SCORE (finalllyyyy!). After a semi-slow third season, Mad Men’s season 3 finale delivered to the fullest!
I wasn’t the biggest fan of S3. Some of the storylines seemed to be going nowhere (the school teacher affair? Joan’s husband? Peggy and Duck? Who cares, really.). With a lot of non-sense in the middle of the season, it took away from what viewers really care about: Sterling Cooper, Don’s past, and the back-and-forth teetering of the Draper marriage. While getting lost, we saw less of fan-favorites like Peggy, Pete, and even Roger Sterling himself. And that’s never a good thing in a drama with a nearly perfect ensemble.
Now hey, I’m not drinkin’ the haterade! Season 3 had its memorable moments: the tractor incident, the tension between Don and Roger, the inclusion of the Kennedy assassination. (The penultimate episode was just as fantastic as the finale, in my opinion. Right down to its chillingly perfect final line of dialogue…”And who are you supposed to be?”).
But lets call a spade a spade: the finale was the saving grace of an otherwise subpar season.
Watching the new Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price unravel was quite exciting, however, my favorite scenes were those between Peggy and Don. The build-up throughout the season was spot-on, and it was amazing to see Peggy finally stand up to Don and call him out for not appreciating her enough. “I don’t want to make a career out of being there so you can kick me when you fail,” she told him. When Draper later visited Peggy at her apartment, he responded with: “I’ve taken you for granted and I’ve been hard on you but only because I think I see you as an extension of myself…And you’re not.” And when he told her he would continue spending the rest of his life trying to hire her if she turned him down? God, that is the payoff that viewers die to see. Perfection.
And Joan. Joanie. The hottie red-headed bombshell. We knew she’d be back! When Roger needed a hand, we all knew who he’d call. And we all were giddy with delight.
Little by little, the puzzle pieces of the new Sterling Cooper Draper Price all fell into place setting up what seems to be a fantastic and drastically different fourth season. But while the work thang started to congeal, life at home for Don was falling apart. And fast: Betty wanted a divorce, Don had to move out, and they had to tell the kids the truth. The scene with the entire Draper family discussing their “new arrangements” was both heartbreaking and realistic, and surely had to have struck close to home for many.
The finale gave viewers what they were wishing and hoping for all season. The payoffs were huge, and the writing and acting were top notch. These men may be mad, but viewers certainly aren’t. What more could one ask for in a Grade A TV show?