‘The Best Things in Life are Free’

d3927c02-fdde-91d1-320a-c40e30657796_MM_707_JM_0213_0546SPOILER ALERT: This wasn’t the first time Don Draper has seen a ghost. In “The Suitcase,” he catches a glimpse of Anna Draper’s spirit, just after she dies. And Matthew Weiner and some of his crew are alumni of The Sopranos, a series that occasionally dabbled in the spiritual world (a glimpse of Big Pussy’s ghost in the mirror, the Virgin Mary appearing to Paulie, Tony in his coma). Still, it was a weird way to end part one of the series finale—the newly deceased Bertram Cooper doing a song-and-dance number with ladies by his side. (If Bert is dead, who are these ladies? His singing “The Best Things in Life are Free” also brought to my mind Uncle Junior’s serenade at the end of season three of The Sopranos.) And yet I admit the look on Draper’s face is priceless—his eyes are gleaming, almost child-like; he is entranced.

So what’s the take-away? As the 1960s come to a close, does Don realize life is too short, that it is time for some direction? And will he find his way under the ownership of McCann-Erickson? (I’ve always liked how Sterling Cooper Partners existed in the world of real agencies such as McCann and Young & Rubicam.) It’s a fitting end—the agency gets bought up by the bigger agency. Even the legendary powerhouse N.W. Ayer & Son got merged and ultimately absorbed by Publicis, which itself was in the news because its own failed merger with Omnicom. Likewise, ad giant Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), which came up with those iconic Volkswagen ads from the ’60s, is now owned by Omnicom. This happens—but what happens to Don and Roger?

I was also hoping for a passing reference to Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick, which happened two days before the moon landing, but no one seems to have noticed—and news of that sort really was overtaken by Apollo 11, at least for a moment (under similar circumstances, C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963).

And so we wait for 2015 and the last half of the series—the last half of 1969 and possibly 1970 as well. And still we’re left wondering who is Don Draper.

Photo courtesy of Justina Mintz / AMC

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