This week, I was all super psyched for Mad Men’s conclusion. Last week was everything exciting about the show — subtlety, excitement, confrontation, action!
This week..felt more along the heavy-handed lines of earlier this season. Someone must have told Matthew Weiner that his earlier seasons featured undulating plot developments that were too subtle so he needed to telegraph more. Tsk, someone.
So, what happened? Everyone tried to deal with the effect of guilt on their emotional landscape. Don manifested his in a toothache and hallucinations of his brother (I told you so!). Joan imagined herself somehow responsible for Layne’s suicide. Pete tried to convince himself that Rory Gilmore was the reason he wasn’t happy (her “oh. I guess we aren’t the same” was a funny, if gentle, burn). Roger is just a giant naked slice of Id, Pegs is employing the Draper model of brainstorming, Megan is ruthless when it comes to job-stealing,
Oh, and Joan wore GLASSES! Who knew there was a piece of her delightfulness missing and it was glasses. I also love her wardrobe upgrade from clinging dresses to suits in the same jewel tones.
Then that AMAZING closing shot–Don leaves Megan behind in the gorgeous technicolor commercial world and walks through a darkened soundstage (what’s happening?! Is he coming through my TV?!) and lands in a bar like the one in the pilot. He’s answered the “Who is Don Draper?” question and now he’s left with “Are you alone?”
..and that’s all I liked. Everything else felt a little paint by numbers. Pete’s soliloquey to the electroshocked Rory Gilmore was a callback to the monologue he had with Peggy somewhere in season 1 or 2. Don watching Megan’s reel harkened back to the Carousel (then he saw stills of a life he didn’t appreciate, that wasn’t real. With Megan’s film he saw a real person, for maybe the first time as not just an extension of himself). His moment with Peggy in the movies was a nod to the Suitcase episode. I appreciate a nice harkening, but you can’t just rearrange the same beats and expect a new emotional response.
I almost never feel let down by Madmen but this ep…it kept nudging at real moments before settling into something unsurprising and unexciting. There aren’t many shows that go above my head and keep me from guessing where they’re going. Mad men has always been that show for me, but not this week. Sadface.
But I am totally pro-people-hitting-Pete, for the record.
SCD(P) is moving up in the world. But at what cost?