Mad Men Finale Recap: Shock and Awww

The following recap contains spoilers. If you haven’t watched the Mad Men season finale, go do so, them rejoin us. Everyone else, read on!

Much like horse racing’s I’ll Have Another, the Mad Men finale was a letdown in what could’ve been its third and crowning victory of the season. (And there, the horse talk end, folks. I was more of a My Little Pony than National Velvet girl.)

After the final-act surprises in the past two episodes — Peggy quits! Lane dies! — I wanted something amazing to send us into the next season. Instead, we got character development and introspection wrapped up in a not-bad hour that felt like it belonged in the middle of this year’s run. Anyway, let’s take a look at how the fifth season came to a close in “The Phantom.”

Lane’s legacy | Though he did not show up as a ghost — as some speculated — Lane’s suicide in the previous week’s episode was felt throughout the finale. At the partner’s meeting, where a seat was conspicuously empty, Joan announced that the firm was flush with cash and could easily afford some more space on an adjacent floor. In a subsequent conversation with Don, we learned that the newest Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce partner thought Lane’s death was her fault because she hadn’t returned his affection. (Loved Don’s subtle eye roll at this.) Also of note: The firm received $175,000 in death benefits from the incident, and the reasons behind — and details of — the unfortunate incident are not public knowledge. Without consulting anyone but Joan, he brought Lane’s widow, Rebecca, a $50,000 repayment of Lane’s collateral and his condolences; she accepted the first and rejected the latter — “You had no right to fill a man like that with ambition,” she snapped — before whipping out the photo of the woman Lane found in a wallet in the season premiere and demanding to know who it was. When Don couldn’t answer, she told him, “Don’t leave here thinking you’ve done anything for anyone but yourself” and shut the door in his face. Embeth Davidtz was icily good in that scene; too bad we probably won’t see her much anymore. As it turned out, Lane’s actions were wreaking havoc with Don’s psyche, as well. But more on that later.

Pete’s pain | After running into Beth and Howard on the train one morning, Pete got the call he’d fantasized about: His housewife hookup was in New York, and she wanted him to meet her at a hotel. Act as petulant as you want, Pete, but we all saw your fur-and-pearls fantasy; it’s a surprise you waited until after the partners’ meeting to leave SCDP for the rendezvous. Before they hit the sheets, Beth revealed that she was in the city for some electroshock treatment for being “very blue.” Pete naturally assumed that some time in the sack with him would lift her spirits; after the act, as she got dressed (and we saw a side view of the most talked-about boobs in primetime this week), Alexis Bledel gave a heartbreakingly simple explanation of how insidious depression is, and how the harsh therapy helped… a little, then dismissed his claims of love: “I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. We just happen to have the same problem.” Of course, Pete doesn’t listen to anyone ever, so he visited Beth in the hospital after her treatment — and was crestfallen to realize the shock had wiped him from her memory. As a sunny and totally oblivious Beth listened, Pete spoke about himself in the third person, calling his life with his family “some temporary bandage on a permanent wound.” Oof. On the train back to Cos Cob, Howard’s suggestion that he and Pete carouse in the city disgusted Campbell, who made it clear that he knew where Beth was. “It’s you?” Howard replied, realization dawning. “She always spreads her legs for the first chump she can find.” And just like that, Pete was involved in his second fist fight of the season; much like the first one, he got his whiny butt handed to him. The conductor broke the men apart and ended up slugging Campbell himself (ha!) before tossing him off the train in Harrison. Trudy, who bought her hubby’s story that his injuries occurred when he’d fallen asleep behind the wheel, assured him they’d find him an apartment in New York the next day. There you go, Campbell; exactly what you wanted. Enjoy.

Don at the dentist | Tooth pain plagued Don for most of the episode, as did visions of his dead brother, Adam, another person who hung himself after an intense emotional exchange with the ad man formerly known as Dick Whitman. When he finally strapped on the anesthesia mask and had the tooth extracted, he imagined Adam — sporting some harsh purple ligature marks around his neck — making some bad puns and telling him “it’s not your tooth that’s rotten.” At least he ran into Peggy (who was decidedly not at the bottom of a elevator shaft, people) during a mid-day movie showing, and they had a very sweet encounter where they hugged and he said the things he couldn’t say when she announced she was leaving SCDP. “I’m proud of you,” he told her. “I just didn’t think it would be without me.” Also cute: Her thrill at the thought of riding an airplane on an upcoming business trip. (And after what happened the last time we saw Peggy in a movie theater, I was very glad when this nice scene ended in a family-friendly way.)

Megan’s mad | With her acting career going nowhere and her less-than-supportive mother, Marie, visiting, Megan got even more bummed when a screen test didn’t land her any auditions. After acting pal Emily asked for some help getting an audition for SCDP’s Butler shoes commercial, the sneaky Mrs. Draper indeed asked her husband… on her own behalf. He said no, but changed his mind after watching her reel on a projector at work. (Side note: Good GOD, how is Jessica Paré even more ridiculously gorgeous in black and white? I don’t care if you hate Megan; the chick is luminescent.) Marie, fresh off a tryst with Roger, made it clear that she didn’t think her daughter had any talent. But Mrs. Draper ended up landing the Butler gig, which made her very happy. Don made his way to a bar, where two young ladies asked him if he was alone. Hmm… how’re you going to answer that one, Draper? In the last moments of Season 5, we saw Peggy delighting in her first business trip, Pete somberly listening to his stereo, and Roger (probably on LSD and definitely naked) regally flashing New York City. That’s all, folks!

What was your take on the season finale? What do you hope to see happen next season? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. TV Gord says:

    As I have learned about Mad Men, I have to watch it a few times before I can fully know what it means. Mad Men is like a double rainbow!

  2. Stanley says:

    An anti-climactic finale, but it would have been hard to top the drama of the last two weeks. It was nice to finish with a breather.

  3. Josh says:

    Was that blonde at the end Megan’s girlfriend?

  4. Megan says:

    The Megan Show!

    Terrible season. Aside from the last two weeks, just didnt like it. Matthew Weiner and his love for Megan was obvious.

    • Adam says:

      Says Megan.

      Can’t help but see the irony there. And I rather enjoyed this season and don’t mind Megan’s presence.

    • Floretta says:

      And yet you sign yourself “Megan.” Hmmmm….

    • niks says:

      I agree. Why is this character suddenly getting huge screen time every week? And if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to tolerate the mother too. After the recovery made in the last two episodes, I had hopes that the finale will be great and we will be able to forgive an otherwise mediocre season. But this was the worst Mad Men finale ever and I think most of the fans would say that it was a truly average season.

  5. joseph says:

    What was the name of the closing song?

  6. jen says:

    and the point of killing Lane off was…. oh right, nothing.

    • Matt says:

      Didn’t the money the company recieved from his death help them buy the floor above them? Everybody gets new offices, thanks Lane!

    • Dan says:

      This show isn’t about ‘making a point’ – A lot of the events are simply there to create a realistic landscape, and people in miserable situations that don’t see a way out sometimes take their own lives. Mad Men has never pulled punches to create happy endings for us, and that’s arguably why the show is such a success.

    • Well killing off Lane and having Peggy with a smaller role means that the production has a smaller cost.
      One big issue that the show had was a fight over costs.

      • ilBevi says:

        it was in the agreement AMC and Matthew Weiner had when they finally announced the fifth season, it was all about lower the budget killing/reducing the cast… but I’m not sure Peggy evolution was made because of those agreements…

  7. JAG says:

    The finale was ok. I guess I was expecting more.

    • filmex says:

      Even mediocre MM is better than most of the stuff on television.
      It was the most anti-climatic of all the finales so far, an oddity since they had a year and a half to construct this season. Almost seems like Lane’s necktie party would have been a better signoff for the season. Most pervasive was the almost overwhelming sense of melancholy hanging over the whole thing.
      Best moment of the season–Sally and Roger “pairing up” at the formal affair, with him hilariously “cutting her off” for being “a mean drunk”. Of course, the charming banter between the two of them was somewhat torpedoed by Sally having to witness Megan’s mom going down on Roger later. Poor Sally.

  8. You only live twice from the James Bond movie

  9. aly says:

    I’m surprised by the negative online reactions. I thought the finale was fantastic! And for those complaining about too much Megan, we had to have that excess in order to get to the place where Don was at the end of the finale.

    • Fan of Haley Rhinehart says:

      I agree Aly

      I loved the finale. At this time Megan and her family play a central and important role in the show Side note… you notice how they don’t allow any other blond actresses on the show so that Betty is not lost in a sea of Grace Kelly look a likes

    • Tom Mc says:

      Thank you, Aly. I disagree with the reviewer completely. This was an incredible season finale, as everyone’s dreams and fantasies are finally laid to rest and harsh reality takes center stage. This was never more evident than when Peggy looks out a window wistfully and sees such a crude image. And the final scene? Hollywood has only made a few movies that ended so flawlessly. We all know what Don’s answer will be. The fantasy of the perfect life with the perfect wife? Gone. Of course Lane’s death served a purpose! Don tried to do the right thing yet again, just as he had been faithful to Megan all season long. He could have had Lane arrested, but instead he even gave Lane a chance to come clean but all he got were excuses and righteous indignation, and when Don asked the key question “why didn’t you come to us for help” Lane’s answer that he wouldn’t stand the humiliation was proof that he would embezzle again if need be. Don’s only course of action after that was firing Lane. And what was the result of Don’s attempts at doing things the right way? Joan’s sleeps with a client and they get the Jaguar account so he needn’t have bothered making the perfect pitch. Lane commits suicide. Megan, by asking for his help with her acting career, in essence chooses it over Don. What lesson does he take from all this? Why bother? Back to his old ways. And there could not have been a better theme for the episode, as well as the season, than “You Only Live Twice.” This show is one of the best things TV has ever given us.

      • csdsdance says:

        Haha, I forgot about the dogs outside Peggy’s window. Classic Weiner (no pun intended). That’s why watching twice is fun. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Don walking away from Megan’s shoot at the end told it all. What’s the point??

        • Troy says:

          And recall–Don met Betty on the set of a commercial shoot. It was no accident that the commercial set fades into the back ground as he’s walking away from Megan and his period of being “good.”

      • amarohl says:

        Well said Tom. While I partially agree with the consensus that it was a weak season, it seems that this season was meant to set up next season, when Don gets back to being the Don we all knew before.

      • Harlow Rioux says:

        Don should be sitting in jail by now, if not Levanworth. He’s always avoided paying for his own massive indescretions due to others cutting him a break. Impersonating an officer, deserting the war, trying to pay off his brother (guess what Don, not everyone is so easily seduced by a pile of cash.)so the truth about who he is wouldn’t be revealed to Betty or ruin his `perfect’ world. When the feds were on to him, Betty lied to protect him. When Bert was told Don was a fraud he let him keep his job. I’m not even going to go into all of the women he’s screwed over, literaly and figuratively.
        So, really how arrogant of Don to play high and mighty with Lane. I cannot believe people feel bad for Don or paint him as someone trying to do the right thing. Lane’s wife told Don the truth. Don does what is best for Don.
        Don is capable of token gestures only when it comes to doing the right thing. He is too narcissistic to be genuine or to put in the work.

      • grammapauline says:

        In you only live twice bond has an assumed name, (don/dick), there is question as to wether his marriage is legit or not because of his assumed name.!!!

      • Debbie says:

        WOW! What an amazing and oh-so-accurate way of describing things! This is exactly what it was all about, and that’s why I absolutly love this show! Kuddos to the whole crew!

  10. A.J. says:

    I really dislike Megan, so I hope that Don starts cheating on her just to get a break from her. Besides, I’ve missed the old Don Draper, to be honest. It’s nice that he tried, but really, it was boring. And Megan is boring. And crazy. Which is a weird contradiction, but somehow, she pulls it off. She even made me miss Betty. I liked the season, and the last three episodes have made me excited for S6, but I really hope there’s less Megan in it. And more Don and Peggy, Don and Joan, Don and Roger, Don and anyone but Megan. Seriously.

    • MissPepper says:

      I thought Megan was an interesting juxtaposition to Betty. She’s right in between Betty and Peggy in that she was raised to know what it is to be a “woman” and yet she wants more. How complicated a life, right? Rewarded and desired for being pretty and fun when you want to be rewarded for your skills and talent. No wonder she and Peggy flourished at SCDP.

    • Astrid says:

      I agree

    • Tom Mc says:

      I think it’s funny so many men seem to prefer the icy bitchiness of Betty over the sweet and caring Megan. Megan is not perfect, but wow, I’d choose her over Betty every time!

      • A.J. says:

        Did you mean women? Because I’m not a man lol. I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with either of them, but yeah, if I had to choose, I would definitely choose Megan. However, for my viewing pleasure, I far prefer the trainwreck that is Betty. I find her fascinating!

    • csdsdance says:

      I think we got PLENTY of Roger at the end.

  11. GOOFS says:

    Best show on TV. Boo hoo for all of you who hate Megan. She hates you, too.

  12. Becky says:

    What was the movie that Don and Peggy were beginning to watch? The opening theme is so.o.o familiar.

    • jeannie says:

      It was Casino Royale. Ironically, another Bond film. The song at the end was from “You Only Live Twice”.

      • Becky says:


      • Snuggie Monk says:

        That’s not what “ironically” means. Referencing two Bond films of 1967 in the same episode WAS THE POINT! If you read the history of the two Bond films of that year, that should also help (Eon versus “non-Eon” Bond films.)

  13. chris says:

    I think the Megan and Betty haters are just jealous because they all have deep seated Don Draper issues. I think both actresses are fantastic in their parts.

  14. Elliot James says:

    The brunette at the bar during the ultra-cool finale was made up to look like Megan. I wonder what that meant. I thought it was her until I played it back.

    • Drewer says:

      For a second I thought it was Payton List (who plays Jane). I liked the ending, but I hope he stays with Megan, I think the casting real of Megan made me like her even more.

  15. jeannie says:

    Megan showed her true colors in this one, didn’t she? First telling her blonde friend that she’d help her get the Butler shoe commercial audition, and then asking Don for a chance to audition for it herself. Hopefully Don’s eyes will be opened to this in season 6, and by season 7 she’ll be history.

    • csdsdance says:

      I think Megan’s mom’s comments in this episode were very very telling. She is a very interesting character (and a fabulous actress). Megan is, indeed, an ungrateful ‘you know what’. And she’s too young for Don.

  16. Erik says:

    Ah, this is why I came here, I recognized Bond song “Twice”, but couldn’t get the Peggy/Don movie theater one. I believe the Bond themes were were alluded to in the first season

  17. Erik says:

    Speaking of Dons eyes, I loved the look on his face at the bar. I think he is nursing Megan, like her mom said, to live the life that he wants

  18. Laura says:

    I was disappointed by this season. Don seemed to just drift through. I don’t like him with Megan and too much revolved around her. I expected more of a reaction to Lane’s suicide, it was like it didn’t happen. I also could care less about Pete and Beth. And Peggy going off to another agency is just dumb. I am sure there is a point to it, but I don’t care about that either.

  19. greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

    Loved the ending paralel to last with Don leaving Betty, The last scene is a CLASSIC ’60;s camera dolly pull back shot…main character Don is in focus as he leaves Meghan, literally and figuratively. He loves her deeply so that when, just b4 the commercial scene, he sees how much Meghan wants to act, he steps aside and sets her up as an actress (just as he tries to “hold on” to his tooth and avoid “giving it up” he eventually sees the correctness in doing so, and just the same w/ Meghan). They’re done as a couple of course and so Don, left back where he started, id propositioned in a bar, The “cliffhanger”, as it were, is :what road does Don take?” What answer does he give? If he goes over to the women, he’s going back to the “old Don”…& really learned nothing; if he says no, he’s continuing his path to growth..?salvation?

    Beth is manic-depressive and electro-shock therapy (ECT) is still used but much differently,

    Interesting commentary on precursor to modern life: Judy (society) trying to :sell: ad-man / mad-man Pete on suburbia and now a pool and renovation…say, wasn’t there some sorta housing-mortgage crisis recently that I read about in the papers? How’d that social imperative to buy a house work out? Mad Men “sell” us candy, 3 piece suits and cologne…for our sweet tooth, to look good, and smell good, and society “sells” us the other notions of what will make us happy. So, in a larger sense, this keeps with the theme (even title) of the series: whatever it is we each want to “buy” or “buy into”, “caveat emptor”.

    This season’s scene transitions, especially the last 3 ep;s, r now drum tight. Pete leaves Beth’s room with a door literally “closing” on an episode in his life and fade to Don opening a door on and episode closing (giving Meghan up) in his life (BTW, loved the :Godfather-esque closing scene 2 eps ago w/ everyone reassembling at the awards dinner table as the ep closed…was Matt Weiner showing us which characters will survive next season?) And everyone of course realizes that Don learned NOTHING in rejecting his brother who then…HANGED HIMSELF.. when it came to Lane who….HANGED HIMSELF! SO, let’s see, Matt, does Don survive well simply because he is contrite and for every evil he does, he commits a kindness? Sounds rather Catholic…say, isn’t Don Catholic?

    Finally, for now at least, the “Only Live Twice” theme song was brilliant, as was the one from the Peter Sellers farce of Casino Royale w/ David Niven…as always, Matt & crew was drawing parallels…even with their songs, ie 2 Bond films, one “serious: and the other a spoof on the former. Ya gotta love the writing crew…double entendre’s wrapped inside an enigma inside a puzzle. One would think they want us to think.

    As to the prior posts:
    -they killed Lane for 2 reasons: to teach Don, who’s real brother also hanged himself, the lesson of consequence on others..and accountant, precise and proper Lane (Don’s alter-ego) crossed his personal line of honesty and integrity…ever so slowly w/ the wallet pic and propositioning Joan…he killed HIMSELF b/c he cudn;t live w/ the loss of his identity..his persona…his life.
    – Meghan is genuine, sweet and honest but just stepped outta character in betraying her acting friend. Now she looses Don and will regret it next season..perhaps for a career the either flops or causes more psyche injury than worth…as her parents warned her, mon amiees.

    Ahahaha. Love ya all, gotta go

    • Maaad Men says:

      I thnk that Don has fallen out of love with Megan. The sharing of the everyday life with the complex Megan has bursted Don’s adulation or the fantasy that he use to hold for her
      Don’s having fallen out of adulation is why the two women in the bar are once again tempting to Don

      Here is the question raised 100 times Are the teeth worn by Jessica Pare fake teeth

      • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

        Disagree. For someone who’s fallen outta love. he’s doing an awful lot to make her dream happen….even after her mom told Don that all he has to do is “nurse her through this disappointment and he’ll have what he wants” (lovely mother isn’t she…just as Meghan said…her mother does for everyone else but not her). Don knows their marriage is over, so with no kids, why help her? love. Big question is who gets the ring that the real Don Draper bought for Anna that Dick Whitman brought home? Will Don ask-buy for it back?

      • Lo says:

        I’m from Montreal and knew Jessica in high school and college as an acquaintance through mutual friends. I promise you that those are her natural teeth.

    • grammapauline says:

      No, Don’s not Roman Catholic, that would be Peggy. Don was born in a brothel and raise by po’ folk, no indor plumbing, but they said grace at dinner, thanks to his step mom, not his nasty father.

  20. Samantha says:

    Is Peggy going to come up with the Virginia Slims “you’ve come a long way baby” ad?

  21. sindella says:

    With this episode plus True Blood it was the night of the loose teeth…

  22. orchardist says:

    Pete & Beth’s story just ripped it right out of me. Pete’s really self-aware (calls himself pathetic but can’t stop when he kisses Beth, realizes HE’S the problem — not his life in the suburbs). But will he be able to “fix” his underlying wound without EST?

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      MM takes place in NY, not CA…EST was a blip in NY at the time

      • valdar says:

        i think Orchardist meant to refer to ECT–electroconvulsive therapy–the medically correct name for electroshock therapy (EST)

    • csdsdance says:

      I can’t stand Pete. Always enjoy when he gets popped in the face. He’s a tool.

    • Ava says:

      I love Pete. He is my favorite character. I don’t understand the Pete haters out there. What is it that they don’t like? He is self aware, and has been from the start. His struggle between his desire to do what he wants and his desire to do what is right. I will always love the complexities of Peter Campbell. He may not be a nice guy but he’s interesting to watch.

  23. DJ says:

    I thnk that Don has fallen out of love with Megan

    Watch that scene of Don watching Megan’s screen test again. That’s not a man who’s fallen out of love.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      good for you! and why would he help her career if he had fallen outta love?

      • Fan of Haley Rhinehart says:

        He’s helping Megan with her career because he no longer cares if he losses her. I promise you, you will be seeing Don with other women

      • sb says:

        Don is helping Megan get the commercial because he is planning to dump her and send her on her way. He feels he might as well make her a little bit happy by getting her an acting job. This is what he is thinking when he is watching her b&w screen test. He face does not display romantic love; he is just imagining a future where she is content and out of his life.

  24. Snuggie Monk says:

    A key bit of information was left out of the following statement (namely, “to Lane’s widow, Mrs. Pryce”):
    ” Without consulting anyone but Joan, he brought a $50,000 repayment of Lane’s collateral and his condolences; she accepted the first and rejected the latter…” That may be implied, but it’s not as clear as it should be.

  25. guest says:

    really liked the episode, lots of shots were very artsy (the partners standing on the window? don wandering from the movie set to the bar?) I love Megan with Don, the only thing that bothers me is how such a beautiful woman can have such unruly teeth..but I still think she’s gorgeous.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      orthodontics in the 60s were not what they are today. I’m sure Matt Weiner takes that stuff into account when he does his casting. But I have never really thought there was anything wrong with her teeth, they just seem normal to me.

  26. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I hate to be a nitpicker, but I’m gonna be. Pete didn’t wait until the meeting was over, he left in the middle. “Do what you want, Don has my proxy….” [Pete stands and rushes out]. Don: “We can do that???”
    With that out of the way, are you alone, Don? I’m not sure how I feel about it not getting answered. I felt like the pay-off for the whole season would be Don going back to his old ways. And while I assume he did, I wish it hadn’t been left open like that. Though in a way, it is a really cool way to end a season.
    “Allo? Eez Marie there?” Roger, you cad. Okay, that had to be a stunt butt for John Slattery. That backside belonged to a spray-tanned bodybuilder. I think stunt casting went a little overboard, haha.
    Matt Weiner fooled me, I really thought Peggy was gone. I should have known something was up when she wasn’t talking about her Mad Men exit in any interviews. That should have set off warning bells. I am now confident we’ll be seeing plenty of her next season.
    I do think the dead tooth getting pulled was supposed to represent Megan. Don realized he had been holding on to her too hard and needed to let her go. But for Don to truly do that, just because of the man he is, he will have to let go of her in every way, including letting his emotions towards her die. He is a guy who cannot love halfway, or love unselfishly. He’s not that type of person. He wants all or nothing.
    Overall I liked the episode. It was directed really well. Beautiful, gorgeous shots filled this episode. My favorite one was the partners in the new floor all lined up with Joan standing in the middle. Looks like she’ll be quite a force next year at the firm. And I loved the shot of Don walking away from Megan, I think that said volumes about what his feelings are about her at this point. I think him watching the screen test of her was showing him that he was just in love with the fantasy of Megan, not the actual girl. And that’s why he decided to let her go. I think this episode left the season on a little high note, just like they usually do.

    • John Kelder says:

      ^ this

    • csdsdance says:

      Great shot of the five partners from the back in the new space. Very Mod Squad.

    • MadMan says:

      this c

    • kate says:

      I agree with this, at least the part about Megan and Don. I think it’s because Don loves her so much that he’s willing to let her go, so that she can be happy, so that she can amount to more than JUST his wife.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      you’re correct…the “old Don” (maybe I should say “Dick Whitman”) would have wanted Meghan “all or none”, but the series is about people and their growth. In Don’s case, it’s about Dick Whitman becoming Don Draper and then, not surprisingly, becoming who he really is. This is a parallel to all healthy lives: we are what our childhood makes us, we experience the world (ideally through an other’s eyes, and finally become the final person we are to be. Look at the scene again, “Don” is smiling lovingly, he’s come to realize he must let Meghan go. She won’t be happy without acting and she must “travel’ not only to Boston but elsewhere (a metaphor). Don wants-needs something else. They’ve got too go their own ways and if Don doesn’t encourage it (as the older…?wiser? spouse) it won’t happen.

    • MFM says:

      I agree with your assessment of this episode and season. My feelings exactly on Don leaving the set/Megan. He’s done with his fantasies, at least for now. I was in awe with both of them until she asked for help and failed to help her friend getting an audition. I will miss Megan but will be happy to see Peggy back.

  27. Meg says:

    I liked this season. Not as good as season four but it was in my opinion very interesting to see those characters (try to) evolve. I liked Megan, not only because we share the same name, but I think it was nice to see someone so different than Betty (i like her too, but for me she is still a little pretty girl who can not understand that her dreams won’t come true) And Megan, made Don change (at least, I think he really had tried to be better). So yes, it was not the same Don Draper and he was a bit boring, but Megan was one of the first women I think who he can’t really “catch” and truly know. Now, by asking him to give her the part she became more like Betty. And I think that’s why he’ll lost his interest in her and start over with the cheating thing. And we all know that Dick Whitman, even if he makes people call him Don Draper will never be happy. Don Draper is happy, Dick Whitman will never be. He is the phantom of the episode title, no matter what he will ever be haunted by the thaught that someone may discover that in fact, he doesn’t know himself who he really is.

  28. Dan says:

    Wow – Really can’t understand how some folks (particularly women) here are calling Megan boring. In the 60s, to be an educated woman with a desire to pursue her dreams is not boring – It’s ambitious. Boring would be wanting to stay at home and be pampered, and defer to everything Don says and does. Submissive is boring, cultured and ambitious is not.

    I’d really love to hear some of the explanations as to how she’s boring.

    • TheJohn says:

      maybe they are upset at her invading don’s life, not so much her gender role. i agree, she’s fascinating with her dreams, her allure, but she isn’t betty. she’s never been good enough for don because nothing is good enough for don, and people relate to that. it’s funny.

      • kate says:

        er, Megan’s “invading Don’s life” had a lot to do with Don marrying her. It’s not like she just showed up in his apartment one day hobo-style and instead of throwing her out, he decided he was cool with that.

    • anna says:

      Nothing says pursing your dreams like demanding your husband give you a job. She’s a spoil brat.

      • Dan says:

        She didn’t demand anything, hysterical you’d phrase it that way.
        She ASKED if she could AUDITION for the spot “All I want to do is put my name in a pile” and she hands him a screen test reel on the spot at the same time. At this point, it was made clear prior that the client had final say, and he had not told her yes at all, as he’d tried to evade the topic.

        What we got to see was Don watching the reel she handed him, and he very clearly started by not wanting to like it, and then he softened at the sight of it. Not sure what you saw, but she looked highly marketable to me – and since she got the job the CLIENT must have thought so. Don didn’t get to decide, they did.

        Furthermore, she’s just trying to get ANY gig so she’s got something in her portfolio to get the work she actually wants. It’s not spoiled to have your spouse help do something small like pass on your application to help you pursue your dreams – That’s called having a supportive partner, and is a long way from being spoiled.

        • prestidigitation says:

          She’s spoiled because she’s upset after a few months of trying — after being away from acting for at least a year — and not getting any parts. Her friends have probably been making a more consistent effort, so they’re getting more work. It’s hard not to side with the friend who told Megan it’s easy to be contemptuous of a soap-opera part from her “throne” on the Upper East Side. Megan wants to have a glamorous, successful career but pouts when it isn’t handed to her — spoiled. On Don’s side, he thought he was getting a helpmate (secretary Megan) and supernanny (Disney trip Megan), not an actress, since she told him she had given up on that.

        • kate says:

          give it up, man. most of these women are just jealous of fictional Megan being married to fictional Don. she’s “spoiled” because she asked Don to pass along a resume. yeah, what a spoiled brat. makes tons of sense.

    • Ashley says:

      A pretty girl who wants to be an actress. A novel idea! Seriously, I was much more interested in her when she was in advertising. Even as the receptionist. What happened to the girl that didn’t want to be an actress, as she stated this time last season? I thought she was intriguing at first (perfect, even), but the struggling actress storyline took that away from her. And it seems that maybe Don feels the same.

      • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

        she’s (megan) became and actress!!! this is a sly nip at actor’s touted superficiality and vanity. Megan, as she went from secretary to copy writer to actress went up, and then down hill in the writer’s eyes (wonder if producer-actor John Hamm, married to a writer, actress director, got this easter egg?)

  29. cat says:

    This season was disappointing overall. Lots of shock value and heavy handedness and not enough subtlety. Hopefully Megan is on the sidelines next season because I couldn’t stand another season all about her. And i hope that Betty gets a real storyline next season. I’m tired of her playing second fiddle to everyone else.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      haha….Megan is Peggy’s alter-ego just as Lane was Don’s The series is all about the double nature of life…good v evil, if you wish, and the effect of the two. So, Peggy earned her way up while Megan married her way up (remember Joan telling Peggy this in Joan’s office after Don’s engagement?).

  30. Jen says:

    I believe January Jones getting pregnant changed everything that Matt Weiner had in mind for this whole season. He had to write it without Betty. And I believe he couldn’t write another season of Don bed hopping so he HAD to be married. That is what Megan’s purpose was for this whole season. I loved the whole season. It showed more dimensions of each of the major characters. Plus, life is all about making unpopular decisions. I don’t thing that when this series ends, it will not be a happily-ever-after one.

  31. John Grose says:

    Pete’s character arc for next season: learn boxing. – John

  32. csdsdance says:

    Love the Madmen forum. Gotta go. Overrall, I think it was really good. Wish there were a few more episodes! Wonder if Weiner checks out the forums. If you are reading Matthew, keep up the great music!

  33. Fan says:

    Beth and her husband both have lots of affairs, but Beth is labeled depressed and given electroshock treatments, and her husband is labeled “normal”.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      Wait a minute…Beth herself described symptoms of depression where “a door opens”, implying suicide in the veiled-polite lingo of the ’60’s. What I would point out and believe Matt is drawing a parallel to is Beth & her husband vs Don & Megan…Don supports Megan as wife and professionally (former copy-writer)

  34. susola says:

    Best show on TV and I disagree with you, the finale rocked!

  35. The Kaibosh says:

    Great season. Very underwhelming finale. Maybe I’ll have to watch it again to see if I catch things I missed which might make me appreciate it more. I was really hoping for Don to say to Peggy at some point as she went on about her cigarette ad…”you’ve come a long way baby” (which was for those who don’t know… the actual slogan for Virginia Slims for many, many years)

  36. MadMan says:

    this comment is the perfect analysis for this was a good episode but it just didn’t love up to the last two amazing ones. overall it looks like don felt like he was almost fooled all season by everyone from Megan to Lane to Peggy. hope season 6 doesn’t take another year and half to come back and we can see the outcome of the last few scenes.

  37. julie says:

    To the writer: regarding megan’s “landing the Butler gig”, – we don’t know whether or not her husband,arranged for her to get an audition, or simply arranged for her to get the job. It’s likely he simply made a phone call and got her hired. As a casting director, I can tell you her “reel” was exquisite: she’s beautiful obviously, but her emotional life is clearly engaged — and deeply resonant, to the viewer. Don responded to this.

  38. Lori says:

    Did anyone else pick up on the symbolism of Don ordering an “Old Fashion”? His choice of drink in season 1 and his future path of returning to the “old” Don. Great season, good finale.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      YUP!!! It’s no accident. The writer’s choose music and dialog very carefully. Besides, Don has not previously, to my recollection, ordered a mixed drink (other than martini) in the series and pours straight drinks in his office; but we don’t know if this was another false clue on Don’s direction.

  39. Cathy Watson says:

    “You Only LIve Twice” ? Hmmmm, Don has “two lives” that he’s led . . right? Love, love, triple love this show . . I’m new to it, getting caught up. Amazing lighting, casting, story lines, acting, costuming.

  40. Harp says:

    I want Sal to come back, pre-Stonewall, but with attitude and bell bottoms.

  41. SpaceOddity says:

    What do I want to see more of next season? Peggy definitely. And I hope Betty dumps that tool of a guy she’s with now.

  42. Prinz says:

    MM is so nuanced. The ending scene with Don walking off the set of Megan’s commercial to the iconic James Bond “You Only Live Twice” song was creatively inspired in it’s artistic perfection. And the last shot…wow! “Are you alone?” is so precise a question even as an unintended double entendre. Don’s journey this year was to spend time on the side of right and virtue, only to have his good deeds spat back at him. As for Megan, I consider her a spoiled child. Her mother’s words rang true. Yet Don did not heed her advice and “nurse” his wife into compliance, instead choosing to give her what she wanted because he loves her so much. His conscience now clear, he is reborn as the “Old Fashioned” Don. My hope is that he would indulge himself in that 3some as a reward to his principled side and signal next year’s severance from the light. He deserves it because he actually grew up to care for the women in his life this season. He loves and tried to protect Joan. He loves and nurtured Peggy. He loves and sent Megan presumably on her way from him.

    Great year, great final three episodes, absolutely perfect final scene.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      Very good for you. Don is (as are all people and so all the characters except Cooper) both “good” and “bad”. More precisely, there is only consequence and whether what a person-character did, brought them what they wanted? Don’s ambivalence has been towards women and fidelity to them since they have been intermittently likewise to him in childhood. He’s theoretically worked that out this season even to the point of helping Megan to succeed in acting to the expense of his marriage to her. The question of whether he-Don is “alone” is of course pivotal but deliberately not answered…that’s the next season opener.

      • prinz says:

        @Matt. I believe that Weiner has painted Don as “alone” since the series began. After all Don Draper really died in Korea and it is Dick Whitman who has clawed his way out of being a child growing up in a whorehouse to the prince of Madison Ave. we should never lose sight that this is Dick Whitman’s story. His is quintessentially the American dream, thus “You Only Live Twice” perfectly concludes Dick’s maturational journey to this point — from truly insignificant soldier to mistakenly decorated officer; from selfish taker to compassionate giver. So, I have always viewed the series as the story of Dick Whitman, not Don Draper. Therefore Dick will always be alone, buried deep down below Don. Don is to Dick much in the same manner that Batman’s cape and cowl hides Bruce Wayne. And, as in every superhero/ lone gunslinger scenario, the hero must be alone in order to achieve greatness.

        Thus the “alone” question of posed by the two women in the last scene, while easily interpreted as “would you like to sleep with us tonight,” has deeper implications given that Don has decided to let Megan pursue her dreams, possible at the expense of their marriage. Megan does not see her request as being such yet. Her parents have crushed her dreams and she still needs validation and self worth, despite having achieved a penthouse lifestyle.

        So Dick/Don’s allowing himself the secret of a one night dalliance may not necessarily signal the end of his marriage but only the fidelity of his marriage, which remained intact this past season.

        “Are you alone?”

        “Yes…and no.”

        “Would you care to join us? Maybe together we can help you figure that out.”

        “The fact is I’m married. And until tonight I was happily married but I found out that my wife was not. I discovered that she did not want to be the wife I needed. She needed something more. Self validation. Nevertheless it was a self validation gained only through my assistance. So, reluctantly, I helped her achieve her dream. And, in that moment, just a few minutes ago, I gave her what she needed to be happy.”

        Don takes a drink, then continues.

        “And sadly, what she needed to be happy was not me, only what I could provide her.”

        Listening intently, Girl at Bar Pauses, takes a puff of her cigarette, and then slowly covers one hand over Don’s (lovingly).

        “I’m jealous. You must love her very much. Every woman needs a man like you.”

        She pauses again.

        “So you ARE alone.”

  43. Danny says:

    Love or hate Betty – her barely-there presence this season was deeply felt. Megan who??

  44. dukeroberts says:

    It has been said that the season finale was about giving up fantasies. Don walked away from Megan at the end, as she was in the costume of a fairy tale princess. He has been the Beast, holding on to her, not letting her get back to what she really loves. Don walks away, leaving his fairy tale, his idealized perfect wife, behind. The Beast will re-emerge.

    • Annie says:

      Perfect way to describe the finale! And it applied to everyone as well, Pete realizing that Beth wasn’t going to fix his domestic ennui, Peggy realizing that her new job wasn’t as glamorous as she thought it would be, and I think Roger had a brief realization when Marie told him that she wasn’t going to take care of him but the LSD put him back under his fantasy again.

    • greatgrey or just call me Matt says:

      true it was about giving up fantasies, but only for some characters…the ones older in years & for them it was more about facing reality. Hence roger being naked & unadorned to the world, Don seeing both Megan & his marriage in a clear light, Megan’s mother accepting her own marriage and even giving Don advice on how to “keep” megan (crush her desire as megan’s mother and father did). But the younger characters are still in their fantasy period…Peggy, Pete, Megan. Joan stands in between

  45. Eric says:

    “Side note: Good GOD, how is Jessica Paré even more ridiculously gorgeous in black and white? I don’t care if you hate Megan; the chick is luminescent.”


  46. Lily's Mom says:

    Jesssic Pare sucks! She is not attractive, not one bit, and all she does is whine. And she’s a terrible actress. Don needs a divorce, and I hope he starts cheating on her as soon as the next season starts.

  47. Abhi says:

    I’m not sure if there was a connection here. When Don was watching Megan’s casting reel at work, she was all happy and bubbly, and then there was a brief subtle break in the film, before it showed her sombre and almost faking her smile. [ remember when megan’s friend asked her who she had to sleep with to get the role? ] It was almost like Don knew something had happened which was not on Megan’s casting film.
    And then she got the role>?? Its what leads me to believe why Don in the final scene had the look of why not start cheating, if thats what Megan will do to get her role.

  48. Joy Colangelo says:

    I thought the finale of Mad Men this year was fantastic. What more could you want. We finally got to see all the characters in their real form. Roger, Peggy, Joan, Pete, etc., but especially Don Draper. You Only Live Twice, was perfect. Don is wicked in an oh so wonderful way. He does have two identities in more ways than one. He is deeply flawed and the final episode tells us how he probably will continue to play out his life. He will never be happy and never be content. But he’ll never be boring. Yes, he feels emotion about everything, and yes he does try to do the right thing, but he usually falls short and lets himself down, along with everyone in his life. Almost everything he does that seems like he is a “good guy” is usually to reassure himself that he’s a good guy. Megan may turn out to be his equal but he’ll just move on to the next thrill or train wreck. In Don’s life those two things are not mutually exclusive. Love this series. A sincere look into the human condition. Pick a character any character there is a little of us in each one.

  49. Lynn says:

    I just want to know if Don jumps…