‘Mad Men’ Finale Postmortem: 15 Minutes of Brilliance

Warning: Significant Mad Men finale spoilers below.

Series finales are ever-polarizing events — there are only rare occurrences in which the last episodes of popular TV shows in the last 20 or so years (Breaking Bad is the only off-the-cuff example I have right now) that don’t result in anger, sadness, relief, debate; or, usually, all of the above.

So why did anyone think that last night’s Mad Men finale would go any differently? 

Candidly, I didn’t much care for part 2 of the final season (aside for the first episode); and, until the last 15 minutes, I was disappointed with the direction Matthew Weiner was taking the last episode. So Much Time spent at that hippie yoga retreat — hell, Don’s whole “throw it all away and travel the country” storyline — just didn’t feel very Mad Men-y to me at all.

BUT THOSE LAST 15 MINUTES THOUGH, AMIRIGHT?!?

Joan, turning down the opportunity to retire young & travel the world with her man, starting her own business. Sally finally growing the hell out of that bratty, spoiled phase and taking the world on her shoulders (albeit, under shitty circumstances). Roger & Megan’s mom. PEGGY AND STAN! Hell, even seeing Pete — who did a serious 180 attitude-wise the last few episodes — whisk his family off to Wichita. It was all redeeming in itself.

But, that final scene. That….that was brilliant, folks.

Seeing Don — after just hugging it out with a stranger (following what might have been the best monologue I’ve heard on television) — in full yogi-mode, having the epiphany of a lifetime: the most celebrated advertising spot of all time (which, btw, was IRL a McCann product; just not created by a man named Don Draper).

Our favorite ad man writes the most memorable ad in history. How else did you people want it to end??

I know, I know — the Internet fan theories of Draper becoming the infamous D.B. Cooper and hijacking a plane in the final scene were tantalizing; but, as some have noted beforeMad Men wasn’t meant to be a mystery. While I love reading things like that (along the theory — that I once believed myself — that ex-wife Megan would become wrapped up with Charles Manson), in hindsight, I think anything so outlandish would cheapen the memory of Mad Men; not to mention, seem like a cop-out for Weiner & the writers.

Weiner, a writer on another show with a hotly-contested finale (The Sopranos) did right by our ad men & women. Aside for Betty (which, admit: most of you didn’t like until you found out she was dying), everyone got what they really wanted most. Whether it was to be in charge (Sally, Joan); to be in love (Peggy & Roger); or, in Don’s case, to be great again.

I couldn’t conceive of a better swan-song for Mad Men. Could you?

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