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Well, nobody died on last night's Mad Men season finale, but just about each and every straggly loose end was tied up. A plethora of questions arose in the aftermath of Peggy's resignation, Lane's suicide, and Joan's shiny new partnership, and lucky for us, most of them were answered. (Though it was a little unclear if Roger was on acid when he put his nether regions on display out the window of his apartment.) And in true Mad Men fashion, the last scene (involving Don and a woman at the bar who wasn't Megan) will leave us hanging until the premier of season six.
The episode opens with Don nursing a toothache with a bottle of whiskey, because why take an ibuprofen when there's alcohol to be had at 9:00 in the morning. Megan hides a piece of mail from him and after he leaves, her French-Canadian mother Marie, who's in town for a visit, insists on reading it. Megan had gotten a screen test done, from some bogus company that's only interested in advertising its own classes. Marie, who's English expressions are a little shaky, accidentally calls her daughter's acting career "hopeless." Slip of the tongue.
On his way into the city, Pete bumps into Howard and Beth on the train. Howard explains that Beth is going to stay at her sister's for a while. As the two of them make their way to the smoking car, Pete awkwardly fondles the scarf on Beth's luggage. Later that same day, Beth calls Pete and suggests they meet at the Hotel Pennsylvania, like he had asked her to before. Pete instructs his secretary to get him a fresh pack of Lifesavers from the lobby so that he can speak freely on the phone. She says she's making a reservation under the name Mrs. Campbell.
Over in the conference room, Ginsberg and Stan pitch ideas to Topaz that they don't like. They're upset by Ginsberg's use of the phrase "Never Cheap" because it still contains the word cheap. They'd prefer something more like "Two for one, twice the fun" which sounds cheaper. So, are we just going to miss Peggy in theory, or are we actually going to see her?
We see her! Peggy has herself a nice little office at CGC, where she's able to boss people around. Ted Chaough asks her if she smokes, and when she says no, he throws a carton of "woman's cigarettes" at her and tells her to start. They've got an account to land, so Peggy better "smoke it, name it, sell it."
Back at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Joan leads the partners' meeting. As expected, she sounds a lot like Lane. In short: business is up 34%, this is their best quarter ever, she's going to meet with building planners to scope out the space upstairs, and Pete could give two shits about any of this. He's got things to do. (Like, Beth.)
At the Hotel Pennsylvania, Beth appears to be kind of drunk when Pete arrives. She explains that instead of going to her sister's, she's really going to get electroshock therapy at the hospital. She's been "very blue," and wants to be with Pete one last time since the electroshock is likely to erase the past few months from her memory. It's kind of a dramatic way to wrap this story line up, but we'll take it.
Megan has a little favor to ask Don when he comes home that evening. One of her acting buddies told her that Butler Shoes, one of SCDP's accounts, is casting a "European type" for a Beauty and the Beast-style commercial. Megan's friend is trying out for the part, and jokingly asks her who she'd have to sleep with to land it. (That'd be Don.) Naturally, Megan asks Don if she can try out for the part, since after all, "European type" and "French Canadian" are the same thing, right?
Don criticizes her for the usual: hating advertising, and wanting to be an artist but settling for a commercial. Don reminds her that most people do commercials because they need money, and she doesn't. Don doesn't want to ask, but Megan lays it on thick about how hard things currently are for her. Don assures her that she should be somebody's discovery, not somebody's wife.
Roger interrupts the conversation when he calls and pretends to be Megan's father, Emile. He asks to speak to "Marie, s'il vous plait." Roger asks Marie to meet him at his apartment for dinner and a little conversation. She says she'll try if he'll lower his expectations.
When Don arrives at the office the next day, his hallucinations of his brother Adam continue. We foolishly let it slip our minds that there were three deaths so far in the series, one of which was when Adam hung himself in season one. Now, it seems a combination of Don's toothache and Lane's death is stirring up the visions. Joan snaps him back to reality when she hands him the death benefit from the company's insurance policy. It's for $175,000. Don asks her how much collateral the partner's put down when Lucky Strike left ($50,000), and then instructs Joan to cut a check to Lane's wife.
Though Rebecca doesn't seem too pleased. When Don stops by, Rebecca assures him that people from England "aren't ones to wallow". They're also not ones to easily accept charity. He gives her the check for $50,000 and she responds with: "I hope you feel better," and, "You had no right to fill a man like that with ambition." She then pulls out a photo from Lane's wallet of a girl (the one he had taken) and then rails Don for taking Lane to brothels.
Meanwhile, Megan has been busy moping in bed. Among the things Marie says to her on her way out: to shop chasing a phantom, or, her acting career, and also, that she's an "ungrateful little bitch" and then Marie thanks God her children's aren't her whole life. And then, Marie heads to Roger's. They immediately head straight into his bedroom, where Roger uses a pick-up line that involves Lane's suicide. He then asks her to take LSD with him.
Don comes home to find a sloppy Megan in a robe, drinking wine on the couch. She falls up the stairs and tries to have sex with Don after he carries her into bed. She does this by saying, "Please. It's the only thing I'm good for." When Marie comes home, Don gives her a hard time for leaving Megan alone, drunk. Marie tells him, "She's married to you, that's your job."
Finally: Don goes to get that tooth taken out. The dentist warns him that he's lucky he didn't lose his jaw, which would have probably meant no season six. When he puts the gas over Don's nose, he begins to hallucinate images of Adam again. Adam tells Don that he lost his job when he died, and now he's going to do Don a favor and take out Don's tooth. But, "it's not your tooth that's rotten." When he leaves, the dentist tells Don he can't smoke for a week. He goes to the movies and finds Peggy, which is a completely unnecessary storyline but proves that Peggy will, in fact, be in season six—probably, pretty frequently.
Inside a different medical building, Pete visits Beth after her electroshock. He pretends to be her brother, and at first it seems that she remembers him and is in on the ruse. But, he soon finds out that she has no clue who he is but comes on to him anyway. He tells her that he's at the hospital to visit a friend who got involved with another man's wife, and is being treated for the "complications" that arose. He leaves, and the very brief love affair is officially over.
On the train home, Howard sits by Pete and suggests they get off the train at the next stop, get back on it in the other direction, and have some fun! Pete blows the whole charade when he asks Howard how he could put his wife in the hospital. Upon realizing Pete has been sleeping with his wife, Howard says that Beth "always spreads her legs for the first chump she can find." Pete attacks him, and they both roll around on the ground for a while before the train crew breaks it up. Pete mouths off to one of them and when asked to apologize, refuses. So, he gets punched in the face. When he gets home, he tells Trudy that he fell asleep and drove into a ditch. She's tired of all this "doom and gloom" and agrees to give him an apartment in the city.
Don sits alone in his office watching Megan's screen test, which consists of her laughing a little, pouting, touching her hair, what have you. He smiles, but in typical Don fashion, it's unclear what he's really thinking. Is he proud of her? Apprehensive of her success? Indifferent to who she's become? In the end, he gets her the part for the Butler Shoes commercial, and we see her dressed up like a maiden for the rehearsal.
In one of the final scenes, Don walks away from the set and heads to the bar. He orders an old fashioned, and just like old times, a woman approaches him and says that her friend wants to know if he's there alone. What does he do? He gives her that look that can be interpreted in a million different ways—but for once this season it seems somewhat plausible that it meant "yes."
So what have we learned from Season Five? In a nutshell, that it's possible to quit and still be a main character if your name is Peggy Olson, and that doing some bad things can get you what you want professionally (Joan) and personally (Pete). We also learned that Don and Megan's relationship has definitely changed, which could potentially lead to him reverting back to his old ways. Or, maybe not. And finally, thanks to Roger, we learned that LSD is one hell of a drug.
· 8 Loose Ends That Hopefully Get Tied Up on Mad Men's Season Finale [Racked]
· All Mad Men Coverage [Racked]