Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mad Men recap: A Satisfying Goodbye (Part III)

It's taken me awhile to get here, but let me finally wrap up my last Mad Men recap (even typing those words leaves a melancholy echo in my thoughts).

Joan, Roger and Pete -- I'm good with how all of those characters were left. It would've been nice if Joan and Roger had coupled up earlier in the series, but by this point I think it would've felt too artificial. They'd missed too many chances, and by "they" I mostly mean Roger. Remember after he had the heart attack and Joan realized how much she cared for him, and he seemed ready to tell her he loved her, but instead told her she was the best piece of ass he'd ever had? Yeah, that was the sound of him stomping into dust a lot of years of happiness he could've had with Joan. And they had a few other moments that just weren't grabbed. I see them as always being friends, and maybe if he's alone again as he gets old and frail, Joan may be the one taking care of him. Or rather, stroking his hand while she yells orders at the employee doing the actual caretaking.

Joan, who was ready to send her son away for a man she'd just met, got her groove back and refused to alter her life and desires just to be the hot, curvy redhead on tap for some aging millionaire. She was a step away from being the one snorting coke with the old guy at the club, and I think she's better off thinking of her own needs (and hopefully her son's, though he seems destined to be largely raised by grandma and the TV -- but at least he'll get some cuddles from Mom every day before she hands him off). My biggest question mark for her is will she ever get a bigger apartment?! Girl is in the same place she's been in the whole series, even though now she's a millionaire. Buy now, Joanie, the prices are only going up, up, up! It's clear her son doesn't sleep in her room, so he must be in the second bedroom with grandma -- as he gets older, that will be really crappy for both of them. And now she's running her business from the dining area. Whatever mental block keeps her in that apartment, she needs to get over it and upgrade, stat!

Now to Roger: Married to Megan Draper's momma, Marie Calvet. I should say, the *crazy* Marie Calvet. Roger loves the drama. She's surprisingly age appropriate for Roger, and maybe that's what he needs right now. He must enjoy someone who's a challenge and surprise every day (that's a perk of the crazy) or he wouldn't have married her. We last saw him with Marie in a French cafe. Has he left the ad biz for good, or is he just on a honeymoon? Hard to say. The only certain thing is, if he is just taking a break, he won't be doing any more work than ever did before when he's back in the office. He'll grab a drink with Don, take a long lunch, make some witty remarks, then go home for some mayhem with the wife. Megan may turn up now and then to visit Marie, which means she'll be in town and maybe she'll see Don and well, who knows. They may never get back together permanently, but I think they'll have a few more good moments in time, maybe a hookup here and there for old time's sake.

And then there's Pete. I don't know how this show made a character with so many unlikable, nasty qualities also be someone you can still find things to like about, someone you rooted for to have a happy ending -- which he did by getting back together with his true love, Trudy, and jetting off to Kansas -- but they did. I know I was thrilled he ended up with a happy ending, even though I hated Pete several times throughout the show. It's a testament to the show's writing that they were able to believably depict the reality of how people really are, which for most of us is not entirely good, and not entirely bad. Good people do bad or hurtful things sometimes. Bad people can do something nice or thoughtful. You saw this with Pete, even though some of his "bad" moments were especially horrible.

One friend told me early in the show's run that he didn't watch the show because none of the characters were likable. I didn't try to explain; I felt if he couldn't see that what the characters were was real, three-dimensional, flawed people, then he just wasn't going to get it. It was fascinating to see how smart this show was in character and plot development. The characters did many stupid things, often hurtful to themselves and others. They made decisions that didn't make sense sometimes, that anyone could have told them was a bad idea. Kinda like real people do, every damn day. It was complex and real and wonderful. That's what allowed us to like characters that in many ways were assholes undeserving of our love. But they had good sides, too, and we loved them for the bad and good and flaws and everything. They will be missed for a long, long time.

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