To Peggy. Trying to settle into a groove at McCann-Erickson, she realized just how disposable she was in her new place of work. With many of her close work friends gone to pursue their own affairs, she also realized just how alone she was. When she got a long-distance calls from Don, she tried to retrieve both the job she loves and the man she respects, hoping to bring him back. Alas, it was not meant to be, an unpredictably sour turn for the unparalleled creative team of Draper-Olson.
Still, even though there was work to be done, there were also emotions for Peggy to handle. When she told Don, “I don’t think you should be alone right now,” she was also talking to herself, a woman whose career aims still feel like they are a decade away. Even though she has strived to be toe-to-toe with one creative partner, at least she got to go home arm-in-arm with another. In one last heartfelt scene over the phone, she accepted Stan’s advice from the earlier scene, as well as a refined proclamation of love. Cheers, Peggy Olson.
To Don. Well, for a vagrant trying to find some sort of direction or connection with the people in his life, Don came to realize that he has to go back and do what he is the purest at. And, in a clever turn that is sure to be debated by culture enthusiasts for years, he returned to advertising. (At least, that is what is implied…)
For a man going through an existential crisis, Don didn’t take much time for himself. He spent many of his hours getting pissed and lost, preferring not to deal with the realities of life. With Stephanie at a retreat in California, he didn’t know where to begin since his time abroad had had no structure. “You don’t know what happens to people when they believe in things,” he tells Stephanie. Don would know, as a man who worked on figuring how to make people believe in the value of commodities through pandering to their deepest emotions.
Too numb to return to his family and too ashamed to reveal the truth of his past with Peggy, Don found salvation in an unlikely source: a milquetoast forty-something man named Leonard. In a support group, Leonard spoke about feeling invisible in the place he worked and in the home he raised his family. Don responded to this personal pitch from the soul, embracing Leonard in a hug and finally able to feel a connection and a catharsis. A door opened for Don, and a light turned on in his head. On a tranquil hilltop, he found a piece of himself and a piece of popular culture at once. For once, things seem to be in perfect harmony. Cheers, Don Draper.
To the crew of Mad Men. Thank you. Thank you for telling great stories. Thank you for creating one of the richest ensembles of men and women on television. Thank you for building a time machine with arresting authenticity. Thank you for the sumptuous costumes, the magnificent art direction and the sterling attention to detail. Thank you for moving the show in unpredictable directions each hour. Thank you for a bold, deeply poignant and often hilarious series finale. And, thank you for taking us on a great carousel ride for eight years, bringing us back to a place where we knew we were loved.