The decision to split Mad Men’s final season into two is not one I’m particularly fond of. I know the tactic worked with Breaking Bad’s final year but Mad Men doesn’t exactly thrive on mindblowing cliffhangers. This is a show that requires a very specific mood, and you need to watch a couple of hours to really settle into the drama’s unique and slow-paced vibe. Do I really want to wait a year to see the rest of the season? That’s pretty dastardly of AMC. But hey, it’ll probably help the show’s Emmy chances (which have dwindled in recent years).
On the bright side, I quite loved these seven hours. Don’s journey genuinely feels like it’s coming to its natural end, and it’s been especially unsettling to see him assume such a pedestrian position in his agency’s hierarchy. This development has acted as the perfect contrast to Peggy’s tremendous evolution as a character; sadly, all that “power” has made her severely unlikeable with an influx of insecurities constantly bubbling beneath the surface. Nevertheless, her dynamic with Don has been central to the show since the beginning, and I have no doubt that it will continue to take center stage as Mad Men comes to a close.
Sadly, Joan didn’t get too much screentime this year. Nevertheless, I loved Bob’s proposal last week. It not only showcased the latter’s desperation in uncertain times, but emphasized just how much Joan is willing to sacrifice to achieve her happy ending. Here’s hoping the show’s return next year gives the character some much needed spotlight, and provides her with a satisfying ending. Could a reunion with Roger be in the cards? Those two always felt like an endgame couple to me.
I was also impressed by the manner in which Bert Cooper’s death was handled. His demise was subtle and remarkably fitting within the scope of the story. I was less amused by the final dance number, but perhaps the writers wanted to emphasize just how detached from reality Don had become? It felt a bit gratuitous though, as if the show’s crew finally remembered they had a Broadway star in their midst, and only one final opportunity to exploit his skills.
Pitches & Pieces
– How bizarre was Don’s secretary kissing him out of the blue?
– The moon landing was the perfect event to bring all our characters together (albeit in different places). I was particularly amused to see Don watching TV alone, and Bert watching alongside his maid.
– Why has Joan been so anti-Don this season? Not cool. Still, I loved seeing her eyes light up at the prospect of millions with the new agency deal.
– Peggy’s Burger Chef presentation was admittedly excellent. I especially love the opening touches with the slow-motion closeups and heightened sound effects conveying her nervousness.
– Could it be? Did I actually starting liking Pete Campbell this year? It’s most definitely due to the gorgeous Jessy Schram and her turn as his real-estate amour Bonnie.
– It’s fascinating how useless Betty has been since she left Don at the end of season three. I think her terrible characterization will long be remembered as Mad Men‘s biggest misstep.
– It’s scary how much Sally looked like Betty at the end as she crossed her hands and lit that cigarette. Woah.
Jim: (to Don) You’re just a bully and a drunk. A football player in a suit.
An intriguing and satisfying conclusion to the first half of Mad Men‘s final season. Is it 2015 already?