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Time is On Your Side: "Mad Men" Deals With Death and The Rolling Stones

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire April 2, 2012 at 12:14PM

We see more evidence of how time and the changes that come with it are sitting with both Don Draper and other characters -- and in an episode directed by the leading man himself, Jon Hamm.
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Mad Men Tea Leaves 3

And finally there's Don, who's had to deal with death all his life -- his father, his brother and Anna, the only person who really knew him. For Don, this episode is less about mortality than realizing how little he has in common with the younger generation coming up around him, even his new wife Megan, who's more focused on heading to Fire Island than understanding how upset Betty's news has made him. Waiting backstage in the unlikely hopes of signing the Rolling Stones on to do a Heinz commercial, Don tries to talks to a teenage girl about the band and what she wants from them, a variation on the questions about desires he's used to guide his craft before, back to the first episode and his querying the waiter about Old Gold cigarettes.

But the lecture turns parental where at one point it might have turned lascivious. Don's not a stranger to vulnerable girls looking to have fun, but it's evident that all he can see when looking at this would-be groupie is his daughter, who's facing the prospect of growing up without a mother. As much as he likes Megan, the awkward dinner with the Heinz couple ("Don was divorced," she says baldly) and the talk about the trip to the beach make it clear just how much she's not Betty.

But Betty, at least, is due for something new. That specter of being shown up and replaced comes back one last time in the final scene in which she's eating sundaes with Sally. Sally, played by the ever-prettier Kiernan Shipka, can't finish hers, and leaves the table. So much of Betty's conflict with her daughter has been based around a subconscious rivalry, but Betty doesn't treat this as a competition of self-control (something that's been such a part of her personality before -- "you're just one of those girls," as her mother-in-law observes). Instead, she reaches for and digs into Sally's leftovers.