I distinctly remember initially being disappointed by The Sopranos finale. It cut to black, and I felt cheated, as if David Chase copped out. Then, the final scene churned through my mind over and over again and by the next day I had completely changed my tune. The Sopranos finale is now one of my all-time favourite finales.
Matt Wiener learned his craft from David Chase, so it shouldn't surprise you to learn I had an eerily similar reaction to last night's Mad Men finale. Initially, I felt cheated by Wiener, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw the genius in what his ambiguity gave me. What we believe becomes of Don Draper depends on how we feel about this complex character. It's heavily inferred he goes back to McCann Erickson and helps Coke develop the successful "I’d like to buy the world a Coke" ad. The rest is up to us.
We bring our own baggage to this show, and watch what unfolds through our own biases. I am a divorced man with two children from my first marriage. I watched this finale hoping Don Draper would immediately return to New York to be there for Sally, Bobby, and Gene with their mother dying. It was important to me that he step up and focus on the most important job he has, that of a parent. I was extremely disappointed that Sally had to fill that void and that Don chose to accompany Stephanie to a hippie retreat instead. Don, we've learned, doesn't always do the right thing, and rarely has his priorities in order. Some things never change.
Otherwise, I'm satisfied with the ending, but could have done without the lazy Peggy and Stan love-fest. That part felt like the last half of the Breaking Bad finale, giving fans what they want instead of what they need.
I'm going to miss this show. Mad Men has always been about the journey, not the destination, and it was a helluva trip.