I’m going to write more about this later. Just wanted to throw in some stray thoughts. We should have known. One of the things that Mad Men such a fun trip was the interplay with the audience like that time that some people suspected (or hoped) that Megan would be killed by the Manson family. We kept seeing bits thrown in that seemed to support the theory, or the idea that Joan and Peggy would go into business together — and then it comes up, but they don’t. Even Betty’s cancer had foreshadowing — her scare a couple of years before, the fact that in show where everybody smoked Betty smoked more than anyone.
Apparently Matt Wiener is sort of playing cat and mouse about the ending. A few critics have suggested that Don didn’t invent the “hilltop” ad, that we were being shown two images “authentic” spiritual redemption and the crass commercial kind. Bullshit. Again, I’ll more later, but here are some ways the coca-cola commercial was built in and foreshadowed:
– the elaborate machinations to get SC&P under the wing of McCann Erickson — the real life firm that created the ad.
– Jim Hobart’s tempting Don to stay, specifically mentioning the Coca-cola account — rolling the word on his tongue and saying it as though it were the most enticing thing in the world, the true Shangrilah in Lost Horizons.
– During Don’s walkabout Del asks his help “fixing” the old Coke machine because he doesn’t want the new Coke machine — a reminder not only of the campaign possibly waiting for Don if he comes “home” but also of new Coke which would be introduced in 1985 and be an enormous flop. Ha! Nobody wanted new Coke!
– In the final episode Joan and Richard out of nowhere do cocaine. Granted there were a lot of drugs around in the 1970′s, but aging developers weren’t the type to suddenly take them up. The scene while important in showing the mixed priorities of the couple, felt somehow forced. Coke (a cola) and coke (a drug) have always been connected going back to the original formula and purpose of the beverage.
– Don’s call to Peggy. She begs him to come back to McCann, again dangling the coca-cola account before him.
And then there’s history . If you check out the real story or maybe just the legend of how the ad was actually created, it shows a lot about how legendary ad men thought, how they processed experiences. The actual guy who came up with “I’d like to buy the world a coke” had had an experience on the way to London to meet with the songwriters who would help him. He’d been fogged in with other passengers and camaraderie had developed. The “creatives’ who work in advertising are writers and artists. They are storytellers even if they are in the service of capitalism. Of course Don who may have had an authentic experience of “oneness” and peace and love (which might have been fleeting and NOT life-changing) would channel that experience into an ad campaign.
Was it a perfect ending? Maybe not. Too many people were left feeling that despite Betty’s request, he would have just come back for his kids. (I don’t agree and think Betty’s telling him he wasn’t needed or wanted, wounded him deeply and then circumstances including his getting very drunk and wanting to return the ring kept him from getting back immediately.) Leonard’s dream as described was too neat, too on the nose, though Don’s reaction to it made sense. (I just wish it sounded less like an ad campaign or a reference to The Sopranos ending, which btw they referenced at least one other time (penultimate when the television in Don’s room suddenly went black.) But the theme here, as in the Sopranos is the same — some of us may die sooner than others, but change is happens slowly if at all, and also everything can and will be commodified.
(Enjoyed this? Hey, you can also read my full television recaps over at Happy Nice Time People the blog where that loves TV as much as it loves to snark it. And if you really appreciate what you see on this blog, you can buy one of my books for less than tall skinny latte, and then review it on the Amazon or elsewhere.)
And now the time has come…. It’s time for shout-outs and good-byes. A time for nostalgia and moving forward.
Back in the 1960′s and 70′s there were several television series premised around a lone man on the run from something or someone. He’d travel from town to town – usual in the heartland – and wind up in all sorts of different situations – The Fugitive was the prototype, but it was followed by Run for Your Life, Then Came Bronson, Kung Fu, The Immortal. Has this become Don’s fate? To wander the earth like Caine, getting involved in other people’s business? Don is still on the road, now driving a fast car – but it’s only a test drive, for some young ones who have designed the car. What will happen next? Is this the finale or the spin-off pilot? (To read the rest of this snarky, yet insightful recap please visit HNTP the blog that like Roger Sterling considers TV the bestest friend anyone could have.)
Welcome to Wayward Pines. It’s got a two word title and northwestern exposure like Twin Peaks, people are stuck in a mysterious place like Lost, and it has secret agents like The Prisoner. The only things missing are humor, originality, wit and irony. But it’s produced by M. Night Shymalen, the Ed Wood of the 21st century so what did you expect?
Let’s open with an eye opening because if you make it more bloodshot than Jack’ eye on Lost then it totally isn’t a rip off. It’s homage. Also while the character is wearing Jack’s suit, he’s upside down so that’s original! Who does the eye belong to? Matt Dillon, a man who hasn’t been in a movie anyone’s seen for so long that his brother is now famouser than he is. Welcome to television, Matt! Hey wouldn’t that be an interesting concept? Over-the-hill actor is driving with his assistant. They get into a car accident and the actor wakes up as a character in the world’s most hackneyed television program. He keeps trying to call his agent to get him out of there, but they’ve taken away his phone and everyone refers to him as the character, and they won’t let him leave the set. Oh shit! I didn’t just guess the ending, did I? (Please read the rest of this at HNTP where TV is your friend.)
If Mad Men has taught us anything, it’s taught as that as the man sang, “You can’t always get what you want.” In my previous post, I wrote about my fantasy penultimate/finale storyline. Of course, my hopes were dashed and [SPOILER ALERT] I was as blindsided as anyone by Betty’s diagnosis though god knows someone had to die of cigarettes. It’s also a nice shout back to the death of the original Don Draper who died because Dick Whitman was a smoker. Who would have guessed the gun on the mantel piece was actually a cigarette, and Betty would take a bullet.
My recap of S7 E13, The Milk and Honey Route will be appearing shortly on HNTP. In the meantime, here is an explanation of how the penultimate episode parallels S1 E8, The Hobo Code.
Last night’s episode, ends with Don doing something unexpected. He not only drives Andy to the bus stop, he gives him his car and is last seen sitting with a blissful expression, waiting for the bus. What motivated this extraordinary act of generosity, especially as it was aimed at someone whose actions led to Don’s getting beat up?