So we come to the end of arguably the strongest Mad Men season to date. While not as “wham bam” exhilarating as last year’s final episode, we got Don’s impromptu proposal to the seemingly perfect Megan (but bear in mind we, like Don, know very little about her). She’s great with his kids (as would any stranger compared to Betty). Don’s making rash decisions. And while I felt Dr. Faye’s pain at being cast aside, it says something that Don selects the woman he believes will be good for him and the little Drapers (does that answer the question “Who is Don Draper?”). Depending on how far we jump ahead in Season Five, I hope we see Betty intimidated by Megan even if the latter is working an as yet unseen angle. As for the First Mrs. Draper, was she ever more monstrous? Robbing her family of Carla, the only mother Sally, Bobby, and Gene can count on, is the best evidence thus far that she is the child and her kids are little more than toys she longs to return to the shelf in service of her own needs. Anybody else think Henry is about ready to throw in the towel (and in all fairness, he too viewed Betty as a plaything when he whisked her away from Don)? In what I’m guessing is the last scene we’ll ever see in the Draper kitchen, Betty claims to be happy for Don, but it’s all too obvious that she’s longing for her first marriage while Don, for the moment, is fine with how things worked out (wonder where that will lead?).
Returning to SCDP, they’re not out of the woods, but thanks to Peggy and, to a lesser extent, Ken, they’re treading water after signing Topaz. So the major players are safe for the moment (and Ken got the best line of the night when congratulating the engaged Don: “I hope you have all the happiness that Peggy and I had signing this account.”). Not too much to report on the Lane and Roger fronts, but Joan? Whoa! She’s still carrying Roger’s baby, hoping to pass it off as Greg’s, and that can’t end well. Without knowing it, she shared a meaningful moment with the one person who knows all too well the ramifications of an office pregnancy: Peggy. And that was the scene of the night. I’m not saying that Peggy and Joan will be BFFs when the show returns, but these women, Peggy, once a mousy secretary now “saving” the agency, and Joan, the former queen bee now reduced to pushing a mail cart despite her new title, are now on common ground. They still live in a depressingly masculine world, but they see it for what it is and each, in her own way, is going to try for fulfillment on the best terms available. In a way, that’s where every character now stands. Don is going to rebuild his family, Ken won’t sacrifice his even if his father-in-law might be willing to sign on with SCDP, and Sally is pinning her hopes on Megan as the mother she’s always wanted. For now, it’s what they all need. But this is Mad Men. No doubt there will be crashing and burning when the series resumes. Thank goodness that Boardwalk Empire took the leap from good show to great show last night or I would be lost on Sundays. That’s all she wrote. If you’ve enjoyed these posts, see you in a year. But stop by from time to time as we examine other great shows past and present.