Friday, May 24, 2024

Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don Draper’s Rules of Engagement


“Mad Men” rolled to a close on Sunday night, but I was at a family wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico (congrats to cousin Alan and his beautiful bride, Cristina). So now, back in the real world, I’ve plunked down my $2.99 on ITunes to see what happened to the last people I follow on TV.

Yes, the engagement of Don and secretary Megan is the shock of the episode. But it was so set up so well: the firing of Carla made it necessary for Don to bring her along. Dr. Faye was certainly not the right choice. And Megan won by proximity. She’s young (relative to Don, she’s 14 years his junior). She’s unfettered by life. Unlike Betty, she’s light as air. Will she make it down the aisle? I doubt Matthew Weiner totally knows the answer to that question, but my guess is: yes.

Will Don’s secrets affect her? Will Dr. Faye do something terrible and rat Don out? Weiner has left this as a sword of Damocles, which is a good idea. “The secret” remains Weiner’s only plot gimmick. Someone out there must lay in wait for Don Draper. Maybe it’s Faye. In the meantime, taking the kids to Anna Draper’s house was a brave, brave move that signaled Don was actually looking for closure.

Favorite scene: Peggy and Joan discussing Don’s plans, followed by Joan’s phone call to the husband. So she didn’t have the abortion. It’s Roger Sterling’s kid. Talk about laying out the next season. And Peggy: Elizabeth Moss will regain her Best Actress status with this season, and this episode was one of her best. Peggy and Don’s close relationship was solidified this year.

And then there’s Betty, firing Carla, acting crazy. She finally gets the big modern house in Rye, a step up from Ossining and closer to New York by miles. Henry does seem to be catching on, however. And the kids now love Megan.

“Tomorrowland” also had a couple of TV references. That odd looking model was named Carolyn Jones “like Morticia.” Also Megan’s friend had been on “Hogan’s Heroes.”

Best lines of the show: Roger to Don: “Did you get ‘cancer’?” and Henry Francis: “There are no fresh starts, Life just carries on.”

The episode ended with “I Got You Babe,” used maybe in its first ironic context. Don has Megan, Betty has the American dream, and none of it really works. The question is, where does Matt Weiner pick up the next season? Will he skip through the rest of 1965? The next really cool year is 1967– “Sgt. Pepper” and the world in turmoil. One more season after that could end after the Nixon election in November 1968. But for now, “Mad Men” stands alone as the best thing on TV, broadcast or cable.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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