Last night as I’m sure you know was the season finale of Mad Men. I remember eight years ago when the show started. A number of television critics that I follow were talking about this new show premiering on AMC, which at the time was known solely for showing old movies with a billion commercials in them. It seemed like an interesting concept so we decided to give it a chance. Over the seven seasons of the show I loved much of it and was entirely indifferent at best to other parts of it. I always liked the workplace stuff and couldn’t care less about Don’s existential crises.
I don’t need my finales to be super clever, which I think is the pressure that seems to be on long running tv shows these days. The best finales of shows in my opinion are ones that stay true to what the show was while also giving the audience some sense of closure. The Mad Men finale I think fit the bill. It spent way too much time following Don on his hippie escapades in California, but that in itself seemed exactly like what the show had been. Especially in recent seasons I felt like we definitely spent too much time watching Don do exactly what he did in this episode and the ones leading up to it. I was always bored by that and was indeed bored by those parts of the finale.
I’ve seen a lot of arguments on Twitter today about the final scene of the show and what it meant. I’m perfectly fine with other people interpreting it different than I did, but in my mind Don went back to McCann and wrote that Coke ad. It’s what he’s always done. Advertising is the only thing he’s ever been good at and really the only thing he has in his life. It only makes sense to me that he would go back to it like he’s done at every other one of these crossroads. I’m sure he’ll continue to live his life just as he had before. I saw some people arguing that the ending was much more positive for him and that he did change in his hippie retreat. I personally don’t think that’s the case. I saw people who agree with me, but who were disappointed that he didn’t change. I on the other hand thought it was right that he didn’t. I spent the last three seasons of the show being annoyed that I kept having to watch Don not grow as a human being even thought it’s probably more realistic than if he had. It got old to watch over and over again. That being said, it would have felt wrong to me to all of a sudden have him change now when there was no indication that this time should be any different than any other time before. It may not have been an especially happy ending for Don, but it was the right one in my opinion.
Even though he was the central character of the show, Don was always the one who interested me in the least. I wasn’t entirely sure we would even get to see anyone else but him in the finale. All the other characters seemed to have scenes in the two episodes leading up to the finales that could have served as the end to their stories. An all Don finale was something I totally could have seen Matthew Weiner doing. I’m very glad he didn’t, and that he wrote a much more conventional finale than I would have expected from him.
Peggy and Joan were always my favorite characters. I loved how both of those characters ended up. My favorite scene of the show ever is in the episode “Close the Door, Have a Seat” when they bring back Joan to go with them to their new company. I remember screaming Joan’s name when they started talking about needing someone with her skills. She had a great character arc from the beginning of the show when she was just out to find a husband to the end when she let a man go to pursue her career.
I loved the scene that Joan and Peggy shared together, but it also felt right that Peggy would have stayed at McCann instead of going off with Joan. The scenes with Peggy and Pete and Peggy and Don were also nice ends for the relationships those characters shared. I wasn’t someone who was hardcore shipping Peggy and Stan like some people, but I did love the scene where they get together. I wasn’t opposed to it. I saw some people grumpy that they would make Peggy’s happy ending the fact that she winds up with a guy, but that’s not how I saw it. Call me crazy, but I think it’s entirely possible for someone to have a happy ending in both work and their personal life. After all her failed relationships it was nice to see Peggy presumably end up with someone who is great for her and who will support her career, which she is obviously going to go far in.
I didn’t really care one way or the other about Roger’s ending. He was always a fun character, but I don’t have strong feelings about how he went out with Marie. I did love the end to his relationship with Joan though. They were always great together even though you knew there was no hope of them ever actually having a real relationship. I like that they really settled into a great friendship and that he’s there for their son in a way that works for all of them. There were also really beautiful scenes with Don and Betty and Don and Sally. They felt like perfect endings to those relationships as well.
Despite sending way too much time with Don at the hippie commune, all in all I was very happy with the finale. I wasn’t thrilled with all of the episodes in the season and it did make me worried about how things would end. For me at least the ending was true to what the show was and the characters that lived within it. I can’t ask for anything more than that.