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Mad Men season finale recap: Beginning Anew

The impending sale of Sterling Cooper forces Don and his compatriots to take action, and Betty makes her move to leave him

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Mad Men

Mad Men

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss

The episode opened with a shot of Don — pale, sweaty, hacking like a nag — in a dead man’s bed. His alarm didn’t go off. (So much of Don’s horrible trouble this season could be so summed up. Red flags waved everywhere, and he just barrelled right towards them.) Don might have risen from Gene’s cot but it was Connie’s curt dismissal that woke him out of his season-long stupor. The Brits were selling out, and were going to dropkick Sterling Cooper into a behemoth ad agency. The old man, another would-be father figure who crumpled him up like a sheet of paper, had no further use for him. Don prostituted himself for this man and Connie used him for kicks. ”That’s why you called me son,” Don hissed through his teeth, fighting to keep a tight smile on his face. Connie, that toxic old coot, delivered a smug speech about self-reliance. Don took a last look around the Waldorf suite before trudging back to his place of indentured servitude.

It was time to wake Mr. Cooper from his fat, lazy lion nap. It was time to act. They needed to save themselves from ending up as disposable cogs at some huge corporate machine. ”Young men love risks because they can’t imagine consequences,” purred Mr. Cooper. ”And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you,” Don shot back. Well, that got Bert’s attention! Don reminded the old man that he built this company from the ground up 40 years ago and he could do it again. Ah, said Mr. C., then they needed Roger and his Lucky Strike account. (Damn you, Lee Garner Jr.!) Mr. Cooper hooked the silver fox by warning him that an early retirement would send a man like Roger to an early grave. ”Join or die?” smirked Roger. One of the many tragedies this season has been the lost rapport between Roger and Don. Finally these two proud men were playing again for the same team. The mere sight of them bellied back up to that dark bar from seasons past put me in a drinking mood. Buzzkill! To his sincere chagrin Roger blurted out the news that Betty had hitched her wagon to Henry Francis.

I’ll get to the tragedy of that broken contract in a bit. If I had to endure the Drapers’ final unraveling, at least it was offset by the heart-pumping fun of watching Don, Coop, and Roger wrest back their names before they were sold out from under them. Some viewers have complained that what this season spent too much time at home and neglected the work. They got a season’s worth tonight! The whole story line proceeded with such zip and adrenaline, full of what felt like both brilliant surprises and a wonderful sense of inevitability as each piece of the puzzle fell into place. First the men had to get my prince Lane to join the side of right. The good man hesitated for a bit — what with his career of taking velvet glove blows to the chin from the powers that be. Don realized that Lane had the authority to fire them all, thereby releasing them from their contracts. He reminded Lane that he was dead weight to the company but could have his name on the door at their new agency. What a treat to see Lane decide once and for all that he was done being a stooge. The four men assumed their positions in a quadrant of power. They gnashed into their plans with boyish grins on their faces. They had the weekend to mount their insurgency. Game on.

NEXT PAGE: Don finally woos Peggy

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