I didn’t plan on writing this post, it just sort of happened. I was more emotional about Mad Men ending than I thought I would be, and pretty soon there was this list…in no particular order of preference, just chronology. As I look back through the list, it’s pretty clear it’s really the The Don and Peggy Show, at least to me, though I must ask you to pretend that most of Roger’s one-liners and every scene involving Rachel Menken is on this list (she was Don’s best mistress). Also, one of the greatest and most memorable things about Mad Men didn’t happen on TV…Lane Pryce’s funeral. Episode numbers and titles from Basket of Kisses.
01.06 – “Babylon”
Peggy gives Freddy Rumsen the “basket of kisses” and he gives her her big break. She’s still “Mr. Draper’s” secretary, and of course there’s no raise…but this is the beginning. Gif by me.
01.08 – “The Hobo Code”
So what do you know, Peggy’s copy sells (“Home run, ballerina”), and Pete promptly rains on her parade at her celebration party. I feel like this is all you really need to know about Pete, possibly the only character I loathe more than Gr*g H*rris and D*ck Ph*ll*ps, the drunkard who abandoned a dog.
02.05 – “The New Girl”
Some things bind people together forever. Don can only be his true self with Peggy, and vice versa, and we see why in this episode, particularly starting around the 30:00 mark. “You listen to me. Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you, how much it never happened.” Also, engaged Joan and jealous Roger discuss love, marriage, etc. and it’s really sad, because they truly love each other.
05.01 – “A Little Kiss, Pt. 1”
Megan entertains the guests gathered at the Draper residence for Don’s birthday party with a rendition of “Zou Bisou Bisou.” Everyone loved it…except Don. (Much as I had suspected, based on the apparent timing, Don is a Gemini.) Megan’s recital seemed to prompt the beginning of the end of Draper Marriage #2 (or #3, depending on how you count it).
05.04 – “Mystery Date”
Though this is overall a pretty depressing and psychologically violent episode, there is this magical exchange in which Peggy extorts money from Roger, who procrastinated himself into deserving it.
Also in this episode, a completely calm Joan told Gr*g to get lost in no uncertain terms. That sound you heard was the cries of jubilation and sighs of relief throughout Mad Men Land. (I couldn’t find video so I made a huge .gif.)
05.05 – “Signal 30”
More jubilation as Lane Pryce beats Pete Campbell in a fistfight. “I know cooler heads should prevail, but am I the only one who wants to see this?” Definitely not, Roger.
05.05 – “The Christmas Waltz”
Don and Joan go for a drive, a drink, and flirt shamelessly. I sort of hoped this was going where I thought it was, but much like Joan’s mystery illness, it just kind of went away.
05.11 – “The Other Woman”
Fed-up and under-appreciated, Peggy leaves SCDP, saying to Don, “I’m sorry, but you know this is what you would do.”
05.13 – “The Phantom”
Following his own advice for getting unblocked, Don goes into a movie theater and who is there but his spiritual twin and soulmate Peggy. “Just knocking out the cobwebs. Someone told me this works.” The film that starts is apparently Casino Royale, judging by the soundtrack.
06.04 – “To Have and To Hold”
“Scarlett, you’re fired.” Joan catches Scarlett falsifying her (Scarlett’s) timecard with Dawn’s help. Though the firing apparently doesn’t take, it’s impressive to behold.
07.06 – “The Strategy”
Some have stated that the show could have ended here and, though I’m completely okay with the ending that did happen, this would have been fine too.
07.14 – Person to Person
I’m still processing this one, but here’s my highlights: At a retreat in NoCal, Don gets shoved by an older lady. In-demand Joan offers Peggy a partnership in her soon-to-be-thriving production company. Stan and Peggy finally get together. Also, Marie Calvet and Roger Sterling have drinks in a café, and and both seem very happy.
Update: More memorable moments would have to include the music Matthew Weiner so ingeniously and many times unobtrusively wove into the story to reinforce a plot point or theme. Enjoy one of my faves below (“Shahdaroba” by Roy Orbison, from 03.13 – “Shut The Door, Have A Seat”), then check out NPR’s (Nearly) Comprehensive Guide To The Music Of ‘Mad Men.’
Also, I still really dig AMC’s Mad Men Cocktail Culture app (still available in the iTunes Store), which has plenty of late-50s/early-60s era-appropriate recipes, includes fun facts about each, and allows you mix yourself a virtual cocktail. “Get everything right,” the copy promises, “and Roger Sterling just may invite you to his next party!”
Update 02: Some Mad Men posts you might like:
The Mad Men Podcast 091 – Season 7 wrapup
A Shroud of Thoughts – Farewell to Mad Men
Also via @Breznican on Twitter…Matthew Weiner’s finale “wish list:”