Ladies and germs, this was our favorite season of Mad Men. Maybe it was that I could finally root for Don Draper since he didn’t spend the season philandering and ruining his own life. Maybe it was the dramatic exits. Maybe it was the LSD. Maybe it was the accessible pacing. Maybe it was the humor. Maybe it was the 90s guest stars, including Nickelodeon’s Alex Mack and the WB’s Rory Gilmore. Maybe it was Betty’s fat suit and Sally’s whorish boots. A safe bet is that it was Megan Draper. Or Pete getting punched in the nose. We really can’t decide. This season was fun, deep, and full of great episodes. It's amazing that this was the show Ern once called "soulless." There was a time when we couldn't get through the first season. It took ten episodes to hook us. If season one were anything like season five, it would have taken one hour.
The last three episodes included arguably one if the best episodes of the entire series, "The Other Woman". The theme of “owning/objectification of women” was inspired and well-executed. Having Peggy walk out on Don after he humiliated her was genius and heartbreaking. Their awkward goodbye (that kiss!) was gripping and her smile as she walked onto the elevator, upbeat music starting, healed the wound a little. And then Joan, oh Joan, sleeping with the nasty Jaguar guy… The victory in getting the account was bittersweet (mostly bitter). Actually, it was gross. Don acted like a full human being there, and it was so sad that he didn’t get to Joan before she went through with it. We understand that she wanted to protect and provide for her son. On the bright side, we love Joan as a partner. Not silent. It's hard not to want Don with either Peggy or Joan in the end, even though it would be cliche.
Pete is such a worm, especially when he put the business before Joan’s well being. That’s the definition of greed, according to Ern’s dad: putting money before people. But we really liked the way Pete got into a fight with Rory Gilmore’s husband on the train. That guy is even more of a pig than Pete is and totally deserved it. Maybe that’s why he bothered Pete so much; he’s a future Pete and a mirror. Trudy is gorgeous and if Pete thinks another beautiful woman will make him feel alive, attractive, and happy again, he’s going to stay miserable and pathetic.
Lane’s death was a shocking, grisly moment for the series and we really felt for him in his depression. We aren’t fully sure yet of the repercussions the suicide will have on Don. We’re sure he feels a little lost and responsible. Don acted perfectly toward Lane. It seems like Don’s honor in business is back. That’s one thing we’ve missed about Don Draper during the Megan year: his business mojo and class.
We didn’t like the finale as much as the two episodes that preceded it. It left us with a bad taste in our mouths. It was so morose and repetitive of the season at large. It didn’t leave us with anything new, in other words. It hinted that the show is going to replay the old Don cheating thing and his Dick Whitman issues. Blah blah blah. This season moved things forward for the show and had Don facing old age. Are they going to go back to his mid-life crisis? The finale was too cold and ordinary, but it was still pretty good and it was very Mad Men. It just felt too low-key after the episodes that preceded it.
The Don/Megan drama now centers completely on her acting career. Megan isn’t going to sit home barefoot and pregnant, but she’s having trouble breaking into the business. Don would rather her go back to creating brilliant advertisements at the firm, but he is forced to back her endeavors up. We were cheered by his eventual casting of Megan in the commercial she wanted, but we are wary that Don might go back to his old ways after the last shot of the season. We really hope he doesn’t. While we would love to see Megan’s freak-out when she catches Don, we really aren’t into cheating or storylines about cheating. It always really bums us out. We will understand if it happens though. It’s true to the character and it would be interesting to see it all play out.
The Other Woman: A+
Commissions and Fees: A
The Phantom: B
Season grade: A