If the fifth season of “Mad Men” wasn’t its strongest, it was certainly one of the strongest, with Don and Megan hitting more than a few bumps on the road to domestic bliss even while Don coasted at the office, Sally struggling her way into her teenage years, Roger floundering, Peggy finding the strength to move on, Joan literally prostituting herself for the ad business, Lane meeting a tragic but inevitable end and Pete becoming even less likable, if that’s possible.
Yeah, “Mad Men” has had a busy 13 episodes.
That’s what makes Sunday night’s season finale, “The Phantom,” seem even more anti-climactic.
A day after watching the episode, I’m hard-pressed to remember what happened, right up until the end, when Don got Megan a part in a TV commercial then wandered into a bar, where he was propositioned by a young woman. We don’t hear Don’s answer. This was the season when Don choked his philandering tendencies to death in an especially memorable dream. But is he still feeling that conflicted, I wonder?
After the previous episode, in which Lane hanged himself to escape disgrace over his financial improprieties, this week seemed kind of forced and lackluster.
Pete’s little friend Beth got shock therapy.
Roger, maybe still trying to recover the high he felt when he took LSD, got buck naked in front of a hotel window.
Don and Peggy were briefly reunited at a movie theater playing “Casino Royale.” (Was it just me, or did anyone else feel uncomfortable, remembering the last time we saw Peggy in a theater?)
Pete got punched a couple of times — neither time as effectively as the whipping Lane administered earlier this season — but got an okay from his wife to get his apartment in the city.
Megan double-crossed her friend and won the TV commercial.
And the remaining partners, buoyed by the success of the firm, ended the episode looking out the windows of the floor upstairs from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, contemplating future office space and their future.
That’s about it.
I really enjoyed this season’s “Mad Men” and its emphasis on the desperation of its characters played out against a background of the most jarring news of the day. Despite the lackluster season finale, the show remains one of the best and most absorbing on TV.