May 182015
Mad Men-Person to Person, Don hugs Leonard in the seminar

Photo Credit:Justina Mintz/AMC

Basket of Kisses was honored to be a part of the Museum of Moving Image Mad Men Finale event. It was thrilling to see Person to Person on the big screen, with over two hundred devoted fans. Unfortunately, it meant that I was unable to deliver my usual review, although I trust the team of Anne & Jim with my very life. It also meant that I watched Person to Person without taking notes or hitting “pause,” which was kind of wonderful. I’m choosing to write this without going back and rewatching, (so, no “quote of the week” or other details I’d get during note-taking). Sitting over a midnight dinner with my sister, Professor Spouse, and two friends was inspiring, and I want to speak directly from that inspiration.

Don is not alone.

Anna Draper (points to the World card) : This is the one.
Don Draper/Dick Whitman : Who’s she?
Anna Draper: Shes the soul of the world. She’s in a very important spot here. This is you; what you are bringing to the reading. She says you are part of the world. Air, water, every living thing is connected to you.
Don Draper/Dick Whitman: It’s a nice thought.
Anna Draper: It is.
Don Draper/Dick Whitman: What does it mean?
Anna Draper: It means the only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.
Don Draper/Dick Whitman: What if it’s true?
Anna Draper: Then you can change.
Don Draper/Dick Whitman: People don’t change.
Anna Draper: I think she stands for wisdom. Once you live, you learn things.

Mad Men episode 2.12: The Mountain King

The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.

Why was this episode named Person to Person? I mean, yes, Don placed two person-to-person calls; we heard the phrase twice. But I think the entire episode hearkens back to this quote from The Mountain King—for Don, obviously, but for virtually every other principal as well.

We have watched Don Draper over a decade of his life, from 1960 to 1970, believe himself to be alone, and be unhappy. “People don’t change”, he says to Anna, meaning “I don’t think I can change.” In his confession to Peggy, he says he’s broken his vows, scandalized his daughter, stolen a man’s name, and done nothing with it. Peggy says “That’s not true”. There was one other time she said that:

Peggy Olson: What happened?
Don Draper: Somebody very important to me died.
Peggy: Who?
Don: The only person in the world who really knew me.
Peggy: That’s not true.

Mad Men episode 4.07: The Suitcase

Peggy is speaking from her connection to Don. Yes someone knows you. Yes you’ve done something with your stolen life. I’m connected to you, she’s saying.

Don will die if he continues to believe he is alone, he will destroy himself slowly, with drink and by dissipating the money in his envelope and giving away his possessions until it’s all gone. He fools himself into believing he has a connection by talking to Sally on the regular, but he knows he’s alone.

I watched him run after Stephanie at Esalen. He ran. It took a little something for him to run fast enough to catch up—why did he do that? Because he had to get her to believe his “move forward” message. It’s a shitty message. He delivered it to two people who subsequently hung themselves. He told it to Peggy and nine years later she’s still thinking about the little boy she left behind. Don needs Stephanie to believe in “move forward,” or he can’t believe it of himself, that “riding the rails” as he’s doing is going to make the pain go away. When she leaves, and he knows his message has failed, he literally can’t move. He falls to the ground and stays there. “I can’t move.” Because even with Peggy reaching out to him, he knows, truly knows, that he is alone.

Mad Men, Person to Person, Don falls to the ground

Photo Credit:Justina Mintz/AMC

It’s in this state that he listens to Leonard. Roberta pointed out last night that Don may have been cynically distancing himself from every “seminar” he attended, but he was there, and listening, and it was having an effect below the surface, so that when Leonard spoke, Don’s reaction–which seemed  sudden and new–was actually building on something. (And being there, Don was also drying out, so that alcohol wasn’t between him and his ability to feel these feelings.)

Leonard isn’t Don. No one ignores Don because he’s such a non-entity, or fails to make note of his presence. But Leonard described loneliness and the longing for love with such eloquence, that he and Don were one. They were person-to-person. They were connected.

The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.

In the end, yes, I think Don is happy, or approaching a new kind of ability to connect, to be en-souled. I have been avoiding reading other reviews while writing this, but I’m aware that people are referring to the ending as cynical. I don’t think it is, and I’ll get to that. But I think we should visit Peggy first.

Peggy, like Don, believes herself to be fundamentally alone. She has somehow failed to become a wife or mother, as she always believed she would. She is disconnected from her mother and sister. Her son is “somewhere” and she can’t know more than that. Her three-year relationship collapsed, and she’s never formed a connection with a man that was truly mutual. She had an enjoyable date with a sweet man and immediately distrusted it. Like Don, Peggy doesn’t believe she can be loved.

I think it’s significant that “the” conversation between Peggy and Stan happened after she got off the phone with Don. Set aside the words, there’s something about him reaching out, trying to break through his aloneness, and then she reaches out to Stan, trying to do the same. That phone conversation was the turning point for both of them. From that conversation, Don went to his encounter with Leonard, and Peggy went to the declaration of love from Stan.

I remarked after The Runaways that Peggy was very appropriate with Ginsberg when he handed her his nipple (arghh). She realized what was happening, spoke kindly and firmly to him, then immediately phoned for help. Peggy knows how to respond to a crisis, and she responded to Don’s crisis with similar sanity. She heard his pain, and reached into herself to meet him, not just with love, but with conviction and strength.

Person to person. Connection to connection. The episode was full of people making small and large connections to one another. Peggy and Pete have no idea why Harry suddenly wants to be buddy-buddy, but she gives him a gift—by saying his own favorite phrase back to him, “A thing like that,” she is reminding him that she really knows him, and that won’t go away.

Mad Men, Person to Person, Joan and Roger

Photo Credit:Courtesy of AMC

There are all sorts of greetings in this episode. Joan and Ken, Peggy and Joan, Roger and Joan—lots of people giving one another a fond hello. And there are also connections based on history, on people knowing each other. Pete and Peggy, but also Don and Betty.

Don: Birdie….

Betty: I know….

I said to Roberta, about that quote, that Don and Betty told each other they loved each other. She said they didn’t say it. Sure. But they did.

Maybe Roger, too, has always seen himself as alone. Maybe he pursues young girls because he doesn’t believe there is anyone he can meet eye-to-eye. The only other time we’ve seen Roger with a woman his own age was Annabelle in The Gypsy and the Hobo, and that was a woman from his past—someone he met when they were both young. Marie is Roger’s equal, and she is a challenge, and Roger has never embraced that before, living in an isolated bubble in which he was the only one who mattered, and money would take care of the rest.

Once you live, you learn things.

Not every connection is butterflies and flowers. Joan’s connection with Richard is irrevocably severed, and her offer of partnership to Peggy is rejected. Joan wants a company with two names, and she gets one: Two of her names. Holloway Harris Productions is Joan and Joan. But, while Peggy and Don have committed to work to the detriment of their relationships, Joan has committed to relationships while ignoring the fact that she gets profound satisfaction from work. Joan lived, and learned she needed to work, even though she grew up believing the opposite.

Pete, who was alone only because he was an unappreciative weasel, has learned that having his family matters to him. He’s still selfish, probably still a weasel. People change and they don’t. He’s learned something—not everything.

We’ve always seen Peggy as like Don, in their shared creative fire. They’re also alike in their ability to obsess over work and turn everything into work. Peggy turned her longing for connection and family into a Burger Chef ad. Is that cynical? I don’t think so, because Peggy doesn’t see advertising solely as commerce; she sees it as creativity. She is a writer, as much as if that Burger Chef ad was the Great American Novel, she is pouring her soul into it. When Peggy met Abe, he questioned when she would be a real writer, and she said she already was one. It’s why she turned down Joan’s offer, because writing production scripts wouldn’t satisfy her creativity. As an advertising writer, she gets to reach inside herself and find a longing, and turn that into something.

Don always worked to teach her that; that advertising comes from an inner need:

You are the product. You feeling something.

Don Draper, Mad Men episode 2.01: For Those Who Think Young

You can’t tell people what they want, it has to be what you want.

Don Draper, Mad Men episode 7.06: The Strategy

When I wrote about the tarot reading that Anna gave Don, I said, “Because Don’s self is the World and not, say, the Magician, I see his personal power as intuitive rather than structured; he masters by being rather than by doing.”

Don has spent his career writing about his feelings. Whether it’s nostalgia (The Wheel), the need to keep secrets (5G), feeling knocked out (The Suitcase), or memories of childhood (Waldorf Stories), Don’s work draws on who he is and what he feels. As his life became less and less livable, his ads became less and less appealing—a suicidal ad in The Doorway, a tragic childhood in In Care Of.

So, at the end of Person to Person, when Don “om”s and we see the famous “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” ad, that’s not cynical, to me. That’s Don expressing a new and powerful feeling. Now, for the first time, Don can create an ad about feeling and sharing connection. Person to person.


  134 Responses to “Mad Men Series Finale: Person to Person–The Soul of the World”

  1. “He masters by being, rather than by doing.” True: and the very definition of “creative.”

    This is so beautiful, Deb. It contradicts my own Esalen-is-bullshit story; I think that’s why I love it.

    Thank you so much. For everything.


    • The east coast reviewer reshapes the San Franciscan’s view of Esalen. Fantastic. Only on the Basket, people.

    • Anne, I was going to say something about it on your thread, but now I don’t need to. Some of it was comical, sure, and some of the methods were oversimplified and unsophisticated, particularly by today’s standards, but I knew he was there for his transformation. Had he walked in on the first day and heard Leonard speak, his reaction would not have been the same.

      • I think the first moment when he realized the retreat might not all be crap was when the woman pushed him during the one seminar. She knew he was not taking it seriously, meaning he was making the other participants waste a bit of their time/money/investment, and let him know about it. The shock on his face at that moment was priceless.

        • It was perfect! I loved that moment…If it was a word, instead of gesture, it most surely would have been, “*SSHOLE!”

          • A few years later, over in Werner Erhard’s realm, they were referred to as est-HOLES.

  2. Yes. A thousand yesses to your take on this. Don making an ad inspired by his experience isn’t cynical. It’s brilliant. He’s a creative- and an ad man- and this is his outlet. He found his way home. And if it happens to sell some soda, so what?

    • Don Draper always had his finger on the pulse of the times. At the very beginning of the 1970s, he saw the wave of the future and from that vision, he created a legendary TV commercial. At least that’s how I choose to interpret the enigma that closed Mad Men. I really wanted Don to survive and live to overcome the pain and brutality of his childhood. I wanted him to return to his children and people like Peggy who would welcome him back. I lived through his era, I was born a year or two after Peggy. I remember Esalen and my recollections are not always charitable. But somehow the experience worked for Don. During the scene with Leonard, I kept thinking of E. M. Forster’s epigraph for Howards End: “Only connect.” I’ve watched Mad Men from the beginning and I choose to think I got the ending I wanted. However what I will remember is not the ending but the journey. I would like to thank a remarkable cast led by the astonishing Jon Hamm. I’d also like to thank Don Bishop and Janie Bryant and all who worked with them on the flawless sets and costumes. Finally, my endless admiration for Matthew Weiner . His genius for the details resonated with all of us who will never forget Mad Men. Mr. Weiner made the past seem very near.

      And a big thanks to the Lipp sisters and Basket of Kisses for giving us this forum. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s insights.

  3. What a trip.
    And we will always have the memories and enlightened thoughts and provocative thoughts from our Basketeers.

  4. One further thought that immediately occurred upon seeing the last scene ( The Hilltop Ad ).
    A writer/producer obsessed with secrecy and misdirection ( anyone we know? ), could have kept that final scene limited to a very few people, none of whom would have been cast members or production ( except post-production/editing ) personnel. Thewritten plot/story board and shooting for the episode could easily have been the ending with Don on the hill in the position- a perfectly plausible and ambiguous enough ending leading to all kinds of postings. Then the licensed commercial piece could have been added in post-production, enhancing further the ending.

    MW- a salute– well conceived, even better in executtion !

    • I thought the same thing.

    • I think it was poignant and poetic that we ‘actually’ saw a television ad for the first time on MM

      We have gone through the whole TV age 60’s – seen plenty of TV shows running in the background (with subtext!), plenty of print ads, story boards and presentations (even the Kennedy for President was really just a campaign promotion on film in the office – proving the potential of the medium – as Don noted… I’d vote for him!)

      But to get the actual TV ad itself (postscript to Don’s smile) elevated this episode.

      Bravo MW, genius!

  5. I would argue we are all alone, but the ray of sunshine is most of us can connect to others in ways that make us feel not so alone. Maybe it is a single person, maybe a family group, or maybe with a sum total of humanity. It is when you can’t connect to anyone or are afraid to even try that you are truly alone. Even the remembrance of someone who you connect to is sometimes enough. It takes courage.

    • The tradition I grew up in (Catholicism) has a similar approach to connection, one I think Mad Men mentioned in the past couple seasons:

      “The one unpardonable sin is the belief that God cannot forgive you.”

      Catholicism being what it is, this approach connects to judgement: suicide is seen as a mortal sin because it’s the final rebuke to God’s grace. Suicide is the literal, final “no”: the human act of taking that conviction that you’re alone and making it permanent.

      I think that what has saved Don once was his instinct to survive. It’s been difficult for him to unlearn all the habits of living by his wits — the ability to lie quickly and convincingly, the running, the shapeshifting — but what has taught him to do that is love.

      Love brought him back, every time. Love for Anna, for his kids, for Betty, for Peggy: love has saved Don, but he’s had to learn to believe in it. He didn’t grow up in it, so this will never be easy, but he has to do it. He has to see that love means something — not just to other people, to him.

      But I’m not here to tell you about love. Either it lives in your heart, or it doesn’t …


      • Anne B –

        I say this as someone who once flirted with the idea of going into the convent – this is SO spot on!

        AND (as I mentioned on Sunday) he confessed to the Catholic Peggy, who created Our Lady of the Popsicle.

  6. A brilliant analysis, as usual. Peggy’s use of Pete’s phrase sounded condescending to me. Incidentally, was there whiff of Crowley’s influence in the hymn to a sun goddess at Esalen?

    • I took the comment as a reflection of their shared experiences, and an acknowledgment of those shared times. Kinda like “I speak your language ” and I like it.

  7. Yes. YES, to all of it. I have read an obscene amount of blogs today and yours might be the most concise. Thank you for bringing up the fact that he wasn’t drinking during the death throes of the old Don. I think this is significant, as he has been concerned about his consumption before, deligated others to keep track for him, made marks on the bottle before, but never stopped before. Not that it was his choice exactly, but more than 24 hours without a drop had passed by the time he sat paralyzed by the pay phone, withdrawal in full bloom, starving “that” Don Draper of his life blood. That Don became ill the moment he saw his little brother Adam in the lobby of the old Sterling Coop and finally died in a bowl of granola. By having nowhere to run and no way to get there, he had to fully confront the failures of his past in order to move forward.

  8. After I let things soak in, I wondered if (1) Matt Weiner has been to Easlen or some variation thereof and (2) if some form of the refrigerator dream is based on his own experience.

    • I read that he watched old films of some of the encounter sessions at Esalen. So he did his research!

  9. Thank you! On Anne B’s thread I’ve been trying to come to grips with just what Don’s experience at Esalen meant, what was intended, and this answers it beautifully. Weiner’s picture of advertising was also an image/metaphor for the whole creative process. That’s what makes Don’s gift special, and Peggy’s; they draw from themselves the way real artists do. The Coke ad is not a cynical appropriation for Don: it’s a breakthrough, his new artistic phase, as well as a sign of a healthier psyche.

    Great observation on the various connections, especially Don and Betty (you are correct. They said I Love You.) and, of course, Don and Peggy. My only prediction for B. Cooper’s contest was that they would take each other’s hands once more (as in the pilot, The Suitcase, The Other Woman, and The Strategy). Three thousand miles of distance made it physically impossible, but they managed it anyway.

  10. Was anyone struck by the absence of Dawn in the final few episides? Both Shirley and Meredith had worthy exits, but no hint of Dawn Chanber’s fate.

    • The thing I took from the finale, is that even though stories are “ending”, so many of the characters were either unresolved, or “ended” in such a way that they could still show up on other shows. Of course Betty is gone — how defiant that she sits there and smokes away, even as she’s dying? (as in, what else is she going to do?) I’d love to see Dawn come back, as well as Sal and Joan.

    • I thought it would be perfect if Joan hired Dawn as her office manager.

  11. Remenber Freddie (channeling Don) said “Omm” in his pitch for that Swiss watch.

    • Yes!

    • *jaw drop* Yes! The Accutron pitch, the opening scene of Season 7. And Freddie was impersonating Don i.e. delivering Don’s pitch to Peggy. Great catch!

    • Brilliant!

    • Genius! I remember thinking the “Ommm” moment seemed so drawn out as to be a bit odd but I never, ever would have connected that to the sound in the finale. Thank you for pointing out this brilliant connection.

    • Joe,

      I wrote something similar back in the S7 premiere thread

      Here’s an edited version of the relevant part, stemming from how the S7 promo shot of Don and Peggy at the airport is a version of the Roman god Janus.


      But while Janus is usually two male faces, the fused being of Don/Peggy is obviously male/female. One male/female mythic image is the Hindu god/goddess Ardhanarishvara

      I thought this was just a coincidence, until Freddy’s pitch. He describes the hum on the watch as “Aummm.” I found it odd that Freddy would describe the watch as humming since watches are usually meant to be silent. But then I realized “Aumm” is a homophone for “Om/Aum” the Hindu sacred/primal sound of the universe.

      And the first we see Don he’s silent, all we hear is the hum of his electric razor, “aummm.” I did some research and Ardhanarishvara in Yoga corresponds with the third eye “charkra.” Each chakra in the body has a sound and the sound for the third eye one is “Om.”

      So is Don integrated male/female when we first see him? The dual image is there with the mirror, but both images are masculine and Don is doing a highly masculine act, shaving. Add to that the background music, “I’m a Man.” Yep, that’s our Don, third eye blind.


      At the end of “Person to Person,” Don is doing Yoga and chanting “Om.” The camera is focused on his face, which should be the third eye Chakra. So is Don now the integrated male and female? Considering Don has been basically rejected by all the women in his life (Sally wants the family to live with Henry, Betty doesn’t want him to come back, Stephanie splits with his car, Peggy cares but Stan tells her to let go, and of course Megan has left him), I doubt it.

      Also, the triple Om at the end could be a reference to T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” which ends with “Shantih Shantih Shantih,” Shatih/Shanthi being Sanskrit for “peace.” I’ve posted before about the possible connections between MM and “The Waste Land.” Also, “Person to Person” begins in a wasteland with Don racing cars. But does it end with Don finding peace? If Don went back to NY and used his insights to make the Coke ad, I’m guessing he’s back in Eliot’s Waste Land.

      • Celina,
        You have given me much to ponder. The depth of your analysis is astounding. We must discuss this further over Cokes. Meanwhile, I will check into some of your reference points. 3rd Eye Blind indeed.

      • Even the older woman at the retreat shoves Don away at the retreat

        • Great catch! Also, even though she doesn’t reject him, Meredith also leaves him.

          And if Don goes back to work at misogynistic McCann for the Coke ad (as JHs post finale interview suggests), then may be it’s Don shoving back.

          • Jon Hamm said that? A Matt Weiner interview is coming. Should be fascinating.

            • MW said Don definitely went back to McCann and did the Coke ad, as per Roberta’s post about MW’s talk.

              Also, in the last shot of Don there are men on either side of him, no women in the frame.

        • Also, with the reference to the Tarot World card, the person in the card is considered either female or hermaphrodite.

          If female, the Don being rejected by most of the women in his life (the exception being the teacher who invites him to her session) seems to clash with the World card.

          If hermaphrodite, then Don is not the integrated male/female.

  12. I wouldn’t say that Joan’s partnership offer to Peggy was “rejected”. I would say it was “declined”.

    • Good point. Peggy certainly appreciated and considered the offer. Nice to see after their bitter exchange in the McCann-Erickson elevator earlier.

  13. Is there an easy way to find and read all of your reviews for past episodes? The recaps in the episode guide aren’t what i’m looking for and I can’t seem to navigate my way to your past recaps and I love them.

    • Use the tags in any post. So, search on “person to person”, click the first post you find, then click the tag.

  14. Deb — Yes. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes.

  15. Great piece! Such a thought-provoking finale. I am working on a tarot piece for this week.

  16. Mad Men has always shown that money, success, etc. doesn’t bring happiness and fulfillment. That is one of its biggest themes. Megan’s mother referred to it as “chasing phantoms” — you will never be fulfilled by material things. Bert told Don, the best things in life are free. Peggy saw that what is worth finding is human connection. The natural trajectory of these themes leads to Don feeling connected to others, seeing himself in them, and accepting himself. That is where the show was heading all of this time. This is the natural culmination of those insights. His smile was not pride at his idea, but finally experiencing the peace he never had in his struggle to be Don Draper. For Don to return to the rat race and make the Coke ad, feels like a step back.

    This ending reminds me of the short story, “the Lady or the Tiger,” which also ends ambiguously. What you think the woman chooses to leave with her man depends on your view of human nature. If you think people are good and compassionate, then you believe she chose the lady. If you believe people are jealous and petty, then you believe she chose the tiger.

    Tom and Lorenzo’s recap clearly describes the two possible endings. If you believe people can find peace and make lasting change in their lives, and you’re optimistic, then it’s hard to believe Don made the coke ad. Someone who gains real wisdom would not exploit it (and consumers) for commercial gain. If you think people can’t change, and you’re cynical, then he clearly made the ad. I see this as a choose your own ending, and I choose the former. It makes the placement of the coke ad hard to explain, but I want to believe that Don found his shangri-la and that people can find peace with themselves.

    • I read Tlo’s review as well and it’s just that I see a third option. Don (and Peggy’s) ad work has often been presented as thoughtful and insightful. Not manipulative and exploitative. Can’t someone, Don, anyone, return to the “rat race” (ie the 9-5 jobs that pay our bills and give is something to work at) with sincerity? Just because he goes back to Madison Avenue doesn’t mean he hasn’t finally found the self acceptance to allow him to both function at work without the aid of canadian club and function as a father and friend in his personal life as much as he can? A lot of people are throwing around the idea that people can’t change. Well maybe people are who they are, but they do learn to be more successful versions of themselves. Don’s always been presented as a creative genius and I think he had the idea there, with that ringing bell, to create an iconic, inspired ad and perhaps the clarity to go home and just live his life.

      • I can certainly see that, but it makes the ending a lot less meaningful. It makes the ending into “life goes on” and “maybe you do a little better next time”. Which is disappointing to me. That would just drive home the idea — “Is that all there is?”

        • To me, it’s just a more upbeat version of the cynical ending. Which I totally buy into as well (that wry little grin on his face). But… Isn’t the point of mad men sort of that life goes on? Henry Francis said something in season 4 that seems to sum up these characters: “There are no fresh starts. Lives carry on.” Or something like that.
          I really like all the interpretations I’ve seen so far. Weiner left just enough wiggle room at the end for wonderment, without giving us a totally ambiguous open ended scene where the audience is left in the dark. I love it.

        • Maybe the answer is “this is all we have” to the question “is this all there is”. Take what you have and use it. Not that I’m a pragmatic person or anything.

  17. Don’s transformation seemed rushed, but I got the feeling that he would survive by ANY means.
    That he meant a lot to Peggy, STILL, was enough for me.
    Their bond is eternal.

    A happy ending for Don fucking Draper.
    How bout that??????????????

    Now the autumn gloom of withdrawal will begin for me.
    The Don Draper Show is over.

    • Don’t you mean the “Don Draper Dinner Theater” is over? 😉

      Sayonara, Tilden. Enjoy the rest of your miserable life!

  18. Leonard’s story about being on a shelf in the fridge? That’s where a lot of people store their Coca-Cola, isn’t it?

    • Clever! Love that.

      Believe me I loved this episode, but I’ve never heard anyone describe a dream like that. I understood Leonard’s feelings, and all of the pain,longing and loneliness he was describing, but the dream itself did not ring true for me.

      • I thought it sounded like a made-up rather than real dream. It reminds me of the commercial with the child’s voice talking about the “nice house that lived with a family”. Does any child talk or think like that or is it a clumsy adult imitation?

  19. Has anyone noticed a parallel between Don Draper/Dick Whitman and Darth Vader/Anikan Skywalker?

    VADER (turning to face him)
    That name no longer has any meaning for me.

    It is the name of your true self. You’ve only forgotten. I know there
    is good in you.

    • No, I was not going in the direction you seem to be. BUT, for what it’s worth, Joseph Campbell, who was a deep influence on George Lucas in his conceptualization of the Star Wars mythology, was indeed a teacher at Esalen!

      • Ok I admit it’s a huge stretch and I was pretty much just kidding around but we have two essentially good kids who adopted identities in their adult lives that were false and corrupt. I picture Don Draper sneaking into a movie theatre in a decade or so from this episode and seeing himself as Vader’s character. Don is a fan of the cinema after all. And I guess the parallel ends there lol.

    • Yes.

  20. What an amazing critique of last night’s “last night”. I was so torn about the ending and whether I liked it, or even “got” it; and you managed to voice in words the things I was feeling about it. Thanks so much. I DID ”get it”!!

  21. As my excellent husband observed, Coca-Cola was represented by the red coveralls with white turtleneck worn by a man in the encounter group. Also I believe the “desk clerk” with the braids also had red and white. Could probably find more. I can’t wait to read the Tom and Lorenzo fashion and color analysis.

    Many thanks to the Lipp sisters for running this place, and for the many enlightening comments and articles from contributors and readers. What an enriching experience.

  22. For some reason it was touching to me that when Kenny found himself in a jam and need a competent professional he sought out Joan. Not because she’s a friend, not because she’s a woman, not because she’s not a man. But because he TRUSTS her.

    And she trusts him.

    It was a short scene but it was touching to me.

  23. With all of the commentary and analysis of the closing scene, what does the opening scene of Don racing that car in Utah mean or signify? It’s certainly a powerful image. Would love to hear all of your thoughts.

    • Perhaps he’s trying to transcend (or escape) his feelings by the sheer sensation of speed.

    • Living in the moment? It is hard to be reflective when you are going that fast and know you could die at any time. What was the famous quote about facing death sharpens your concentration considerably?

    • The close-up on the driver reminded me of the opening sequence of The Prisoner (linked at “Hollis”). The Prisoner was known as Number 6 and did not have a name.

      The Prisoner series appeared in the late 60’s and has been re-shown several times (streamed on AMC in 20009).

      • Another thought: The Prisoner was gassed and taken to an island prison from which there was no escape. Don was barely conscious when he was driven first to Stephanie’s and then to Esalen, where he could not even hitchhike out..

  24. I’m watching the finale yet again. The montage of scenes showing different characters is pretty good, but it might have been nice to have seen Henry in the final Betty-related shot.

    • I wondered about the absence of Henry but I think he’s probably drowning his sorrows by working late. Also, he may have disengaged himself from family life, knowing the children are not staying with him, and perhaps not wanting to keep them. Betty was pretty controlling about the fate of the boys, and it left Henry out, as well as Don, of course (she said,’ they need a woman in their lives’ or something of that nature to explain why she wanted her brother and wife to take them).

      Yet the choice of a final scene only with Betty and the children struck me as appropriate, too, in that these are the people most affected by Don’s behavior, both professional and personal. Betty is dying, her vanity laid to waste, from a disease Don promoted with his cigarette campaign.

      And the children are suffering from the loss of their father – the scenes of Bobby trying to cook dinner and Sally having to step in as the parent, as well as Sally cleaning up, with her dying mother unable to help – were just wrenching. Fear, loneliness, dread and unhappiness permeated that kitchen. And Don wasn’t around – oh he’ll come back and we don’t know what will happen – but just that his absence had such painful consequences. Even Stan steered Peggy in the right direction when he told her she had to let Don go. But his family, his children, can’t. Even if they weren’t with him much, he’s their father.

  25. As always, a review and analysis that is full of insights. But I choose not to accept that Don was able to get off that hillside and write that despicable Coca Cola ad. I remember it well, and I was 18, an idealistic freshman in college, and, to this day I find it one of the more offensive advertisements I’ve ever seen. If Draper came up with that, then maybe he went on to come up with the Joe Camel campaign to groom kids to be smokers.

    Don Draper was an alcoholic. Finally, he hits rock bottom, dries out and has a chance for recovery. One of the keys to staying sober is staying away from old places where you used to drink and old “friends” with whom you used to drink. If Don did return to NYC and meet up with Roger, he’d be dead within 5 years. So, in my interpretation, the Coca Cola ad was nothing more than MW winking at the viewers, and opening the door to ambiguity. I’m sure Esalen had scores, in not thousands of ad executives as guests, many of them dragged to Big Sur by their trophy wives.

    I’m sure MW will remain slyly ambiguous in his interview on Wednesday.

    Incidentally, the show ended in November 1970. At the end of December of that year, TV ads for tobacco went off the air forever. “You can take Salem out of the country BUT….” was the last one I ever saw on December 31st.

  26. [NOTE: Sorry for the repetition. I inadvertently posted this on the “Hello Goodbye” thread, when I meant to post it here. I think it fits on both threads, so I’m adding it here. Thanks!]

    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.”

    • It becomes apparent through this ending that MW only intended to explore the questions posed without definitively answering them. I wonder what he really thinks. Does he think real enlightenment is possible? Or is he skeptical and cynical? Ultimately it doesn’t really matter because it’s the viewers’ responsibility to find out for themselves where they stand on it. The consensus is that Don writes the ad, but I’m sure most people writing about it do not have personal experience with the ideas Don was exposed to that you would need to be able to be swayed the other way.

      • Over on the “Hello Goodbye” recap, someone referred me to a NY Times piece about it with Jon Hamm. Here’s the link to that. Check it out, then have a look at my response below, as I think it will also answer your question to me.

        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.

      • Postscript.

        On one of the many MANY media posts about the finale, it was pointed out that Mad Men is like a Rorschach test. We look at the strange ink blots on the cards through the lens of our lives and personal experiences.

        As it happens, I’m a graduate of The Forum, which was the 1980s (and current) incarnation of est, one of the more impactful and lasting of the many personal awakening programs of the 1970s. It’s quite possible that had I not been involved with it, I might well have landed in the “Don wrote the Coke ad” column. That would have represented a wonderful and happy ending for him and the series. But that’s not where I am and it’s because of my experience that I’m not.

        Ultimately, there are no wrong answers here. I’m not more enlightened or advanced because my take is different. All my experience really does is inform my alternate possible ending and meaning of it. I hope Matthew Weiner eventually does tell us. I’ll be okay with that. I’ll also be okay if he doesn’t chime in.

        Personally, I think Don changed and moved forward. In a real way, he got his life back and it’s nothing like the life we saw in the seven season saga of Mad Men. I know I got my life back 25 years ago, but transformation is a strange and wonderful thing. It’s powerful, personal and entirely experiential. The very nature of it defies charts or graphs or explanations. It shows up in the living out of it and nothing is ever quite the same.

        I’ll end with a favorite quote by Werner Erhard, the man who created est and The Forum. It captures some of what I’m referring to.

        “You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference – to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful, or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant. We want to know we have made some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work.”

        Thanks for letting me share!

        • SmilerG — thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on what the ending means about Don/Dick. I really appreciate your openness and thoughtfulness about this question. As you say, we have been living with this story for almost a decade, and it matters to us what the answer to the question of “Do people change?” is. I have spent the entire series wanting redemption and change for Don, of Don. And I agree with you that he got it/achieved it, at least to some extent. As you seem to, I also struggle with the question of how far that redemption and change will reach. He had those moments at the retreat of really “getting it,” really opening his heart and understanding that what it’s all about is connecting with other people, loving and helping other people. I saw him get that in the scene with Leonard.

          What I struggle with is to what extent he held on to that later. Like you, I feel that if he went back to advertising, made the Coke ad, etc., that this reflects a step backward for him, away from Dick and back to Don, back to an acceptance of the position that manipulating people and emotions for a living is a worthwhile way to spend your life. I see on the Internet that the consensus is that he did go back to advertising, did make the Coke ad, etc. (Aside: I interpreted the Coke ad as an ironic commentary meant as contrast to Don’s more genuine experience on the hillside). Some people see that as signaling that people don’t change. Others interpret it as … Don did change, and he brought that change to his creative work. I do think that both of those interpretations are valid and consistent with what Matt Weiner has told us and shown us throughout the series. But I hope for more. I want your interpretation to be true. I don’t know whether it is.

          As you also said, Mad Men (and much of great literature) functions like a Rorschach test — the viewer interprets the work through the lens of his or her own worldview and experiences. We can’t help doing that. So I suppose that in a sense, all interpretations are valid. I don’t know if I like that or not. 🙂

          At any rate, in my mind’s eye Don becomes a novelist, or a poet, and he may not live with his children, but he does become more involved with their lives, and he tries to teach them to live genuinely and openly. I think that interpretation is also supported by what we saw in the last season, and especially, in the last few scenes of the finale. And that is true even if Matt Weiner is interviewed and tells us a different interpretation of the ending. I believe regarding works of art, and MW himself has said of Mad Men, that the audience is part of the process of making meaning as well. Once the artist releases the work into the ether, the audience interprets it, and those interpretations become part of the work as well. The work is not static; it does not freeze at the moment the artist releases it; it continues to evolve.

          • Thank you for your post. I loved it! Somehow, it made me think back to a conversation that was a big part in est and later, The Forum. It’s about how, in life, we all run a racket. It’s behavior or beliefs we engage in, for the payoff we get from them, which usually looks positive, but is actually quite negative. I recall a You Tube segment dealing with this. A woman in the room goes into how she was an orphan, detailing all the trials and difficulties that were attached to that status. As the conversation goes on, it is pointed out to her that “orphan” is a perfect racket. You’re left alone in the world, with nobody to depend on. People feel sorry for you and you get all the attention you can handle out of it. It’s a racket you can really milk for all it’s worth. It’s a great example of how much we are tied to our story. It’s not life and aliveness, of course, but we do love it for all the payoffs we get from running it.

            Dick/Don certainly ran such a racket. He didn’t even need to share his story with a lot of people. He could run it on himself and still get the all payoffs. And, through Mad Men, we got to see how that played out for him.

            Back in S-2, Anna Draper kinda called him on it, during his Tarot reading, when she told him, “the only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.” That was in 1962 and he didn’t really get it, until 1970 on the hilltop. He finally got that his racket was costing him too much – his life.

            • By the way, I found the video with the “orphan” conversation. It’s in this documentary about the creator of est and The Forum. It’s pretty powerful stuff and interesting too, in the context of the larger discussion of Don’s transformation in the finale …

          • “I interpreted the Coke ad as an ironic commentary meant as contrast to Don’s more genuine experience on the hillside”

            Brilliant, Elizabeth! I’ve been reading a lot of commentary here and on TLo so far and I haven’t seen this interpretation yet! I realize now after seeing this that the same thing crossed my mind right after seeing it, then I started going down the more common paths (either Don wrote the ad or Don’s at peace and he didn’t). Based on going with your interpretation, I’d say it also shows that, life goes on; Don has always been tapped into the zeitgeist and with or without him, successful advertising will too. Only now he’s free of it. That said, ironically I am actually leaning towards the more positive versions of the pathway where Don does write the ad. It just seems like one more reinvention but this time he really does move forward. But then again, could he really stomach going back to the sh**ty McCann environment after all of this enlightenment? Because I do think he has found a little peace. I dunno…my interpretation will continue to evolve…I’ll end up just taking the quantum mechanics way out – that all the pathways actually exist in parallel universes. Because, why not? It is a story after all. I thank MW for giving us this last gift as part of this larger awesome gift of MM. MM forever!!

        • I think Don was able to move on because he was able to shed and cleanse the pain and the memory of Dick Whitman from his life. He was able to finally deal with the guilt and shame of his life. He is not running away anymore. He will be able to forgive himself for being whorechild. This transformation will not turn Don Draper into a saint. I really hope he can have a healthy relationship with Sally.

  27. I understand the alienation Don Draper feels because of how he was raised, his inability to connect with people in a genuine way and the cynicism of a man who understands human’s selfish nature. His only companion growing up was fear and I am sure that if any one of us lived his life, it would have made cowards of us all. As an adult, the specter that haunted him was his fear of discovery – the discovery that he was really Dick Whitman, the whore child, whose life was worth less than dirt and no one would care or even notice if he were gone.

    The great irony is that Don Draper wanders through this life convinced that the universe is indifferent and we are all alone; yet, who, other than Anna Draper, loved Dick Whitman? The answer, of course, is one of the true innocents in this series, Adam Whitman. Poor, poor Adam. All he wanted in life was to find his long lost brother, the one person who truly understood the Hell that was their childhood, and be a part of his big brother’s life. Instead, he gets $5,000 and a note to go away.

    I found it consistent when Don confessed his sins to Peggy, the one he left out was, “I killed my brother.” Don’s narcissistic personality disorder doesn’t allow him to go down this darkest of roads. It’s much easier to play the “whoa is me” card than to truly confess one’s sins.

    And finally, we are left with “what did the ending mean?” Leave it to Matt Weiner to present the American Dream/Nightmare with the final two scenes. Yes, Don does have an epiphany when he hugs Leonard – maybe our purpose in life is to help each other and make sure that our fellow man knows that he is not alone. So what does our Don do with this knowledge? He explores Yoga and Meditation in an attempt at self-discovery. Finally when his mind and body are at peace and his subconscious is allowed to freely wander, he has unknowingly develops a new set of tools to kick start his creativity. His meditation practice has shown him a way to connect this young generation of Americans who is seeking meaning to their lives with a product older than their grandparents.

    As the Coke ad played, I could not help but laugh and shake my head at Matt Weiner’s understanding of Don Draper’s nature. What is his nature? What does he do, this man we see? He creates want where there is none. He provides solutions to problems we did not know existed. He makes connections that seem impossible. With all that creativity and newly found insight, what does Don Draper do with his life? Sell soda pop. I am reminded of Steve Jobs’ pitch to John Sculley, then the head of Pepsi, to become the CEO of Apple, “what are you gonna do? Spend the rest of your life selling sugar water?” Don’s answer would be a resounding “Yes!!!”

    • In the episode where Adam hinges himself, I was struck by but didn’t comment on how differently he handled rejection as compared to Dick/Don. If Don had been given money when he was Adams age or in that situation, low level job, limited opportunities, he would have taken it and gone on to improve his life. I am assuming Adam, although raised in the same basic situation as Dick, had his mothers love. She clearly differentiated between the two boys, which Don pointed out in his conversation with Adam. So why does one person kill himself when rejected and the other move on doing what he can to improve his life? I have no idea. But this is what I did admire about Don,,,,he took a heap of abuse growing up that would have crushed many others, it damaged him but it did not crush him. He moved on, not always using honorable methods, but he dug down deep into himself and he moved. He always stopped just short of being totally self destructive. Why does one person live through something while another gives up? Again, I don’t know. But Don did, reaching levels that most of us will never reach, financially at least, not such an easy thing to do. He stayed in the fight, so to speak. Sally seems to have that in her being too.

    • Frank, I think in your last paragraph you get closest to the double-sided nature of the ending. I can’t agree with Deborah that the Coke ad represents all sunlight and goodness. It’s tacky and co-opts what it’s espousing to sell a fizzy drink. But that’s what advertising does. It’s what Don does for a living. I’m happy if he has found some peace and positivity in wanting to connect to others. And glad if he has refound his creativity. But in returning to advertising, it gets tarnished by the consumer sales pitch. But that’s OK. Life isn’t pure. People keep going. You find what you can. I think that’s largely what the whole series has been about. I loved the juxtaposition – which was brilliantly done – and the complexity revealed there. I think it’s a great ending.

    • Frank,

      I wonder if Leonard resembled Adam in Don’s mind, especially considering how Don hugged Leonard like he hugged Adam. They way Leonard spoke of being alone and ignored (like janitors are in buildings) seemed to echos Adam’s state of mind when he met Don. May be Don heard Adam’s feelings again through Leonard, but now really listened and understood them.

  28. Thank you. I haven’t been around since the first or second season, but I never forgot about your site just like I won’t ever forget Mad Men. Again, thank you.

  29. I thought of Holloway and Harris as a nod to Joan’s mother, her partner in raising Kevin and the constant in her life.

  30. What struck me as odd was Don’s parentification of the younger women in his life. Sally is his daughter, but she’s the adult checking up on him on is road trip, not to mention she’s the one who’s already planned out what to do with her brothers. And while Don goes on his “vacation”/disappearing act, Sally gives up her trip to Spain to care for her family. With Stephanie, Don tries to turn her into “perfect mom” Anna, showing up on her doorstep for a meal and shower just like he did with Anna. And with Peggy, Don calls her like a scared child needing comforting.

    With the last shot of Sally, it seemed like a cross between Madame Bovary’s daughter (with Don being Madame Bovary, not Betty) and Adam redux, in that Sally is now a version of Adam, taking care of a mother dying of cancer and emotionally supporting her stepfather, doing the work of a maid/janitor.

    • Not to be too unfeeling, but the situation with Betty has a short time limit. And back in 1970, they didn’t have hospice, at least as far as I know, and soon Betty will be in a hospital. Sally’s time in that specific situation is limited. It will be horrible but it will not last forever.

  31. In meditation, hand positions have meaning. I liked at the end that all the people around Don are seated in lotus position with their palms facing upward. This hand position is said to enhance listening and that it means that you are in the spirit of giving and receiving. However Don is seated with his palms facing down. This position is used when you need more grounding and it is said to allow more of an inward focus and not being aware or wanting of anything around you. So it was just wonderful, IMO, that here he sits in blue jeans, which we never saw before, meditating in lotus position, which we also never saw before, in a true moment with inward focus and then a smile on his face. Just loved it!

    I read that the actual Coke commercial was filmed in Italy which was probably an unintended coincidence but Italy was the last trip that Don and Betty took together and enjoyed eachother’s company. And we can’t forget that Betty speaks Italian. Thanks to the Lippsisters and all the participants of this blog.

    • And contrast our very first look at Don in the pilot was of the back of his head and our last look at Don is straight on at his face–and he’s smiling!

    • sr,

      With Don’s mediation, there may also be a link to his Christian background. The leader of the meditation has a Jesus like appearance. And the way Don has two men on either side of him is like Jesus on the cross with a thief being crucified on either side of him. Not that Don is being crucified, but that he’s reaching a state of higher consciousness.

  32. I thought the ending was the crowning accomplishment of TV storytelling, but I see it in a completely different light. The whole premise of Mad Men was that the fifties (yes, 1960, but still the fifties in cultural ways) as an idea was created by Madison Avenue, and these men of privilege would be on the losing side of history as culture changed and moved on. But of course not, that’s not how history goes. No matter how much society seems to change, and no matter how much it does change in terms of people gaining rights, all ideas, no matter how genuine they seem at the time, will be absorbed by corporations in order to shift products. Don had to shed his skin and rid himself of the past to regain relevance, but all he really changed were the cultural touchstones. He had a meaningful experience, which he translates into “buy coke”, which is where America will always end up, no matter if there are periods of self-reflection. It happened again after the financial collapse, and it will happen whenever anything meaningful seems to happen. The Don Drapers of the world, who are multiplying exponentially, as illustrated by the clones at the McCann offices, will always take whatever one imagines of a culture and present the solution as an unrelated product. The winners stay winners. He sold products that killed the mother of his children by saying “they’re toasted”, now he will sell what made her fat by saying “world peace”. A cynical ending? No, profoundly truthful, and a new light on themes that have been there from the beginning. All along we were watching a man find a way to turn the spiritual search of the sixties into something that was not scary, but reliable and profitable. He triumphed

    • MAGGA,

      Great analysis! If Don found the World, the woman in the middle of the card is going to be overweight, diabetic, and with an insulin syringe in either hand once Don and Coke are done with her.

  33. I suspect Don’s seeming transformation may stimulate ripples in several pools. A biggie is: how shall his boys be reared going forward?

    His seeming acceptance of Betty’s brother-and-sister-in-law plan is only a start – not the end of it. Besides he tempered Betty’s critique of his absence with a valid “I didn’t know”. Indeed, if he had, he’d have driven to Rye (with a likely detour to “rye” as he did on race day).

    I further suspect that not only do “adults make those decisions” but Sally promoted herself to adult in his eyes – which is more crucial in the upcoming war than Henry’s and brother-and-sister-in-law’s.

    I could easily see a big reconciliation with Betty – perhaps having more to do with their history looking back (the good parts) than with going forward.

    The good news – for Sally and her brother – is that there are several legitimate grownups in the mix who all are invested in positive outcomes. Even Betty’s brother may well step up given that sibling rivalry will become a non-issue and resentment-of-Dad has had many years to heal.

    • I see very few grownups in this situation and I don’t have real good feelings about this outcome at all.

      • All lies in definitions, of course, but in what ways has Henry behaved in any way other than grown up?

        Don, mostly in his impulsive running away, has shown that he’s often not a grownup. In other, important, ways he is. His interactions with Sally and Bobby, as unusual as they are, have been very much grown up. With Betty out of the picture I could see him making more time with the kids.

        • I discounted Henry because Betty seemed to indicate he was not in any way being considered for custody. A grown up would first consider what is best for the children, secondly what is possible given the legal aspects of this situation. This may not be a bad decision, but it seems to have been made by Betty, and frankly her wishes will not be important once she dies. Don will have the final say.

  34. I needed a few days to digest the episode. My first reaction was that I didn’t like it but with time and thought and re watching it’s starting to grow on me. I’m not sure if anything could have lived up to my built up expectations (combined with real sadness that this amazing show is really over)– Two of the best show finales I believe were Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under. ( I have mixed feelings about the Sopranos, though just the fact that we’re still discussing it this many years later does say something.) I didn’t expect it to go like Breaking Bad (a very different genre) but I was hoping maybe for something more like Six Feet Under–projecting their lives into the future–but maybe MW figured that had already been done. We have invested so much into these (fictional) characters and they have been written and acted so masterfully that we have really grown to love them and an ambiguous ending is kind of disturbing for me. At first I was disappointed that he didn’t rush back to his kids and find meaning in loving and caring for them. But after thinking about that–that wouldn’t be true to the character and who he was. I kind of like thinking that he did find self acceptance and peace on that mountain and at that point his creative genius came back and he went on to go back into advertising and was responsible for one of the greatest ads of all time–but it’s ambiguous. I keep going back to what he said to Ted in Waterloo when Ted was thinking of dropping out of advertising–that he was miserable and lost without it. “You don’t have to work here but you have to work. You don’t want to see what happens when you lose it all.” I would like to think that the man who said those words to Ted would go back to advertising and would use his creative gift only now he could be more real and authentic. He now realizes that the advice he gave to Adam and Peggy and Lane–to go forward and not to look back–the way he tried to live his life–is not correct as Stephanie told him. Adam and Lane hung themselves and Peggy has never forgotten or let go of the guilt and sadness of giving up her baby and as much as Don Draper tried to keep Dick Whitman buried, Dick broke the vessel that was Don Draper and is free.

  35. Another take on the episode title, Person To Person, came to me when I looked at the photo above of Don sitting on the ground, under the pay phone.

    We see a man who is grounded – and not in a good way. He’s lost, dejected, rejected, his wings clipped and he can’t even move. The female seminar leader asks if he’s taken something, he looks so profoundly out of it. (I wonder if she’s meant to represent the woman in The World card in the Tarot deck?) If so, Anna Draper’s reading for him in S-2, has come full circle, with Dick coming face to face with her – and with himself.

    What a contrast between the Don pictured above and the Don we later saw on the hilltop, grounded, in a completely different way – lotus position and all – radiating something magnificent from deep inside himself. He’s at peace and at one with himself and The World. Gone, even, is the ever present Lucky Strike pack logo, that constant target hovering over his heart, seen through the fabric of his shirt pocket. And near the end of that scene, the little smile that comes to his face. It’s not a Madison Avenue smirk. It’s an outward expression of an inward bliss. Perhaps a sign of the full contentment of his total connection with everything, in a single moment.

    Seen in this context, his universe has shifted and so has he, from person to person.

  36. The phrase “A new day, new ideas, a new you,” reminded me of “Tomorrowland.” May be that was a reason Don was so adamant about being in Stephanie’s life. Stephanie could have been Don’s “new beginning” like 60’s hip Megan, but now ’70s boho Stephanie, perhaps wife #3 or to be with the 70’s his live in girlfriend.

  37. Just wondering. Why do Sally and Bobby have to cook and clean? Where’s the housekeeper. They always had one when Betty was healthy and now that she’s dying they don’t have one?

    • I wondered that too. And that is a solution, if not with the current housekeeper, then perhaps a new one. The money is not a problem and surely they can find a stable person (woman, to make Betty happy) who needs a live in position who can cook and clean, watch out for 2 boys and a grown man. What I would love to see is an Aunt Bea type move in and provide some stability in Henry’s house, Don keeps the every other weekend arrangements, but if he takes off, which I think he will, some one person will still be there to take care of the kids. She might need backup, that can be arranged. I agree with Sally, they need to sleep in their same bedrooms, go to their same schools, their life is being turned upside down, why add to the chaotic events? Don as the biological parent probably has total control over that decision and surely he and Henry can come to a grown up understanding. That is assuming Henry actually is in agreement with this. He may not be

    • I imagine Betty, being very conscious of her appearance and presentation of self, would not want a stranger around the house, no matter how helpful that could have been. That would be in keeping with Betty’s desire to keep her dying process private and totally under her control.

      • That might be true, but in a very short time Betty will end up living in her room. As things get worse she will be moved to a nursing home or hospital. Then things will necessarily change. Most people have a vision of dying peacefully in their beds,,,it is not like that at all. It can be, but she will need pain relief, oxygen, IV hydration, various medical procedures to relieve the fluid that will collect in her lungs. The necessary support for all that was not readily available in 1970.

  38. What you call enlightenment was invented by guys like me to sell coke.

    • Brilliant! Also “It’s toasted” = “It’s the Real Thing.” Either one is poison in the end.

      • And ‘It’s toasted” and “It’s the real thing” have absolutely nothing to do with the product. ” If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.”

  39. Weiner explained that Don indeed wrote the Coke commercial, and that he didn’t see it as a cynical message.

    I agree. Was John Lennon being cynical when he wrote “Imagine,” knowing his altruistic message would be pressed onto vinyl and sold as a product? While advertising is indeed a vehicle to sell stuff, when Don does it, as he explained, it’s based on him feeling something. That’s not cynical at all.

  40. With the Tarot references, the way Don consoled Leonard who felt alone reminded me of how Peggy consoled Don in “The Suitcase.” I’d posted after “The Suitcase” how that image reminded me of the Tarot card “Strength.”

    I looked up the meaning of the name Leonard and one version is “lion strength.” So the similarities of the scenes may be intentional.

    Also St.Leonard was the patron saint of prisoners. Leonard describes a dream of being in a “prison” of the refrigerator, which I assume meant a prison of loneliness. With his hug, Don helps Leonard out of that prison, and Don also helps himself out of the prison of emotional isolation.

    All the lanterns at the retreat reminded me of the Tarot card “The Hermit.”

    Since it’s associated with introspection and reflection, it would be appropriate for the retreat.

  41. Rachel says it all in the pilot. (To Don) “…I do know what it’s like to be out of place, to be disconnected. ..There’s something about you that tells me you know it, too.”

  42. This comment will seem random, but since the finale injected soft drinks into the conversation, it kinda fits.

    Back in S-3 and Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency, there was some discussion about whether we would have seen a Dr Pepper machine in NYC in 1963. I don’t know if we ever figured it out one way or the other, but I recently saw the 1965 Gregory Peck film, “Mirage,” on TMC. In one scene, Peck and Walter Matthau are in a bar and Matthau orders a Dr Pepper. We don’t see whether his beverage is dispensed from a bottle or if it’s on tap, but it’s clear that, at least by 1965, Dr Pepper was popular enough in Manhattan that a consumer would be able to get it, far outside the South.

  43. I wonder whether Don’s call to Betty–when he couldn’t say what he wanted to say–was “I’m sorry” rather than “I love you.” That he wasn’t there, and that was their normal.

    • Touching thought.

      • Well, what I really meant to post was to thank you for your always-on point perceptions over these last 7 (8?) seasons. You really de-constructed this series in an unbelievably helpful way. You see connections that I would have surely missed, and really pointed out the depth of this series. Thank you thank you thank you!!! 🙂

  44. When Roger leaves Kevin money it is also making up to Joan for only getting half of her McCann money. (Just re watching). By the way does anyone have a suggestion of how to get that coke song out of my head??

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