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Meanwhile, Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) had a new home in the suburbs and a baby with his wife, Trudy, while emerging as a key player at the agency. But, as usual, he was unsatisfied. In the finale, Trudy voiced plans for a backyard swimming pool. But Pete was busy cheating on her (and not for the first time).

Why? “He needed to let off some steam,” Pete said about himself in a monologue of harsh awareness. “He needed to feel that he knew something, that all this aging was worth something, because he knew things young people didn’t know yet.”

Worse, “he realized that his life with his family was some temporary bandage on a permanent wound.”

Joan (Christina Hendricks) was now a single mother _ but leveraged her colleagues’ pimping her out to a prospective client into a partnership position in the agency.

Roger (John Slattery), the sardonic, gin-soaked partner, was feeling marginalized at the office. But an LSD trip (in one of the season’s standout episodes) seemed to lift him into some semblance of acceptance of his life.

In short, most of the characters ended the season only further entrenched in their identities and roles in the show’s unfolding narrative.

But there were exceptions.

Stiff-upper-lip British partner Lane (Jared Harris) was caught in a financial scam by Don on last week’s episode, and, after getting canned from the agency, he hanged himself in his office _ a suicide that weighs painfully on Don, while echoing the hanging suicide of his half brother in season one, for which he likewise feels responsible.

And the indomitable Peggy, tired of doing great work and getting too little credit, shocked Don two weeks ago by resigning to spread her wings at another shop, where, in the finale, she was poised to create the branding for Virginia Slims cigarettes.

Late in the episode, Don ran into her at a matinee for another James Bond movie, the 1967 spy spoof, “Casino Royale.”

He asked how she was doing at her new job. She said fine.

“That’s what happens when you help someone,” said Don, who since the series began had been Peggy’s gruff but devoted mentor. “They succeed and move on.”

It sounded like a man who’s unhappy and alone.



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