Can you believe Mad Men season four is over already? Before we let go, we must discuss what went down in Sunday night's "Tomorrowland" finale, as well as dissect the finale revelations for hints about what's to come in season five.
If you haven't seen the last Mad Men episode of the year, you better go take a smoke break; if you have seen it, jump in here to discuss the rapidly approaching future!
What We Learned
Goodbye, Faye: We're sorry to see you go, Dr. Miller (Cara Buono). Don't cry too long over this heartbreak though, because you, like Rachel Mencken Katz (Maggie Siff) before you, were probably too good for stinkin' Don Draper anyway. Still, how discouraging to have correctly predicted his marriage to another woman. Isn't it awful when your superpowers are used against you? (Kudos, too, to all the commenters who correctly guessed that Megan would be the next Mrs. Don Draper!)
Next! Megan Chavet (Jessica Paré) has got "spark," a Francophone mother and a professor father. She's also too young for Don and in over her head, but hey, she's least a skosh more palatable than Roger Sterling's (John Slattery) overpromoted secretary Jane Seigel (Peyton List). Megan is darn likable and great with the kids, but is Don doing anything but trading one unexamined two-dimensional image for another? Does he really understand or love his Julie Andrews supernanny bride any better than he understood or loved his Grace Kelly ice-princess bride?
Free Henry Francis! Betty Draper (January Jones) is a hateful, narcissistic, immature witch and when she fired the saintly Carla (Deborah Lacey) it was officially the last straw. Could you believe her nerve claiming to be the parent who cared for the children 99 percent of the time? Carla raised those children and keeps that house and everyone knows it, including Betty. So wrong! Man, does this dash our dream of Mad Men someday doing a Carla-centric episode? Truly, it would be a shame if this was the last we see of actress Lacey—she's been quietly wonderful. Carla's character is technically powerless, but just the same, she's never lacked for impact. Carla held sway over the Draper household all this time, and Lacey kept our attention rapt during many of her too-short scenes over the years. Her summary dismissal is the height of injustice, and we'll miss her dearly.
SCDP Lives: After last week's near-apocalyptic corporate meltdown it seems that the firm's failure streak has been broken, and we are meant to believe that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will survive to advertise another day, thanks to the heroics of Ms. Peggy Olson. Disappointing not to have more of the boys in this episode, except a horrifyingly sleazy and unctuous Harry Crane (Rich Sommer)—remember when he was the sweetest sweetheart around?!—but rest easy, there will no doubt be more of Roger, Lane, Ken, Pete and the rest of the gang in season five.
Awww... Speaking of Peg (Elisabeth Moss), she is the true heir to Anna Draper, as least as far as Don is concerned. Peggy is one of the few humans with whom Don can be real (or least as real as the self-delusional bastard knows how be). Truth be told, when they have one of their private familial moments, we melt a little. Don seems to want, even need, Peggy's approval for some reason, and she has the grace to give it in this situation, even though, as she exploded to Joan (Christine Hendricks) later, she was genuinely annoyed and perhaps even jealously confused or confusedly jealous. Interestingly, and unlike some boss-employee pairings (Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon come to mind), the relationship between Don and Peggy has remained aggressively platonic. They are quite devoted to each other—it might even be a kind of love—but it's just not romantic, never really has been, and for once in my romance-obsessed life, I don't want it to be! Kudos to the actors and show runner Matt Weiner for walking that line so well.
Whee! Joan didn't have the abortion and she is having Roger Sterling's secret love child! We are so happy! We do the dance of joy! Don't me wrong—realistically, I am aware this is a world of trouble—but from a sentimental standpoint I'm delighted that Joan is getting a baby, and doubly delighted that it will have Roger's genes and not those of the other guy. Go Joannie! (For the record, I predict that her first child will be a masculine child...)
What's To Come
We can surmise a little about the future based on this episode, although Matt Weiner is always bound to change it up without warning. When next we see our heroes, we can assume:
• Don and Megan will be married or near to it. I expect they'll live together somewhere in the city. Don's done his tour in suburbia. He'll want a different life with this second wife.
• Joan will be a single working mother or near to it. Don't get too excited, though, we mean only that she'll be functionally single while her husband serves overseas, not that her husband will have done us the favor getting killed in Vietnam.
• Betty will still be making Sally, Henry and, of course, herself miserable from her redoubt in Rye. There's only so much Dr. Edna can do with this overgrown child, and we predict the crazy keeps on coming until Betty has a full-blown bell-jar meltdown.
• The executives of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will probably still be muddling through, neither failing completely nor standing astride Madison Avenue like the colossi that they imagine themselves to be.
So, what are your predictions for the opening circumstances of season five? What did you think of the relatively mellow season finale and this transformative season as a whole? Having dispatched of idealistic President Kennedy and the last vestiges of the supercivilized, seemingly archaic 1950s, we've finally entered the "real" ‘60s, and like the spaceships of Tomorrowland, Mad Men's late 1960s adventures are sure to be a wild ride.