Commentary: Speculations On The ‘Mad Men’ Finale

by | November 5, 2009 at 12:50 PM | 42-Inch Television, Mad Men

Mad Men (AMC)

Mad Men (AMC)

If you plopped Anna and her alien minions from ‘V’ down in front of a computer and showed them the amount of blog space devoted to ‘Mad Men,’ you’d probably have a hard time convincing them that the relatively chatter-free ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ pulls in roughly 15 times the audience. And yet such is life for the critically acclaimed AMC series, which, despite the loads of aforementioned press and back-to-back Emmy wins for Best Drama, has replaced ‘The Wire’ as That Show—y’know, the one you should be watching, but probably aren’t.

Of course the way series mastermind Matthew Weiner treats his baby probably won’t change that fact. Like his mentor David Chase, Weiner—late of ‘The Sopranos’—seems to take a perverse delight in playing with audience expectations, a strategy that can turn off far more viewers than it satisfies. With ‘Mad Men,’ the less you know going into an episode, the more you expect—and the more you’re disappointed when those expectations aren’t met.

To give you an example, the description on the cable guide for last Sunday’s penultimate episode, inscrutably titled “The Grown-Ups,” read as follows: “Don meets with an impressive candidate. Peggy second guesses her taste in men. Pete makes big career decisions.”

Sounds good, right? Too bad that stuff barely happened! Based on that, there’s not a chance on this green earth you would have been able to deduce that the entire episode dealt with the tired and predictable ramifications that occurred after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The only impressive candidate Don (Jon Hamm, continued perfection) met with was his mid-morning scotch.

With that in mind, what should everyone expect for the season finale? Well, whatever it is, don’t look to the obtuse episode description for help: “Don has an important meeting with Connie. Betty receives some advice. Pete talks to his clients.” At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if that means Don builds a time machine with Doc Brown.

Still, in an effort to help ‘Mad Men’ bring in as many viewers as possible, here are my best guesses at deciphering that intentionally obtuse set of sentences. Apologies in advance if there wind up being spoilers in here.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper. (AMC)

Jon Hamm as Don Draper. (AMC)

Don has an important meeting with Connie.

The “Connie” they are referring to is Conrad Hilton, with whom ‘Mad Men’ is on a first name basis. When he last appeared, the famous hotel impresario was chastising Don because of the latter’s failure to figure out a way to get a Hilton hotel up on the moon. True story. Back in the fold again, I have a feeling this “important meeting” will result in the firing Don because he failed to give Hilton what he wanted. And with Sterling Cooper in the midst of a potential sale, I doubt Don losing his biggest client will go over well. Will our hero be out of work come season four? Crazily enough, I’m thinking: yes.

Betty receives some advice.

If there has been one over-riding arc to this season, it’s that Betty (January Jones) has finally realized Don isn’t who he claimed to be. And after telling Don that she no longer loves him during the last episode, I seriously doubt the advice Betty gets is of the ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ variety. Earlier this season, Betty’s family lawyer informed her that proof of adultery was needed to get a divorce. Why do I think her neighbor Francine (Anne Dudek, of ‘House’ fame), who has dealt with her own cheating husband, has some tips for Betty to help get what she needs?

Pete talks to his clients.

Frankly, I’m so infatuated with Vincent Kartheiser’s portrayal of the slimy Pete Campbell—Emmy voters, take note—that if he really only talks to his clients during the season finale, I’ll be a happy camper. However, with Pete building towards a power play all season long, figure him to steal his clients away from a floundering Sterling Cooper and head over to Grey Advertising, where former Sterling Cooper employee Duck Phillips (Mark Moses) works. That is, unless Grey buys Sterling Cooper first…

Whatever happens, don’t miss the season finale of ‘Mad Men.’ After all, as the tagline says, ‘The World’s Gone Mad.’ You don’t want to get left out, do you?

Three More Inches

The Parents Television Council complaining about ‘Gossip Girl’ being too dirty for kids because of an upcoming threesome ranks with The Catholic League’s recent issues with Larry David and Microsoft’s concerns about ‘Family Guy.’ That is to say, where have you been for the past few years! If the Parents Television Council had ever seen one episode of ‘Gossip Girl’—which usually features more underage drinking and drug use than a frat party—we doubt they’d be all that upset over an ménage a trios.

I’ve had my eye on ‘Jack and Dan,’ the upcoming Fox series starring Bradley Whitford as a once-great detective, and the casting of Colin Hanks as his by-the-book partner does nothing to dim my enthusiasm. This is one to watch for 2010.

And finally… not that ABC needs my help scheduling their network, but how does a Tuesday night lineup of ‘V,’ ‘Lost,’ and ‘FlashForward’ sound? Pretty good, right?