A lot of people I talked to were disappointed by the finale of season five of “Mad Men”. Not I, said the fly. I thought it was very well done.
I think one thing people need to put in context is that executive producer Matt Weiner has always generally been writing this show one season at a time. And while he has yet to write seasons six and seven (which will be the final two seasons), to me he approached season five much more as the first 12 of the final 36 episodes, as opposed to trying to cram conclusions to all the story lines into season five.
“Mad Men” is a brilliantly written show that develops characters better than any show possibly ever, and for astute fans, leaves all sorts of clues and foreshadowing out there. For example, we pegged in this space that it was pretty obvious that they were intent on killing off a major character this season, which ended up happening with Lane. I think they dropped another one in the finale with Don & Megan. Take what Don said to Peggy in the finale after their chance encounter in the movie theater. “That’s what happens when you help someone. They succeed and move on.” Then, at the end of the episode, Don finally succumbs to helping Megan get an acting role, before heading over to the bar, ordering an old fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and being hit on by a cosmopolitan swilling gal … the biggest of what many fans of the show considered excessive cliffhangers.
I thought this was another great Draper season. He continues to evolve as a person, continues to become more aware of his flaws, yet … there’s still no real evidence that he really is a better person, and the show constantly teases his potential regression to the version of Draper we saw through most of season four leading into his shocking decision to propose to Megan. The rotting tooth in the finale was clearly a metaphor, pounded home by the scene where Draper (wracked with guilt over Lane’s death) saw an apparition of his brother, who told him “the tooth isn’t the only thing that’s rotten”.
End of the day, one of two things happens with Don & Megan next season: her acting career takes off and that eventually takes her away from Don. Or, as her mom said, she is “chasing phantoms” with her designs on becoming an actress, and she will be unable to deal with that and handle being a Betty Draper housewife. Either way I think the Don/Megan marriage is in for a rocky season six.
Final takeaways from season five …
- I just can’t get enough of seeing Pete Campbell get punched in the face, which delightfully happened several times this season. The scene in the hospital ward with his former friend from the train’s wife gave us further insight into the Pete psyche as he talked about “his friend” with the woman, who had lost her memory of Pete. Will Pete get the apartment in Manhattan next season? Will the guy from the train tell Trudy what happened? Will Pete’s professional career at SCDP continue to ascend, or will his personality flaws get the better of him?
- Peggy’s inclusion into the finale told us all what we expected: she will not be happy at her new job and will remain an integral part of the show going forward. Peggy has really evolved into Don’s new “Anna Draper”, someone he respects immensely and will always have a soft spot for. They could go SO many different ways with the Don/Peggy story line.
- The Draper sell scene in episode eleven was one of the best ever. “You’re happy with 50%? You’re on top, and you don’t have enough. You’re happy because you’re successful… for now. But what is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything; I want 100%. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it; you want all of it. And I won’t stop until you get all of it.” OUTSTANDING!
- And how about Roger’s classic lines before, and then after that scene? Before – “You gonna tell me what you’re gonna talk about, or is my look of surprise part of the sales pitch?” And then after – “I’ll buy you a drink if you wipe the blood off your mouth.”
- Interesting season for Roger, who became almost a joke professionally, got divorced, and started getting into mind-altering drugs. A lot of ways they could go with his character as well. Another classic Roger line in the finale, after crank calling the Draper house to talk to Marie’s mom – ”Marie, this is Roger Sterling. And that’s all the French I know.”
Quote of the Day …
“It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” ~ Gerard Patrick Roeling
Insane Fact of the Day …
Birth control pills designed for humans will also work for a gorilla.
It’s almost as if we’ve missed nothing this past month. The European debt crisis is still weighing heavily on the markets, with no resolution in sight. It’s like the problems with the economy domestically here in America: there are just aren’t any good solutions out there. This is why the markets and investors are very unenthused about a summit meeting of European leaders later this week in Brussels.
Stocks are at almost exactly the same levels they were at a month ago. The Dow closed at 12,534 yesterday. After the disastrous May jobs report in early June, stocks tanked … with the Dow dropping down to about 12,000 before rallying all the way back to 12,800 a week or so ago before selling off last week and this week to settle in at its current level.
Yesterday was a positive day for stocks, primarily due to housing related data. The Case-Shiller home price index was very encouraging yesterday. It showed a 1.3% gain in home prices nationally, the first monthly increase in home prices in America (according to this index) in almost a year. Even more encouraging was the fact that 19 of the 20 major markets tracked showed increases, with only Detroit showing a decline. And Detroit almost shouldn’t even count. J
Almost any and all stocks that are tied to housing (energy, home builders, electronics, etc.) showed very nice lifts yesterday … as the Case-Shiller report is the latest in a round of very encouraging developments for the housing market here in America. New home sales are showing very significant increases. Refinance activity is strong due to record low interest rates and the expansion to the HARP program last December. There has NEVER been a better time to buy a home than right now given where affordability and interest rates are at.
We’ve said it from day one. Fixing housing is the first very tough step towards an actual, real economic recovery in this country. With a little help from Europe (thanks Europe!), the Federal Reserve led by Big Ben Bernanke has done an excellent job using the tools at their disposal to help keep borrowing costs very low. The Fed and Big Ben deserve a lot of credit for commandeering fiscal policy since the financial meltdown of ’07-’08. They haven’t been perfect, but I think most people underestimate the gravity of the task they faced four years ago.
~ Mortgage Applications Fell 7.1% Last Week as Refinancing Slowed
~ Case-Shiller: Seven Months of Price Declines Come to an End
~ Market’s Expectations for EU Summit are Low
~ Wall Street Analysts Give Cautious Nod to Facebook
~ The Day Ahead: Last Day of Indecision Before Bond Markets Must Begin to Decide
~ Best Buy Founder Said To Be Considering Buyout
~ Cleveland Developers Win Tax Credits to Bring 111 Apartments Downtown
~ Lower Expectations Drag Down Consumer Confidence