Mad Men Series Finale Recap: 'There Are a Lot of Better Places Than Here'

Mad Men Finale

This recap contains spoilers from Mad Men‘s series finale, so make sure you watch before you read!

No, Don is not D.B. Cooper

No, Megan does not become a victim of the Manson family murderers.

But Peggy and Stan kiss and admit they love each other in Mad Men‘s series finale, and the final shot is one that makes you think (but not one that infuriates you with its open-endedness). Therefore, I’m good with the AMC drama’s much-heralded final episode (though I could’ve dealt with more face-to-face interactions and fewer phone calls).

PHOTOS Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to Next Season’s New Shows and Stars

Let’s talk about what happens in “Person to Person.”

FAST & FURIOUS: DON IS ADRIFT | Since we last left him, Don is driving cars fast in the desert and shacking up with a young blonde. When he calls Sally at school, she breaks the news about Betty’s cancer: “The doctors gave her six months to live.” Betty wants the boys to live with their Uncle William and Aunt Judy, but Sally says Don needs to lobby for them to stay with Henry. He balks at this — he’s their dad, after all — but she is firm: The kids need some kind of continuity in their lives, and Henry is their day-to-day dad. Don immediately calls Betty, who’s gotten much sicker since the last episode, but she’s not on board with his plan. “I want to keep things as normal as possible. And you not being here is part of that.” He calls her “Birdie” and starts to cry, then she starts to cry, and it’s rough all the way around. (Side note: I was shocked to see Betty alive at all in this episode, and flabbergasted that she made it all the way to the end credits!)

C’EST LA VIE | Roger fires Meredith, who doesn’t seem too sad about it. Then he gets into a post-coital argument with Marie over her seeing (and possibly sleeping with) her husband while in Canada for a divorce. He later visits Joan to tell her he’s doing up his will and is planning to split his estate between Ellery (Margaret’s son) and Kevin. Why the emphasis on future planning? Joan asks. He’s getting married… to Marie.

JOAN COMES INTO HER OWN | Joan and Richard do cocaine while on vacation in Key West. “I feel like someone just gave me some very good news,” she says, looking happier than I think we’ve ever seen her. “I want you to let yourself have a future with me,” he tells her, and she seems very into the idea. She later meets with Ken, who wants her to hook him up with a commercial producer for some work on a Dow movie. So she calls Peggy to write the script… which eventually turns into Joan pitching Peggy an amazing idea: Harris Olson, a production company that would be completely theirs. Stan, though, isn’t on board. “There’s more to life than work,” he says. Richard agrees — and he wants her to choose between her fledgling business and him. And before they can even really talk about it, he says, “Good luck, Joan,” and walks out the door.

OM IF YOU WANT TO |  Don winds up in Los Angeles and makes his way to see Stephanie, Anna Draper’s niece. She’s not psyched to see him, especially when he asks about her kid, who apparently lives with his father. He tries to give her Megan’s ring, which was Anna’s, but she won’t take it. She then asks him to come with her to a yoga-ish retreat up the coast. “Be open to this. You might feel better,” Stephanie tells him. But when things get intense during a group therapy session, and she storms out of the room, Don gives her a version of the “It will shock you how much it never happened” speech he gave to Peggy after her child’s birth… but she’s not buying it. She takes off early one morning (with the car), so a very down Don calls Peggy.

She reads him the riot act and asks him what he’s doing, and he confesses he has no idea. “You can come home,” she tells him. “I messed everything up. I’m not the man you think I am,” he responds. The more Don talks, the more Peggy worries. So after they hang up, she calls Stan. “You’ve got to let him go. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about him,” he advises. She apologizes for calling him a failure. “All I want to do is be with you,” he says. “I’m in love with you.” She hyperventilates a bit, says “I don’t even think about you” but then quickly follows it with “You make everything OK. You always do. No matter what,” and that ends up turning into a teary “I think I’m in love with you, too. I really do.” He runs down the hall into her office, and they kiss. IT IS GLORIOUS. This is the exact thing I hoped to see in this episode, so even if the rest of the hour had focused on Harry and his stupid sideburns, I’d have been a happy girl.

IT’S THE REAL THING |  So how does it all end? Don listens to another man give a very sad testimony in group therapy, and winds up walking over to the man and hugging him as they both sob. Pete, Trudy and Tammy get on a private jet. Joan opens her own company, solo. Roger and Marie look happy together. Betty smokes while Sally does the dishes. Peggy gets a backrub from Stan. And Don does yoga and smiles. (No, seriously.) Then we go to the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” commercial, which — you’ll recall — features shiny, happy people holding hands and singing about the soda. As David Clinch points out on Twitter, one of the girls in the commercial even sports the same beribboned braids as the front-desk clerk at the retreat. It seems pretty clear to me that Draper eventually returned to McCann Erickson and worked on that account, after all. (Plus, remember how Peggy said they’d likely take him back, and it had happened before?)

Now we want to hear what you thought of the AMC series’s swan song. Grade the finale via the poll below, hit the comments to elaborate on your pick and make sure to bookmark this page and come back later for the full recap!

GET MORE: Finales, Polls, Recaps