Your life will be an adventure.

“Time and Life,” “Lost Horizons,” and “The Milk and Honey Route.” My devotion to Mad Men is such that I even love the titles of the episodes. I scribbled some notes down a couple weeks ago, and now I can’t find the paper, but that’s progress, right? I’ll become a devoted blogger just as this thing is ending. I did jot notes last night, because I was too lazy to live-blog, and I found those. So here we go!

One week until the series finale! I have warned my better half that I’ll probably be emotionally devastated. I don’t generally cry during movies or TV shows these days, unless pregnant or newly postpartum — but Mad Men has choked me up twice during these past three episodes: When Peggy shared with Stan that she’d had a child, and when Henry told Sally about Betty’s cancer, and Sally covered her ears. Poor Sally, who wants so desperately to be adult, looked so childlike at that moment. Any of my loyal readers are welcome to come over and watch the show, with the understanding that 1) you must not wake the baby, and 2) you must not talk during the show. It’ll be a hell of a party. 😉

How interesting it’s been, over the arc of these three episodes, to watch the dismantling of the five partners — Ted, Roger, Don, Joan, and Pete — and everything they built. “Time and Life” was one of my favorite episodes in recent memory, largely because of the caper-style build-up to “save” SC&P one last time, only to the big reveal, in the end, that it wouldn’t work. Now, going into the finale, we have the likelihood that Ted and Roger may be the only of the partners left there.

Ted again is another worker bee in shirtsleeves, and he couldn’t be happier. Good for you, Ted?

Roger. Oh, Roger. Roger’s sudden appearance at the organ will go down as one of my favorite SC&P memories. (Even if, as some comments I’ve read suggest, the organ dirge and his comments about his heart condition foreshadow his death. He’s had a good ride.) He says exactly the right thing to give Peggy the confidence she needs to swagger into McCann-Erickson, while managing, one last time, to let Joan down. I loved the way Joan picked up Kevin’s photo before she left her office the last time; just a little visual reminder to Roger of that failure, whether or not Roger registered it, or cared. What is next for Roger? Well, most likely, more of the same. He lives on the surface of things, and I think he’ll continue, comfortably, if not happily, to be that way until his time is up.

As for Joan? I can’t say that I’m sorry her future won’t include a huge, public legal battle for what she’s owed. She has earned a break, whatever that looks like for her.

Peggy has so many sides; the side that keeps working in the dark, even though no one cares that she is. The side that gets drunk and roller skates through empty halls. My new favorite side, of course, is her slightly hungover entrance into McCann. I said in my last post that she envisioned a future for her career regardless of whether or not Don was in it, and it’s clear now that she’s on her way. I still hope we get some glimpses of her in the finale, though. There is so much more of Peggy that I want to see.

Let’s talk Pete Campbell. I wanted to applaud him when he told his (somehow even less attractive) brother, “It feels good, and then it doesn’t.” YOU FINALLY GOT IT. SOMEONE ON THE SHOW FINALLY GOT IT. I’m personally not convinced he’ll get his happy ending — Trudy could well change her mind between 4 a.m. and the light of day, and all this hinges on unreliable Duck Phillips — but, “Wichita is beautiful.” Isn’t it pretty to think so?

How sad, in retrospect, that Jim Hobart didn’t even let Don Draper finish what would most likely be his last pitch. To be honest, I kind of love where Don/Dick’s story line is going. Being Don, he’s trying to shed his Draper identity as fully and tidily as possible. His doing so — essentially disappearing — would disappoint me. Betty’s diagnosis may be the gravitational pull to draw him back into his old life (and maybe, unfortunately, his old ways). Perhaps it’s a good sign that even before Betty’s diagnosis, he was checking in regularly with Sally? I don’t have any delusions that Mad Men, in the finale, will manage to sketch Dick Whitman as a fully fleshed character that fully embraces the best parts of his old self — his creative work, his children — with whatever parts of Dick’s hobo soul that have been buried all these years. But I’m looking forward to watching whatever glimpses of the metamorphosis that we can get in one episode.

Selected notes from my stream of consciousness last night–

“LOL cannot imagine how un-fun the orchards with Dad Pete would be.”

“Is Betty dying?!”

“LOL at Pete slamming door in secretary’s face.”

“Betty, don’t be dying, just be pregnant?”

“BETTY’S GONNA DIE 😦 ”

“Learjet? That’s… ironic.”

“Don WOULD find a goddess by the pool.”

“Don doesn’t die, he goes to Oklahoma, and it’s worse.”

“LOL at Charming Pete.”

“Roy!”

“Oh my. Don is… sweaty.”

“Don! These men are not priests!”

“Will Trudy take her floral couch?”

“LOL at Don correcting that punk’s grammar again.”

“GO HOME DON.”

“Drive it like ya stole it, kid.”

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Stop kidding yourself

I’ll combine “New Business” and “The Forecast,” because, let’s face it, I’m not getting paid for this. Also, I had a profound thought about the show in the wee morning hours recently, and I forgot to write it down. I apologize for robbing you all of my brilliance.

In “New Business,” Megan cleans out Don’s apartment and checkbook. “I don’t want anything from you” — well, except all your furniture and a million dollars. My friend Kelly C. had a great insight about Megan, which I hope she’ll share at some point.

(Up for debate: Did Don ruin Megan’s life? Eh, I don’t think he did. He certainly disappointed her by not being what she thought he was, and he was an absolutely terrible husband, but in the end, he is just the fall guy for her own unhappiness. Maybe she will come to realize this in time.)

One of the criticisms that I’ve read on the show’s last season (last several, really) is that it’s indulging in story lines for minor characters that will have no time to go anywhere. /Sad Diana /Pima Ryan

I loved Megan walking in on Roger getting dressed in the empty apartment. Never change, Roger.

In “The Forecast,” Don picks up the recorder to ramble ideas for Roger’s speech. “Fourscore and seven years ago.” He’s back to spouting cliches; it reminded me of his drunken Life cereal pitch, “The cure for the common breakfast.”

“It’s supposed to get better.” Ouch.

His real estate agent sees right through him. Season 1 or 2 Don would’ve charmed his way right into her pants. Final-season Don disgusts her.

“It looks like a sad person lives here. He got divorced, spilled wine on the carpeting, and didn’t care to replace it, even for himself. This place reeks of failure.”

Don replies that a lot of good things happened there — do tell, Don! — and that he has a good feeling about things. Reeks of failure — and desperation. The optimism is telling, because it’s so unlike him.

In other news:

Joan meets the psycho handsome husband from “Double Jeopardy” and seems to think a relationship with him is a good idea. Okay, I might be prejudiced. He scared me a little when he lost his temper, but I don’t think he was supposed to. I think it was just Double Jeopardy Effect.

It’s so interesting to see how Joan and Peggy’s similar paths diverged. Joan tells the babysitter (but really, tells Kevin), “You’re ruining my life!” Peggy doesn’t have to worry about that; she could go to the pyramids, or anywhere she wants, but she won’t. She goes home to an empty apartment, while Joan has Kevin’s sweet voice telling her, “Bye bye.” I like that the show doesn’t pass judgment on either of them for their choices, or try to present one as better than the other.

(Slightly off-topic, but related to Peggy: Is there a reason that Peggy and Ted haven’t picked things up, now that he’s back? There’s no awkwardness, or else it seems glossed over… ? Did I miss something? Is it his mustache?)

One thing that stood out, for me, is how divergent Peggy is now from her mentor Don, who is so wrapped up in his own jaded life that he can’t have a constructive conversation with Peggy about hers. For so long, it seemed like their work lives would be forever intertwined. Yet, as Peggy is describing where she sees herself going, and what she wants to do, Don is nowhere to be found. He can take some credit for steering her, but honestly, she created herself. One more reminder to Don that he’s really just an empty suit.

Oh, hey! Glen’s back! This is what we’ve been waiting for! Said no one ever. He is a good vehicle for showing that Betty, under the polished exterior she has cultivated these past years, is still as childlike as ever inside. (She’s not as introspective as Don, though, so her failings aren’t eating away at her.) She can’t fool around with Glen… because she’s married. I think the viewing public could’ve come up with a few more reasons, Bets!

(My Facebook messages and texts were all hilariously similar versions of the same after this episode: “Glen!!!”)

Sally’s going on a bus trip. This seems like a good idea. “You’re just handsome! Stop kidding yourself!” It’s one thing when Mathis says it, but when Sally tells Don a version of the same thing? Damn.

My friend Kelly C. commented on the post for the last episode that Don will never find true happiness, because he doesn’t believe he deserves it. He tells Sally that she’s beautiful, and that it’s up to her to be more than that, but he’ll never take his own advice, because he thinks the battle is lost. The real estate agent tells him we have to find a place for him, and here Don stands on the brink again. But nothing will change.

I’ve long believed that for Don, mediocrity would be a fate worse than death. Is that where we’re heading? He loses (some of) his looks, his creative edge, his sexy wife, his showplace apartment, and what is he? In Megan’s words, “An aging, sloppy, selfish liar.” An alcoholic, middle-aged executive who flirts with his teenage daughter’s friends.

Resolutions

I didn’t blog about last week’s episode, and in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t try to figure it all out, because it worked much better with the season finale. (I’d like to say that was my long-term plan, but unlike “Mad Men,” I don’t have one.) I’m scribbling down my thoughts now in a hurry, and I wish I had more time to think about it. Now that the season is over, I want to rewatch it again. And then maybe I’ll finally delete the episodes from the DVR. (Sorry, honey.)

So, “wow.” That was my first reaction to the season finale.

Remember so long ago, when the season began on a beach in Hawaii, our lovers bathed in golden light? Nearly all the major scenes in this episode happened in the darkened bedrooms, bars, jail cells, and conference rooms, including the one in which Megan, the one who has tried to look past all Don’s demons, has finally had enough.

I know a lot of people never liked Megan to begin with, and I’ve been sort of on the fence, but now I’m finding I’m a little reluctant to see her go. As a foil to Don, one who spoke the truth to him when he needed to hear it, she has been a welcome character.

Megan has been an outsider in so many ways. At SCDP, she was the exotic flower who brightened up the lobby. To Don’s kids, she was the calming governess who sang in French. (At least she was, until Sally hit puberty.) Now she’s finally realizing she’s an outsider in her own marriage. Of course, we saw in the finale how out of touch she is with who her husband really is. “You can have one before dinner,” she tells him as he pours an evening drink. Does she not realize that he’s been drinking since he wakes up? Or is she just burying her head? Whatever the case, when he plainly states, “Megan. I love you,” it’s too little, too late.

The escalation of Don’s alcoholism in this season has been hard to watch, as it has been every time he falls off the wagon, but it really rings true. “Don has difficulties” was the hilarious understatement of a synopsis provided for this episode. I felt a little bored last week during the penultimate episode. I was not bored this week; instead, I felt tense the entire time. I have heard some people were disappointed there wasn’t a huge surprise, but to me, Don finally reaching some level of self-awareness was a surprise! Sorry to those of you who were hoping Megan would get whacked!

Betty breaking down on the phone and Don calling her “Birdie” — arresting. Don’s meltdown in front of the Hershey’s executives — heartbreaking. But the moment that really struck me was when he looked right at Dawn’s face as he was leaving the office before Thanksgiving and called her “Sweetheart.” It was as if he finally noticed her… and everyone around him. Everyone he’s stomped all over — Ted, Peggy, his children, Megan, Stan, most recently.

He shows up for the emergency Thanksgiving meeting on time, to the surprise of the partners. The Twitterverse was irritated that Joan and Roger stayed silent, but what has Don done for them lately? Don and Roger stayed silent in an earlier episode when Harry basically called Joan a prostitute for how she landed Jaguar; later, Don fired Jaguar and expected Joan to kiss his feet. What has Don done for his old pal, Roger? Well, he vomited into an umbrella stand at Roger’s mother’s funeral. Roger knows where his bread is buttered, and right now, it’s with aligning himself with the majority.

The mystery of are-Peggy-and-Ted-or-aren’t-they was finally revealed. Ted obviously was familiar with Peggy’s apartment, and he took off that dress like he’d done it before. I think Don, like Ted, has been revealed as a true-to-life character this season. Usually through little hints: his need to take risks, his intolerance to alcohol (at least in relation to Don), his interactions with his wife and kids, his remark to Don about his father trying to quit drinking. I was a little afraid he would try to ship Peggy off to California, but he took the high road, or at least the highest road left to for a man who really is trying, desperately, to do the right thing. His explanation to Peggy that she would be glad he’d made the decision might end up being true, but it is no less chauvinistic, as Peggy rightfully pointed out.

This season has really focused on Peggy’s love life, which, I’ll grant, is really entertaining. (She stabbed Abe!) I’m really hoping the next season will show more of Peggy the creative worker. Obviously, the shot in the final moments of Peggy in a pantsuit, Drapering in Don’s chair, points to that. But “Mad Men” has fooled us before. A friend of mine pointed out (via Twitter — yo, Brian!) that Peggy’s really going to hate Don now for sending Ted to California in his place. They say looking good is the best revenge. Peggy looks good; Don looks like hell. Peggy smells like Chanel No. 5; Don smells like the bottom of a jail cell. Peggy’s sitting in his chair; Don’s been sent packing, at least until he gets his shit together. I’d say she might go on hating him, but she’s certainly on track to best him. Peggy has been mimicking Don all season. Remember when she was house-hunting and looked out over the bright city, and a few scenes later, Don looks off his dark balcony?

Pete deserves his own mention. “NOT GOOD, BOB!” instantly made it on my short list of favorite quotes (which I’ll share sometime soon). I also giggled inappropriately at his, “She always loved the sea.” Those sentimental Campbell boys. Pete’s problem has conveniently taken care of itself, apparently, and the poor guy can’t even decide how to feel. How sad is he now, though? His mother’s things are being piled up in the living room where he never even spends his time; his daughter will barely know him. What sort of empty life will he have in California? Most likely, the same sort of empty life he’s had in New York. As Trudy pointed out, at least he’s starting to realize it now.

The final shot of the episode, of Don showing his kids where he grew up? I loved it. Made up for any shortcomings this season (and really, I don’t think there were too many, although I’m sure some will disagree). I loved that it ended on a hopeful note, but my optimism doesn’t really extend to the final season. Don with his life together? Well, that doesn’t seem very dramatic. Maybe it’d be shocking in and of itself.

I might come back and add more thoughts as I think of them. In the meantime, a couple tidbits:

Really, no Ginsberg in the finale? What’s all that been going, then?

Friend Amy pointed out that Bob Benson’s frilly apron deserves a mention!

Thoughts? Love, hate, ambivalent — and predictions for Season 7?

 

Father Abraham

I’m still here! I watched Sunday’s episode with one diehard (thanks, Michele!) and a couple of disinterested chatterers (grrrr), which made me feel I needed another viewing to say anything intelligent about it. Finally, today, I had time to watch it again — and I’m still not sure I can speak intelligently about it. Sorry, Internet!

One line jumped out, and it was Don’s, in response to Peggy’s complaint that Ted never makes her feel the way Don does:

“He doesn’t know you.”

Does anyone on this show know anyone? Peggy doesn’t know Abe anymore; he’s become so radical that she is shocked when she discovers she’s become nothing more than fodder for his article. She doesn’t know what Ted’s feeling, after his initial (and really abrupt) declaration of love. Pete doesn’t know his family, as Duck points out. Megan obviously doesn’t know Don. Roger doesn’t know Joan anymore… or his daughter, or his son, or his grandson. 

And no one knows Bob Benson!

Betty, at least, seems to have finally cracked the code of Don Draper. Mrs. Francis got her groove back in a big way, from reviving her old flirtatious ways at Henry’s business event, to getting jumped by her jealous husband in a taxi, to seducing Don, just like the old days. Or is it like the old days? She can see that he’s changed, except at an essential level when it comes to his marriage to Megan (or, let’s be honest, his relationships with anyone): “That poor girl. She doesn’t know that loving you is the worst way to get to you.” Nailed it!

Speaking of knowing people: My faithful readers have been sending me all sorts of links this week! When Bob Benson opened Joan’s door to Roger, he asked, “Who are you?” Good question! 

And the Sharon Tate-Megan Draper theory! I love this one. I agree that the ominous tone of this season seems to be building to something big. During both viewings of this episode, I was distracted by the loud sirens during Don and Megan’s brief conversation at their dinner table. I’m sure that’s not sloppy sound editing, but a deliberate reminder that the city is darker and more dangerous than ever before, and that includes the Draper apartment. There were sirens all over this episode.

Leftovers:

No Sylvia! Hurrah!

Megan’s costar making a pass at her… Meh. As they sat giggling on the couch, my husband (one of the chatterers!) joked, “They’re gonna do it.” I threw a pillow at him, and then Megan’s costar tried to kiss her. I felt like the entire scene was a cliched male fantasy, or at least an interrupted one, and I’m just not sure what the purpose was. Someone fill me in. 

Don and Betty in casual camp clothes, singing along with Bobby. To repeat: Donald Draper, singing. Michele and I looked at each other and said in unison, “What is happening!?”

I loved the last look at harried, sweaty Peggy as she glanced from Ted’s closed door to Don’s. She looked like she wanted her knife back. There are so many great themes of pairs and couples in this episode, as the name suggests; if you want to read a better recap than mine, Vulture is great as always.

Line that slayed me: Abe: “Your activities are offensive to my every waking moment. I’m sorry, but you’ll always be the enemy.” Peggy: “Are you breaking up with me?”

Bob “Bunson”’s short shorts!

Talk amongst yourselves! And I’ll try to be a better blogger next week.