With a smile it’s all over. The final season of Mad Men has finally come to a conclusion after two long years of waiting. Mad Men has incredibly enough been on our screens for eight years, letting us in to the life of Don Draper as he boozes, schmoozes and boozes some more through the sixties.
There will be spoilers contained in this review of Mad Men Season 7 Part 2 so I’d recommend that you don’t read on if you haven’t watched the show, but then again it is a free internet.
If you want to read about the first half of season 7 then look no further! Just click this link and magic beings will transport you there!
There is no better place to start than with Mad Men’s last scene and quite a spectacular one it was as well. Matthew Weiner (the head honcho) has a tradition of finishing his shows with a high degree of ambiguity (see the Sopranos) and once again he has left the finale up to your own interpretation. In my opinion it is almost certain that whilst sitting amongst the hippies Don has clicked on the idea for a Coke advert (which apparently was a big deal in the seventies). Mad Men doesn’t openly say that is what happens but this entire half season as well as the episode itself continually point to this being the case. McCann-Erickson were the ad agency behind this Coke advert, Don was on the Coke account, Don constantly runs in to Coke associated things throughout his journey (broken Coke machine for instance) and the biggest hint at this being the case is in the final episode many of the hippies are wearing clothes which resemble those of the people in the Coke advert (the most in your facing being the receptionist having ribbon through her hair). It all adds up when you think about it, the bells ringing resembles Don getting the idea and his little smile isn’t him finding inner peace but rather him coming up with a great idea. After all Don Draper is a salesman and an idea man, could you really have the show finish with him becoming a middle aged hippy? I don’t think so.
On that note I really enjoyed the final episode but up until that last moment I was concerned that they were going to finish the show with Don sitting there with his new found inner peace and self-awareness, which quite frankly would have been a really shit ending. It’s funny how things can go from being bad to magical in such a short amount of time, all it take is a smile…and a Coke. I do think that it is apt that a show about making adverts concluded its run by showing the very thing which the show was essentially based upon, very clever. I do wonder if McCann-Erickson and Coke paid Mad Men for their generous advertisement of their business because the final half season was covered in both organisations, it really was product placement at its finest.
Don’s journey through this half season was pretty interesting, because when you think about it he slowly regressed through his own personas. He was the salesman, the mechanic, the army vet, the conman and eventually Dick Whitman all before reverting back to good ol’ Don Draper the lovable ad man. This final part of the season very much followed Don as he searched for his identity, something which was further discovered when he felt like he had truly lost himself and at has rock bottom, only for some random hippy to talk about how he felt invisible and unwanted, like he didn’t matter (great speech by the way). Yes this idea doesn’t relate to Don but it certainly relates to Dick, who has spent his entire life either being invisible or another persona.
The rest of the Mad Menners faired pretty well in the send-off, well that is all but Betty who must have pissed the writers off as she was the only one who had an unhappy ending. I’m not a Betty fan, I never have been. Personally I think that she should have been removed as a series regular around season 4, everything after that was just filler. Without Don she no longer served a purpose, from fat Betty to Betty tries to get her degree I’m not sure why we should really care anymore when she was so apart from the main story. It is sad that she ended up contracting cancer, however with the amount of smoking she was (and they all were) doing it isn’t really a surprise. As is so often the case with people who develop diseases which derive from abuse of a substance, Betty’s last scene saw her sitting smoking as if nothing had went wrong, pretty sad really. In many ways Betty was a tragic figure, a horrible person and mother who was totally reliant upon her looks.
Peggy had a lovely ending where her and beardy bestie Stan finally got together in a Love Actually style phone call where both confessed their repressed love for each other. Ok I wasn’t a big fan of this for a number of reasons; she had just received a phone call from a suicidal Don, a man who she idolises which must have been fairly distressing but probably worse than that it felt so television of them. Maybe it is because I’m a sadist or something but I would have preferred if Stan had professed his love for Peggy and it was reciprocated, it would probably have been funnier and even more realistic. I do think that Peggy and Stan would make a nice couple and would have beautiful bearded children but it was too cheesy for me. One of my favourite scenes from this season was Peggy walking into McCann-Erickson with the shades on, the fag in her mouth and the painting under her arm, it was awesome and screamed ‘I’m a badass and I’m here for business’ which of course she is.
Pete ‘slimey boy’ Campbell probably got the most undeserved ending as he literally flew off into the sunset with his recently reconciled wife and child, showing once and for all that being an asshole really does pay. Pete’s a great character and ironically would have been the one most suited to the kiss-ass style of a high end ad agency and in the end he was the one who left for a new life, in Wichita no less. Did Pete deserve a happy ending? I’m not really sure, he did do his best to redeem himself as time went on and I guess who really wants to fly about in private jets all the time if you have to be stuck in Kansas? That’s a joke, I’m sure Kansas is lovely…
Joan had an incredibly odd run in and ended up becoming more Pete Campbell than Pete Campbell. Joan as a character sort of fell of the rails as soon as she put her body on the line for a stake in the agency. I pretty much lost all respect for her when she came to the conclusion that abandoning her child and running off with a man she had barely just met was a good idea, she clearly has daddy issues. Joan was pretty busy this season as she got to deal with sexual harassment in the 60’s (which didn’t last long), got to try some cocaine and ended up setting up her own business with her sweet ass severance pay. Joan also was part of a clunky conversation with Roger over their child, confirming what everyone already knew that he was in fact Roger’s. It could have and should have happened earlier in the season and was typical TV trying to end all story arcs.
The rest of the main cast had differing levels of nothingness in the final season; Roger grew a nice moustache (replacing the moustache hole Ginsberg left), moved to Canada and married Megan’s mum, Ken still rocked a cool eye patch and got a job at Dow instead of following his writing dreams, Harry barely appeared which is a shame because he was an awesome character, Megan continued to be a worse version of Betty, Ted did nothing and Sally realised that both her parents are pretty horrible people and life isn’t really fair.
I’ve talked mainly about what happened to each character but that is because Mad Men is essentially a character driven show where nothing really happens. That isn’t a bad thing; in fact it is more like real life to be perfectly honest. If I were to give out two criticisms about this final half season it would be that there was little to no actual advertising work happening despite the show being about an ad agency and probably the thing that was more annoying is that the final episode felt so much like a final episode. My criticism prior to the final episode was that Mad Men didn’t feel like it was in its last season, it was almost as if it was going to be back next year. By the time the final episode finished that was not at all the case, but I felt there was way too much closure amongst all the stories excluding the Betty and Don arcs. This is really poignant in scenes such as Joan/Roger and Peggy/Stan where it felt forced to me, due the writers wanting them to have a meaningful ending rather than it feeling organic. Life tends to just go on, not everyone needs a magical final moment.
Overall it turned out to be a decent season which had an excellent and fitting ending. I get the feeling that the final scene with Don sitting on the grass and the cut to the Coke advert will go down in history as one of the best endings to a TV show ever, it was that damn good. I haven’t mentioned things such as dialogue, acting, chemistry, scenery, filming and the like because as always Mad Men excels at all these things and they have done so once again.
It is always sad to see a long running TV show come to an end but it is also good to see them end because there is nothing worse than a showing dragging on incessantly with its quality dropping with every passing season, and although I do think that the general quality of Mad Men did drop slightly from those initial seasons it was still a worthy and top show when it played its final credits and that is something I’m sure all fans are happy about.
So what did you think of Mad Men season 7 part 2? What did you think of the ending for every character? Did you think Don went on to create the famous Coke advert or do you think he became a hippy and started teaching yoga for a living? Well leave a comment and let the interweb know, it is as easy as writing in the box thingy and mashing away furiously at your keyboard.