In Christmas Waltz, Harry offers Paul 500 dollars and a ticket to Los Angeles, on the provision that he leaves everything behind and goes right away. “You don’t understand what it’s like out there,” Harry tells him. “This failure, this life, it’ll all seem like it happened to someone else.”
This conversation reminded me of the flashback scene in The New Girl, when Don visited Peggy in the hospital and urged her to get out of there and move forward. “This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened,” he said.
Of course, Don wasn’t talking about California in that scene with Peggy. He just wanted her to move on with her life and put her secrets aside, much as he’s always tried to do. He’s often talked about forward direction; he told his brother Adam that he couldn’t see him because he had a life that only moved in one direction: forward.
But Don has often talked about California as if it was the promised land. He seemed happy and relaxed there when he visited Anna or spent time with Joy. California was also where he fell in love with Megan, of course. He even told a client (the Penn Station guy) in Season 3 that New York was a city in decay, and Los Angeles was a place of hope and brightness.
Harry and Paul seem to share Don’s love of California. For Harry, it’s a place where he can interact with all the movers and shakers. Possibly the healthy, body-conscious LA lifestyle rubbed off on him, since he seemed to be dieting in Season 4 (“Caesar salad, no dressing,”) and looks noticeably thinner in Season 5.
Paul has never been to California (as far as we know), but he did speculate about “Sterling Cooper West” in Season 2, and he seemed excited about the prospect. Now he has a desire to do television writing and Harry is telling him that Los Angeles is the place to be.
Don seems like a New Yorker in his attire and attitude (it’s easy to forget that he didn’t grow up there), and I don’t know that he’d necessarily ever move to California, especially as it would mean uprooting his whole family. Even if he and Megan were to ever separate, he still has three young children in New York. I could see him trying to do more and more business out there, though, since that was already in the works in Season 4 with regard to Disneyland prospects.
I don’t really see Don living in California, but I think, in his mind, it’s the place you go to escape your troubles. He even mentioned it to Rachel in Season 1, back when Pete was first threatening to expose his true identity. He’s now been there a few times and his face always seems to change when he’s there. Even the engagement to Megan was most likely inspired by the alluring spell of a California vacation.
If SCDP ever did open up another branch office, there are certainly characters who would benefit from that option. Joan, fresh from a divorce, could truly make a new beginning. Harry already loves schmoozing there and his marriage doesn’t seem to be that stable (although with a second child on the way, maybe he’ll work on it). If Don ever chose to relocate, and he and Megan stayed together, she could certainly find acting opportunities in Los Angeles. Even Pete, who didn’t seem to enjoy his first visit to California, might like it a little more now that he has a driver’s license.
Could Sterling Cooper West be a real possibility?