Our Final Thoughts on Last Night’s Mad Men Finale
- Adam Weinberg
- Dionne Buxton
- Jeff Dufour
- Najib Benouar
- Sam Eichner
- Shawn Donnelly
I’d Like to Sell the World a Coke. “I must admit, it took me a couple minutes to fully grok the ending. My thought process went something like this: ‘Huh. So he’s not actually D.B. Cooper; he’s just the guy who missed out on creating the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad because he was meditating at a hippie commune. ... No, wait, maybe he got the hell out of there and created it after all, having come to terms with the chaos of his Dick Whitman life and re-centering himself. ... No, wait. Shit, it’s even more cynical than that. He took the peace, love and harmony of the commune and spun all of those “ommms” into an ad campaign for a huge corporation. Oh, man.’
“P.S. A bit of trivia: the leader of the group therapy session was Helen Slater, who played Michael J. Fox’s love interest in The Secret of My Success.” —Jeff Dufour
I Don’t Look at the Ending as Cynical. “My feeling is, people are going to buy Coke regardless. Because it tastes good and it gives you a little pep. The least that Coke can do is run ads that make you feel good for a minute, that give you a sense of hope and love and unity and an ideal world, a better world. That’s what that ad does. Yes, it sells Coke, but it also lifts people’s spirits. That’s the power of advertising, and that’s why advertising matters, and that’s why what Don Draper/Dick Whitman does matters. He was wrong on the phone call with Peggy. He has not not done anything with another man’s name. He has used his exalted position to brighten people’s days.” —Shawn Donnelly
My Twin Brother and I Had a Similar Debate Over the Last Scene. “I read the ad as a sort of epilogue—something tacked on at the end (akin to the songs that normally play over the credits) to underline the episode’s particular message or theme; my brother took the ad to mean Don had returned to McCann to create it. For me, Don had replaced the delusions advertising provides with the comforts a yogic sort of spirituality proffers; both incorporate a set of beliefs that, in Don’s own words from the pilot, ‘scream with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is okay.’ There’s also some currency, I think, to the idea that the show ultimately ‘dissolves’ into an advertisement—that true happiness, love, etc. (the look on Don’s face), is inextricable from the verisimilitude of happiness approximated by advertising (the Coke commercial). Regardless, I thought the ending was totally satisfying. (And even if I didn’t buy the Stan-Peggy ending, I think Elisabeth Moss sold the shit out of it on the telephone.) I’m still recovering emotionally.” —Sam Eichner
Visual Cues. “There were too many visual cues and parallels between the Coke ad and Don’s time at the retreat for him not to have created it...
“And speaking of visual cues... So nobody is going to be creepy enough to point out that after 92 episodes, we finally got to see Joan in a bathing suit, huh? Fair enough.” —Adam Weinberg
Stan and Peggy Is Just Awkward. “I expected him to burst out laughing when she reciprocated his love and yell, ‘SIKE.’ Come on... We couldn’t come up with a better ending to their WORK relationship? Though, in all honesty, I didn’t really need any closure with Stan. And shout-out to Joan being the BAWSE she always is.” —Dionne Buxton
I Agree, I Didn’t Buy the Stan-Peggy Romance. “They seem like good work friends to me but without sexual chemistry. When they kissed, it sort of reminded me of the Lisa Kudrow–Paul Rudd romance on Friends. Kudrow should have ended up with Michael Rapaport, and Peggy should have ended up with Pete or Ted or even that nice lawyer. But there’s that word again, ‘should.’” —S.D.
I Just Thought This Finale Was So Damn Well Done. “I’m also directly comparing this against the only other finale I’ve ever been so heavily invested in, Lost, and I’ll never fully get over that catastrophic dud. I’m also directly basing my evaluation on roughly the last 1% of the episode, really. It’s all about the way the show ends. Like, end ends. What you’re left lingering with, pondering... The final images; that song; the fact that it was a real ad in 1971 that was wildly successful (though the actual story of how the ad came about, in a foggy airport, is less picturesque than Big Sur). Just felt right. The first 99% of the episode was almost inconsequential—especially the fan-fiction-y stuff (read: Stan and Peggy). And the icing on the cake was spotting Little Red Ribbon Braids from the front desk in the Coke ad. Matt Weiner, FTW.” —Najib Benouar