May 182015

Screenshot 2015-05-17 at 11.32.06 PM

A story, said Graham Greene, has no beginning or end:

[A]rbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. – The End of The Affair

In Person to Person, Mad Men ends its story with a commercial. It’s so simple; but who among us saw that coming?

White T Jim B: What do we have to compare this ending to – the diner scene in The Sopranos? The end of The Wire? Breaking Bad, where Walt dies from hubris? I love that Matt didn’t ‘end cute.’ Everyone’s ending was a bit of a surprise, but also true to their character.

Anne B: All week I’ve been thinking about hopes and expectations. Watching Mad Men has taught me not to expect things, but I had hopes:

  • Don would quit smoking: for Betty, and because of Betty.
  • Don would find Peggy, and ask her to join him, one more time.
  • They would look for Joan, because she has the Rolodex.
  • The three of them would find Pete (the unexpected Rocket Man of the series’ end), and Lear Jet would be their client, and they’d live happily ever after.

WTJB: Mine were:

  • We see Sal again
  • Someone shaves off their pornstache
  • Roger goes out the window

AB: I did not think Don would go west instead of east once he learned that Betty was sick. I didn’t expect any of it: not the race-car bit, not Stephanie, not the interminable hippie crap in Big Sur or his deep connection to Coca-Cola. But I never expect anything Don Draper does. Does anyone?

WTJB: I never know where he is. But if you keep going west and you hit Esalen, you’re out of real estate.

AB: The episode is called Person to Person because there was a time when the long distance phone call was incredibly expensive. In a person-to-person call, you could ask the person you were calling to accept the charges. All the important conversations in this episode happen over the phone; both of Don’s person-to-person calls are to women he loves.

Birdie. – Don to Betty

WTJB: On the phone to Betty, Don concedes to her argument because he sees the reasoning. When Betty asks him when he last saw the kids, he knows the answer, and he knows his claim to them is false.

AB: Their poor kids. “I heard everything before they stopped fighting,” Bobby tells Sally. “I’m not going to Madrid anymore,” she adds. And then she shows her little brother how to cook dinner, because that’s how it goes for Seventies kids whose parents are divorced and dying.

WTJB: Sally isn’t going to to Madrid now, but I think she will get there. Ojalá.

Don’s call to Peggy is more confessional. Confession is good for the soul. He did it with the Legionnaires in Alva, Oklahoma. He does it again. I doubt it’s his last time.

AB: For a moment in that call, I was really afraid for him. But Stan reminded Peggy of what we already knew: “He always does this, and he always comes back. He’s a survivor.” And then he dropped the bomb:

I’m in love with you.

I love this development. Stan’s grounded happiness is a nice counterweight to Peggy’s huge ambition. It’s the unexpected gift of the series’ end.

WTJB: It was poignant, and Peggy’s not left out as a result. Matt’s pretty generous to the viewers in this episode.

AB: As the sun sets on Mad Men, the Campbells board the private jet to their new life. Peggy is staying with McCann. Don is finding his center on the West Coast; he’ll come back, too, to make that great commercial for Coca-Cola.

WTJB: Is that a given? He goes to Esalen and comes back with a commercial?

AB: Yes, it is. Don has the idea for that ad, and I dance to it with my Dad when I am five. This all makes perfect sense to me.

Roger has done the decent thing for his son, and Joanie … is single again: raising her son, and running her own business from her apartment. If anyone can make that situation work, Joan can.

WTJB: Pete and Trudy find happiness, a kind of closure. Roger, Joan, and Peggy all have somewhat stable dénouements. These are more satisfying things than waiting on someone to come through the door of a diner.

AB: I love that Mad Men ends as a cultural force. It built the brand of AMC, made basic cable a thing, and influenced storytelling, advertising, and fashion. It restored context to the Swinging Sixties. And it brought us our friends, Deb and Roberta, and our fellow Basketwriters.

I am so grateful. I’m grateful that Matt Weiner fought for the integrity of this show, and won. I’m grateful that the cast members we met through seven seasons of this show held true to the story and their characters, despite a tabloid culture that values very different things. I am grateful for the patience and discretion of this cast and crew, for their understanding that storytelling sets its own pace and cannot be rushed. I have loved every second of this show, even when I didn’t like it, and I will miss it for the rest of my life.

WTJB: What’s the saying, “Television is a medium, so called because it is neither rare nor well-done”? It will be the series I take to my grave, clutching the DVDs and telling everyone they have to watch.

Thank you, Deb and Roberta Lipp, for creating this space for all of us. I have never felt more valued — courted! — in any role, job, or place than I have here. Thank you for asking me to be one of the male voices on this blog. It’s been an honor.

AB: Thanks to all of you Basketcases for joining us here and sharing this ride with us. The Basket will continue, and so will we.

Thanks most of all to Matt Weiner. Thank you for giving color and context to the line drawings of my memories. Thank you for introducing us both to characters we will never forget, and friends we would never have met without you.

WTJB: In the words of the immortal philosopher St. Paul of Anka:

Gather moments while you may
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life

AB: Thank you for this ride on the carousel, for this time machine you made for us. Here’s your Basket of Kisses, Matt Weiner. We love you.

Final thoughts:

  • Sally Draper is my hero. She might be my favorite fictional character ever. Thank you, Kiernan Shipka, for giving us this girl. I’ll love her forever.
  • “Don, honey.” When was the last time Betty Don-honeyed her ex-husband? When was the first time?
  • “Your life is undeveloped property.” Men have said dickish things to Joan over the years, but this line from Richard is one of the worst.
  • The man who gives you a bump of coke is not the man you want in your life, Joan Holloway Harris. Write that down somewhere.
  • Peggy turned down what might have been the truly great opportunity of her life. “The partnership is just for you.” Joan was serious, and I’m as disappointed as she was.
  • “I don’t know …” Elisabeth Moss is such a good actress: Joan’s answer was right there, in her voice.
  • Roger has finally found his perfect match. “YELL AT ME SLOWER OR IN ENGLISH.” He and Marie are perfect together.
  • How does it feel to be stuck at goddamned Esalen for 20 minutes of the last hour of your favorite show ever? With a bunch of hippies? IN 1970?! Ask me. PLEASE.

  175 Responses to “Mad Men Recap: Person to Person – Hello, Goodbye”

  1. The beauty of this finale is the ambiguity it places in — and over — Don.

    Ambiguity is Mad Men’s signature and constant companion, so an authentic ending leaves us guessing.

    I am going to venture to say that for most, the ending is an indication that Don’s going to make the Coca-Cola ad in the coming year (1971), and such a line of interpretation/argument is quite valid.

    Yet, if we’re led to think that way, it feels like the solution to a mystery in a plot-driven sense. That’s not Mad Men.

    I am taking a different line of argumentation, namely, that while the Coca-Cola song’s tribute to advertising genius could identify Don’s epiphany as a solely commercial/professional one, the song’s use of words (“it’s the real thing — what the world wants today”) suggests that Don has found “the real thing,” the self-love and acceptance Anna tried to give to him on previous trips to California. It’s a coming-full-circle moment for Don, and if the opening credits of the show portray that man falling, falling, falling to the bottom, how logical it is that Don would continue to fall all the way to the bottom just before the end of the finale…………….

    ….. and then find inner peace, accompanied by the self-love and self-awareness which can finally enable him to be a better man.

    It’s amazing, though, that these two disparate and divergent interpretations — which, if true, would represent very different commentaries on who and what Don/Dick is — are both equally valid.

    Matt Weiner, you exceeded expectations with this finale.

    What an incredible pleasure and privilege it was to be alive during the first-run existence of this series.

    Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen, to borrow from another iconic TV finale.

    • Beautiful comment. Thank you!

      “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” indeed. (I was a kid when M*A*S*H ended, but I was also a regular watcher — and I cried.)

      • When the Chinese musicians that Charles was trying to teach how to read music were butchered it was that finale’s most searing moment.
        Still the single most watched program in U.S. history.
        60.2 Nielsen rating.

  2. Good morning. Loved this episode. A cross between the tidy Sex and The City ending and the ambiguous Sopranos ending. I want to thank YOU for this beautiful basket of kisses, the best Mad Men site ever. Have a Coke… And a smile.

    Kim Stagliano

  3. Years ago, Anna told Dick the only thing keeping him from being happy was the feeling that he was alone. When he hugged that guy at the seminar, I think he finally realized that he wasn’t alone.

    What a wonderful finale!

    • Good callback to Anna, Wick. I’d forgotten that she said that. Also, when he said that Anna was the only one who really knew him, Peggy said, “That’s not true.” And she was right. You don’t have to know someone’s true identity to be able to relate to them and have a strong connection. Peggy knew it, Rachel knew it…

  4. So much to think about, but the one that just popped into my head as I was reading this was the critical part that Roger’s bequest truly played in Joan’s new venture. By knowing Kevin’s future is secure no matter what, Joan was able to take chances on her own business and not worry about Kevin. Maybe without even realizing it, Roger was able to give Joan the single most valuable gift he could give her as a parting gift, the compass she needs to chart her own journey.

    • I could not agree more.

      I was texting with one of my single-mom sisters during the finale last night; in the Joan-Roger scene, the subject of what “a good father” is came up. I pointed out that the moment before he remarries is the precise moment when a good father would legally secure the lives of his offspring. (I’m a stepmom. Ask me how I know.)

      Yes, Roger’s generosity gives Joan the comfort she needs to roll the dice on her own business. But it also recognizes responsibility: I made this life, Roger is saying of Kevin. I am responsible for this life. He has no claim on Joan — beyond his clear love for her — but Roger will be responsible for that child for the rest of his life.

      It’s so simple — it’s the foundation of family law here in California, and many other places — but you would be shocked to see how hard some people push against the fact of that responsibility. Still.

  5. Also, what snapped Don out of the abyss was that stranger saying nobody would miss him when he was gone. Don’s expression changed, and he sat straight up. Because he realized, after having just talked to Peggy, that he would be missed. Peggy telling him that was huge, coming after Betty hammering home how little he was involved in his kids’ lives.

    Did I mention it was a wonderful finale?

    • You know, Wick, Betty was right but you’re right too – and thinking back, it reminded me of all the Don-Betty episodes where she was always on his case. She had very very good reasons but that judgmental thing of hers might have been intact even if he became the perfect father and husband she wanted. Betty was always a hard woman to please.

  6. Just magnificent. It spelled out what we need and want to know, and left the rest up to us.

    I like it that in the long run, almost everybody got the potential ending that the best in them deserves, but what they do with it is up to them.

    Thank you again, Lipp sisters, for creating this space for us to share the show, your insights, and others’ insights and enjoyment.

    • Agree completely Ann, in fact word for word.
      I’m absolutely giddy, in fact. Such a gift from Matt and company. All of it. And especially this brilliant, true to character ending. Deeply, deeply satisfying and really, a relief. As much as I also loved nearly every minute of the Sopranos, the ending, (clever, in the way that it is still discussed all these years later) was too ambiguous for my heart and my head. But this!!!….

      Thank you Dear Lipp’s, their delightful contributors and all of you who have enlightened me the last few years. What a long, strange, trip it’s been. xox

  7. I was glad that Peggy and Stan are together. They have a healthy and stable relationship.

    I was sad that Don did not admit he was an alcoholic. He is still alone until he stops drinking. Once Don leaves the hippie commune it is back to reality. Jim Hobart will pay for his first class ticket home so he can write the Coke ad for the sausage factory. Don won’t make 50, his liver will give out first. Betty and Don will meet again.

    I was worried that Pete Campbell’s Lear jet would crash. I felt relief when it didn’t.

    Sally Draper will do just fine. Kiernan Shipka was the best casting decision Mad Men ever made except for Jon Hamm.

    Roger and Marie deserve each other, I hope both of them are eternally miserable! The same for Megan!

    • Megan did make it to the finale….was there any word on her last night?

      • I think you meant to write “Megan didn’t make it”?

        The only mention of her if I recall correctly was through Marie — Roger told Joan that he was getting married to someone he had met through Megan – and then he said, “Actually, it’s Megan’s mother.” And Joan was surprised. (But glad for Roger)

    • Kiernan Shipka was the *luckiest* casting decision Matt Weiner made! Hiring an eight-year-old is a gamble in the best of circumstances. As we learned in Pippin, “It’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart,” but luckily for all of us, MW is both lucky AND smart. A thousand thank-you’s MW!!!

  8. I always read your review/summary first. As always, excellent and right on the money. Thank you for being the go to place every Monday Morning after an emotional Mad Men episode.

    Thank goodness you said the Coke ad was Don’s…I would have been heartbroken if I had interpreted that incorrectly! Loved this ending. Loved that Peggy and Stan finally admit their feelings. Loved that Sally came home to be with her Mom. Loved that Don and Betty got to say goodbye.

    I called Stephanie…thought maybe they would get together and raise Dons kids but that would not be true to Dons character so far. Loved their scene when Don tries to pull the ole, “leave it behind you and move on,” and Stephanie calls him on it. Stephanie is right and Don finally gets it through the story of the broken man.

    I also loved the Joan story. I did feel that Peggy turning down Joan was the right thing…it was not Peggy’s dream. Holloway-Harris…perfect.

    Also, loved the Peggy line to Pete.. “A thing like that.” I wonder who brought that one back.

    • I guess I am wrong, but I had thought that when Peggy was typing and Stan was standing behind her with his hands on her shoulders, that she was typing as resignation letter.
      Also, I secretly think that Sal is out there somewhere directing ads since he was so successful with the bYe Bye Birdie commercial and Joan ends up working with him

      • I wonder if they considered doing a brief scene with Joan and Sal where she wants him to do some work. The opportunity was there. I saw an interview with Bryan Batt recently where he said that Matt Weiner told him Sal would be back when he left the show. Batt speculated that Sal did come back because his story had a good ending (from a story telling point of view).

  9. I hate the writers just dump Stefanie like that. Let her just disappear symbolically or whatever. Dick/Don should marry Stefanie, despite the generation gap. And Don should quit ad business and become a mechanic engineer, invent something that actually benefit humanity, instead of selling out hippes and world-peace ideal for corporatie profits and manufaturing and updating consumerist culture.

    • Why can’t he do both?

    • I think it would be hard for Don to get through the calculus, chemistry, fluid dynamics, and all the other intense courses that getting an engineering degree would entail. He has an intuitive understanding of how things work, he can fix things, figure them out. You don’t necessarily need a degree in something to excell at it, Bill Gates comes to mind. You do need to spend time on your craft, what ever it is, developing your talents. And, in my opinion, a marriage to Stephanie would be wrong marriage to the wrong person for the wrong reasons 3.0. Marriage should not be a solution to a bunch of problems, it should be a journey of support and trust.

  10. I found myself with tears streaming down my face during the phone conversation between Don and Betty. When he called her “Birdie” ……….he cried, she cried and I cried. I loved this finale and everything about it.

  11. I wonder if Megan will call Roger ‘dad.’

  12. I have had to digest overnight, like a great steak that feels like you ate a brick upon completion. At first I was annoyed that Don spent the last third in a crunchy hippie enclave, mostly because that’s what I saw coming. I can’t prove it, I never said so out loud (except to my husband) never wrote it out. I thought I was being an idiot, as I never EVER accurately predicted anything on this show and surely nothing that goofy wouldn’t happen. But then it kind of had to, really. That era, those times, if you were lost, landing in an encounter group was a very real occurrence. It makes sense. It also makes sense that his first instinct would be to run home to N.Y. and sweep up his kids, but Betty was right and he knew it. If Don hadn’t been so broken, he wouldn’t have listened. It’s a little sad that Peg didnt join forces with Joan, but that makes sense too, our Peggy is ambitious, but not bold enough ( like Joanie, evidentaly) to go out without the safety net of a big company. Peggy and Stan, sitting in a tree. Yes. Pete, and family, all better now. Yes. Roger, happy. Yes. And we didn’t have to watch Betty actually bite it. Yes. Don creates the most memorable ad campaign of the twentieth century.
    It’s all good. 🙂

    • Naturally, after Lippsister’s and the NY Times, I started Googling for other takes on the finale.
      This delightful nugget from Business Insider, shows us Jim Hobart trying to lure Don with Coke back in season 1, with Betty as bait! Ahhhh…Matt!!!

      • PS, I’m unfamiliar with the actor who plays Jim Hobart, aka Beelzebub, but I thought his work was always steller… CO-CAH CO-LAH! Loved that.

        • Remember Don’s “impression” of the Devil for the snowcone (?) ad?

        • I would have been more disappointed had Peggy decided to join forces with Joan. She really did NOT have anything to prove, and how long was she going to keep reaching for something else in order to find validation?

          Stan gave her perspective, as he always does… She’s going to learn eventually that happiness is found in enjoying what you have (a great career she, especially given where she started; being excellent at what she does; a true friend and partner in Stan). There is more to life than work, and the partnership with Joan would have been nothing but work, all in the name of having your name on the door.

          We’ve seen several names put on doors, and taken off in this series, and it never made anybody happy.

          We’ve also seen plenty of re-invention in this series. Identities, mergers, startups- they’ve essentially been vehicles of escaping.

          It’s time to stop running, escaping, reaching for something intangible. Accept yourself, your position, and live for the moment. That should bring clarity and self-satisfaction.

    • I don’t think it was a lack of boldness that kept Peggy from agreeing to join Joan, as much as genuinely loving the work that she does as an ad creative.

      They’d probably also clash a lot and in a destructive rather than constructive way. We’ve seen that both of them like (or even need) to be the one in charge and they’re both a bit too likely to resort to bullying and hits below the belt. They’re both far better off as friends than as business partners and I can easily see Peggy sending a lot of work to Joan.

  13. Perfect balance of ambiguity and finale. My only question was whether Don discovered the new reservoir of advertising gold (hence the “Coke” commercial sign off) or legitimate ohm-induced peace and happiness. But I like that these things are open to interpretation.

    My finale (and final) recap:

    • Tilden, I think it was both. That little -ding- that seemed to emanate from DD’s forehead/third eye? The “big idea” and inner peace are one in the same to him.

    • In retrospect, I would vote for the latter and the Coke ad was a final statement on the commercialization of everything, including the inner peace and community Don finds at the retreat. Everything is a commodity.

      • your points make me reflect on when roger went to see his daughter in the commune, and one of the men says something about everything being equal, as the man implies something about the work the women will be doing shortly, etc., to which roger succinctly replies, “there is always a hierarchy.” I think they’re the same sort of idea in that some people enter these things with true hope for inner peace, etc., but the innate nature of man always means that there are those who will capitalize.

    • Based on some of the comments I’ve seen online, more than a few people came away from the finale thinking that Don created the iconic Coke ad.

      I don’t believe that he did. It would fly in the face of the transformational experience he obviously had at Big Sur. Just two episodes earlier, he correctly sussed out the nature of things at McCann, just moments after the start of his very first meeting there for the Miller Lite Beer campaign. Then he abruptly split. There was nothing for him there.

      The place looked like a maze where you’d find white lab rats scurrying eagerly about, for chunks of cheese. Little boxes, side by side and stacked atop on another, full of shirt sleeved corporate clones. Even the lunches were in identical boxes. About all that was missing were rows of low benches, each one with chains, an oar and a well-oiled shirtless muscle man in the back, pounding out a steady, endless cadence on a big drum. Of course, we didn’t get the complete guided tour, so those things might’ve been there too, but we didn’t get to see ’em.

      For someone like Don, McCann is Hell – with Jim Hobart as Satan. When he left, he didn’t know he’d wind up at Big Sur or about the life-altering moment he’d find there. He just knew he had to get out.

      The lack of meaningful cheese in any corner of the McCann maze, was just part of his motivation to split. There was also his quest to find the elusive Diana. He got halfway across America before he gave up that chase, but the whole exercise was serendipitous. What he ultimately found, turned out to be vastly better than what he was originally looking for.

      But back to the Coke ad. It’s true that the real life McCann was responsible for the ad and it’s catchy jingle about love and peace, but it was an example of Madison Avenue latching onto the vibe of the moment, to sell shit. Back in Season 6, Don chided the copywriters for injecting a false picture of love into a print ad for Dow Oven Cleaner (the same folks who made napalm). But I digress.

      In the 45 years since that Coke ad aired, they’ve sold an ocean full of Coca-Cola and the world’s even more of a goddamned armed madhouse now, than it was back then. It’s a pretty safe bet that Coke isn’t the real thing at all. Obesity and diabetes are rampantly real, worldwide, thanks in part, to massive consumption of sugary soft drinks, like Coke.

      I’m pretty sure that among the insights that Don gained at Big Sur, one was: Bliss doesn’t come in a bottle. If he did get that, I seriously doubt that he’d return to McCann, given what it represents to him, and become a party to the creation of that ad for Coke.

      For the first time in his life, he really has moved forward.

      • It also could be that the Coke ad was Weiner’s way of truly and completely closing out the 60s. With the embrace of the “hippie” culture by Madison Ave, the counter culture nature of their ideals were lost, just as their fashions and style were adopted by the hoi polloi. And I agree with you that even an enlightened Don/Dick couldn’t have stood ME, but our girl Peggy proved she was more than able.

        • Yes, CPT. As someone who’s the same age as Sally, this was one of the bitterest lessons I learned–that even something as diffuse and apart as the counterculture was striving to be got co-opted by Madison Avenue. In America, it seems EVERYTHING can be adapted and reshaped for mass consumption. To me this is both its blessing and its curse, which is why I think the ending was more than a little ironic–and perfect.

          • I agree with all of this, and I feel it happens again and again and again…the rebels of the moment soon become that which is embraced by the masses, then there are they are used to sell to consumers, and the message is watered down and finally lost…elvis, sixties, punk, rap, grunge…goodness, I think Ronald McDonald has rapped, and I think people on “full house” wore flannel shirts.

            • Hippies in San Francisco once staged a symbolic funeral for the hippie ideal, killed by commercialization. They held it in 1967.

        • Nice catches, CPT and SFC!

          My God, Basketcases are smart. 🙂

      • Disagree.

        Don has never had any hangup with an ad that was not “The real Thing” And his misfit in and dislike of McCann and the “group think” there would not be contrary to his Draper “pulling gold from your inspired ass” approach to creativity. So, in my view, there would be nothing inherently inconsistent with Don being the creator. In fact, his particular setting and circumstances in this episode are entirely consistent with that conclusion.,

        But, for me, the final, conclusive clue can be found in the picture for this particular Basket review which is a shot from the commercial, itself. Can you see the remarkable resemblance of the pig tailed blond holding the coke in the commercial and one of the leaders at the encounter retreat. That was Don’s “experience”, not McCann’s.

      • Smiler, I agree. Your statement, “bliss does not come in a bottle,” could be a Zen koan as deep and profound as the subtle flows of a watercourse or the reverberations of a meditation bell.

        Your observation does need to come face to face with the image of the pig-tailed woman holding the Coke. This was a stunning moment for me, too. My immediate take on the MadMen finale was that Matt Weiner was scolding the viewers who might still believe in any “utopian” ( or even, you know, “not-awful”) promise of consumer culture.

        I am 58. I remember that Coke commercial like I remember my first cigarette. I gagged. It was worse than cheesy. I did not know what to make of hippies, really, but I KNEW that they were about something. That commercial looked and smelled and tasted like cooptation. It was something that moms and dads and younger brothers and sisters might be able to understand about their hippie teenagers and twenty-somethings.

        For someone who might actually experience SOME level of enlightenment at an Esalen-like retreat, that commercial represents bullshit. Or, at least, I think it ought to.

        For you and me–who, I think might well be “true-believers” in what is wrongly dismissed as mere “new age” insight into human potential–a transformed Don/Dick SHOULD NOT be the author of that advertisement. Maybe, yes, the character of Don/Dick was mostly faking it all along. He got only the amount of insight that he needed to get back to New York and get back to his masculine identity as an advertising executive and “one-percenter.” Or he did NOT write that ad and it was only a coincidence that the pig-tailed hippie blond on Big Sur (where that was, in fact, shot) showed up holding a Coke. (Maybe the Beach Boys were right all along. Maybe she was just a dime-a-dozen California Girl.)

        I think the ambiguity at the end is not laid out in terms of the character of Don Draper or even Dick Whitman. It lies in the mind of Matt Weiner. What, really, does he think about consumer culture and advertising. It has become FAR too easy and facile for even reasonably well educated people to dismiss it as harmless and anodyne and, perhaps, fun.

        “We are all so much smarter than these silly ads” people seem to say to themselves and others. No. Please, no. These ads are NOT innocuous. They are the true voice of what has come to survive in McLuhan’s “global village.”

        We only have people’s full attention for a few seconds. What we give them as images and sound bites in those bursts is arrestingly powerful. Everything: what we eat, how we produce food, how we consume energy, how we get from one place to another, how we connect, how we have sex, how we find beauty–all of this is packed into the habit of tolerating these 5-to-30-second (or so) intrusions into our cultural minds.

        I refuse to believe that Matt Weiner made a seven year soap-opera series so that Peggy and Joan might find career and ego-identity happiness. I think that they were integral into something else, something deeper.

        I think that the series asks us to look away from advertisement as a form of “fun”–whether as beauty, entertainment, diversion, strategy (which, of course, we are so much “wiser” than to be tricked by it), or even economic necessity.

        Thomas Frank wrote a book, THE CONQUEST OF COOL, back in the late 1990s that set in motion many of the elements that I saw in play through the run of Mad Men. I am going to reread it with this finale in mind. In NO WAY would Thomas Frank have considered this Coke ad to be any sort of insight or achievement.

        The finale made me sad. It made me realize that money wins in the end. This was the message of Gatsby. Maybe this was the spirit of Don Draper and Matt Weiner all along.

        • I think ads have very little impact. (I would agree there would be ominous implications if they are as powerful as often thought.) Even many ad men and -women think that super-over- saturation has obviated them.

          • I have heard many people say that, but I work in the advertising industry and I can tell you the science does not support that assertion. There’s a reason advertising is 468-billion dollar industry in the U.S., and it’s not because businesses have a “feeling” about it.

        • Larsmacomb,

          Brilliant catch w/Gatsby!

      • Isn’t it possible that Don wanted to share his self actualization experience and so created a spectacular ad to show case it?

        • Yeah, I think that’s the conclusion that many of the viewers want to draw.

          What bugs me is that if any person who has ever seriously suffered from the sorts of trauma that made Dick Whitman start to run from his life into a borrowed identity like we saw in his becoming Don Draper–and then allowed that trauma to break into a serious path of enlightenment–that person, that soul would not feel inclined to commodify it into a slogan and a jingle to sell caramel colored soda, and then call THAT the real thing.

  14. A good episode, but I wish there was more info FROM Don.

    I think Don Draper fianlly let Dick WHitman live, Dick WHitman suffer and acknowledge, and in that minute Don Draper died.

    But I think, as always, Don Draper “came back”. If he didnt do the coke advert then Peggy and Stan did after talking to him, working with him, because Don is Don. He went back to his old ways which he had become accustomed to, over more than 10 yrs.

    I knew than Stan deeply admired and loved Peggy, so I am happy for her–he is good for her.

    I think she and Joan should have started their own company a long time ago. I was a little surprised Joan’s beau made her choose like that and stalked off since up to that point he didnt seem like that kind of guy.

    The relationship stuff of Peggy, Joan and Pete did seem a bit rushed.

    I think Pete of all of them grew the most. The experience in SoCal and around changing work conditions made Pete grow up and he could even have a nice civil convo w Peggy. I still dont know if I am happy with him and Trudy being back together though.

    I dont think part of Don being a better or man or letting Don Draper die is abandoning his kids. I understand he need for stability and Henry is nothing if that, but I would still expect Don Draper to “return” and go be a father at least part time.

    I never thought California was good for Don, it was bad in all ways except for Anna. Without her it was a dark place full of reminders of past mistakes (you are not my family) including the reminder of the failure of Megan/his marriage

    • I did see Richard as EXACTLY that kind of guy. He wasn’t wrong, Joan’s start up would have consumed plenty of her time and energy and he’s a selfish man, who want’s ,what he wants and is used to getting it…The interesting thing to think about, is which direction Joan would have taken, if Roger had not secured Kevin’s future. I’m grateful he did. Joan is better off.

      • Roger changing his will does not secure Kevin’s future.
        Wills can be changed, and changed again. Roger could die, having exhausted his assets. A dissatisfied Marie could have the movers take away all of his assets.
        Only an irrevocable and funded trust would provide some degree of security, and even then, there are risks of market performance, poor investments, fiduciary theft.

        Kevin’s future will be secured in “Plastics.”

      • When Joan took Layne’s barely disinterested advice to negotiate for equity (instead of cash) , THAT was when she secured her son’s financial security.

        Now he will continue to see her as a professional woman – that won’t hurt him one bit.

      • Right on, DivaDebbie. You can’t say he did not reveal himself, though, as people do. He told the first time they met what he wanted.

    • I think it was a very honest thing for him to say and do. He had a dream, travel and experiences he had dreamed of doing. Joan was not in that place, she had dreams of her own. How much better to be honest about everything than to try and shape dreams into pre-formed molds. And how much respect did he show to Joan in believing her about her dreams, and realizing he just couldn’t be a part of that life, accepting that and not sticking around trying to make her change her mind, making her unhappy? As my friends and I used to say: right person, wrong time or wrong person, right time, both will make you crazy. (And incidentally, that was pretty much a summation of my 20’s)

      • Richard also must have thought, with Joan’s departure from ME, that she had agreed, in principle, to his vision of the future and that didn’t include Holloway Harris productions. The unspoken part of their discussion, harkening once again to the feminist nature of Mad Men, was that when Richard built his business, his wife was there to support him. Needless to say, he was not willing to even consider that option, unlike Stan. As an aside, I love that Joan’s maiden name made it back into prominence, given that Harris is the name of that horrible person (& Joan’s statement was as much fan fodder as the Stan/Peggy moments).

      • I love how she was upset for all of 10 seconds.

      • I do have to give Richard credit for realizing they wanted different things, and walking away without a making a fuss or putting down Joan and making her feel bad for going after what she wanted.

        • When Richard busted out the cocaine and told Joan “we can live like this all the time” I wanted to yell, “Run, Joanie, run!” Because if you do enough coke, you’ll eventually become a coke-head!

          Also: When Joan said the buzz was like someone delivering good news, was anyone else reminded of the first episode where we meet Stephanie, “The Good News,” in which she talks about her roommate who suddenly became a Bible-thumper? And then, later in “Person to Person” Dick tells her about people who’ve found Jesus.

          Don’t know if there’s any connection there or not, but it is kind of interesting.

    • I don’t see Don cutting off ties to his kids. Even after what we have seen at the end, he will keep in touch with them. I’m sure he’ll show up for major events, like graduations, or take them out for a birthday dinner, even if it’s a day or two after the actual day.

      • Slept on it. Still don’t like most of the Don angle.

        I really liked everything else because we don’t know for certain how it will all work out. Pete’s plan could still crash (they were getting on, not off), Stan and Peggy could be a firework and then fizzle, Roger being faithful to one woman? Hmm.

        I agree that the scene on the phone with Don and Betty was beautifully written and acted.
        (I also had to smile that Betty was still smoking to almost the bitter end.)

        It’s funny because the show – to me and apparently Katie Couric – was about the journey of two people, Peggy and Don. But really, the two people are the bookends of Don and Sally.

        Sally comes home, giving up some teenaged dreams, accepting and even loving her mother and her brothers, to be the strong one. That’s a lot for one girl.

        Don, on the other hand, well, Don pretty much does what he always does – whatever he wants.

        I’m not a Don fan (and I always wondered what women saw in him – besides looks – because he’s generally humorless and boring). Roger, on the other hand, could charm the panties off an old lady.

        I understand he is truly damaged. I understand he is very smart – he wouldn’t have gotten far without talent and smarts. I think Don struggles to find his soul and realizing that happiness can only come from within.

        But the trail of tears and aloofness and disinterest he leave behind, especially for his children. (I note that Megan was very bitter towards him, claiming he ruined her life.)

        Don will show up for what? Betty’s funeral? Major life events for his children? That’s being a father or is it just the best he can do and his children have to accept that?

        He had a little pity party and called Peggy and for what? So he could be mysterious? The more I think about it, that ending for Don was a good one (but the lead-up was pretty boring and irritating). It leaves him being his self-absorbed self to the end.

        I guess because I had a father who was absent – even as he didn’t have to be just like Don – I have no love for Don. I don’t like careless people and Don is a careless person.

        Who’s the grown-up? Bless my soul, why it’s little Sally.

    • Kate,

      Of all the opinions and interpretations I read, yours comes closest to what I chose to believe (and being left to our own imaginations, why not?)

      I’d like to believe that Don eventually returns to New York, most likely for Betty’s funeral. I think he tells Peggy about his experience and the Coke ad is hers. I base this on a few things:

      1) my general boosterism of Peggy. You go, Girl!
      2) we know she WILL be successful and this is her big break
      3) Jim Hobart cannot win. McCann bought SC&P for the sole purpose of securing “the White Whale” Don Draper. I love the thought that he was saddled with a bunch of mavericks and misfits while his whale swam away without so much as a tail splash.

      Other thoughts:
      – I hope Betty gave into Sally’s insistence that the boys be left with Henry. After re-watching Field Trip during the marathon, I was struck by what a really great father Henry had become to Bobby, and he was pretty much Gene’s “real” father
      – My heart melted when little Bobby was trying to cook dinner for Gene
      – Agreed Holloway Harris is Joan’s dream, not Peggy’s
      – Love that Roger and Marie got married
      – Was Stephanie’s rebuke to Don “why are you giving me a family heirloom?” another little push back to his true identity as Dick Whitman?

      Such a great show. Such a great forum this Basket of Kisses is. Truly enhanced my experience with Mad Men. Thank you Lipp Sisters and contributors.

  15. Betty–

    as much as people can rag on her character I always thought Betty had a special strength and that was her loyalty.

    She never sold Don down the river and that was amazing.

    So Don loses two women he loved to cancer and he is still puffing away.

    • Three, if you count Rachel. I do.

      • yes you are right!

      • This is perhaps as good a place as any to jump in with my comments because Rachel Menken Katz was one of my favorite characters from Mad Men, I always think of her as the woman who got away. But she was smart enough to know she wouldn’t find true happiness with Don. I hope her marriage to Tilden was a happy one. I mourned her loss.

        As for last night’s finale, I had a few thoughts. I was happy for Trudy and Tammy but Pete was very lucky, he got a better ending than I might have given him.

        Peggy has been central from the very beginning and I so wanted her to have a happy ending. I don’t quite buy the rom com ending with Stan, they seem better as pals than sweethearts. However the pair makes more sense than Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon made on the finale of The Mentalist. I’ll go along with Peggy and Stan if he makes her happy.

        I’ve always loved Joan, very glad Richard is out of her life. I wish Joan would find true love but I think succeeding in the business world is more important for her right now. I was very pleased to see her so energized. I wish she and Peggy had become business partners but I think Peggy is probably smart to stay at McCann for a few years and then she’s going to really blossom.

        I never liked Marie Calvet but most people seem to think Roger has found the perfect mate. Joan has certainly outgrown him. Roger has always been terrific to watch, he always got the best lines. I’m glad he’s providing for little Kevin, but is Margaret really so “lost” as to be cut out of his will?

        We knew Betty would end tragically. Sally has shown great strength in going back home to take care of her brothers. I’m sure Don will eventually be part of their lives again.

        So this brings me to Don. The ending is enigmatic, but I go along with those who think Don created the Coke commercial. Big Sur was so boring, how much of that could he take? I didn’t want the series to end with his death, and I got that wish.

        The remarkable cast of Mad Men made it all happen and I can’t praise them enough. I always loved the look of the show as well, the sets and costumes were outstanding. I could always watch the visuals even when an episode was less than brilliant. But for a series that lasted as long as Mad Men did, the number of brilliant episodes was very high.

        Finally, I raise a glass to Matthew Weiner, thanks for naming a character for my favorite ballerina, Suzanne Farrell. And for so much more.

        • i loved how the woman going over the accounts with Peggy and the team at McCann looked A LOT like Rachel…. older, but very similar…

          • And I loved how Peggy stood up to her to get what Peggy wanted. She will do fine at ME – that was the proof of it.

            Also, my husband first told me he loved me over the phone. I found it so very genuine that Stan did that. If a man isn’t sure how what he says will be received, and it means a lot to him, it’s easier not to say it face to face. Stan and Peggy had been talking, at length, over the phone for years. It was a comfortable situation. I just about cheered.

            • I cheered too. My husband and I were the same work buddies and then one day, it was time for me to move on and I couldn’t bare the thought of not working with him daily. Sometimes office romance does work out. Though, even with my experience, I didn’t see the Stan/ Peggy thing. I thought that Peggy was too uptight for the easy going Stan. But Now I see that they balance each other out.

        • but is Margaret really so “lost” as to be cut out of his will?

          With the way things are now, he probably figured she’d just give his money to the hippies, and he didn’t want that.

  16. I also think is was weird that Joan’s beau goaded her into cocaine and threw her under a bus by disrespecting her body and skills all in one episode. But maybe the point is we do not truly know someone Until they get Serious

    but very happy she landed literally on her feet and she is the Boss

    • If i recall correcty, cocaine was still seen as relatively safe, it would take the excesses of the 70s before the dangers would be seen. I was so glad to see Joan dodge that bullet. (Cocaine / cola word play?) This show ended exactly the way that it needed to; it closed out an era, and the characters stayed true…but many of these doors could be reopened under the right circumstances. As Bert would have said, bravo.

      • safe or not still a drug and it was illegal wasnt it…it was almost like all of his true colors came out–her tryign to be a respected and successful businesswoman and he was doing everything to pull her the other way instead of support her…

        • The mythology of cocaine in the middle 70s (when I first became aware of it) was that it was a “cool” drug that the beautiful people in Hollywood had enjoyed for decades. Joan’s new boy undoubtedly transported it with no fear (unlike today) in his luggage or on his person. Weiner either already knew this (though I’m about 5-6 yrs older) or discovered this through research. Notice that Joan was not exactly scandalised – perhaps more like tittilated than disapproving.

          It wasn’t until the smokable form became known (“freebase”) and hit the street (and became known as “crack”) that the coolness became tarnished. John Belushi dying of that injectable cocktail didn’t help.

          • Cocaine was glamorized until the deaths of John Belushi and basketball player Lem Bias helped erase that myth. I can still remember when it was very rare for someone to have cocaine, which was what movie stars and rock stars used to get high. It was called “lady,” and viewed as entirely acceptable among the “in” folks, many of whom actually wore silver coke spoons around their necks as fashion accessories.

          • Somewhere on the Internet, there’s a photo of an old-timey medicine ad from the early 20th century. It’s something you’d buy at a drugstore for a cough or whatever: there on the label are the ingredients: “COCAINE. INDICA.”

            What we didn’t know about things like cocaine, back in the day, was a lot. It was in fact an ingredient in Coca-Cola until around the turn of the 20th century; it left its name in “the real thing.” Whether or not this is part of the soft drink’s continued popularity is an open question.

            Mad Men is a story of the past told through the filter of the present. However popular it was as “a party drug” at one time, coke means something different now.

            I watched Richard introduce Joan to cocaine through the lens of my own history with that drug: the family it systematically destroyed, the futures it stole, the thousands and thousands of dollars that vanished in its wake.

            To me, that drug is neither benign nor romantic. It’s the reason parentless children are still flooding across our southern border. It’s the source of countless murders and disappearances. And it’s why I had to take two little kids out of their home in the middle of the night, less than a year ago.

            Some party drug, huh?

            • It is a very bad drug, but in certain medical situations it is a wonderful thing, ever break your nose? I would point out that millions and millions of people are now using Rx drugs like candy with the same disasterous results. Babies born to mothers using opiate types of drugs make the crack babies I took care of in the 80’s look like the a walk in the park. They have to be weaned off the drugs slowly, which means you are giving little tiny babies addictive drugs. They rub their little tiny noses raw rubbing their faces in their blankets out of sheer frustration while being detoxed. They cry, sometimes for 24 hours straight, they can’t sleep and they are poor feeders, so they lose weight. It is a disaster happening right now, but there are still commercials on TV, everywhere asking people “wouldn’t it be better to take ______?” Our area has been hard hit with meth, both use and production, it is devastating to everyone, but especially the little kids. Anne B thank you for your work, it is so hard to do what you do, but so necessary.

          • @Anne:

            Not to be preachy, but those “murders and dissapearances” and related violence are not inherent to commerce with any pleasure drugs – but to prohibition. From 1920-1933 we had all kinds of similar violence with alcohol that stopped when booze again became legal.

            No doubt a minority gets hurt with party drugs – but I never saw it – perhaps because most are so expensive.

            @ wick:

            I saw Len Bias at the Great Alaska Shootout. He was ferocious under the boards. When the Celtics drafted him, Larry Bird was so excited he planned to attend Rookie Camp. Alas, Bias was such an outlier, that he never made it.

            Remember when you could get a cute little plastic coke spoon at McDonald’s?

            • With cocaine, aside from dependance, there is the risk of death from heart attack. It does affect a minority of users but is somewhat like Russian Roulette.

      • “The Coke ad was definitely Don’s. They cut from a closeup of his face, saying OMmmmmm (in perfect harmony) while sitting on the rolling hills above Big Sur, to the footage of the Coke ad, filmed in a strikingly similar setting, with everyone singing in perfect harmony.

        Don never changed. ”

        True enough and actually–the girl with the ribbona in the ad is so similar to the girl at the desk at the retreat it made me wonder if ALL was conceived by DOn (either directly or through Peggy and Stan)

  17. “How does it feel to be stuck at goddamned Esalen for 20 minutes of the last hour of your favorite show ever? With a bunch of hippies? IN 1970?! Ask me. PLEASE”

    Tell me, please!

    To me that was the most difficult, and ambiguous, part of the finale. All the way to Don’s final “ohm” I kept thinking “Are we supposed to be taking this seriously?” With apologies to those on the Open thread who praise Esalen and the other human potential movements of the period, I found it all hard to take. After all he’s been through, it felt cheap, as drama, for this to be the breakthrough. I accepted it finally (after sleeping on it, and reading the comments) the way I accepted the Waitress Die story (thank goodness we didn’t see anymore of her!), as a device. It was needed for the moment with Stephanie (“Oh Dick, I don’t think that’s true.”), for the great phone call to Peggy (My one prediction for the last ep was that Don would take Peggy’s hand, or Peggy Don’s, one more time), and even the weird, but still moving, embrace of sad Leonard. It touched me even as I shook my head.

    The Coke commercial finale was also ambiguous, but I can accept that readily. Is Don returning to advertising with what he’s learned (and all his ads have been about him and what he’s learned. Every single one. I’m looking forward to someone going over all of Don’s pitches and linking them to his personal life at the time he makes them) a triumph, or triumph of cynicism? For all that Weiner has skewered advertising in the course of the show, he’s also celebrated it as an example of and metaphor for the greatness of the creative process. The ambivalence is very typical of the show.


    I want to say thanks to The Divine Lipps. . I take pride in being one of the Senior Basketcases, not in age, but in having been among the first to post here back in October 2007. This is a wonderful place to talk, and I expect to keep coming here for a long time to come! 🙂

    • I didn’t like being stuck there either but I think the Coke ad was meant as final triumph of cynicism as it mirrored the inner peace and connectedness Don achieved at the commune. Hence, everything is for sale in the world of advertising. It is all about pushing a product. In this case, a sugary soft drink loaded with empty calories.

    • The waitress represented to me Don himself if he stayed in his stuck rut…the “I don’t want to feel anything else but this pain” aspect of his journey. She represented his “rut” and his womanizing and his search for a mother figure all in one. Her name was even pointing to “Change or die (Di)”…they even looked alike.

    • Device–fine. But hippy “peace” seemed very discordant and out of left field. This was all very “California.” My wife and I kept looking at our watches at commercial breaks during the last half hour and couldn’t believe all we were going to watch was Don sit in a chair and “feel.” I suspect the finale satisfaction of the West Coast audience would be considerably different from the rest of the country. But it does get us to “I’d like to teach the world to sing…”

      • I kept looking at my watch and feeling bad that I only had 13 minutes of Dan Draper left and I wanted him to go home. He seemed out of place to me. I get getting in touch with your inner self but at this hippy place, it seemed contrived. But maybe it is because of my own experience. I’m not from the west coast and I was not born until the 70’s

    • Here’s my Esalen story. (You knew this was coming.)

      In the early 90’s, I hung out with San Franciscans who had a lot more money than sense. Some of them had family money that was their primary income; some of them hated to be alone. I went with one of these people to some Esalen weekend on authentic creativity, or whatever.

      I felt like I was suspended in bullshit. The views were incredible, but we couldn’t enjoy them, because we had to “connect.”

      You know how writers “connect”? We go off on our own somewhere, we shut the hell up, we observe, and we write. We don’t talk to a whole bunch of people about channels and blocks and fuel and energy and BULLSHIT.

      How did I feel about Esalen? I hated it.

      Hate’s a feeling, right?!

      • I have no personal experience, but that’s how I always looked at these kinds of things, too, But how was Matt Weiner looking at them last night? To me, it still came across as bs, but was that intended? I mean, the naked guy that Don asked about Stephanie had to be a joke, right? Don wasn’t buying any of it for most of the way. When the woman in overalls got judgmental on Stephanie for abandoning her child (an attitude that was made to push Don’s buttons, both as an abandoned child and an absent parent), he belittled her to Stephanie, putting her on the same level as all those people who’ve been shoving Jesus on him since boyhood. With sad Leonard, he was responding directly to his unhappiness, Are we supposed to give Esalen credit for that? At the end, when Don chants the sunrise, his reward is … an idea for a commercial? Is that a triumph, or a joke? I don’t know.

        • Never mind. Deb’s review answered my questions. 🙂

        • I felt like Matt Weiner understood what Esalen tries to do — and can do well, in instances other than mine — in the episode last night.

          Everything about those scenes (the light! the views!) spoke of possibility. But Don didn’t want to let any of it in: he was a literal passenger. After Stephanie left, he was deprived of even his usual response of running away. In the absence of other options, Don finally found something there that he could use.

          And hey, look: over 20 years after my Esalen experience, so have I!


          • Hasn’t Don generally gone with the flow in any social circumstance while remaining detached? Given that Mathew Weiner sees Don as a bad, bad man, it’s entirely possible that his meaning was that Don, who seemed to be and “should” have been soaking up enlightenment, was simply planning a cynical ad campaign, while smiling his secret smile at these colorful fools.

      • Someone once said that he wished that someone at an encounter group, when asked why he was being so defensive, would say “because I’m being attacked”. All that I can say is “right on.”

        • I would say, I’m sorry but I don’t know you. But maybe that’s a southern thing

  18. A bump of coke delivers not happiness, be the sensation of good news.

    Don will never have full closure, but he will always have his creative process. He has ideas. What was the last ad Don came up with in the show? It had been a while. For a show that made its bones on epiphanies and the creative process, it had been a long time.

    On the phone, Peggy says, “That’s not true.” She wasn’t referring to the list of wrongs and lies. She was talking about the shame Don felt for having done nothing with the Draper name.

    It’s another version of Bert Cooper saying “Who cares?”

    • Also a callback to “The Suitcase”: Don says he’s lost the only one “who really knew me.” Peggy replies “That’s not true.”

    • Incidentally, Freud once said he would never treat an artist because their creative process was bound up with their neuroses.

  19. As I spent the past several days immersed in the Mad Men Marathon I was growing sadder and sadder that my favorite series was coming to an end and all the while excitedly seeing more and more in each episode of the connected dynamics. Initially while watching the final episode I have to admit that I felt like the limited currency of precious time allotted for our final moments of Mad Men were being frustratingly spent in California with characters that I didn’t care about. . As I reflect this morning about the episode, I see it better in the context of the continuum not only of the show but in life. There was no “wrap up” on the storyline, just a solid and profound step forward. The brilliance and beauty of Mad Men has always been the realism and sugar coating- free version of the society during the 1960’s of people and timeless struggles of internal and interpersonal human dynamics. The show ended-perhaps the only way it could have while still being true to itself. At times ugly and really uncomfortable, wanting people and situations to be different, not always perfect but the way it is. Don’s experience in California exposes him to himself. Don begins with the manila envelope which contains Ana’s ring and is full of money. In each of the last episodes he lets, in fact, encourages others loot him of his possessions, to chip away at all that he has. First handing Megan a million dollars, Marie loots his apartment and then she moves onto Roger. Diane ex-husband breaks through his ability to pretend to be someone. The small town hustler, that he “Eliza Dolittle’s” and then gives him his Cadillac. In the final moments he seems to be down to the barest bones almost losing Ana’s ring in the nearly stolen envelope to the desert Susie- homemaker “I like to have a man to take care of”/groupie/hooker and the race car drivers “stake” now he arrives in California to the door of Stephanie and flops on her sofa, with her seeing the need in him… interesting parallel, they both want to help others, to a point. She strips away his last connection when she tells him that it is ridiculous for him to be giving her a family heirloom, when he isn’t even family. She abandons him at the retreat center. Stripped of everything that we have ever connected with Don Draper what remains is a man in jeans and plaid shirt crumbled in a wooden walled corner next to a payphone, after a call he didn’t pay for, depleted post deepest confession. In the moment that he allows someone to stand him up and move he is able to hear the experience of the man who feels invisible in his life, we see him able to communicate without words deepest raw connection, humanity and we feel that it is all now truly released. Going forward is now possible.
    I love the ending with him smiling during the yoga meditation cutting to his greatest dream of Coca-Cola, he literally has a coke and smile!
    Many of were on some level wondering if Don would fall of building, we in fact did, the entire series was a man that was falling from the top down and down to get to the naked truth of who he really is. Perhaps the lesson that we can take away from this amazing seven season story, is that if you aren’t truly you, everything else will only serve to pull you down.
    Thank you Matt Weiner for this incredible journey. While sad that it is over, I think that I will be ok.

  20. Peggy turned down what might have been the truly great opportunity of her life. “The partnership is just for you.” Joan was serious, and I’m as disappointed as she was.

    True, but can you imagine Peggy writing corporate reels for the rest of her career? Even if she part-owns the company? That’s a serious waste of talent.

    A delicious as the scene was, and as much as we want to imagine Peggy and Joan breaking balls for years to come, it felt as though this was Joan’s anger at McCann and years of taking shit from male bosses that was driving her actions. That may work for Joan, but it’s hard to enlist another if they haven’t had the same experience. And Peggy’s experience is different than Joan’s. It wasn’t right and Peggy’s choice was, as always, true to her character.

    Roger has finally found his perfect match. “YELL AT ME SLOWER OR IN ENGLISH.” He and Marie are perfect togethe

    These two are my new spin-off fantasy. Or at least a MM version of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” … 15-minute clips of Roger and Marie in a cafe, people-watching. I KNOW YOU’VE GOT IT IN YOU, MATT!!!

    • And isn’t it perfect that Stan knew it was the wrong move for Peggy. I also loved that Peggy proved she could manage the bureaucracy of ME and that she’d personized the Bert Cooper artwork in her office.

    • ” a MM version of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” … 15-minute clips of Roger and Marie in a cafe, people-watching. I KNOW YOU’VE GOT IT IN YOU, MATT!!!” I would totally watch this. It would be awesome. There’s real potential. They could go to different cafes around Europe.

  21. The Coke ad was definitely Don’s. They cut from a closeup of his face, saying OMmmmmm (in perfect harmony) while sitting on the rolling hills above Big Sur, to the footage of the Coke ad, filmed in a strikingly similar setting, with everyone singing in perfect harmony.

    Don never changed. (No-one does in Mad Men–witness Betty, smoking at the kitchen table even as lung cancer claims her life.)

    Don is Consumer Culture; he is Commercialization; he is Advertising. And as he always did, from the first time we met him, absorbing the narrative of the ex-army waiter, the African-American man who smoked Luckies, to this last, spectacular bit of cultural appropriation, Don’s imagination fed on the ideas and energies of others. He then repackaged the experience to incorporate the product to be sold, and fed it back to them, reinforcing the message that you are okay…everything is okay.. Tapping into that primal need, deep in the amygdala of every human being, to feel safe, secure, and part of the group (as opposed to alone).

    Don’s genius is a parasitical one: he derives his energy from the minds and souls, from the creations and sufferings, of others. His name–his very identity–is something that belonged to someone else. Don Draper uses people to build his own power and only shows minimal remorse (i.e. Sally walking in on him while he was in bed with Sylvia) when caught red-handed–the hallmark of a sociopath.

    We too were, on a weekly basis, seduced by Don–handsome, leading-man Don! And that is the overarching point I’m trying to make: in our consumer culture, we are so thoroughly entranced by a comely surface–and so beholden to classic archetypes of Heroic Male (tall, dark, broad-shouldered and square-jawed)–we’ll forgive myriad sins committed by a gorgeous, shiny bauble of a man. Or at least, we’ll be far less apt to hold him accountable, even as we would never put up with the serial infidelities, the lies, the abandonments, and so forth, if the person committing them were plain, were average-looking, bald, heavy-set, or short of stature.

    I loved much of last night’s finale, but I could’ve done with far less Don, particularly Don-in-Big-Sur. I felt there was far too much time, in the very last episode ever, spent on new people we’d never seen before and whom we’d never see again, meaning we had nothing invested in their characters and couldn’t be expected to care about them. Whereas there were several Mad Men characters I had grown to adore: those, I wished to see a little of, at least, or, as in Betty’s case, more of.

    Because ultimately, I loved Mad Men for the women characters, who have always been immensely interesting, complicated, and wonderful. From the very beginning, when we see the men watching through a one-way mirror as the secretaries try on lipstick, and we hear their running commentary, I realized how very much the men in the show–for the most part–despised women. How very little they respected our intelligence; how very much they valued our bodies and faces–and usually, back then (and even, to a somewhat less obvious degree, today) it was only our bodies and faces–for whatever pleasures they felt we could impart while augmenting their personal power.

    Thank you, Mr. Weiner and company, for giving us the women of Mad Men, their glossy coifs and lipsticked faces and sexy, stockinged shins all floating upward as the Falling Man plummets, one of them giving him a little kick, even (my favorite part of the opening credits!)

    Thank you, Deborah and Roberta and everyone here at BOK, for providing this magnificent space in which to talk about this smart, provocative show. XXX DNT

    • “The Coke ad was definitely Don’s. They cut from a closeup of his face, saying OMmmmmm (in perfect harmony) while sitting on the rolling hills above Big Sur, to the footage of the Coke ad, filmed in a strikingly similar setting, with everyone singing in perfect harmony.”

      Quite probable but not definite. For instance, Don could have conveyed his ideas to Peggy. “I was sitting on the hills and I had this vision…” – he could have even told her how some of the people in the commercial would be dressed, etc.

      P.S. I’ll add that I lean more towards Don having been the one who did it, like Anne, like other fans I’ve talked to in the past day who think that the girl Don talked to inspired the girl with ribbons in her hair who was in the commercial (quite a few people have noticed it), like the EW writer, etc., etc. And Don has a way of coming back to what he knows – and what he knows is advertising.

      • I think that the Coke ad was the Don and Peggy show. Peggy has been referred to as Bad Ass since her arrival at McCann. She certainly wasn’t taking any work direction from McCann employees early in this episode. I would like to think that Peggy Olson wrote the EF Hutton commercial; when EF Hutton talks, people listen. When Bad Ass Peggy talks,Jim Hobart listens. She engineered the return of Don Draper to McCann I think.Jim Hobart may be a lot of things, but he is not stupid. He knows that Don Draper is a creative genius as well as one big pain in the ass. He will remain both until his liver or his lungs give out.

        • Agree!

        • YUP- And Hobart a/k/a Satan quickly figured out that if he wants to keep Draper, he has to keep Peggy happy. It is entirely possible that Peggy was involved in that ad. The sharing and communal (communion ?) vibe is consistent with the work that Peggy has done. But the sentiment, visuals, text ? All Don.

    • The Coke ad was definitely Don’s. They cut from a closeup of his face, saying OMmmmmm (in perfect harmony) while sitting on the rolling hills above Big Sur, to the footage of the Coke ad, filmed in a strikingly similar setting, with everyone singing in perfect harmony.

      Don never changed. ”

      True enough and actually–the girl with the ribbona in the ad is so similar to the girl at the desk at the retreat it made me wonder if ALL was conceived by DOn (either directly or through Peggy and Stan)

      i wondered if he let DOn Draper die at the retreat, but maybe he has come back as Dick the Ad Man

    • I think one of the reasons the audience gives Don the benefit of the doubt is that he is the protagonist and the protagonist is usually the hero. Another is that, with his detachment from his surroundings, he seems slightly more liberal than his mileau (despite many contrary examples no doubt). Charming, intelligent, darkly handsome, mysterious; he is certainly charismatic and that is a quality that is not intrinsic but is attributed by others. As others have observed he is like an inkblot, not necassarilly vacuous but opaque and thus a screen for our various projections.

  22. Thank you for recapping, Anne and Jim. Will post more specific finale-related thoughts in a moment, but it really has been great going through this experience with all of you.

  23. This is a slight addendum to Anne B’s explanation of what a “person-to-person” telephone call is:

    While it may be a collect call (i.e., where the charges are reversed so the receiving party pays), it doesn’t have to be. The unique characteristic of a “person-to-person” call is that the operator assists in determining whether the receiving party is, in fact, available to speak to the caller before the call is charged.

  24. I’ve read a lot of reviews this morning, and yours is the only one that identified Esalen . Kudos!

  25. Did anyone else catch the opening homage to the 70’s film Vanishing Point?

  26. One thing I haven’t heard any mentions of was the “Times of your life” Paul Anka song at the beginning. It was also an advertising jingle that became a hit record. It was a calculated, commercial grab for your nostalgia, remembering a past through a special lense. It made me think of the Carousel pitch for Kodak. It really book-ended the beginning of the show with the ending’s “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”.

    I have them both stuck in my head today.

  27. Peggy’s price for weekend work has tripled. I guess she really IS a WRITER if she can crank out a ten-page script in 72-hours. Four years back, Roger paid Harry $1,100 to let Pete have a window seat, then paid Peggy a mere $400 a weekend before the Mowhawk presentation.

    Wonder if Peggy also cranked out some rough storyboards?

  28. That was so satisfying….however I too was kinda bored with the Big Sur and Don story, but it did create the Teach the World to Sing ad….Don always pulled from personal experience, he talked about it when he created the Kodak ad for the episode The Wheel in season 1. Everything you need to know about the finale is in the first season, it truly is. Weiner you are THE BOSS. Sally and Stan, Roger and Marie, Joan got rid of Mr. Money bags and is using her talent, Peggy saying “a thing like that” to Mr. Pete before he left, it was so satisfying, and so perfect. When Birdie called Don Honey I fell out in a pool of tears, it was perfection. The person I worry about is Sally, she truly is her Mother’s daughter. In point, telling her youngest brother to “go watch t.v.”. I laughed so hard. Lots of laughs and tears last night. Wonderful. And, thank you Lipp sisters….been with ya since 2007. Love you madly.

    suz in Atlanta

  29. I’ve never commented before, but I have long loved the recaps here. Thanks for enhancing the already great “Mad Men” experience for so long.

    FWIW, I think Anne is a tad off in the definition of a person-to-person call. A person-to-person call was when you had the operator make the connection and, if the person you were seeking wasn’t present at hte other end, you weren’t charged for the long distance call. This, of course, makes not the slightest difference to the analysis of the episode, but I figure fans of a show that tried to play meticulously according to the rules of the era it was depicting would care to have it right.

    • Thank you, and welcome!

      TJHinNYC makes the same correction, a few comments up. What’s interesting is that White T Jim B used to work for the old Pacific Bell Company here in California — and even he did not make that distinction.

      Fans of this show are the most intelligent fans on the Internet. Welcome to the Basket, Craven Lovelance!

      • The same Pac Bell that finally fired Scott Adams?

        Station-to-Station and Person-to-Person calls were going out when I was a kid (replaced by direct-dialing). The former cost less. Operator placed the call and the charge was triggered when the distant party picked up.

        • Yes, that Pac Bell.

          White T Jim B occasionally refers to himself as “the pointy-haired boss,” but he’s the only one who does. 🙂

    • This may be the most famous person-to-person collect call in film history. When the charges are refused, note the source of change for the call.

    • I’m old enough to remember making “person-to-person” calls. We used to use person-to-person calls to let others know we made it to our destination, safe and sound; i.e. After a coast to coast drive out to college, I’d make a person-to-person call home, asking for some “code name,” — mine was “Etta Place.” Mom would know I made it and respond with, “I’m sorry but Etta Place is not here right now.

      Trivia quiz: Anyone know who Etta Place was?

      • Katharine Ross in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

        • People have speculated that Etta was a mistake for “Ethel”, but the name Ethel was invented (as a nickname for “Ethelfred”) in a popular late (?) 19c. historical novel.

  30. The problem with novelistic television is by its nature, it is a first draft.

    Don taking in the counter-culture, absorbing its lessons of self-actualization and re-purposing it for an iconic Coke ad is pretty much the perfect ending for MAD MEN. It really is. It nicely echoes the pilot and pulls from stuff that has been sprinkled throughout the early seasons. Betty dying of lung cancer being what incites that transformation is also pretty perfect. Again, it was stuff that was always there. Again, perfect.

    The problem is that Don, as a character, has been ready for this moment since the Season 5 finale. Don knows in that moment that despite all his efforts to be a better husband to Meagan than he was to Betty that his loneliness is unresolved. Most of the events of Season 6 (especially the Sylvia plot) were one long exercise in treading water. If MAD MEN were a novel, then a decent editor gets Matt Weiner to cut nearly all of it. Everything that MAD MEN achieved by having Sally walk in on Don with Sylvia could have been achieved more easily (and more effectively) by Sally walking in on Don and Betty after their tryst at camp.

    Which leads to my second gripe. While I am truly glad that Matt Weiner was generous with all out beloved characters, how did we end without scenes that had Don & Peggy and Don & Roger in the same room together?

    • You raise an interesting point about how an editor would have treated the “Sylvia” plot lines from season 6. But I do think that witnessing Don’s need for role play in sex was important in demonstrating that the thrill was gone. In one apartment Draper had the 20-something Megan who would call him a “dirty old man” and then engage in wild sex. And, almost across the hall, he had a world-weary Sylvia who would be his submissive. Both ranges of sexual role-play and still Don got no satisfaction.

      In earlier years, Don’s sexual affairs with Midge, Rachel, Suzanne were exciting for him, even with hints of true romance. He wanted to run away with all of them. Even his romantic getaway with Betty, in Rome, was thrilling and exciting, for him and the viewer. But by season 6, the excitement in sexual encounters had to be manufactured, and it fell short of that. (okay, I;ll admit, Megan was pretty hot rolling around on the floor.)

      While some editing might have been possible, I still feel the Megan/Sylvia sex scenes provided me with an insight that Don Draper was not going to survive much longer. I think that part of season 6 had real value to both character and plot development. If there was any failure on the part of MW, I would suggest that the character of Sylvia was too world-weary to sustain our interest. I love Linda Cardellini the actress, but the character of Sylvia came across like Marian Wormer from Animal House — without the humor.

  31. Mad Men is dead; Long Live Mad Men !

    Matt Weiner gave us an ending full of opposing sentiments. On the one hand, the ending was consistent with the arc of the series and the essential nature of the core characters. On the other, he gave the fans of the show (almost) what they wanted. In fact I commented to my wife that part of the finale seemed like the ending of a Romantic Comedy (I was thinking of “Love Actually”) where the main characters realize that their true love is right in front of them.

    The opening credit sequence depicts a man falling from a skyscraper, tumbling into freefall as the accoutrements of his world flash past him. Instead of the expected ending to such a fall, the final visual is a silhouette of the back of the same man, comfortably seated on a couch, arm outstretched, and holding a cigarette in his hand. Right back where he started. I agree with the consensus opinion that the opening sequence is the metaphor for the show. MW has frequently posed the rhetorical question of “do people really change”? Sure they grow up, mature, become wiser, but their true nature remains the same. We watched Don Draper and friends experience the “60’s”, but instead of the monumental change desired by the hippies, everyone emerged much the same as they were at the beginning. After all, as MW noted, Nixon won in 1968 and the establishment prevailed. Heck, even as Don Draper is hoboing his way across the US, he keeps his hair neatly trimmed, and remains clean shaven. He is still Don Draper.

    Mad Men ends with Don, Peggy, Roger, Joan, Pete, and Kenny all older and presumably wiser, but still essentially the same people they were in 1960. Peggy and Joan are happiest when at work. Roger has always looked for a new thrill and more excitement. Well now he is with Marie Calvet, who may be as crazy as he is, and more importantly seems to know how to control him. Maybe that’s what he wanted all along. Pete has certainly matured. His genuine compliment to Peggy regarding her talent is evidence of that. But his last scene, emerging from a limousine, with Trudy and Tammy, then all moving to a waiting Lear Jet is about the best summary of Peter Dyckman Campbell as one would want. Kenny is still the happy go lucky guy with a deadpan wit. And Don is still an adman with the genius of insight into what makes people happy.

    For almost as long as the show has been on the air, fans have clamored for specific plot developments and MW has consistently resisted. I always had the sense that the show was a window into the world of these people. Their lives existed before the show began, between episodes and will go on after the show ends. Nothing was ever tied up in neat little bows, which is why I found the finale so baffling because MW gave the fans much of what they asked for. Everyone wanted Joan to find true love, and be appreciated for her professional accomplishments. As the series arc progressed, Joan began to realize that her fulfillment would come from her accomplishments rather than from love and worship. If put in the position of choosing one or the other, she will choose work because she knows that she can take care of herself. Everyone wanted Joan and Peggy to become friends, and true equals. Well we got that too- Joan proposed a partnership with Peggy. They would be in charge and would not answer to anyone but themselves. Heady stuff for two women in 1970. The proposal helped Peggy to see that her fulfillment would come from her work on Madison Avenue. Stan began as a chauvinistic frat boy, who was quickly cut down to size by Peggy. And Stan has worshipped her ever since. Fans have wanted Stan and Peggy to be together and last night they received their payoff.

    Where did we leave Don Draper/Dick Whitman? Well we found him road tripping his way across America, eventually landing in LA, and trying to reconnect with Anna Draper’s niece Stephanie. He found out about Betty’s cancer and he received the additional gut punch that she did not want him around at the end, nor did she want him to rear their children. Even Sally recognized that he should not become their full time parent. That cut deeply and we saw that he went into the bottom of another bottle. Stephanie takes him to a Meditation Retreat and abandons him there after she is confronted with her own sins. Don does not know where he is, or where he wants to go, or even what he is. It looked like he had an emotional breakdown after his almost incoherent phone call with Peggy. It is symbolic that of all people, he reached out to Peggy to confess and say “Good Bye”. Peggy is his daughter. The one he has nurtured for the past decade. She knows and loves him for it. Don is encouraged to attend a discussion group where he hears a man much like himself express that he never felt loved or appreciated by those that he cared about. Don suddenly felt empathy because the man’s story was also Don/Dick’s. He has craved love since he was a child. He thought that he would be loved and appreciated for all of his accomplishments; instead everyone looked to him to consistently give them more, never once stopping to express their gratitude or appreciation. He has identified the problem, so healing can (presumably) begin.

    Did Don/Dick have an epiphany on the plateau overlooking the Pacific? His grin certainly implied that he did. The immediate cutaway to a legendary Coke commercial was a non-subtle indication that Don/Dick went back to NYC and was able to reconcile his duality to become a whole person. The commercial was a landmark in showing how everyone, from all walks of life can put aside their differences and agree on a common element of joy.

    I have enjoyed Mad Man since S1 and I have tried to extoll its virtues to anyone who I thought would be interested. It will become a landmark TV series and one that will be looked upon as an example of TV’s second “Golden Age”. Thank you Lipp Sisters for providing a forum for all that enjoy the show.

    • Why would we assume he went back to NYC, even if he did make the ad (which I don’t actually support, but for the purposes of hypothesizing)? He had already proposed a California office and was shot down by Hobart. Perhaps Hobart realized it was better to have Don as a name and an idea man, but not underfoot, and let him set up a side office in CA.

      • I posted earlier that Don should become a type of James Bond for ME, no set agenda, making his office wherever he was, seeking out solutions, well,inspiration for adds, around the world. Given a license to create rather than kill.

    • I saw the commercial at the time, and see it today, as an example of consummate (not to say ludicrous) cynicism.

  32. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. This started as a project between me and Roberta. It became a fertile earth of brilliant and kind-hearted commenters and other writers.

    My first date with Professor Spouse was a Mad Men event. Basketwriters have become wonderful friends, including you two. This show, and this blog, has changed my life.

  33. I didn’t love everything of the final episode but… goodbye Mad Men: I was blown away binge-watching seasons 1-4, I don’t recall anything like that. Things weren’t always that perfect from season 5 onwards, but it was always Mad Men, the show I looked forward to. Thanks to the creator, the cast and crew, the fellow fans for the interesting opinions and insights.

  34. Thanks for that wonderful review/’recap. Those lines from the Mountain King you highlighted were exactly what I was thinking about today. I have read some of those other cynical reviews and have disagreed with them.

  35. You know how Matt Weiner loved putting in hints of what would happen to Lane Price? Do you suppose that using “Bye Bye Birdie” as a plot point so many years earlier was a hint that Betty (aka Birdie) was going to die before the series end?

    • I have wondered the same thing. I cannot remember which season that was in. Season 3?

  36. On the notion that Don/Dick really didn’t have a personal epiphany, and that he didn’t change:

    As said at the very beginning, both interpretations (yes he changed; no he didn’t) are valid and can be supported with convincing evidence.

    What I’d like to point out here is that this time, Don is stripped of everything. He’s brought low in a way that’s unrelated to the advertising world, or an affair, or a divorce, or any particular pursuit at which he failed. This is about Don/Dick *feeling* everything, and feeling it deeply, and acknowledging it, and being honest with himself, instead of growing more bullsh**. There’s no ulterior motive for Don to make that confessional phone call to Peggy. He hates who and what he’s become in that moment, but by confessing at least the core kernels of his Dick Whitman past to Peggy, he is emptying himself — and acknowledging that emptiness — to Peggy in a way we never saw before, not even in “The Suitcase.”

    In fact, the final 20 minutes of this finale were all about Don being more emotionally honest with himself and others than ever before.

    Don never talked to Peggy the way he did in that phone call.

    Don NEVER hugged anyone the way he hugged Leonard (the office worker in the sharing circle).

    Don’s paralysis (“I can’t move”) at the commune is not drug- or alcohol-induced. It doesn’t immediately follow any sexual fling or any negative event in a workplace environment. It’s pure emptiness, pure in the sense that it’s his soul being completely naked.

    Then — and Tilden Katz felt this as well in his MM finale recap — Don’s smile in the final scene is far more content and peaceful than any previous Don Draper smile. It is not a smile of swagger or “bad-assery,” but the smile of one who seems himself hitting absolute rock-bottom (after falling from the skyscraper of his ego for 91.95 of 92 episodes) and realizes he’s okay, he can rebuild his life without hating himself or his past anymore. That’s “the real thing, which the world wants today.”

    The other thing which really affirms the notion that Don has undergone a true personal conversion/transformation is that he went to the ocean and California in The Jet Set and The Mountain King, two episodes that really merit another watch in light of the finale. Don was scratching at his life, trying to get into it, in those episodes, but as he told Anna, he could not successfully do so. The bookend in the finale is that when Leonard (the broken office worker) says he didn’t even know what “it” is, it’s a callback to Don’s utterly lost reality late in season 2.

    That he was linked with Stephanie — a connection to Anna — is no accident. The hippie dimensions of those final scenes are far less important than the content and tone of what’s being said by people… people who were abandoned by their moms or who abandoned their babies, people who recalled elements of Don’s miserable childhood and all the ways in which that childhood set him up for an adulthood of misery and self-loathing.

    It is in Leonard’s confessional talk that Don is able to not only identify with someone, but someone he doesn’t know personally. This is a gateway to self-love and self-acceptance, and while that allows for the possibility that he merely knows how to be a better ad man, I’m finding it very hard to believe that Don’s experience is not reflective of substantial interior change and renewal.

    The postscript, though, is that in keeping with Mad Men’s ways, just because Don made this inner discovery about himself doesn’t mean that a few months later, he won’t fall off the straight path and do something really stupid and/or nasty again.

    In November of 1970 on that ocean bluff, though, Don Draper’s been given the tools for a new and better life — I think that’s powerfully true, though I can certainly understand why the cynical interpretation (he hasn’t changed) is more convincing.

    PPS — People do change on this show, just not in equal measure or the ways we’ve expected. Peggy’s changed. Pete’s changed. Sally’s changed a ton. Others? Not as much.

  37. What I find most amazing about Mad Men, is how excellent the performances were. Outside of Robert Morse and possibly John Slattery, the principal cast was unknown to most of us. And while I hope I’m wrong, all of these performers may never give better, or at least more-acclaimed, performances. The direction and writing was beyond anything I could have imagined.

    January Jones might be limited in range or even raw, acting “chops,” but her performances in so many scenes was excellent. MW and the writers always gave her such appropriate dialogue. And they used her “lack of range” to their advantage. On the other end of the scale, Christina Hendricks showed immense range over the course of the series, and in every instance her interpretation was true to the character. In season 1, I assumed she was going to be a one-note, supporting character. Boy was I wrong.

    I could go on for 10 pages extolling the performances, but Elisabeth Moss emerged as the best of the best. Unlike alll the other principals, Ms. Moss was burdened with playing a young woman who was socially awkward and inept. Peggy’s acceptable range of reactions was intentionally limited — the actress had so little space in which to emote. But in so many instances she left the viewers in awe with her performance. If anyone goes on to be great success, it deserves to be her.

    And props to Hamm, Slattery and Kartheiser, but I think their “blueprint” for acting success was far easier. Don Draper, Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell will be icons for the rest of this century. I also expect that all 3 of the actors will be type cast for almost as long.

  38. First, a wise man once said “I don’t want to get rid of my pain, I need my pain. It makes me who I am”

    Then, I just don’t believe he creates the coke ad. I think the ad was being used as a metaphor for the happy ending that the show ended on. Just like Don always used his real life to write ads, here is an ad that writes the ending of the show, or writes the parts of these ppls lives.

    Finally, I wonder if what we witnessed is an interpretation of someone’s feelings while going from being 34 to 44. The show starts with Don at 34. He knows death, he’s seen it, but he’s not thought about his own death much. But as Don ages and then goes over the hill, with friends dying, does he start to think “this is it, it’s all downhill from here, all roads lead to death”. And then maybe at the end, Don finally accepts that it’s not all that bad.

  39. The real story of the Coke Hilltop ad and reactions by Coca Cola and McCann Erickson:

  40. Perhaps I don’t fully grasp the nature of change.

    Don’s experience at Big Sur brought about powerful personal transformation, it seems inconsistent that he would return to McCann. This really isn’t about cynicism. You can’t be in the ad game without at least a little of that in your soul. It’s not only entirely possible that a place like McCann could come up with the “I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke” ad, it’s a historical fact that they did. I’m only questioning the notion that Don returned to the agency to be part of that process.

    I’ve posted elsewhere about what McCann represented to him. If such was the case prior to his time at Big Sur, we could expect it to be doubly or triply the case, post-Big Sur. Some have suggested that his possible connection to the creation of the Coke ad at McCann, was handled in a similar manner as we saw in the first half of S-7, when he worked with Freddie Rumsen at home, on the Accutron Watch account, for SC&P and let him handle the in-office aspects. Back then, Don was on suspension and couldn’t go in to the office. In the case of McCann, the office was someplace he did not want to be. Still, I just can’t see Don reworking his hilltop experience and personal enlightenment, into promoting carmel colored caffeine infused sugar water to the masses. His world has become bigger and his horizons are now broader.

    For me, it comes down to the simple fact that Don is gone and gone for good. And not just for good, he’s gone for better. If this is so, his timing is exquisite. A number of the programs, seminars, personal development groups and systems of the 1970s had their roots at Big Sur, after the creators and developers of them, passed through there. The 70s came to be known as The Me Generation and many thousands of seekers became involved with these groups and programs, as they looked inwardly for answers and hope, after the cookie cutter sameness of the 50s and the horrific madness of the 60s. For someone as creative as Don, it’s not hard to imagine him crossing paths with one of those leaders and bringing his experience at Big Sur and his professional skills to the development of one of those endeavors. It seems a more authentic and satisfying outcome, than him going back to advertising. To me, it also represents him actually moving forward.

    I believe the ending and Don’s future were left nebulous for the viewers, though they needn’t have been. Matthew Weiner had a seven episode canvas on which to paint. Personally, I think we could have done without a few minutes of the Great Diana Expedition and some other extraneous stuff. If nothing else, it would have left enough room for more of a solid, coherent ending. People were still going to talk about Mad Men – the series and its conclusion – for years, if that’s what Matt was concerned about. Perhaps his intention was to not be definite. If that’s the case, as with our seven season adventure called Mad Men, he succeeded brilliantly.

    And now, speaking as a self-identified enlightened soul, I say with assurance: “It is what it is. And, it ain’t what it ain’t.”

    • See the link in message #39. Jon Hamm confirms that Don creates the Coke commercial.

      • I read the New York Times piece with Jon Hamm. He doesn’t seem to explicitly say that. He suggests it as a possibility. In fact, he frames it as an interpretation.

        The distinction here seems to be not unlike what we find at a football game. In that realm, you have the people on the field, engaged in the experience of actually being in a football game. At the same time, you have the fans in the stands, yelling “Boo hiss!” or “Rah rah!,” with the folks in the press box, telling the listeners and viewers at home, what it all means. On the field, it’s the experience of an experience. In the stands and press box, it’s an interpretation of what’s going on down on the field.

        Have we heard from Matthew Weiner yet, with an official answer? Will we – or will he leave it nebulous?

        It probably seems like I’m nit picking here, but we’ve all invested almost ten years in this thing. The definitive answer makes a pretty big difference. Do people change or don’t they? Do they move forward or don’t they?

        All I’m trying to get across is that Don changed and out of that change, he moved forward, and I gave an alternative reading of what that might have looked like and how it might have played out. Except for poor Betty and her kids, the whole episode was about happy endings. I think my take provides a happier, more satisfying ending. Perhaps, an even a more realistic one.

        But then again, what the hell do I know?!? I’m just a guy in the stands or some ink stained wretch, up in the press box. I really hope Matt chimes in on this. He’s the Zen Master. It’s his world and we just have the privilege of dwelling in it. I may not like or agree with his final decree, but I’ll figure out a way to live with it.

  41. Here’s another theory. Every other time there has been a crisis, Don rides in like the bank, tries to solve every problem by writing checks. Maybe now at the end he had accepted that life would go on without him.

  42. My one big question is this:

    Why was the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean?

  43. Dick Whitman I think was finally put to rest in California. The memories of Dick Whitman’s life and the shame it brought him were cleansed at Big Sur. Don Draper is free of the baggage of Dick Whitman. He knows Anna is dead and her old house will not offer him comfort anymore. Stephanie doesn’t want Dick in her life. His cross country journey was painful and hollow. He reached his emotional bottom at the hippie encounter group. He must start afresh at McCann. He is free of Roger,Joan, and Pete Campbell; but not of Peggy. He did his best work yet with the Coke ad.

  44. The series finale I would have liked to have seen:

    With his new found enlightenment, Don Draper turns his back on Madison Avenue and is the founder of “Wacky Packages”.

  45. Joan turned down Bob Benson’s beard proposal because she wanted love far more than a marriage-of-convenience.

    Peggy turned down Joan’s proposal for the same reason – it just didn’t become clear until later.

    BTW, credit to all the women who had Joan’s FWB nailed. One minute he’ll marry “if that’s what you want” the next he’s walking away for good (riddance).

    • I saw Richard as one of those empty guys who having made a pile of money, get into good times and partying, drift and then wake up 10 years later wondering what the heck happened to his money and luck. And he doesn’t get it back. A Duck of a different plumage. When I saw the coke (and 1970 was early days) I believe that Joan got that read on him too. And he was fun, but when she got back to NY it was back to business for her.

  46. I go back and forth re Don creating the Coke ad, perhaps as his ‘home run now let me go’ bid to McCann, but strangely I have always seen him somehow involved with that other protean soul of LA advertising, Jay Chiat, who founded Chiat/Day in the late 60s when the LA ad scene was a blank slate. Many similarities between the two…Chiat an art director. Cannot see Don permanently returning to NY despite the kids…and Peggy is now a grown-up.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.