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Once again, excellent review Jonathan! This should make a strong thesis project. You have amazing insight into the characters and themes of this show. Do you think Pete is finally realizing that no matter what he does, he will never be Don? It will be interesting to see how low Pete falls.Personally,I just hope Roger continues with the LSD experiments!
Love love LOVE your Mad Men reviews. After watching each episode, I always have many thoughts, feelings, and unanswered questions running through my head. Your analysis helps me work through them.
Thank you both very much. It means a lot!
You are certifiably an MM optimist...Don walks from the set no different than ever. He bestowed a 'gift' to his wife tonight, to Lane's widow earlier,to Peggy on her accounts and to his own half-brother a few seasons ago. So what? Easy to be magnanimous when his job and financial security isn't in play.. The encounter with Lane's widow is the epicenter of this episode, yet all you write about is Pete. Why? He's been a deserving punching bag this season; being 'allowed' to get his apartment is the best news he's ever heard! He's a child... Aside: "You Only Live Twice' a brilliant choice--but the instrumental James Bond version is a more sleek companion to the shot of Draper leaving the set.
Thanks for the brilliant write-ups about the show Jonathan! It's been great checking them out after each episode. One thing in the finale you didn't mention... The fact that the commercial Megan stars in is based on 'Beauty and the Beast'. On the set obviously Megan is Beauty, but there's no sign of a Beast... except perhaps for Don? What could that mean? His leaving the set, perhaps as 'the Beast' and then going to the bar and meeting those women could lead to a different reading of what happens next to the one you offered. But I agree, the point for now is not his answer to the question but his hesitation. I thought his leaving the set also represented the audience (us) returning to the real world, and then considering whether we are alone, and why we connect with the show. I really thought it was the most satisfying Mad Men finale yet. Anyway once again my thanks sir! Great writing indeed.
With Don the epicentre of the show and Megan his wingman (wing woman), the most enlightening scene of the episode for me was between Megan and her mother while she was lying depressed in bed. The world has room for only so many ballerinas... as if, the world has room for only so many happy people, and it's not a crime to end up without it. What I've seen repeated on the show every season is that no amount of money, business success, sex, drugs nor alcohol can fill anyone's "ballerina" desires: that unbridled, almost unconscious sense of happiness. Advertising sells material things. Material things aren't helping anyone to true happiness. What's left to seek? Roger's the point of the arrow it seems.
Fantastic review/essay as always. Was surprised you didn't mention the encounter with Lane's wife though.
Draper, though still in love with Megan's image, loses respect for her when she asks for his help, leaves the commercial shoot without watching, hits a toney bar and takes up the woman's offer.He nurses Megan to get the dream he desires per Mme. Calvet's advice.
That was what i understood too. Megan was everything Betty was not: independent, active, talented and young. Betty, on the other side, was bitter, tired and had no interests other than her family. And in the end, for me, it was almost a flashback scene from the Betty era... Oh, Don met Betty from a commercial shooting for Sterling Cooper too, didn't he?
Excellent review Jonathan. It is refreshing to get past the one liners in the MM talk forum and read someone who has a reverence for writing and the patience to review such a wonderfully written and acted show. I admire the way you give your analysis with a temperate stroke; Mad men is written, I feel in that way and should be discussed with the type of thoughtful retrospect that you have provided on your site. Thank you for extending my Mad Men experience with your keen insight.
Please magnify everyone's compliments of your Mad Men recaps by a thousand for me, as I offer my heartfelt thank you and bravo for a job well done. Your talent and most importantly your passion for the show is clearly evident. In a sea of chatter, you really, really get it even when I disagree with "some" of your analysis. After Heather Havrilesky's Mad Men recaps at Salon.com, I didn't think I'd find another writer who speaks so reverently about the show or so eloquently capture the essential nature of what Matt Weiner is trying to convey to the audience. This is existentialism at its finest. Though Mr. Weiner's message is brutal, I'm constantly amazed at how accurate and applicable it is to all our lives. Which explains why we love/hate these characters to much, we are them and they are us. I wasn't sure about this season until the last five minutes proved so thoroughly satisfying that I burst out laughing and had to concede to Mr. Weiner that he is indeed a genius in this realm and that no could or has done it better, not on such a consistent base. (Side-eye at David Chase)On a personal note, I wonder what it says about me that I would welcome boozy, philandering, chain-smoking Don to the enlightened hero of this past two season. Reading your take of his answering no at the bar caused my stomach to drop even though deep down I know it would be better and certainly more healthy for Don to stay and fight for his marriage. I love your romantic take on that and it would be great to see Don go that route, if only because its something we've seen so little of in popular culture in the age of marriage vows being "Kardashianed". I look forward to next week's wrap up and then its see you next year pal (which now can't come fast enough).
Mr.Lack, you have once again gone above and beyond the call of duty. I don't even bother reading the Hacks pretending to offer analysis of MM. Thank you 1000 times. I do differ with you on Don's choice at the end. I feel that the scene with Peggy at the movie theater provided a clue, when he lamented at giving people what they wanted just to see them leave. It is clear that he never wanted Megan to pursue acting, as that would take her away from him. She is his crutch...his sanctuary from his demons. The end song - "You Only Live Twice" - was perfectly chosen. The words - "You Only Live Twice or so it seems, One life for yourself and one for your dreams." It seems to me that he will go back to live the life for himself...his life of dreams (with Megan) is over. He will give he what she wants (an acting career) and know that she will leave him. He sets her up in her new life, and walks away. Ready to re-embrace his old life. I bet we'll never see Megan again in MM. I crave to read more from you about Don's visit to Lane's widow. Certainly he feels guilty, but we already knew that. What do you figure is the significance of that particular scene?Last question - aside from it being humorous - why the scene with the dogs in Richmond? Peggy finally gets her trip -- ("it's not Paris") -- but why the dogs? Thank you again for your work. You are marvelous.
Sorry...one more question, if you don't mind. Megan had promised to position her friend for a commercial with Don, but instead she positions herself. Why does Weiner want to portray her as someone who would betray her friends?
Thank you very much! I see why your opinion on the ending differs, I knew my opinion would not be shared by many, but it's always good to hear other interpretations. Now, about these questions...On Don's visit to Lane's widow. I didn't talk about it in the article just because it seems fairly self-explanatory, but I think I see both sides of their argument. Lane's wife is at least partially correct when she says Don is doing this for himself; Don feels extreme guilt, and he's doing this so he'll stop feeling bad, and maybe put Adam and his toothache out of his mind as well. Lane's wife is rather hysterical at the moment, of course, and I don't think Don's actions are bad are ill-suited to the situation. She DID deserve that money from SCDP, and Don did do a nice deed to bring it to her. It just wasn't the selfless deed he tried selling it as.Two dogs humping - honestly, I think that's just a joke, one that's meant to contrast with Peggy's character and show how strong she is. She's done so much in her life and career to reach this point, a point where she can get on an airplane, fly, and do business as a leader, not a follower, and what's the view out her window? Two dogs humping. Not exactly glamorous. But Peggy doesn't care; she sits back in bed and smiles, content with where she is, and that, to me, defines the awesomeness that is Peggy Friggin' Olsen.Finally...Megan's betrayal is consistent with her desperation in the episode, I think, but also consistent with a major theme of the season: "Every man for himself." This has been a year of people acting selfishly to get what they want or what they feel they need, and it's resulted in negative occurrences (like Lane's death, Joan's prostitution, etc.). Megan betraying her friend is just one more instance of people acting out of their OWN needs, rather than the needs of those around them.
I think we'll see Megan again, but I think Don already knows it's over. When I watched him watching her on screen, I think he saw the young woman he fell in love with, but I also think he realized it was his dream of her and not who she actually was. I believe it is this tension between Don's hopes and reality that has fueled their domestic disputes all season.As has been said, I think Don knows he will give Megan what she wants and then she will leave him. I believe, as he watches her on screen, that he sadly realizes she is in their marriage for herself and not for him. The sight of her maiden name on the blackboard credit only further illustrates this poignant fact.It's always hard to read Don when he's thinking or reflecting, but what I saw in his face as he watched Megan's black-and-white image move across the screen was a bemused and pained expression of love and tenderness, and a sad good-bye. To me, the fact that the reel was in B&W and not "living color" was also very telling, much as an air-brushed photo in an obit.Don may ride this out for a little bit longer while he figures out what to do next, but I truly believe that in his mind, the marriage is done.
I don't agree with your analysis of the conclusion. For example Draper's face loses its smile as he continued to watch the reel. If anything, the allusions to his living against his nature is peppered through out, and your conclusion is naive. As he turned to those women at the end, there's no emotion in his eyes. Like in signal 30, these casual fling are not about anything permanent, and what Joan said is going to be proven true."Oh please as if he's the first one ever to marry his secretary."But thanks for sharing nonetheless. I just think it's your personal wish and not based on what we saw from the episode. Could it be a red herring? Maybe, in which case I'd be surprised and I think it'd be against the show's best interest.
^ Oh and there's also the allusion with peggy."You help someone and they get away from you."I don't think he'll make that mistake again.
"This is what happens when you have the artistic temperament but you're not an artist."Cruel, but not necessarily untrue.Draper was practically begging her not to press the issue anymore. "You wanna be someone's discover, not someone's wife." She still does by being the mess that she is. During the reel, they zeroed in on her maiden name in the beginning. Draper smiles, but as it went on he loses his smile and even winces in the face.All these things.(The 2 posts above are mine.)
Ack, I take back what I said about his "nature".It's all circumstantial why he'd want to go back to casual flings.Cuse me.
You are the Matthew Weiner of critics! I enjoy reading your analysis and insight as much as I do watching the show! Thank you.
Thank you, Jonathan! I so love your reviews. You are the best!