Don’t be a stranger.
this. this. this. this. This is why their relationship is my favorite. I ship them so, so hard. Not because she’s going to be the “good woman” that saves him, because if there’s any saving to be done in Mad Men, then the only thing that can accomplish that is the future, because they *both* need saving from the times that they are in. No, no, I ship it because: look at all this mutual understanding and self-aware knowledge and growth and respect, and how flawed people can be simultaneously stronger and better together *and* self-destructive together; and because of how he looks as she’s *walking out the door* into said future, towards her salvation with or without him. SOB. I LOVE THIS PAIRING and i never even knew how much before i just wrote this. dflkajsdf.
YEP. ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Don has a tendency to see everybody around him as projections of himself, his fears and insecurities, his traumatic past. There’s a reason he and Clinical Narcissist Betty Draper got married and made a decent go of it for so long: they’re both deeply self-absorbed people. Don does this to Peggy all the damn time, and he’s at his worst when he’s taking his own internal melodrama out on her. Even in this last scene, the scene of her leaving, he turns it into her abandonment of him. It’s not pretty.
But I think what fundamentally makes Don such a compelling character - what makes him compelling in a way that Betty simply is not - is that there’s hope for him. Betty’s never getting out of the horrible prison in her head, but Don has these moments of clarity that are stunning and piercing and really make you love him, for all his (many, many) faults. And these often come when he’s interacting with Peggy. Look at that look on his face, right in the middle: he actually sees her, in a way that nobody else at that company ever does. I think it’s hard for him to get to this place, but when he gets there, it’s the most authentic he ever is. And I think, whether or not he realizes it, he loves her better than anybody else he knows - because he’s seen who she is, he’s seen her power. I think she has more power - in an abstract, emotional, moral sense - than any of the characters on the show. Don’s the only one who gets it, even if he forgets sometimes. I think he certainly respects her more than anybody he knows. And most importantly, like Anna, she’s seen him, too, and she didn’t turn away. And that’s really all that Don wants: he wants somebody to know who he is and to stay anyway. He pushes people away because he’s terrified of being left (Megan, anybody?), because he can’t take that again. But she hasn’t left, really. She’s not going anywhere.