Due to both lack of sleep from reviewing the finale, and the sheer weight of the show being over, it’s been hard for me to think about anything but “Mad Men” today.
I put most of my thoughts about “Person to Person” into last night’s review, and we can all continue to debate over there about the meaning of the final scene in terms of what Don did and didn’t write, and what that says about his character arc after the series is over. Today, though, rather than dive into screeners of another ’60s drama with Manson references (“Aquarius”) or another AMC drama about a mysterious man in a suit (“Halt and Catch Fire”), I wanted to write about some odds and ends that didn’t make their way into the finale review. That’s all coming up just as soon as I find a way to communicate, without words, how I feel about the person across from me….
* Of all the regular characters to appear in the finale, the only one to not get a big send-off of some kind (or, as in the case of Ken, to not have previously gotten such a moment) is Harry, who simply shoves a cookie in his mouth and complains that he could be having lunch with someone much more important than Pete. While it’s sad that Rich Sommer didn’t get to do more at the end – especially since, as was evidenced in early episodes like “Nixon vs. Kennedy,” Harry once upon a time was one of the show’s more sympathetic characters – Harry had become such a boor that his exit seems about right.
* Speaking of terrible people on “Mad Men” going unpunished (see also Lou Avery), instead of being fragged by his own troops, Dr. Greg instead gets remarried to a nurse and has twins with her, while ignoring Kevin’s existence. In the grand scheme of things, this is probably for the best for mother, “Sesame Street”-loving child and biological father, but I did like that the best Roger Sterling-style zinger in the finale wasn’t delivered by Roger, but to him, as he asks if Greg knows who Kevin’s father is, and Joan says, “No, he’s just a terrible person.”
* I am sad we all didn’t get to spend more time with Joan’s eyeglasses. Can’t have everything, even over 92 episodes. Also, while the designs aren’t identical (see below), there’s enough resemblance to Miss Blankenship’s trademark specs that I can’t help but remember that Roger once referred to our favorite astronaut as “the queen of perversions.” Joan’s future won’t be Ida’s, even if their pasts have certain things in common.
* One more on Roger and Joan: upon getting over her initial shock and amusement at learning who Roger’s third wife will be, Joan observes that Roger finally got the timing right, which is something that could have never been said about the two of them. It’s a shame, since their chemistry is so great, and since the older, wiser and more self-aware Roger would likely not have pulled a Richard and bailed on Joan for daring to start her own business. But a lot of things still work out for her, including Roger ensuring that Kevin’s future will be taken care of, no matter how Holloway Harris works out.
* Imagine for a moment that you’re a character actor who works regularly but probably doesn’t even qualify for Hey, It’s That Guy! status, that you go in for an audition for the “Mad Men” finale and are told that in your one significant scene, you will be asked to break down in tears as you put into words the feeling of unfathomable loneliness and unlovability that has kept Don Draper emotionally crippled for his entire life. Not too daunting, eh? So kudos to Evan Arnold for rising to the challenge in that scene
* Again, we have talked and will continue to talk plenty about Don’s growth, or lack thereof, in the main review, but I wanted to note a couple of moments that I found funny and/or sad in the ways that Don was clearly not growing right there. The first is when he tries to reassure Stephanie about her choice to walk away from her baby by telling her – as he once told a hospital-bound Peggy – that she can put it behind her and move forward, followed by Stephanie wisely telling him, “Oh, Dick, I don’t think you’re right about that.” The second is when Don flips out over realizing that Stephanie abandoned him at the retreat, and he vents, completely lacking self-awareness, “People just come and go, and no one says goodbye!”
* That second scene, which also features the receptionist sporting the same ribboned braids one of the singers wears in the Coke ad, also has Weiner’s final bit of Manson trollery, as she blames the Manson family’s antics for why it will be impossible for Don to hitchhike back to civilization.
* I love how, when Peggy senses Don spiraling during their phone call, she immediately switches to a forceful Draper-like cadence to try to pull him out of it. He has done this exact thing for her many times, and if she’s learned how to be an ad man like him, then she’s also learned how to be a mentor and lifeline like him.
* In discussing amusing guest-casting last night, I somehow failed to note the presence of delightfully-named “Wilfred” alum Fiona Gubelmann as the blonde in Utah who tries stealing Don’s cash.
* Someone emailed me this morning to ask why Betty is still smoking after all this. At this point, given her diagnosis and her refusal to explore major medical intervention, what can more tobacco do to her?
So keep talking here, or in the review, about whatever you’d like to discuss “Person to Person”-wise. Sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday, I’ll have an account of A.M. Homes’ interview with Matt Weiner to see how much he’s willing to say about his intentions for the Coke ad, Don’s future, etc.