« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2015, 07:16:19 am »
Yeah! I loved the ending. I would have liked to see say his goodbye to Peggy in person rather than over the phone, but it was probably more heart-wrenching over the phone instead so I understand why this was done. Don & Betty together again was something I hoped for after season 3, and sort of hoped would happen, but I accepted that it was over. I have a lot of thoughts about the finale that I expressed over Facebook with my friends, and I'll just copy paste it here (probably TL;DR):
I didn't expect the show to end so sweetly. Much like "Six Feet Under," "Mad Men" opted to rein back its cynicism in favour of delivering endings the characters deserved; considering that Matt Weiner's open admiration for his mentor's ending to "The Sopranos," I thought the ending would be more cynical (though one interpretation reads it that way).
It was a really interesting device to have Don interact with the regular cast only through the phone. While it doesn't affect how we see those interactions (since we get to see both characters talking), it does highlight Don's isolation, which makes it ironic considering those three conversations were among the most intimate and revealing conversations he's had in the entire series. It's also interesting that two of those conversation advised him to stay away, while Peggy begged him to come back home.
It also seemed a little meta for him to tell her that he realised she was the only person he didn't say goodbye to. And yes, I would have liked him to have said goodbye to Roger closer to the finale, but I guess his giving his blessing to Roger marrying Marie was a sweet way to close on their friendship.
Peggy connected better with Stan over the phone than in their earlier conversation, and it's a nice callback to how just a couple of episodes prior, they stayed on the phone with each other over going to the SC&P meeting. Their declaration of love to each other was a little fanservice-y, but it's a credit to Weiner and to Moss and Ferguson that it didn't feel too saccharine.
By the way, I watched an interview with Jay Ferguson that stated that any chemistry between Peggy/Stan was purely platonic, and that it was never in consideration that they'd have a romantic relationship. What a liar!
Peggy's final interaction with Pete was great as well. There's a lot of history between the characters, and it ended on a perfect note. Pete got his ending last week so he didn't need to be explored further in depth, so it was great to see how his interactions with Peggy highly contrasted with their interactions in the very first episode, and that he's legitimately happy.
I didn't expect the episode to be as funny as it was. Meredith's final scene was great, and she definitely will land on her feet. She's had such an interesting growth in character, going from the most hilariously incompetent person in SC&P to a fairly strong secretary.
I'm really glad my prediction of Roger dying was wrong. It's great how he and Marie work pretty well as a couple (barring her accusation that he'll leave her for a secretary, but as Joan notes, they've met each other at the right time in their lives). Their final exchange was pretty sweet, and hilarious:
"Look at (that old couple). One day that will be us."
Also sweet, Roger leaving half of his estate to Kevin. We've been waiting for him to do something with the knowledge that Kevin's his son and it paid off.
Joan's ending was bittersweet, and she's the only other character aside from Betty (and Don, depending on your interpretation of the ending), who doesn't achieve some semblance of a work-life balance. That said, there was no way she would have shrunk down her aspirations for herself and her family, and if Richard couldn't see it then it's his loss. Oddly, her character arc seems to be the most similar to back when she started: she's still at work, still being highly competent.
Joan's offering Peggy, and only Peggy, a partnership was really satisfying. It sucks that Peggy didn't take it, but they've always had different dreams regarding their lives anyway. And Joan gets to use her whole surname for the company.
Like Pete, Betty also had her ending in the previous episode so there wasn't that much to say other than to have her say goodbye to Don. While her remarks were cutting, it was probably the first time in the whole series that someone's said something like that without the intention to hurt the other person. The show oddly doesn't answer whether or not Sally, Bobby and Gene go to her brother or stay with Henry, but considering Sally foregoes her trip to Madrid to take care of Betty in her final months, it's more likely that Sally's wishes will be followed. Betty's wish for normalcy is a little misguided; by sending them to live with her brother, their lives are going to get uprooted again.
Don's storyline was interesting, and it sort of comes in two parts: the first where he continues his road trip to California, and the second where he's in the retreat/commune. Stephanie coming back into his life was a great choice, though her ending was pretty sad; she seems so lost, though she at least provides Don with the insight that running away from his problems didn't solve anything.
The choice of him not having a big monologue at the end was surprising as well; instead, it goes to a completely new character, who dominates the last 10 minutes with his own story. On the surface, Leonard and Don don't have that much in common; Leonard admitted that he's really dull and even his family finds him boring, while Don's the most interesting person in any room, but they shared that sadness of isolation and feeling unloved. In terms of writing, it pays off so well; Weiner knows that the audiences will connect Don with the monologue even if he's not the one saying it.
Don's ending is decidedly ambiguous. He's finally happy based on the closing shot, having accepted his demons and he's probably not going to run away from his problems anymore, but now what? Closing the show with the Coca-Cola ad (btw, Joan and Richard snorting coke earlier in that episode? Seems like subtle foreshadowing) seemed to hint that Don goes back to McCann and creates the ad or it could just be a way to illustrate his contentment/happiness at that moment. Either way, he seems to be in a good place.
The show ends with life going on. There's no real finality to the endings, other than showing most of them happy, and I wouldn't have it any other way. What a fantastic run.