Standing Athwart the Mad Men Fifth Season Finale
Some notes on the finale, jotted as it happened:
● Don needs a root canal. It’ll go away. It always does. Hmm. This might be symbolic.
● Joan, grieving for Lane, says maybe she should have given Lane what he wanted. Don, having pegged Lane for an effete and sexless nonentity, wonders what that might be. Her look. You of all people.
● Megan drawing a bath after failing to get her husband to put her in an ad because she’s failing as an actress: tell me you didn’t think she wasn’t going to open her wrists.
● Megan getting a gentle introduction to reality from her mother: the world cannot accommodate so many ballerinas, my child. We learn the other side of the season’s subplot: she’s just not that good. It’s New York, dear. You’re out of your league. Just as Betty was pretty enough to be a model, but lacked the snap and crackle to bewitch the camera, so your skills are good enough for the first round. Thank you for auditioning. Next!
● Roger wants to take LSD with Sexy French Mom, and you think: so he’s going to have a bad trip and throw himself out the window. C’mon, the show’s half over. Someone has to go.
● Ah hah! The tooth is symbolic. In the dentist’s chair, Don gets nitrous and see his dead brother, Adam. This is not that unusual; he’s seen him the last few days, in the elevator, in the office. That’s what toothaches do: you see dead relatives. Add the nitrous, and they get chatty and tell you things about your character. Look: I had a hot tooth last month, and I remember the electric pain, the timpani throbs, the strange zen detachment as the dental sedatives soaked in. Dead people in my office, not so much. There was nothing remotely plausible about this. You don’t imagine dead people unless you are mentally ill or appearing in an M. Night movie. It’s there because the writers loved it, and no one took them aside and said “the client is going to hate it.”
● Pete’s speech to the post-shock-treatment lady was very sad, and everyone felt touched when he smothered her with a pillow, then threw a water cooler through the wall and escaped. It was a pathetic little speech, but he’s a pathetic little man, and I have no sympathy for him.
● Don and Peggy meeting in the movie theater didn’t feel forced AT ALL, did it? “So, why are you here?” “It’s in the script. And you?” “Same deal.” Peggy’s working on cigarettes now, and it looks like she invents Virginia Slims. The music that plays when the lights go down is the score for Casino Royale, the dreary Bond spoof from 1967. Which sets up . . .