Stop and think.
What would you like your favorite baseball player to do in his final career at bat?
Sure, hit a homer, but you might be OK with any other type of hit. Maybe even working the pitcher into a long count and drawing a walk. Even a mighty swing and miss.
How about standing at the plate with the bat on his shoulders while watching helplessly at a called third strike?
I don’t think so.
But that’s what we got from Matt Weiner in Sunday night’s Mad Men finale.
It didn’t help having the hillside singers serenade us with the iconic “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” Coca Cola jingle, even though Don Draper undoubtedly would have created the ad had he stayed with McCann Erickson.
I sure hope Weiner doesn’t orchestrate Ken Draper’s farewell when it comes time for him to leave Citywatch behind.
All of the other major characters had satisfactory closure, particularly Peggy Olson, Don’s protege, who found love with her assistant Stan.
The plot did not fast forward to Betty’s funeral as many fans (myself included) predicted, but that was OK, because it provided a classic scene with her and daughter Sally. Betty is last seen smoking away in spite of her terminal lung cancer, while Sally is taking command of the household. A dramatic changing of the guard.
All of that was fine, but the show has always been about Don (Dick Whitman) Draper’s journey. His coda was what the viewers wanted to see more than any other.
To have his final scene – sitting on a bluff, meditating with others at a self-awareness compound in California – brings to mind T.S.Eliot’s oft-quoted, final stanza from his poem, The Hollow Men: “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”
It will be the whimper her ’round the world. I expect blogs and entertainment columns to refer to Weiner as a wiener.
I was not expecting Don to go out with a bang. All that nonsense about a D.B.Cooper escape from a plane was just so much tobacco smoke in a Sterling Cooper conference room.
I was not expecting a suicide or fatal accident either.
Instead, the ending was the equivalent of a lobotomy. Don deserved better – even death would have been preferable.
The final frames showed a smiling Don Draper, but it did not pack the same punch as the smiling Don Draper at the conclusion of the penultimate episode, where it was very apparent he had finally found the road to happiness, which echoed his vision of Bert Cooper’s spirit singing the Best Things in Life Are Free.
Weiner should have ended it then and there.
It was a step backward in the plot at the worst possible time.
It brought back the awful memory of the Sopranos’ fade-to-black betrayal of that show’s loyal fans.
I think I would have preferred a spoof of The Bob Newhart Show’s it-was-all-a-dream ending