York? Why does Don say that Connie got him into this mess?
posted by creasy boy to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Spoiler alert.

Hilton was already doing business with McCann. Sterling Cooper would be absorbed, thus, mid-level, so Hilton would have to deal with other creative directors. Hilton hints everything he has he got himself. Draper doesn't know what to do then realizes he can replace his family with a reasonably crowded office in a hotel room.
posted by parmanparman at 5:53 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


When Don says Connie got him into this mess, he's (IMO) referring to the fact that it was Hilton (or Hilton's lawyers) who forced him to sign the contract tying him to Sterling Cooper.
posted by Electric Dragon at 6:02 AM on November 11, 2009


What Electric Dragon said. Draper was referring to his contract which he had spent years skillfully avoiding prior to Hilton's insistence upon it.
posted by meerkatty at 6:18 AM on November 11, 2009


While it looks like the end of their working relationship for now (forever?), Connie's words seem to kick Don off of his butt and out of his season-long slump. Don decides to make an investment, a commitment in S/C and in himself by trying to save the company, and his decision kicks everybody (Pete, Peggy, Roger, Joan) out of their own ennui. There's hope.
posted by bookgirl18 at 6:24 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


(and from a thematic standpoint he's there as the father figure that Don gets to reject and tell off because he couldn't do so to his real one).
posted by gaspode at 6:30 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


So...Don's reaction to Connie was a little paranoid. Connie hadn't engineered the whole thing just to fuck with him. Rather, 1) Connie had some unexplained business with McCann for whatever reason, hence he was told about the sale; 2) Connie wanted his advertizing from Don alone and not from mid-level McCann managers, and 3) ironically, Don would've been bound to McCann because Connie had insisted on Don't contract so as to make sure he would be working with Don. Is that right?
posted by creasy boy at 6:37 AM on November 11, 2009


If Company A (Sterling Cooper) is acquired by Company B (PPL), which in turn is acquired by Company C (McCann), the formerly senior executives at Company A (Draper et al) will be relegated to middle manager status because they have been acquired not once, but twice.

Connie's point in the plot was to instigate in Draper memories of his poor and alcoholic father and compare that father to the psuedo-father that Connie had become. In Connie Draper saw everything that his father was not, and everything he (Draper) could be: wealthy, entrepreneurial, successful, etc.

Thus, Connie's refusal to wallow in pity with Draper was the kick in the ass Draper needed to convince others to found their own firm and chart their own destiny.
posted by dfriedman at 6:37 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


And not to forget that McCann Erickson was the firm that Draper repeatedly turned down in Season One - now to be tied to them in a mid-manager status? Ouch.
posted by meerkatty at 6:43 AM on November 11, 2009


Yeah, as to the mechanics of the backstory on the effect of the acquisition of SC, I think you've got it. Hilton's insistence on "buying" Don Draper inadvertently backfired on both Hilton and Draper. In addition to the comments above about the symbolism of the Hilton-Draper relationship, I think "[a]nd you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you" is the key line in that scene because it also forms the foundation of Don's argument to Bert Cooper in convincing Bert to start SCDP.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:49 AM on November 11, 2009


A bit of backstory on McCann from the always-excellent column at The Awl:

Beginning in the early 1960s, McCann-Erickson, then known as Intergroup McCann-Erickson, gobbled up a mid-sized shops and retained them under one umbrella, but still forced them the compete for clients. This had an upside: two agencies could be under the McCann Erickson parent with one shop servicing American Airlines and the other shop servicing TWA. And a downside: the fear, at the time, was there would be leaks and betrayals between agencies. In 1964, Nestle left McCann-Erickson because they also serviced Carnation. Continental also withdrew their business because McCann was in bed with other airlines. “Bigness is an evil,” a Nestle executive explained, “that strains relationships that ten years ago were very warm and close.”
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:56 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't quite agree with the above. Yes, everyone's correct on the technical order of operations, so to speak, but to me "Connie Hilton's role" is more to put Don in his place.

Hilton plays a very similar role to what Hearst plays in Deadwood in the sense that we watch a show for a few seasons, feel we've got some very powerful people who are controlling things and... then the show runners show us just how fragile power and control can be by bringing in someone who can crush them all easily.

To me, Don was correct: Hilton has been playing with him. From the moment they met Connie has given Don the impression that he likes him and respects him as a man. If this were the case, Hilton would not have tried to show Don his power by insisting on a contract--he would have been delighted to work with him regardless. (Personally, I thought the contract business rang very false and I was disappointed with it. This conflict could have been much stronger and it was a very clumsy move making it obvious how the season was headed.) Further, when Hilton and his man come in for the pitch and he basically tells them, "not good enough; you've disappointed me" even though they delivered exactly what he asked for... same thing: Hilton's showing his power.

The only "twist" so to speak that MM's writers have up their sleeve is that Hilton does not know (that I can recall), given Don's past, how easily he can move on. Connie therefore doesn't end up with the upper hand. (This is why Don can say repeatedly throughout the series that, "It'll be all right". Things are always all right for a person who has nothing to lose. Don doesn't care about his family or his job. He's a sociopath. All he cares about is no one finding out he's a sociopath.)

I thought the series of events was attempting to be: Connie sets Don up; Connie smites Don; Don bounces back with no effort whatever. Instead it came across as "things happen, sorry" and Don can pull himself up by his bootstraps. There was really no conflict and not much of an obstacle.

The conclusion had a real, "Come on kids, lets put on a show!" vibe to it, which, needless to say, is always disappointing.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:44 AM on November 11, 2009


Oh, and Don isn't paranoid. Don knows he's being played with because he's normally the player. All that stuff with Peggy... he's doing the same to her that Hilton is doing to him. They're three sides of the same coin so to speak. Three sociopaths trying to figure out how to maintain their identities, which is to say not be found out. Don is aware that Connie is like him and that Peggy is like him. Connie more than likely suspects Don's like him. Peggy hasn't a clue but will find out soon, though she'll wrestle hardily against it before finding out it's futile and succumbing, at which point I would guess Peter will become the object of her wrath and, Peter being Peter... well, bad things will happen.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:50 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


To me, Don was correct: Hilton has been playing with him. From the moment they met Connie has given Don the impression that he likes him and respects him as a man. If this were the case, Hilton would not have tried to show Don his power by insisting on a contract--he would have been delighted to work with him regardless.

I'd agree with that up to a point: I think it's less about playing with a another human just for the sake of play and asserting power, and more about a desire for ownership. I think Hilton felt like he genuinely needed and wanted Don as an object of ownership, similar to the way Don felt like he needed and wanted Betty as an object of ownership. Because the act of ownership implies the power to exclude others from owning that same object, it probably has more to do with Hilton's desire to keep Don away from his competitors.

However, I think Don and Peggy's relationship is different. I think Don genuinely needs Peggy on his team, and the finale was about Don realizing that if he wanted her to follow him, he couldn't "own" her like he tried to do with Betty and Connie tried to do with him...he had to ask. But you're right: Peggy is cut from the same cloth of Don and Connie, but in feminine form, which I think helps to explain her recent trysts. That's the only explanation I can think of for this whole nonsense with Duck.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:00 AM on November 11, 2009


her recent trysts. That's the only explanation I can think of for this whole nonsense with Duck.

Well, they're not so recent. They've been going on since the first season. Duck is only the most recent recipient. (Btw, Duck shutting off the television was really the only bold single action the writers took this season, I thought.)

The three characters all have in common a lack of familial love, which I think is an unfortunate move on the part of the writers, but whatever.

I think Don genuinely needs Peggy on his team, and the finale was about Don realizing that if he wanted her to follow him, he couldn't "own" her like he tried to do with Betty and Connie tried to do with him...he had to ask.

That's definitely the case on the surface but it remains to be seen if that's actually the case. If it is, it'll probably be the reason I stop watching as the series seems to be selling itself out more and more each week. In my mind, the only reason he went to Peggy was because of what was going on with Becky. Too much was unraveling simultaneously. I don't think Don needs Peggy any more than he needs Peter, creatively. If you're right, and he's seen the light, then she needed to say no to his offer as that's how he'll learn his lesson. By saying yes, the implication from a creative perspective is that more conflict is to come. If it can't come from his behaviour towards her and she truly is needed creatively, from where can it come? The action would be wasted. In my mind it only makes sense to play it the way they have is if Don didn't learn his lesson and he did what all sociopaths will do to get what they want: he lied.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2009


The conclusion had a real, "Come on kids, lets put on a show!" vibe to it, which, needless to say, is always disappointing.

My comment to my boyfriend at that moment: "Hey kids, why don't we do the show right here?"


Why does Connie say he has to move his properties out of New York?


He doesn't say this- he says he's going to have to move his New York properties elsewhere, meaning: he's going to take his New York portfolio out of the hands of Sterling Cooper (under the helm of McCann Erickson).
posted by oneirodynia at 2:46 PM on November 11, 2009


Btw, Duck shutting off the television was really the only bold single action the writers took this season, I thought.

Didn't Duck turn off the television so he could sleep with Peggy? What's was bold about that?
posted by jasondigitized at 5:56 PM on November 11, 2009


Didn't Duck turn off the television so he could sleep with Peggy? What's was bold about that?

Well, if you were watching the news and it was announced that Obama had been shot would you turn off the tv to get laid? And not mention it to your partner when s/he arrived?

Also, I didn't mean Duck was bold for turning off the television. I said the writers were bold in writing that a character shuts off the tv upon hearing Kennedy's been shot (but not killed) in order to get laid.

The writers have to assume the audience has hindsight bias at the significance of the event in history and then completely ignore that significance (as the character wouldn't have it) and act upon it. People very well may have turned off the tv at that point, but a writer not exploiting the event in an obvious way is, in my opinion, pretty bold creatively.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:19 PM on November 11, 2009


Btw, Duck shutting off the television was really the only bold single action the writers took this season, I thought.

I would consider The Lawnmower Accident to be bold.
posted by AtomicBee at 12:50 PM on November 12, 2009


Well put You Should See the other Guy
posted by jasondigitized at 2:27 PM on November 12, 2009


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