Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men Finale and the Lost Perspective Sauce

Five years ago today was the finale of Lost.  Last night, it was Mad Men's turn.  I didn't mind the former as much as others, although it is seen as casting a dark light backwards on the rest of the series.  The latter?  I am still trying to figure out the ending, but it was an excellent episode of an excellent show.

I already wrote about this last night, but I have a few more thoughts about this show.  From start to finish, the show had wonderfully complex characters, with flaws and strengths.  It had such great acting, writing, casting, cinematography, direction, costumes, scenery, and the rest.  Just quality throughout.

On the characters, damn near every move was earned.  I watched a number of episodes during AMC's marathon--mostly the first season but also some stuff that drew me in whenever I turned on the TV.  So, seeing how awful Rizzo was to Peggy at the outset, how she was able to call his bluff in that great hotel room scene of dueling nudity, and then how she treated him poorly in the finale to only realize that, yes, this might be the guy for her.  He understood her ambition, and she finally realized what she needed was someone without as much, but who could support her and show her the fun stuff along the way.  It might have been fan service, but it was not a deviation from the path laid along the way.

The Joan stuff was just fantastic.  I was glad to see her break up with Richard, as she long ago proved that she didn't need a man even if she wanted one.  When he tantrumed earlier this season over the fact that she had a son, we knew this relationship was in trouble.  When he tantrumed again when Joan was enjoying the new production business, we knew he was gone.  And good riddance (as much as we love Bruce Greenwood).  Joan's delight in getting the opportunity from Ken and running with it, rather than just handing over the rolodex, was a predictable and wonderful move.  Of course, I guess being a producer really is about having a good rolodex.  Anyhow, she was terrific as she seized this new opportunity.  It produced a wonderful scene with Peggy--yes, we got one last J & P scene (fan service again?!).  And Roger and Joan had a nice moment, establishing their relationship with each other and their child.  I loved her LOL'ing when Roger talked about his new love. 

The Francis family?  No Henry, but Betty got to set the terms of her death (more or less, we don't know who gets the kids) by having Don stay away.  The phone call was so sad but again so very earned.  The best part was that Bobby actually got to have some few meaningful lines, demonstrating that the kids (once they are older than Gene's age) always know.  They are not dumb, and, when they take their eyes off of the TV, they can see that their mother is dying.  I wish we got more Sally because we could always use more Sally, but we saw two great scenes: she tells her father not to mess up her mother's death but instructs him on his part to play; and she then goes home to help Bobby and be the one adult in the house.  There was lots of worry that Sally would become an addict or otherwise fall victim to one 1970s vice or another.  It turns out that while she is still quite the teenager as this show ends, she has a far better grip on things than her parents.  Kiernan Shipka was fantastic all along the way (or else she might have been replaced like her "brothers Bobby").  I hope she gets good opportunities down the road to work with actors and writing of similar caliber to Mad Men.

Not much of Pete and Trudy in this episode, which was fine since they got their closure last week.  One last scene with Peggy with so much unsaid.  The first season re-watch reminded me of how strange their relationship always has been.  They ended well.  Whether Pete and Trudy remain happy in their jet-set life?  Who knows?  But more Alison Brie is, of course, more Alison Brie. That Pete could get his happy ending after being such an ass?

I was so thrilled to see the previous Supergirl, Helen Slater, assist Don (and the Black Canary).  Don's journey this season and this episode will take a while to unpack and figure out.  He did make it to California, but not quite the way we imagined.  We should not have been surprised to see him in crisis even if he ended the previous episode to be delighted to be free of all of his baggage (except for the bottomless bag of clothes from Sears).  Whether he returned to NY with a new/classic Coke jingle or not, we didn't get the suicide that had long been predicted even though there was some concern after the phone call with Peggy.  We didn't get any more face to face conversations between Don and anyone back east, so Tim Goodman had that right.  And that is too bad, but at least we got Don talking to the three most important women in his life (with Anna Draper incommunicado): Betty, Sally, and Peggy.

If no Mad person wins Emmys for acting this season, then we will know something we already know--the Emmys suck.

This show pulled off excellence for seven years (or eight).  A very long run to be so good.  I am glad Matthew Weiner got to tell his story, and I am glad that these folks got to play such great roles for so long.

"A thing like that." Indeed.

1 comment:

L'il Steve said...

I agree strongly with pretty much all of this. Among other things I am sooo tired of all the snarky "Fan service!" complaints of anything good that happens to characters. It pretty much struck me as all real and earned.

Joan's story line at the end was my favorite. It was not about the money for her in business, but actually the personal fulfillment that came with being a successful career woman-- something taken for granted with men.