Mad Men Review: Shocked Therapy

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Nobody died. The company stayed in tact. There really weren't any serious surprises at all.  While the season five finale of Mad Men was a conclusion to a seemingly uneventful year, "The Phantom" also continued a number of individual character arcs that are heading in some interesting directions.

Mad Men will have the occasional suicide, company blow up, or secret life, but at the end of the day it is simply these characters that keep us coming back, wanting more and more of Don, Roger, Peggy and the gang.

Mad Men Season 5 Finale Pic

So although I finished watching the season finale asking myself if anything happened during the past 13 episodes, when you take a deeper look at what actually went down in season five and even this final installment of 2012, it was pretty hefty.

Pete Campbell's rise to the top was so successful that nobody questions a thing he does anymore...well except Don, who wondered if proxying his partners' vote was even allowed.  While his business life couldn't have been better this season, the personal side of things kept life interesting.

That all came to afoot in the finale, as he had a rendezvous with Beth just before she went in for electric shock therapy.  What a whirlwind for the guy!  He has this moment with the girl, she ignores him, then she calls him for a hookup, and she tells him she's going to forget everything that happened between them.

I don't care if he was blowing up his own spot or not, I would have given it to his friend on the train as well.  That guy is a true a hole.  Like Lane Pryce and everyone else, that office of the New Haven Line sure wanted to get in the Punch Pete Campbell Club, and that's always fun to see.

Ever since the beginning of their relationship, it was obvious that Pete and Trudy weren't meant for each other.  The fact that his doubts have come up more often, and that she is giving him an apartment in the city, only make me think that their time is coming to an end.  Let us not be surprised if they are divorced next season.

Don's relationship, on the other hand, has been going in the other direction.  While there are those that believe he is making his way back to the Don of old, and that final unanswered question of the season - "Are you alone?" - made it seem murkier than I imagined it was, it couldn't have been more obvious to me that this season was so much about Don's growth as a man and a husband.

In the finale, his act of getting Megan the part in the commercial seemed like one of selflessness.  That is quality that the old Don never had towards Betty.  I'm sure there are those that could also argue his action as simple appeasement.  He let the girl go play dress up so that he could spend time with the two feisty girls at the bar.  With the look that he gave them, I wouldn't be surprised if things were different between Don and Megan next season.  However, it wouldn't be the conclusion to the arc I was watching all season long.

Peggy started a new chapter in her professional life, finally getting out of Don's shadow, Lane went down a dark path that ended in last week's horrific death, and Roger got strange with LSD on more than one occasion. 

Like I said, there were a lot of interesting stories told about our favorite Mad Men characters.  It just didn't seem to add up to much.  The company's doing much better now, and the new office space will prove that to everyone soon enough, but that felt like a less than earth shattering event.  In comparison to season finales of the past, it felt slight.

There can't be much more Mad Men left in our lives, so we best just enjoy it while we have it.  "The Phantom" was a pleasant conclusion to a fine season.  What did you all think of it?  Did it satisfy your needs, or did it disappoint as a finale?  And will somebody please put some pants on Roger Sterling!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (114 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


La 5ª temporada ha sido bastante más floja quelas anteriores, exceptuando 3 capitulos que han sido muy buenos. En parte porque Peggy ha perdido notoriedad, hasta desaparecer. Peggy no puede abandonar la serie,es una parte importante de la historia, Don/Peggy juntos tiene mucho morbo, mucho más que Don/Megan (dos guapos), entre Don y Peggy existe un entendimiento que no tienen con nadie más. Don y la Serie sin Peggy pierde mucho interés. Ella es una mujer (la única) que le da la réplica, que le admira pero que le contradice, está a su altura en caracter y , lamentablemente el chico nuevo nunca va a poder sustituirla porque el hecho de que Peggy sea mujer aporta un grado de tensión-sexual que es indispensable en la serie. Espero que la 6ª/7ª temporada recupere a Peggy para el bien de todos. Don "babeando" por una joven guapa no tiene gran interés, independientemente de que ella sea más o menos inteligente, simplemente no está a la altura de una mente atormentada como la de Don, que es justamente lo que le hace interesante.


I don't see Megan as manipulative or selfish. She is basically a good wife; there is nothing she won't do for Don and she's good to his kids. I do agree that she seems a bit immature for a man like Don, who seems like a '50's father figure. I happen to like Megan and would like her to stay with the show for a while. I would like the show to reveal more of her childhood - if they want to make her out to have problems as a plot line...I wish they hadn't gotten rid of Lane so fast either.....normally I want to punch Pete in the face too, LOL.


Megan was the anti Betty. Her attitude towards the kids changed after they were married. Don threw away his most meaningful relationship to hurriedly marry Megan. First her dream was advertising, then it was acting. This season showed that she would not make acting on her own and her friends resented her for taking the easy way while they worked double shifts. It also showed Don's reason for marrying her, as we see Betty realize he has a young fit wife in their swinging sixties pad, while she lives at the Francis haunted house and stress eats Ready Whip. Plus it seemed that Henry's political career went down the drain. I agree I think season 6 will start with Megan being away working on a budding acting career and Don being Don, Coming up with sweet tag lines and bedding down with the ladies.
Does anyone think that that devoting all of season 5 to Megan has anything to do with JJ's issues?


Oh and some excellent camera work - the shot of the partners in the new space, how Don's cigarette smoke fused with the light of the projector as he watched Megan's screen test and Don walking off the set and into the bar/the future/the past were all sublime images. Overall a solid finale. A fairly good wrap up of the themes this season and a great cliffhanger. The season itself might not have been the best but it was still great. It was uneven and hit some high highs and low lows but, overall, I liked the daring, unexpected approach they took. Looking forward to the 6th season.


contd ...what comes next. It's not a forgone conclusion that Don will cheat (and how boring and repetitive would that be honestly??). However Don was holding onto a fantasy by not accepting Megan as a real, flawed human being and now he fully realizes that. This could lead to the marriage dissolving, I just don't think it'll be due to adultery. I loved how Lane's death hung over everyone and yet no one even uttered his name. We got to see how everyone was grappling with it but not in an overhanded way. I thought Joan's comment about giving Lane what he wanted was odd. I understand she's wondering what she could have done differently to help Lane but does she really think that would've saved him? Are we to infer that's how Joan views her place in the company (it makes sense, just thought the comment was a little much).


After the preceding episodes, especially the last two, I felt the finale was appropriately understated. I didn't really like that so much time devoted to the Beth's character, though, and the EST portrayal was seriously bizarre! Campbell's monologue was a great summation of the season's themes though. Megan was a bit whiny but I don't see her as being sneaky or manipulative and I don't believe Don views her as such either. When Don viewed the screen test he saw how beautiful she looked on screen and that's when he decided to give her a shot at an audition. It ties into what he says to Peggy at the theatre about helping someone you care about. I think Don was also motivated by the guilt he holds for not reacting to Adam and Lane's distress differently. Don see's Megan is unhappy and does something truly selfless in return. That Megan could leave Don, like Peggy did, is what frightens him. I thought it was a great way to wrap up the Megan/Don arc for the season and have us wondering what comes next...


Lucas's contribution is full of good stuff. I think Don realizes at the end that Megan is pretty and shallow and selfish like the little girl she still is. He has so much more in common with the women he works with. I like Megan, but, like her mother told her, her ambitions are daydreams. Which doesn't mean she won't sleep her way into movies, as her blonde friend suggested. Next series will see all the marriages fail, Pete's first, then Don and Megan's.
The big new office bodes well for the firm, which will keep on getting more and more successful and richer. The payout on Lane's death was huge. Bonuses all round - save of course for Mrs Lane.
Not as brilliant as the previous series, but still riveting. Let's hope there is more advertising next time- and fewer discontinued plotlines.

Leigh r

I think Joan is so confused right now in her post divorce state. She knew her ex (Sam? I'm blanking) wasn't the guy for her, she thought Roger would always be there, then she believed that Roger sold her out for Jaguar. Now she's questioning everything and in some way she's feeling guilty for Lane's suicide. Mad Men isn't one of those shows that I'm obsessed with watching every week, but when I finally get to it I always feel satisfied because it makes you think. There's so many different angles to look at things. The writing is incredible, for example normally i want to punch Pete in the face, but tonight I actually felt bad for him when he went to visit Alexis Bledel in the hospital. Whoever said that Don is afraid to give Megan what he wants bc she might leave him could be onto something. Personally I believe that Don is happier with Megan than he ever was with Betty, but Don always has a part of him that is insecure. Take what Adam's ghost said to him when he was under anesthesia, "you're rotten and not just your tooth." Here's hoping for a short hiatus and the return of Peggy next season! I really enjoyed that scene with her and Don at the movies.


OOPS! Someone goofed on researching ECT or shock therapy. I was actually there as a nurse in the 60's. After ECT, the patient is not perfectly made up, perky and otherwise normal except for recent memory loss. That portrayal was just bizarre. She should have been make-upless, drowsy, disoriented and flat. She wouldn't have been reading a book like she was having a pedicure. Even if it were a week later, the affect was all wrong.


I took Don's comment to Peggy about helping someone and then they leave you to apply to Megan as well. I think he saw her in the screen test and knows her career take off if he helps her with the commercial and like Peggy she will leave him.

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Mad Men Season 5 Episode 13 Quotes

Beth: I knew you'd show.
Pete: Because I'm pathetic?

You wanna be somebody's discovery, not somebody's wife.

Don (to Megan)