Season 3 of Mad Men started slow. It plodded. It muddled around. But the last half of the season was television at its finest, television as an art form. And the season finale? Pure genius. Every second of it.
I just finished watching it and the fact I'm writing about it at 3 in the morning is a good indication that I enjoyed it very much.
(YOU'VE BEEN WARNED)
All the shenanigans at Sterling Cooper seemed straight out of The Sting, complete with the ragtime music and fedoras. Every character plays a part as Don, Roger, and Bert siphon off clients as they form a new agency. We end up with all the interesting characters (Don, Roger, Bert, Lane, Joan, Peggy and Pete) heading up the new agency. A brilliant move, especially that it brings Joan back into the fold because it's such a waste for her to be left off the side. Two stand-out moments. First, Lane telling his British boss after being fired, "Very good! Happy Christmas!" Second, when Roger asked Peggy to get him some coffee and she says, "No."
Speaking of pitches, Don's pitches to Pete and Peggy were home runs. Don puffed up Pete's ego by (truthfully) telling him they needed his forward-looking mindset and ambition at the new company. Then, when Don's at the bar with Roger, he calls Pete a "little shit." Then his heartfelt pitch to Peggy, whom he's verbally whacked around the whole season. He approached her the perfect way. They both share a proclivity for remaking themselves because they don't like who they really are. And what better place to do that than at a new advertising company? Great scenes, the both of them.
Of course, there was the other side of life for Don: his collapsing marriage. The whole season has chronicled the slow disintegration of the intricate facade of a life Don has constructed for himself, both in business and in his marriage. It finally came to an end in this episode as Betty asked for a divorce. The scene where Don confronts her in a drunken rage chilled me. He had no right, of course. He's cheated on her with every women in the state of New York. But a great scene nonetheless, with Don's dark side making an appearance.
But I hope Don spends more time with his children because Betty is certainly not mother of the year material. Don's actually better with the kids and while Betty takes another swing at domestic happiness with a man she really doesn't know, expect Sally to act up in a major way. She saw through her parents' BS. Smart girl.
It's too late to really analyze this show properly and I need to watch it again, but I LOVED this episode. Loved it. Like the flash-forward episode of Lost, this hour changes everything, and for the better. The Draper marriage is over, as it should be. And the fat has been cut off from Sterling Cooper to form a more interesting, yet longer named Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce.
And it's official. With Friday Night Lights in DirecTV purgatory, Mad Men is now unquestionably the best show on television.