So I have been reflecting on the finale and the series for the better part of a day now, and while I am less perturbed than I was when I watched it, I am still left quite underwhelmed.
As far as the pros go, pretty much all of the characters have been given a reasonable end, or at least clear path as to where they are headed, and the final shot, which I totally misinterpreted when watching it, was quite excellent. I think. Im not sure if I actually think that or I just want to think that because people are saying it was, and if its not, then man what a huge waste that was.
Thats about it for the pros.
Cons. They dragged on bunch of character arches only to swiftly change them at the very end.
Joan finally finds love and a cool guy and retires on their combined millions to live a life of leisure? Nope. Last second change she opens a production company, a business she really nothing to do with, because she was asked to do a favor that required her rolodex. Sure thing!
Peggy becomes a stone cold exec swaggering into McCann with a smoke and an Octopus sex painting ready to crush everyone? Nope. She has a last minute epiphany and finds herself swooning for Stan, her long time obvious paramour and we last see them as he rubs her shoulders while she writes copy. Potentially interesting, but could have used more of a build up and not nearly as awesome as her cigarette walk. Kind of pandering really.
Pete ever the company man embraces McCanna and keeps on closing accounts making millions? Nope. Reconciles with Trudy with a magical offer of moving to the sticks for Leer Jet, hugs and kisses all around. Cute, and nice to see Pete stop being an ass, but again, an extremely sudden change with very minimal buildup. Not as minimal as the previous two, but essentially it amassed to a few meets with Trudy as he was having his turn with the kid and 2/3 meetings with the jet guy. Weak.
Then we have Roger. Basically the same guy as he was in Ep 1 of the series. Acceptable, but far from interesting.
Cooper dies. Thats old news.
Betties story arch was also rather abrupt, all of sudden she is dying, but that is kind of how those things are. I think that was probably the most excellently done arch, and her letter to Sally and conversation with Don were outstanding. Probably the best final scenes of the series for any character for me.
Don. Basically is staggering around everywhere doing nothing. His attempt to create SC&P West was probably his most interesting move all season and that was crushed in seconds. Back to swift change. Don leaves "Don" to die and rediscovers a new self in hippy land. Nope. Last second switch he has the best idea ever and somehow makes his way back to McCann, even though as suggested when he sat down for the Miller meeting he was one of no shortage of ad men. Just another guy in the room. But still, we are expected to assume he went back, did his magic, and made the best ad ever after a refrigerator monologue made him realize people do need and reply on him and he is not a waste and a sham. Yipee. Would have been much more interesting to have that kumbaya scene in episode 3 this season and watch him make his way back up to the top with effort and creativity and then a flashback to the kumbaya scene as the inspiration for Coke. That would have been much more interesting for me anyways.
The feeling I am left with is one of un-engagement. That essentially it was a final season that technically ended well and tied things up, but was almost completely devoid of any entertainment and was almost entirely un-engaging. They slowly dragged everyone around with very meh story lines that amounted to nothing really, only to 180 and change a bunch them all in the final seconds. Great job. You guys are super brilliant and so smart. What wit. But this is still TV and great TV shows should be entertaining and engaging, along with being smart. This was neither for me for the past long time.
I really liked Joan's ending. Rather than being partially "kept" and partially living off her smaller-than-it-should-be nest egg (from a company who's stake she acquired in an unsavory way), she elected to truly strike out on her own, make her own fortune her own way, rather than doing so on the coattails of men. She laid to rest that small Blanche DuBois part of her, and is now more Joan of Arc.