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Daddy Issues: The Evolution of Don and Sally's Relationship

Apr 20 2015 - 3:55pm

Sally Draper has had one complex upbringing. The first child of Don and Betty, she's been through plenty of familial trials and tribulations in Mad Men [1]'s seven seasons. Thanks in part to Don's extramarital antics, she's gone from an innocent little girl to a young woman jaded by her parents' decisions. This week's episode features a conversation between Don and Sally that's not necessarily the most pleasant, but it's another page out of the book of this relationship. Take a look to see how far they've come.

Back in season one, everything is hunky-dory between Don and his kids.

Don isn't around a lot, but when he is, he's really a cute dad.

Look how sweet they are!

Things are awkward between Don and Betty during season two, but Sally and her dad are still cool.

Once season three comes along, Sally starts getting in trouble at school.

She's asking questions about the world but not getting answers.

She's still at a point where she can much more easily talk with her father than her mother.

As Betty's parenting skills continue to wane, Don is forced to become more present in his kids' lives.

Sally starts to get a little sassy.

This is also the season that Sally befriends Glen, a new male influence outside of her father. It's a confusing time for Sally, as Don and Betty are officially divorcing.

At the end of season four, Don takes his kids to Disneyland with Megan. This is also the episode that Don tells Sally that Dick is his nickname. One step closer to the truth!

Sally even bonds with Megan a little bit, despite not really knowing what Megan's relationship with her father is.

In the season five premiere, Sally starts spending time at her father's new apartment.

Don keeps up appearances by bringing Sally as his date to a big industry dinner. She's still daddy's little girl.

Unfortunately, Megan's mom and Roger Sterling are also at the dinner, and Sally walks in on them having . . . . relations. Though Don isn't involved, this is when Sally's trust in adults begins to shatter.

Feeling emotional about Don, Betty tells Sally about his real first wife, Anna. The cracks in Sally's image of Don begin to deepen.

Finding out about her father's lies also brings out Sally's cruel streak. Though she'd been bonding with Megan, Sally deliberately hurts her by telling her about Don's first wife then spits out this line.

In season six, Sally is forced to live with her mom and her new husband, Henry, driving a further wedge between her and Don.

Season six is also the time when Don hands babysitting duties to Megan, but she leaves for an audition.

. . . And a random woman claiming to be Sally's grandmother shows up. This is bad for Sally's relationship with Don because not only is he not there to protect her from this intruder, she realizes how little she really knows about her father's history.

In one of the most horrifying and memorable moments of the series, Sally walks in on her father with Sylvia, the neighbor with whom he's been having an affair. Innocence: lost.

The incident triggers Sally to decide she's done with the family and request to be sent away to boarding school.

Behold! Glen reemerges and defends Sally against his creepy friend. He's practically a knight in shining armor.

Sally comes home from her boarding school visit a new woman, and Betty even lets her smoke a cigarette in the car.

It's around this time that Don has a breakdown at work and finally chooses to reveal the truth about his past to his children.

He takes them to the brothel he grew up in, signaling that he's ready for honesty.

This is probably the exact moment when Sally realizes just how flawed her father is.

Sally had been getting in trouble at school for using fake IDs and drinking — but maybe Don's confession is exactly what she needs to get back on track.

In season seven, Sally is looking and acting more grown up than ever. She catches Don in a lie when he claims he had been at work that day, when she knows perfectly well he hadn't been there.

Later, Sally finally confronts Don about Sylvia, and Don tells her why he's not working.

It's a real turning point for the father and daughter and probably the most we've ever seen them interact. I'm hoping this means they can continue on as a united front, instead of drifting farther apart.

It's then that Sally drops the L bomb, surprising her father.

In this week's episode, though, Sally has it with what she deems as preening behavior from her parents — behavior that always seems to need validation from the opposite sex. She's right, to a certain extent, but Don leaves her with some good advice about how she's beautiful, but she can be so much more.

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