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Continued: His life a wreck, Don Draper heeds a wakeup call as 'Mad Men' season reaches stormy end

  • Article by: FRAZIER MOORE , AP Television Writer
  • Last update: June 24, 2013 - 3:15 AM

"It's the worst thing that ever happened to him," said "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner in a recent interview. "His pain and guilt and shame are indescribable."

It was the wakeup call Don was long overdue for.

"We discovered a lot about Don this year as he realized who he really is," Weiner said. "And we discovered that he doesn't want to be that way."

No wonder.

On the finale, he torpedoed the romance of longtime colleague Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) with her new love, agency partner Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm). Don facilitated Ted's wish to move to California with his family to separate himself from Peggy, breaking off their affair and thereby saving his marriage.

At the same time, Don put his own marriage in hock by breaking his earlier promise to Megan for them, not Ted, to make the move to California for the agency and make a fresh start of their own.

"The agency decided it," Don lied when telling her the change of plans.

Even with no inkling he had routinely betrayed her with a mutual friend who lived just one floor away, Megan had long felt he was growing more remote. His reneging on the move west with her was the last straw.

"You want to be alone with your liquor and your ex-wife and your screwed-up kids!" she seethed as she walked out the door.

Megan's words were an eerie echo of last season's conclusion, with Draper planted at a posh Manhattan bar and approached by a beautiful woman who asked, "Are you alone?" Viewers never learned what happened then.

What will happen next?

Painful recognition appears to be propelling "Mad Men" toward its final season, while leaving viewers to ponder how — or if — Don will patch up his marriage, his career and his relationship with Sally.

Weiner, who resumes the writing process soon, insisted many questions are yet to be settled.

On the other hand, he has had the final moments of the show in mind for years, he said, though he took pains to tamp down viewer expectations.

"There's no big reveal coming," Weiner declared. "What to leave the audience with is what I've been thinking about, and I have an image. But I don't want to oversell it. Honestly, I'm in denial about the show ending. But we'll get to it when we get to it — and then it will be on the air."

In the meanwhile, viewers are left with this image: Don Draper's newly discombobulated life. But signaling hope for both him and the audience, he seems to understand he can't just charm his way out of it.

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