Yet another episode in which no one is happy. Don may have a gorgeous wife, Pete may have a gorgeous girlfriend, and Peggy may be at the top of her game, but are any of them satisfied? Of course not. But gathered at a Burger Chef (which I remember going to once as a kid), plotting the perfect pitch, they’ve got that glint in their eyes. It’s the work that excites them (well, maybe not quite for Pete). They look around at the other diners, wondering what the family of 1969 looks like—as opposed to, say, the family of 1955 or 1965 (good years, Peggy says with some nostalgia before wondering if the nuclear family ever really existed—it certainly didn’t for Don or Peggy). But as the camera pans out, you do see other families, looking happy, eating Super Shef burgers and fries. And in the center you see Don, Pete, and Peggy—their own nuclear family (though my wife says this picturesque final shot reminds her of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks).
And, as usual, this penultimate episode leaves us with more questions than answers. What’s with the McCann subplot? Will Don best Lou? Or will the ad team blow themselves up during the Burger Chef presentation? (In case you’re wondering, Burger Chef was later acquired by Hardee’s, the last Burger Chef outpost closing in the mid-1990s.) The teaser for the final episode, in fact, showed no clips of the episode—just clips from the past.
Peggy and Don know each other better than any wife or boyfriend. It’s an intimacy that goes back to Don’s visit to the hospital to see his then-secretary, who just had a baby (“It will shock you how much it never happened.”). Peggy, of course, knows all about Don—remember “The Suitcase“or when she gives her notice? That dance they shared could not be more fitting. (But how much did it cost to use Frank Sinatra? It cost $250,000 for the show to use the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”)
Finally, it’s always a pleasure to see other actors making guest appearances on Mad Men—Linda Cardellini, Neve Campbell, Ted McGinley, Harry Hamlin. But did you catch actor Matthew Glave in the role of closeted GM exec Bill Hartley (Glenn Guglia!)? Also, I initially didn’t realize what he’d been arrested for—”trying to filet an undercover officer”? How do you do that? Oh, wait a second…
Photo courtesy of AMC