After a roller coaster of a season that featured Megan have a sexy dance as a birthday gift, Lane Pryce hanging himself and Roger Sterling having a nice trip with LSD we finally get to the much anticipated season finale of one of the best shows on TV today. Many say that it was a slow uneventful episode, some argue that it left us with many unanswered themes, and others think it plain sucked. Reality is that even in its worst moments, Mad Men is still some of the best Television around. Last week’s Commissions and Fees was one of the Top 5 best episodes in Mad Men history, some rank it as the best, it was obviously hard to top this, even come close. So much emotion in one single episode is hard to grasp, let alone one with suicide involved.
The Phantom, a very suitable name for this episode, deals around the ghosts that dwell around ourselves and don’t seem to go away. Don is the obvious central character as he deals with the death of not only Lane Pryce but his brother Adam, as both hung themselves when he couldn’t help them as they wish he had. He has guilt all over him and it can be directly acknowledged by his toothache, getting worse and worse. Physical pain is often related with a psychological one, and this was as evident as ever with Don having hallucinations of his deceased brother. The fact that both Lane and Adam had hung themselves in similar situation made things worst for Don/Dick, and this may have permanent damage to his psyche. It is also obvious that his relationship with Megan is not as perfect as it may seem. She has become somewhat depressed by her failure to move forward in her acting career. Don hasn’t given her his support and she is starting to recent him. Her acts this episode were not Megan like. She backstabbed her friend with her petition to help her out with Don in order for her to get the audition for a national tv comercial. Instead she asks Don to give her the chance. We also finally see her despair as she gets drunk making Don aware of her unhappiness moaning and complaining of her misery.
All of this added with the recent events that were a result of his decisions in how to deal with the problems and issues of people related to him makes him take a second look at how to deal with Megan’s petition. With the help of Peggy, who we finally see as an equal with Don, he finally makes the decision to give Megan what she wants, sacrificing his own desires. This would result in what many are speculating to be the return of the Don of old. The closing scene being a girl hitting on Don and him responding with a smirk we hadn’t seen since last season. Joan is also hit by the phantom that Lane represents, as she feels that if she saved the company giving herself away to a client, she could’ve done the same with Pryce and giving him a reason to live. She wants the company to succeed as she now is a partner, but can feel the presence and absence of this ghost that is Lane. We get several shots during the episode of empty chairs and moments where he would participate making his shadow even bigger in the characters life. Remember, its been three months since his death, and we can see that the agency is clearly having a banner year. Their sacrifices have led the company to better results but we can also identify a clear step backwards in some of the partners personal lives.
Throughout the season we’ve seen Pete Campbell struggle with his own personal life. He has made very strange decisions in the office and in the way he deals with his own personal ghosts. He is clearly confused as he already somewhat successful at his job as he always wanted and still doesn’t seem to find happiness. All came to a realization with the closure of the story that involved Beth and Her husband. He finally has that rematch with her in the hotel room as he wanted only to realize that his desires didn’t had to do with her directly, instead, his unhappiness comes from within his own marriage. Another of the partners that has been linked to Pete is Roger. Sterling is probably one of the characters that had the biggest curve of the season as he saw himself going down as an old man in a young men’s business only to reinvent himself with his LSD trip and find new meaning to life. He is now back to being himself pushing forward to new business and pumping himself up with the rebirth of Don Draper. We also see him take a second round with LSD and give us one of the funnier moments of the season in his finale.
Peggy is moving forward, finally being happy with what she is doing. Her final scene involved her being on a business trip by herself, it was a very satisfying ending to Peggy’s story as we know how much she wanted to be in this position. It was also very nice to see her give Don advice for the first time and him taking it so seriously. It was kind of bizarre and couldn’t understand the reason why she would see two dogs outside her hotel window mating. It was very strange and didn’t get what this was all about. I’m interested to see what will happen when she gets to compete against Don for an account. That will be very interesting!
It was a good finale to a great season, it disappointed me a little bit as we didn’t get that oh! moment that leaves us craving for next season. Mad Men’s season finale’s have been historically great. This one was only good. My guess for next season is that the old Don returns, Joan becomes a full time partner with great influence on decision making in the company, Roger overdoses, Pete divorces Trudy and Peggy competes against her old agency. Being a big fan of the show I’ll have to admit that I’m beginning to doubt the series longevity, based on the events that took place during this season. Lets see what happens.