Warning: Spoilers ahead
Seven years of AMC’s “Mad Men” came to a close on Sunday night and (thankfully) a lot happened.
Here are the highlights.
1. Don racing cars at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats.
We left Don at the end of last week’s episode sitting alone on the side of the road after giving his car away to a kid he had just met. To open the series finale we find him racing down the Bonneville Salt Flats testing out a car that may vie for the land speed record. After driving the car, he talks to the car’s owners about what needs to be tweaked on it before they run the car again. One owner responds: “You know a lot about cars for someone who doesn’t own one.”
2. Joan decides to go into business on her own.
If you’re a fan of “Mad Men,” it’s no surprise that Joan would one day decide to go into business on her own. Meeting with Ken Cosgrove, Joan learns that Dow Chemical is in need of a producer for a short film the company is making. With Joan’s connections, she decides to take on the role. She tried to get Peggy to leave McCann Erickson and partner with her, but we soon learn Peggy will have other things on her mind.
3. Don learns that Betty has cancer.
It seems the only person Don has been keeping in contact with during his road trip across America is his daughter, Sally. During a conversation in the finale with the two over the phone, Sally finally reveals to Don that Betty has cancer. Prepared to come back home, Don calls Betty to tell her, but Betty doesn’t want him around fighting with her about custody of their children during her final days. “I want to keep things as normal as possible,” she tells him. “And you not being here is part of that.”
4. Roger finds love… again.
The affair between Roger Sterling and Marie, the mother of Don’s ex-wife Megan, has turned out to be serious. Though they seem to be arguing as much as they make love, Roger tells Joan that he’s going to marry Marie. Roger also tells Joan that he is reworking his will so that their secret son will receive part of the Sterling fortune when Roger passes away one day.
5. Don makes it to California.
Whenever Don has had to escape in the past, he usually goes to California and the finale was no different. He shows up at the doorstep of Stephanie, the niece of Anna Draper (the wife of the real Don Draper), who he’s helped in the past. Now off the road, Don doesn’t know what to do next, but Stephanie asks him to join her at a hippie commune she’s going to up-state.
6. Peggy and Don have a final talk.
Things don’t work out well for Don at the commune. He and Stephanie have an argument and she leaves the commune in the middle of the night. Now alone with no way of leaving the secluded estate, Don begins to break down. He calls Peggy who pleads with him to come back to New York. She even tries to entice him with an account: “Don’t you want to work on Coke?”
But Don is in a dark place, telling her he’s “not the man you think I am.” When Peggy asks him, “What did you ever do that was so bad?” He replies: “I broke my vows…took another man’s name, and made nothing of it.”
He ends by telling her, “I only called because I realised I never said goodbye to you.”
7. Stan tells Peggy that he loves her.
Peggy and Stan have been working together on and off for years and there always seemed to be a spark. But in the finale, Stan finally opens up that he loves her. When Peggy calls Stan to tell her she talked to Don, the conversation soon changes to Stan telling Peggy how he feels about her. This is an obvious shock to Peggy, but she quickly realises she love him, too. She tells Stan, “You make everything ok, you always do. No matter what.”
Stan then races to Peggy’s office while Peggy is still talking to him on the phone. The two embrace and kiss.
8. Don realises he’s not alone.
Don sits by the payphone he used to call Peggy in a daze when a young woman from the commune convinces him to join her in a group discussion taking place. Don sits in the group completely unaware of what’s going on. But then a man named Leonard addresses the group.
“I’ve never been interesting to anybody,” he tells the group. “I work in an office. People walk right by me. I know they don’t see me… And I go home and I watch my wife and my kids, they don’t look up when I sit down… It’s like no one’s cared where I’ve gone.”
Hearing this, Don finally snaps out of it and looks directly at Leonard.
“I had a dream I was on the shelf in the refrigerator. Someone closes the door and the light goes off, and I know everybody’s out there eating. And they open the door and you see everyone smiling and they are happy to see you but maybe they don’t look right at you and maybe they don’t pick you. And then the door closes again, the light goes off.”
Leonard begins to sob. Don stands and embraces Leonard.
In the final shot of the series, Don is still at the commune. Meditating as the sun raises from the Pacific Ocean in the background. He smiles and then a jump cut goes to this advertisement for Coke from 1971.
Since the finale has aired there’s been much discussion behind the meaning of the mysterious ending.
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