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Mad Men: "The Forecast" Is Mixed

04/21/2015 11:57 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015

Don Draper takes stock of the future, his own, his agency's, his family's, maybe even a bit of thought about the world.

What he finds are colleagues who have no vision beyond more of the same -- Peggy Olsen wants to be creative director, Ted Chaogh wants some more big clients like, you know, an oil company and a drug company. His daughter is more into surface blaming of her parents than of taking stock of what she is and can be. Don himself is going through the motions about selling the dream apartment he had with Megan. (And yet it sells anyway in the end, and now he needs to sort out where he wants to be.) And the future itself, well, it's big at the beginning of the 1970s and in many respects unknown.

In truth, this episode is a fairly mixed bag. A lot is going on and the through-line isn't all that clear.

But this is an epic novel for television, a novel of life, and life, especially with a panoply of characters, isn't always so clearcut.

Yet we do have clear motion, and progress, for one core character. And that is our much-liked Joan Holloway. She is suddenly in LA, and with unlamented if not loathed Lou Avery shunted there after being bested by Don's power play, it looks like she could run Sterling Cooper West, and solve her problem with the New York sexists of McCann. (Avery is working on his, heh, comic book.) Joan may even have hooked up with a good man for her to be involved with.

I know that Richard Burghoff is good because he's played by Bruce Greenwood, key to the successful reboot of Star Trek for playing impetuous young James T. Kirk's charismatic and now unfortunately late mentor, Admiral Christopher Pike.

As Richard, he looks older than the dashing admiral, but he's certainly fetching enough for our Joan. He seems substantial enough, as well. Sensing there was something she wasn't telling him, he learns that he's right. Joan hadn't mentioned that she has a son. In many circles back then, even some today, a woman who comes with a child is a deal breaker, too much baggage. But Richard, after thinking about it, seems more than fine with it.

So Roger Sterling, the real papa, may never get to play more than honorary uncle after all.

After a lot of action on the sexual if not romantic front in the last two episodes, it's Don who's relatively becalmed this time around. As expected, the waitress Diana, with whom Don ricocheted into a brief relationship after dreaming of lost love Rachel Menken only to find Rachel suddenly and definitively gone, is herself gone, at least from the picture, perhaps a victim of her own fears and insecurities. And Don has not ricocheted into something else with someone else. Which is fine, and may actually be more than fine for Don's wellbeing He needs a clear head as he contemplates his future, the future which will coincide with the end of this series.

Unfortunately, young Sally Draper, now a fully-fledged teenager girl, thinks that Don is flirting with her friend, who is actually flirting with him. He's not really, he's just friendly and polite to Sally's friend.

But sexuality is a very charged and touchy subject for Sally, especially when it concerns her highly-sexed dad, whom of course she walked in on a while back while he was screwing the sexy neighbor lady.

Sally's not the only one of the kids we've seen growing up who struggles some with sexual signals.

Yes, the notorious Glenn is back. The little neighbor kid (played by Marten Weiner, creator Matt's son) who combined his lonely boy comic book imagination with his fascination for the beauteous Betty Draper of the day into his "rescuer" half of the spookiest male-female relationship on this show.

After dallying in earlier seasons with Sally, to Betty's distinct fury, he's back and back with the Betty fixation.

He's going to ship out to Vietnam one of these days, and could, you know, die, so ... He needs to, er, "rescue" Betty. Is that what he calls it?

Well, she doesn't need rescuing from a pretty good marriage to moderate Republican pol Henry Francis and ... You know, I don't really buy this part of the show. I love Mad Men, it's Matt Weiner's great creation, and I think the Glenn character has had some memorable moments. But this fellas shoe-horned in. Of course, if Weiner wants his son back on for the show's swan song, it's certainly his right.

But in reality, it's all right. It's quite amusing that Betty can't recognize Glenn all grown up. And it's not as though she doesn't think about his pass for a moment. But she, as she points out, "is married."

Don is far less tethered than that by the end of this episode. He clearly doesn't like what he's heard from his colleagues in their thoughts for the future. He even fires a young creative he'd defended early in the episode for taking a chance, for mishearing Don's advice and slavishly quoting him with the client.

While he is on decent terms with everyone, there's not much holding him in place.

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