Sitting down to write something about last night's brilliant "Mad Men" season finale, I realize there's no way I can produce anything nearly as comprehensive as some of the fantastic reviews I've already read. So I'm going to be brief and point you to a couple of my favorite recaps:
-Alan Sepinwall at the New Jersey Star Ledger has the best recap/analysis that I've read so far. As a coworker here pointed out recently, "he's a machine." It's a terrific read.
-Also, take at look at Maureen Ryan's piece for the Chicago Tribune. In addition to a nice recap, she compiled a wonderful list of all the funny quips from last night's show. Just reading over that again will put a smile on your face. And feel free to share your favorite "Mad Men" article in the comments section below.
Now, for a few very brief thoughts... (Spoilers ahead!!)
I found myself secretly relieved about Don and Betty's pending divorce. The look on Don's face when Trudy brought lunch to the office said it all: Wouldn't it be nice to have a spouse who gave a crap? That moment gave him hope, I believe, and made him see he should just let Betty go. Not that Pete and Trudy have a perfect marriage, but Trudy's enthusiasm and show of support made Don realize that both he and Betty deserve happiness.
I hope Matthew Weiner doesn't put them back together in season 4. While I think January Jones is an amazing actress, I'm perfectly happy for Betty to have a very small part of next season. I'm usually much more enthralled with "Mad Men's" workplace drama anyway, and last night's story sealed that for me.
I could have watched Don and Roger's corporate machinations all night. Several articles have already compared that aspect of the show to a caper movie, and that's pretty accurate. I was relieved the caper wasn't spoiled, as I feared it would be, by Duck. When Pryce told Don and Roger to approach no one unless they were certain of their loyalty, I was afraid Peggy would mention Don's business proposal to Duck, and that he'd spread word to PPL.
Instead, we got an often funny and often suspenseful plot that left us not only breathing a sigh of relief at the end, but even smiling with satisfaction. And how often does the end of a "Mad Men" episode leave you with warm fuzzies?
While I'm a little disappointed we didn't see Sal last night, the return of Joan made up for his absence (although I still hold out hope that his absence is temporary). My favorite part of the finale was the fact that even with all those brilliant, powerful, and creative businessmen plotting their escape from PPL, they could never have pulled it off without the incomparable Joan. Was there ever a more satisfying vision than Joan walking into the office to literally save the day?
I can hardly wait for Season 4.
But if I could just beg one favor of Matthew Weiner, it'd be this: Can we please stop now with the flashbacks to Don's dark, hillbilly childhood? We know Don had a troubled family life, we get it. Those scenes felt jarring and completely unnecessary to me. Don seems to be in a more hopeful place now. Can he finally let go of his Dick Whitman past?
It's a small quibble about an otherwise perfect season ending. I just know I would have much preferred to have spent those minutes with Don and Betty, or with Roger or Pete or Joan. Or Cooper. Or Carla. Or Sally. Or ...