Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Mad Men" Season 4 Finale: "Tomorrowland"

In the words of the great Peggy Olson: that's bullshit.

Me during the finale:

"Carla, don't let Glen go upstairs...ARRRGH!"

"Betty, don't get rid of Carla...ARRRGH!"

"Don, don't ask Megan to come to Cali...ARRRGH!"

"Harry, don't be slimy...GROAN."

"Don, don't use Anna's engagement ring to propose...ARRRGH!"

(Less aggravating: "Joan's totally still pregnant...yup.")

It didn't help that every one of these developments and their unintended consequences were clearly telegraphed just far enough in advance to make me squirm in unpleasant anticipation. (Well, except for Joan's aborted abortion, which we've seen coming from several episodes ago, and on which I remain neutral.) This was also the episode that finally, officially made me hate Betty - but it also made me hate Weiner and the MM writers for making me hate her. As for making me hate Don, that's just getting old. *He's* getting old, and pathetic, and more and more of the people who once respected him are seeing this.

Oddly, I don't bear any ill will towards Megan. She seemed genuinely shocked at Don's abrupt proposal, and I can understand his attraction to her as the anti-Betty (and, in a different way, the anti-Faye) - serene, tender, good with kids, yet harboring aspirations outside the domestic sphere. But he's not in love with her, he's in love with his fantasy vision of her and of their future together. Tomorrowland, indeed.

That said, there were some things I liked about the finale, even if I hated its overall trajectory. Among them:

-Peggy and Joan FINALLY bonding. Almost made Don's folly worth it. Almost. Men, watch out for these two.

-Faye cutting straight to the chase when Don calls her, and delivering the most spot-on assessment of his personal life we've heard yet: "you only like the beginnings of things." She's too good for Don, though that doesn't make his treatment of her any less caddish.

-Cosgrove refusing to milk his family connections. As he said, he's not Pete. Interesting, and probably honest, if a bit mean.

-The shot of Don and Betty parting ways in the darkened, empty Ossining house. An unexpectedly poignant and powerful image, especially considering how much I hated both of those two by that point.

Best line, after Peggy's calling BS: Glen to Betty - "Just cause you’re sad all the time doesn’t mean everyone has to be." Roger's response to Don's marriage announcement was pretty priceless, too.

(Pete also had a line about "approaching from the rear" that made the 12-year-old in me snicker. And of course only Pete would tell the others, “You don’t say congratulations to the bride. You say best wishes.”)

Worst line: Don to Peggy, re: Megan - "You know, she reminds me of you." That is *not* something you should say to Peggy, you fool. Twist the knife in a little deeper, why don’t you.

All in all, not the finale I was hoping for, and certainly not a patch on last year's ("Shut the Door, Have a Seat"). But it's sown enough seeds (or bombshells?) to bring me back next year, so I suppose I can't construe it as a total failure. May Peggy and Pete continue to steer SCDP into calmer waters, and may Peggy finally see Don for what he is.


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