Unlike Sarah and Dustin — and maybe most of the audience — I don’t know exactly what I wanted from the Mad Men finale, only that I didn’t get it. That’s not to say I left at all unhappy. Whether or not Don went back to advertising and made that Coke commercial, or once again reinvented himself, (for me) either way would ring true. Sally’s final scenes were the ones that fed my soul, and I’ll always have a soft spot for the girl who grew up more in the short time we knew her than either of her parents. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s ridiculous to expect writers and showrunners to worry about audience expectations when they’re laying out their particular vision. This was Matthew Weiner’s brilliant series idea; those were his characters we fell in love (or hate) with. But, I might argue Don Draper’s alter ego, Jon Hamm could have affected the way things played out, so does that mean he knows more than we do?
On what Hamm believes happens to everyone after the finale:
“…it’s not the end of anything. The world doesn’t blow up right after the Coke commercial ends. No one is suggesting that Stan and Peggy live happily ever after, or that Joan’s business is a rousing success, or that Roger and Marie come back from Paris together. None of it is done. Matt had said at one point, ‘I just want my characters to be a little more happy than they were in the beginning,’ and I think that’s pretty much true. But these aren’t the last moments of any of these characters’ lives, including Betty. She doesn’t have much time left, but damn if she’s not going to spend it the way she wants to spend it.”
How he read Don’s final scene:
“My take is that, the next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, ‘Wow, that’s awful.’ But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life that he has led. There was a little bit of a crumb dropped earlier in the season when Ted says there are three women in every man’s life, and Don says, ‘You’ve been sitting on that for a while, huh?’ There are, not coincidentally, three person to person phone calls that Don makes in this episode, to three women who are important to him for different reasons. You see the slow degeneration of his relationships with those women over the course of those phone calls.”
What he liked about Peggy and Joan’s final scenes:
“I liked the misdirection of Joan striking off on her own and inviting Peggy to come along and Peggy having the confidence to say, That’s what you want to do, not what I want to do. Selfishly, I think if she took anything away from being mentored by my character, it was that — her confidence in her ability to say, ‘There’s something better out there for me, and I’m going to stick it out here and try to find it.’ The romantic stuff with Stan is nice and warm and fuzzy, but to me, Peggy’s larger resolution was in the penultimate episode when she walks into McCann, the cock of the walk, and takes what’s hers. And it was pleasant to see Joan recalibrate from that and say, I’m doing this anyway. I don’t need a savior-man to come in and do a bunch of coke and live in paradise. I’m going to work, because I’m good at this.”
It certainly sounds like Hamm thinks Don went back to what he knows, and even if that’s true, I’m well on my way to believing he’s a better version of himself. That Don packed away a little of his enlightenment, shares it with Sally and remembers that moment he stood with his kids outside the house where he grew up. Because the Don in *my* version of Mad Men really did become “a little more happy…” and he shared some of that with the people he loves.
(via/read more at NYT)