“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.”
Mad Men: Season 7: Episode 14: Person to Person: GRADE: A
Its interesting the title of the series finale of Mad Men never had Don Draper be person to person with anyone in the office or that he’s really known from work. Instead he calls the three most important women in his life and has one last talk with them over the phone. Sally, Betty, and then most importantly, Peggy.
I had expectations for the finale, but mostly in how character arcs and stories would be wrapped up. I learned now to not expect certain things. I don’t make any real predictions or theories anymore in the case of shows like Mad Men or The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or Hannibal since I wanna be surprised and taken along for the ride. Predicting what I’d want now, kinda kills the viewing experience and if I don’t get what I want instead of what the story needs, I’m upset and disappointed and that is especially the case with series finales. The only other series finales I’ve seen this year has been the ending of Parks and Recreation and Justified where I had no idea of what was going to go on or how the characters would end each of their journeys and I was extremely pleased by that. So what about the swan song for Mad Men? I can firmly and honestly say that Mad Men got the ending it fully deserved.
Don Draper keeps on the way of the wandering traveler in the fall of 1970 and we find him racing cars across Utah and turns out he’s witnessed Gary Gabelich break the land speed record at Bonneville Speedway. Ah that Don, seeing magical things. Well he’s living a life of banging and well honestly this was a weak point, I mean yeah its establishing Don’s place in the finale, but it just kinda stumbled to get going in all honesty, but once he makes the phone call to Sally, the episode gets going because that’s when Don hears the news of Betty’s diagnosis. Suddenly Don’s mind goes back to how he tried to help Anna Draper when she came down with cancer, swoop in and save the day, not because its the right thing to do but because it what he thinks he needs to do in order to redeem himself and be a good guy, but Sally dismisses this since she knows this won’t be possible. Don slightly dismisses her dismissal as basically, “The fuck she knows?” Its not until he calls a sick and defeated looking Betty that it sinks in he knows its the wrong idea.
Don and Betty’s talk is heartbreaking. Its brutal, honest, and hurtful in how Don’s face expresses so much when he hears from Betty and knows living with him is the worst idea since he’s really not around that much at all right now. He can’t give Sally, Bobby, and Gene stability nor a woman in their lives. The better choices is to live with Betty’s brother and his wife. This scene just oozes great drama and they aren’t even in the same room. January Jones once agains rides high on the great writing involved in her story from last week, even if it was mostly enjoyable for Sally’s reaction and such, but she really sinks her teeth in the last moment she’ll most likely have with Don until her funeral. Its really just fantastic.
Thankfully we get a bit aside with Roger planning out his schedule with his wedding with Marie coming up and it even gives Meredith a send off which I didn’t expect at all since the company has caught on that Roger doesn’t need her and Caroline. Its a shame, especially after she had already translated Roger’s speech into pig latin! Damn you, McCann Erickson! DAMN YOU!
Elsewhere we life going on. Pete is getting ready to go and shares one last nice little moment with Peggy in her office and after all they been through together, it was a very nicely done and the closure they needed, even if it involved Harry Crane at some point. Ah Harry’s last scene is being upset Peggy can’t make their lunch because of work and huffs off eating cookies. Yeah seems about right for him.
Joan, man, Joan’s parts were good and what she needed in terms of wrapping up her character. As Richard told her, her life is “undeveloped property”. She can truly build something for herself now out of advertising and given how well things are with Richard, Florida vacations and cocaine and all, she truly can build a life with someone she loves. Though when she meets Ken Cosgrove, we will miss your inspired tap dancing, about helping out with an industrial film that Dow needs and as Joan looks over what needs to be done, it just clicks in her head that this is her next step, how she needs. Joan will start a production company and that’s gonna take all her attention away from Richard. He says he doesn’t wanna root for her to fail, but by saying that he really is. He’s not happy how the property has developed and feels displeased in Joan’s new career path. He turns down her marriage proposal since he’s still displeased with how his first marriage experience left him and that shows the final nail in the coffin of this brief, but very influential love for both of them. They leave each other, but Joan is all too happy about what’s to come now after talking with Roger to know that Kevin will be taken care of with his newly revised will and even offers Peggy a partnership in the new production company, but she seems hesitant. Sure they’d be their own bosses, but Peggy has really become her own boss wherever she is. She’s risen up in the ranks at every agency and doesn’t take shit from anyone. More on that in a bit.
Don continues and well surprise Caity Lotz’s Stephanie is here. Don goes visit her to give back the family ring and we discover the father of her kid took him and left to go with his parents and seeing what shit shape Don is in, they go to a spiritual retreat more upstate and yeah I seriously can tell you I never expected to see this in the ending of Mad Men. They go and things seem fine, letting themselves be open, more so Stephanie than Don at least, but Stephanie up and abandons Don after hearing troubling feedback about being a mother, and man I love seeing Caity Lotz here or on Arrow where she’s been able to show off what a damn good talent she is in acting. Don suddenly then has a moment of realization which leads to the best scene in the whole finale.
Distraught and in the midst of a panic attack, Don calls Peggy and confesses everything. He doesn’t outwardly admits to being Dick Whitman but it is mentioned. Peggy goes from being pissed to being worried, even saying how McCann would gladly bring him back and he could still get the Coca-Cola account, but they continue their talk, Don crying and feeling defeated, but Peggy only wanting to help someone deeply close to her. Don called because he never said goodbye to her and hangs up.
I’ve been saying in each of these reviews of Peggy and Elisabeth Moss have been the MVP of this final season and I mean that with her scenes here. Seeing the sheer confidence yet again and her personality in full play gives me joy to see how she has progressed and changed over the seven year run of the show. Especially in the following scene where she and Stan finally own up and confess their love for each other. Stan is revealed to be working at McCann and once again confront each other when Peggy is lamenting joining Joan and some heated words are said and they continue after she calls Stan about the phone call she had just been on with Don. The argument starts but then turns into the confessions, one of which being she’s turned down Joan’s offer and they embrace in a kiss in her office. It was nicely done, not over the top or hokey at all, but done the way Mad Men should have and did do it.
We also get to see Roger have one last fling on the show and a hilarious post sex argument with Marie. But also to go back to the Roger and Joan scene, that was a nice touch as well to see the two just being them and concerned parents for their child. Roger isn’t trying to force his way in, but he just wants the best for two very important people in his life and that got me all teary eyed. Just really damn good stuff.
Don sees a reflection of himself a man named Leonard at a confessional seminar where Leonard confesses about living a life similar as Don’s and ultimately feeling unloved and not that all important in his life at home and at work and how they feel their unable to give love because of how wrapped up in work they can become and Don breaks down. He cries as Leonard cries and they hug, embracing each other in solidarity.
We then come to the end of the show. Don in the lotus position and meditating as we see Peggy and Stan still together, Pete off to start his new life with Trudy and Tammy, Roger speaking french on his Paris honeymoon with Marie, Joan operating Holloway-Harris from her dining room, and Sally performing housework while Betty smokes and reads a book behind her. Then back to Don, eyes closed and in perfect harmony with everyone on the hilltop, finally finding inner peace but also inspiration.
We end on this.
Don finds inspiration it seems and goes back to McCann Erickson with this.
Mad Men from the start was about the characters, but characters set within a usually idealized time and showing how unidealistic it really was. Its much like our own world now, sure as was the 70s and 80s and 90s and so on. Don’s words from the Carousel pitch often still ring true throughout the whole show about nostalgia. Nostalgia is delicate, but sweet and pain from an old wound according the to Greeks. Nostalgia was a mindset for Mad Men, but to show the downfall of nostalgia since it can often be that as much as a good thing. From Don’s unpleasant flashbacks to his family life to more pleasant ones like how he first met Roger and got into the business. Nostalgia of the 60s and its historical events helps us deconstruct the time and the characters to not show just the bad side of many of them, but what they are truly worth as people. To show the full person and that’s what Mad Men did best in its run and that’s what it did best in its final hour. This was the ending Mad Men deserved and I for one am glad I didn’t see any of this coming.
So long everyone, its been a great ride.
FINALE GRADE: A
SERIES GRADE: A