Wow. Can't remember this much happening in an episode in a long time. Let's set the scene and get the smaller things out of the way: SC is opening up a small LA location in order to service the new Sunkist account, and Stan expresses to Don his desire to go try to build the new office into something great despite Don's warnings that it probably won't work out that way. Also, Hershey's sends out an RFP (Request For Proposal), which is groundbreaking not only because of the size of the account but the fact that they've historically never advertised. Plus, who wouldn't want all that free chocolate?
Roger is reticent about continuing to invest in Brooks' scheme, which is the last straw for Margaret as she tells him not to bother coming to Thanksgiving. Roger is also still jealous of the time Benson's spending with Joan and calls him into his office to give him a piece of his mind. Later, Roger's longtime secretary Caroline tells Joan she's worried about him and has nowhere to go on Thanksgiving, so Joan magnanimously has Roger over, although Benson is there too. It's too bad the season's ending, because I'd love to see Benson and Roger share a drunken cab ride home.
Pete gets a telegram that his mother was lost at sea, apparently going overboard from a cruise ship; in the aftermath, Pete also learns that Manolo and Dot had gotten married. Pete accuses Benson of conspiring with Manolo to knock Dot off for her (perceived) money, for which Benson gets even with him by exposing his terrible driving ability to Chevy. This gets Pete canned from the account, and no word on who's going to take his place, but given that Ken's still sporting that eye patch I doubt he'll be going back.
Okay, now the bigger stuff. Don gets a subpoena for Sally to give a statement about Grandma Thief, but when he calls her at school (she's at Miss Porter's now; it's Thanksgiving-time), he can barely keep her on the phone for thirty seconds before she hangs up on him. Later, Betty calls Don in tears to tell her Sally's been suspended for buying beer, and the fact that she's so beside herself only adds to Don's guilt over his failings with his daughter. Not that he ever needed an excuse, but this is a contributing factor to him day-drinking in a dank bar wherein a Bible-thumper tries to talk with him about Christ, which sends him into a flashback of his Uncle Mack kicking a similar man out of the whorehouse – but not without him telling Young Don that the only unpardonable sin is to believe you're beyond God's forgiveness. Don comes to behind bars, apparently having clocked the minister, so when she gets up, Megan finds him pouring out all the alcohol in the house. He at least tells Megan what happened and admits he's been out of control – and that he wants to move to LA and build the new agency. He rips off Stan's language wholesale in doing so, but of course Megan's career could only be helped by being in LA, and when he reminds her how happy they were out there, she practically jumps for joy. Don makes his announcement at work, and Stan tells him to screw, while pretty much everyone else reacts with varying degrees of "Good riddance."
Ted is ignoring Peggy, so at the end of a day she interrupts a meeting in which Ted is a participant while dressed as sexily as possible to oh-by-the-way that she's going out; this prompts Ted to show up at Peggy's door promising he's going to leave his wife, and they finally hop into bed. Peggy tells him she doesn't want a scandal, so she can wait for him to get his life in order, but when Ted slides into bed with his wife he looks like he knows this is going to be harder than he thought. This leads him to go to Don, distraught, and tell him he's the one that wants to go to California, with his family, otherwise he's going to ruin his life, but Don tells him he can't help him, as Megan's already being written off her show. In the Hershey's meeting, Don takes the lead and the pitch goes well, but when he sees Ted looking utterly defeated and miserable amid all the good cheer, something stirs in him, and soon he's revealing to the room in fairly graphic and tearful detail his whorehouse childhood and the way a Hershey bar was about the only thing that made him feel normal and wanted. It's a beautiful moment acted exquisitely by Jon Hamm, and on the heels of that, probably trying to save both Ted's family and his soul in a way he never took care of his own, he tells Ted to go to California. Soon Ted is telling a distraught and angry Peggy he's leaving -- and she's not the only one, as when Don breaks the news to Megan – trying inadvisedly to sell her on their new and exciting bicoastal relationship – she wonders why she's even bothering anymore and leaves. Well, no one can say she didn't try.
To wrap up the season, Pete also goes to California, and Trudy tells him he's free, while Stan finds Peggy symbolically working in Don's office. Why symbolically, you might ask? Because the remaining partners, finally fed up with Don's erratic behavior, order him to take an indefinite leave of absence, and on his way out he runs into Duck escorting a presumable potential replacement into the building. And finally, on Thanksgiving, Don takes his kids to see the now-dilapidated building in which he grew up, and although I wouldn't say this causes Sally to forgive him, she at least looks at him with new interest. It's a very strong ending to a season that had trouble finding its way, which leaves me optimistic for the final stanza.
Don walks into SC&P to find Stan eagerly awaiting him, and as they pedeconference, we learn that the agency is setting up a small office in LA to service Sunkist, and Stan wants to go. Don points out that this would effectively be a demotion, as Stan would be in one room with one account, but Stan's plan is to try to turn the satellite branch into a real agency (by which I assume he means it would eventually be bringing in new business). He goes on that he wants to "set up the homestead," but Don once again tries to dissuade him by saying if he fails in LA, he'll be out of advertising completely "because no one takes it seriously." Stan, however, is hell-bent on his romantic idea and promises Don he'll impress him. Once Stan's walked off, Don looks after him with an expression that suggests he's still skeptical but has run out of energy to argue the point. Having recapped TV for over a decade, I believe I've seen it in the mirror once or twice.
Roger escorts Brooks out of his office while smiling some words about disappointment teaching more than success, and Brooks, with good but smaller humor, replies that he must be turning into a very wise man. Margaret is waiting with a smile and a drawing Ellery made for Roger, but when it becomes clear that Roger is putting the brakes on investing in Brooks' refrigeration-truck scheme (with the implication that he has contributed up to this point), Margaret points out that she's his daughter. "What do I have to do to get on the list of girls you give money to?" The unfortunate, obvious and illegal answer aside, she's got a point. Brooks, less inclined to anger and bridge-burning than his wife, is like whoa whoa whoa, but Margaret spits that Roger shouldn't bother coming to Thanksgiving. "The table will be empty." She storms off, and although Brooks assures Roger she doesn't mean it, I wonder what he's basing that on.
Don's Irishing up his coffee (sorry, Ned Flanders) when Dawn buzzes that Ken is there to see him. When the door opens, though, it's not just Ken -- still wearing the eye patch, by the way -- but Cutler, and they have news: Hershey's just sent out an RFP (Request For Proposal) to the top thirty agencies, and SC&P is on the list. Don doesn't think the request is serious, though, as Hershey's has never advertised before, but Cutler points out that Mars, their competitor, bills at $10 million, and Ken adds that they think Hershey's is looking for someone to talk them into that kind of spend. This gets Don's attention, and he smiles that he loves Hershey's. And as we'll see, for once he's not dissembling. He tells Ken to get him in a room, so Ken and Cutler bustle out, after which Don contemplatively sips his... well, "morning fuel" covers both ingredients, I guess.