Mad Men's Final Season

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby CalWilliam » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:16 pm

Priceless episode, full of wonderful scenes indeed. And only three left. Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks at their best. After all the uncertainty, I forecast it'll be a subtle ending to remember. I'll miss the series, which is supposed to be revisited.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:36 am

Matt Weiner is sure shaking up the set pieces, isn't he? I find it significant that Don literally has nowhere to go at the moment. His apartment has been sold and he now soon will have no office. I loved the fact that a half-drunk Don was actually ready to accept "another drink," from the gay couple as shown by his post-offer face and post-door-slam frozen stance. There is truly no one left.

Where is this Diana thing going? Also, at the end, I thought that Roger was going to tell Don that he was sleeping with her instead of Marie Calvet. When he said, "You know her" I thought, for a second, he was going to follow up with, "...that waitress from the diner" all but forgetting about Julia Ormond.

Love Pete throwing down with the clan-feud obsessed principal. It was like a WASPy meltdown! I loved it.

Another favorite moments was Shirley's "Meredith, we should put a bell on you." The actress who plays Shirley has always had a wonderfully wry delivery.

I agree with you, FilmFan, about the Peggy/Stan scene—instantly iconic. And the instrumental version of "Stranger on a Shore" by Acker Bilk really underscored the heartbreak of Peggy's story. It's so true to life also. Children were given up for adoption and really never even talked about again. I only recently, for example, found out that my grandfather had a son with his secretary in the early 70s that was whisked away somewhere and no one knows anything about his whereabouts today (he'd really only be a little bit older than me). There's a similar story on my mother's side of the family as well. I always felt like the show would revisit Peggy/Pete's baby when it needed to and it was good to have some nod to him as the series wraps things up. There've been small hints in other seasons (nicely called out in the "Previously on 'Mad Men'" that preceded this episode with Peggy's breakdown at her front door a couple seasons ago). Peggy's relationship with her Hispanic neighbor also showed shades of the "mother, deferred." Peggy's "You don't know because you're not supposed to know" could almost sum up this entire series. And seemed to echo Uri's post below.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:56 am

Well, that was more like it. This is pretty classic Mad Men, with a lot of echoes back to previous episodes and some fabulous moments. At first, I was a little annoyed by the way things seemed to be going. I complained the last few weeks that all of this seemed to be just a rehash of things we have seen before, and here we have "Don and friends save the day by shaking up the entire company." These have been some of the best episodes in the show's history, but did we really need another "Draper ex Machina" here to save their hides? Then, we get to the pitch and they all get eaten up and cast aside by McCann, and the episode took a brilliant turn. We have commented before how out of touch Don is with the changing tides, and how static he has been in many ways, but here it felt like all of our heroes are completely out of tune with the world around them now. It was a powerful gut-punch.

Not as great, though, as that Peggy/Stan scene, which immediately entered my pantheon of great Mad Men scenes. Peggy's baby seems so distant now, and while the show has hinted towards it in the past, we have never completely revisited since Season 2. Here, we finally get some resolution to the storyline (at least we understand where the baby went, vaguely) and the impact it has had on Peggy (which has been implied). What a great moment for these two actors, and one of the strongest relationships to have come out of this show. Plus, before that, we get the set-up of Pete seeing Peggy with the kids as a lead-in to warning her about the mix-up in the company.

Plus, we get that great Joan/Roger scene, Don out of place with the homosexual couple in Diane's apartment, Pete Campbell punching someone, lonely Trudy and one last company meeting.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby Uri » Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:43 am

The Original BJ wrote:That said, the way that this season has been structured IS different, possibly to its detriment, because it feels like we've missed a big mid-season event that really spins the narrative in a new direction (the arrival of Adam in season 1, Don's car crash with Bobbie Barrett in season 2, the beloved "Suitcase" episode from season 4, etc.) Instead, here we are in the latter half of the season feeling like we've basically restarted. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 -- I have a lot of faith in Weiner and co. sticking the landing at the end of the series -- so perhaps some of this build-up will look less aimless in retrospect.


There is indeed a different feel to this half season which reflects the fact that this is indeed The End – not the end of the world as we or the characters on MM know it, not the end of (probably most of) these characters’ “Lives”, (hopefully) not the nicely wrapped up concluding of plotlines’ and characters’ arcs – but the end of the story told to us, and so far this last half season is very much about story telling. And I don’t necessarily use this term in an artistic context, but more in regard to the mechanism used by people to constantly arrange and rearrange the way they view their past and shape it, or try to do so, into a coherent and hopefully meaningful narrative in any given moment according to who they are and what they want or need to be in that particular moment.

This was of course a prominent theme throughout the entire run of the show – Don’s story is the fictional story told by Dick Whitman and as we’re constantly being told (the last time was by Ted this week), he’s a master story teller. Every new product he’s about to advertise is an opportunity for Don to retell his own very personal longings and unfulfilled dreams in the form of a neatly attractive fairytale. The forming of a new agency is a chance to verbally manifest the kind of professional narrative one aspire for (hence his asking Meredith to fetch him the press release from 1963 when SCDP was founded when asked to vision the future). Each lover he embarked on a romance with offered the opportunity for Don to rewrite his persona (a normative family guy with Betty, a free spirit with Midge, an exotic outsider with Rachel, an idealist with Susan and so on). But as observant, smart Faye sharply spotted, Don only likes the beginnings because that’s when he can keep believing in that fiction before reality – and the reality of other people having their own, parallel narrative about him – raises its ugly head.

But now, when for the people who tell this story as well as for us listeners it’s time to form some kind of closure as far as this story goes, we get a sudden flood of glimpses and hints to a verity of narratives and points of views reflecting on the story we've been told for the past decade. In the first two episodes we had a chance to review three of Don’s more significant past love affairs from both his and the lover’s point of view while simultaneously study the way Don forms a fictional narrative with a new lover. Barbara tells Don Rachel lived the Life she wanted to have. Was this the “truth”? Was this false story she told him to shame him? Was this the story Rachel told her closest confidant, her sister, whom she knew didn't approve of Don, or maybe it’s what she told herself?

And after that Jewish episode, we had a Catholic one, in which the demises of Don’s attachments, with Megan as well as Sylvia, were addressed. With Megan it was about how drastically different the way she portrays her marriage to Don at this time compared with how she depicted it when she broke up with him, telling him he owed her nothing. A few months later, she’s in a much more desperate and aimless place professionally as well as personally, influence by the bitter reflections of her as presented by her mother and sister, each having her own polarized agendas, and voilà, Megan’s narrative is that of a victim, practically telling the generic story Roger predicted she would.

Sylvia, on the other hand, is seen quite confident and unfazed by having Don and his current lover along with her husband close to her - It doesn't seem to fit the guilt ridden, devoted catholic Sylvia is, but we just learned that Ted’s and Don’s rescue plan worked and Mitchell is now with the National Guard - he was saved – and being deeply committed to her faith, this must have been no less than a miracle to her. And what enabled this miracle to happen was the affair she had with Don, an affair that occurred because he is such an extremely promiscuous man. So in retrospect, her whoring with him can be seen as catalyzing that divine intervention. It achieved a meaning she can not only live with but be proud of.

And while all these “end of the affair” scenarios are being unfold, we have a chance, in a way for the first time, to see the detailed self delusional mechanism Don operates once he’s targeting a new romantic interest, and this mechanical aspect is being enhanced by the obviously random way he picked Diana. Yes, she has to be of a certain mold (brunette, pretty but not necessarily in a flashy way, serious, suggesting a certain gravitas – a John Dos Passos reader maybe), he might convince himself they have some mysterious connection so there an added meaning to their hooking up together. But most of all, she must suggest certain traits which enable him to cast her in a the role he need her to play in a story he want to tell himself at this particular state in his life (Don going to casting calls was a repeating theme in that episode) – he’s a millionaire who leads a meaningless, hedonistic existence who meets and saves a damsel in distress. Only she doesn't want to be saved since her narrative is that of self punishment and oblivion and she has no room for him in her story.

And the last episode was about Don being confronted with the way other people see him and the role he plays in their own stories. Some of these stories are familiar to us – we can put the ways Roger, Peggy or Ted are viewing him in a wider context. Then there’s a stranger – Melanie - who have a fleeting, yet brutally frank, glance into Don’s world (and debating him about what narrative should be associated with his apartment, as well as himself). Or have a glimpse into the way a previously peripheral character see Don and also be reminded that a Mathis is the protagonist of his own story which is vastly different than Don’s, therefore Don’s narrative tools cannot be applied to it. We see how the Grand Glen and Betty Opus is being variably depicted by each one of them and then have it, as well as Don’s being shred to pieces by Sally, only for her to be told that her story is the one written by her parents – as if we’re being told that the future of the story, even if we won’t be there to witness it, it in a way already known to us. Whether this is a comforting notion or not – to each his own.

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:58 pm

The Original BJ wrote:Flipp, it's pretty obvious why Glenn would fit into the category of characters Matt Weiner cares about but no one else does, right?

So obvious I didn't really feel like I needed to mention it with this crowd. :wink:
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:36 pm

I thought this week's episode was much better than last week's -- certainly not all-time great level, but a much more solid effort for the show than the previous entry, which I honestly found a bit boring. (I found it rewarding that after a lot of us complained about missing Joan and Sally last week, both rebounded with pretty major storylines this week.)

I think the reason I was so unenthused about Don's new relationship with the waitress was the fact that it seemed to tread on very well-worn territory. In contrast, I had no problem with the introduction of Bruce Greenwood's character, which gave Joan something she hasn't had in a while -- a love interest. After the obnoxiousness of Greg, and the disappointment that things could never work out with Bob Benson, I found myself really happy to see Joan so excited about a new romantic prospect. This, of course, was pleasingly complicated later in the episode -- I'm curious to see where this relationship goes, and I don't object to bringing in new characters at this point in the show if they help our major players reach a compelling resolution.

Uri's point is interesting -- Mad Men has never been a show with standard story arcs, so it wouldn't make sense for it to start at the end of season 7 any more than it did at other points in the series. That said, the way that this season has been structured IS different, possibly to its detriment, because it feels like we've missed a big mid-season event that really spins the narrative in a new direction (the arrival of Adam in season 1, Don's car crash with Bobbie Barrett in season 2, the beloved "Suitcase" episode from season 4, etc.) Instead, here we are in the latter half of the season feeling like we've basically restarted. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 -- I have a lot of faith in Weiner and co. sticking the landing at the end of the series -- so perhaps some of this build-up will look less aimless in retrospect.

Flipp, it's pretty obvious why Glenn would fit into the category of characters Matt Weiner cares about but no one else does, right?

And to respond to your other point, I have to say that I've always really liked Megan. There are a lot of reasons why Don and Betty didn't work out, but I've always felt that if there was someone meant for Don, it's Megan. She was a part of Don's advertising world -- the only sphere of life where he's really had much success -- she shared his ambition, but she was never so self-absorbed that she wasn't able to support him when he needed it. What's powerful to me about the Megan/Don break-up, is that it feels like if he couldn't make it work with her, there's really no hope for him having any kind of stable, long-term relationship at this point. (I know, I know, it's not as if this is a huge surprise to anyone who's seen even one episode, but it still feels like his utter hopelessness in that department has reached series-level highs.)

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:25 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:
FilmFan720 wrote:Maybe that is what Weiner wants us to take from this, that no matter how deep we try to mine a person, they really are just a static creation, but there is a more interesting way to do that.


Maybe that is Weiner's point all along: http://blogs.indiewire.com/criticwire/m ... 1429638794

I feel like we've kind of known that all the way through though, right? Don doesn't really change, the world is passing him by, he (and Roger to a certain extent) are stuck in a different era, etc. The show has always gone out of its way to demonstrate how sort of ironic it is that someone who's so non forward-thinking could be so successful in advertising. Don has always been great at selling a product (his biggest product, of course, "Don Draper"), but there were several moments in "The Forecast" where he was explicitly told that his "product" is totally defective and kind of obsolete. Mathis called him out on having no character, the realtor was ruthless in pointing out that his apartment gave off a stench of failure, Peggy called him a dream-crusher, Sally told him that he's dependent on what other people think of him (in what was probably her character's most astute moment on the show, I might add.) And even Betty — still stuck in her antiquated puffy dresses and that Dina Merrill hair — seems to have finally evolved, for Betty at least. The Betty of several seasons ago would've been absolutely furious that Sally had maintained a relationship with Glenn all these years.

So, that article does make sense to me, but I'm not sure it totally explains what's going on with the show at the moment. I'm very intrigued about what comes in the final episodes. As you said downthread, this show has always had a knack for really bringing it in those last episodes of a season.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:55 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:Maybe that is what Weiner wants us to take from this, that no matter how deep we try to mine a person, they really are just a static creation, but there is a more interesting way to do that.


Maybe that is Weiner's point all along: http://blogs.indiewire.com/criticwire/m ... 1429638794
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:57 am

Also, for someone as persnickety about timelines and all aspects of 60's/70's culture, fashion, décor, music, etc. as Matthew Weiner supposedly is, there's something very strange about the utter agelessness of Bobby. He should definitely be approaching adolescence at this point, not running around in pajamas while it's still daylight out and toting around a toy machine gun that would be more suited to the now seven year Gene. Bobby is still portrayed as a little boy. I realize that the actor changed a couple years ago and that boy is unusually youthful-looking (he looks almost exactly like he did on "Desperate Housewives") and that Bobby is kind of a stunted character in many ways, but he's been like ten years old for the past four seasons now.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:51 am

flipp525 wrote:I know how Mad Men works. It doesn't operate as a traditional one-hour network drama with cliffhangers and clean, mapped-out story arcs. That's, of course, why I love it too. Yes, people like Sal just disappear (in the show and in real life) and I'm fine with that. But I really do believe that Weiner double-downed on the character of Megan in a way that was uncharacteristic for this show and it was not necessarily a welcomed addition. Bringing on Marie-France (a poorly-written character, practically a caricature) at the 11th hour seemed further evidence of a lost investment in that character.


It is that, and it is the wheel-turning we have seen this season. Part of the joy of Mad Men is the way that we keep slowly peeling back the layers of each of these characters. I think back to what the last half-season did, with Roger and his daughter, or Sally's growing up, or Joan and Bob Benson, or even Pete trying to navigate L.A., and the way that we are constantly discovering. This season, no new layers are being exposed, and the old ones are being revisited in tried and true ways. Maybe that is what Weiner wants us to take from this, that no matter how deep we try to mine a person, they really are just a static creation, but there is a more interesting way to do that.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:44 am

The over-attention to the character of Megan Draper was a rare misstep for Matthew Weiner in the history of Mad Men (and I'm definitely not alone in thinking this). Weiner became obsessed with her at the expense of characters that were a main part of the fabric of the show. All those fetishized, longing shots of her, the creation of additional characters in her orbit including that ridiculous soap opera lesbian plot and the hint that there was a rough sex/daddy-little girl element to the Draper's sex life that was never even really explored.

I know how Mad Men works. It doesn't operate as a traditional one-hour network drama with cliffhangers and clean, mapped-out story arcs. That's, of course, why I love it too. Yes, people like Sal just disappear (in the show and in real life) and I'm fine with that. But I really do believe that Weiner double-downed on the character of Megan in a way that was uncharacteristic for this show and it was not necessarily a welcomed addition. Bringing on Marie-France (a poorly-written character, practically a caricature) at the 11th hour seemed further evidence of a lost investment in that character.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby Uri » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:19 am

flipp525 wrote: The fact that there's been a brand new character introduced in every episode so far this last half-season seems inappropriate.


One of the methods used on MM to suggest it’s a more realistic take on life is to present it as if it were a kind of a series of random, partial glimpses into this particular universe. So major, dramatic turns of event are not shown and left for us to find out about off handily while seemingly a lot of screen time is devoted to exploring what may seem to be trivial, everyday activities. Of course it’s a very meticulously thought of and crafted "randomness", but it’s a kind of defiance of the more traditional and certainly more common school of what fiction and drama, certainly popular ones should be like – as Hitchcock said: “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out” – in MM it’s exactly those “dull bits” which are explored and studied to create the drama.

So, in that vein, and staying true to the spirit of the show, the fact the show is about to end and shortly leave this universe should have nothing to do with the way the events taking place on July 1970 (the time frame of The Forecast) are depicted – blasé stuff may happen, new people may accidentally step into the wrong office and into other people lives – just like it happened on March 1960 (the time the pilot took place on) or May 1965 (the time of MM most celebrated episode, The Suitcase) or on any day in 1961, a year totally MIA in the chronology of MM the TV entity but not in the annuals of the world or the people of MM, had they really existed.

At this stage of my (compulsive) involvement with MM, my only hope and wish is for Wiener not to fuck up with the truly one of a kind realm he created for me. I don’t want to have cathartic closures, even if they’re going to momentarily make me feel good. If I do get them I’ll feel betrayed. So keep bringing in the Marie-Frances into the show, as long as it’s a probable act in the context of these people life (and, as was the case with this particular Marie-France, a first introduction of a character which had volumes to say about the season long storyline of Don and Sylvia which indeed has concluded on the same episode AND about a major theme which ran through the entire ran of the show, because that’s the way MM works, if you’re just letting it).

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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:25 am

I think this is the year that Kiernan Shipka should receive an Emmy nomination. I thought she acted circles around literally everyone she shared scenes with in this episode and her phone call with Helen Bishop was a standout. How lucky they were that she blossomed into such a beautiful, talented young actress.

I was trying to locate a time stamp in the episode. The closest I could get was that issue of The New Yorker that was on Don's desk (it had a big "1970" on the cover.) After finally locating it online, it appears to be the Jan. 3, 1970 issue which doesn't gel with the timeline that's already been established. So maybe someone else can do better.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:14 am

flipp525 wrote:Would it be too much to ask to find out whatever happened to Carla? Or Sal?

Tripp, I'm not ready to write off this last season as a Lost-level failure (still so annoyed about that last season), but I can definitely see your points.


Or to get some Trudy, or Bob Benson, or Paul Kinsey, or Jim Cutler, or Duck, or Freddy Rumsen, or Dr. Faye Miller, or any number of characters who were infinitely more interesting than Megan's family and Glenn.

Also, some of our major players have been sidelined: Peggy was a minor part of this episode, Pete has done almost nothing and even Roger hasn't gotten the in-depth exploration we should have. Hopefully those are coming next week.
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Re: Mad Men's Final Season

Postby flipp525 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:02 am

Would it be too much to ask to find out whatever happened to Carla? Or Sal?

Tripp, I'm not ready to write off this last season as a Lost-level failure (still so annoyed about that last season), but I can definitely see your points. The fact that there's been a brand new character introduced in every episode so far this last half-season seems inappropriate.
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