Mad Men Season Four finale: “Tomorrowland”

Where to even begin?

I can’t even begin to describe the sense of dread I had throughout Mad Men‘s third season, which is why I was so shocked that its finale, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat,” was not an hour of epic tragedies but rather one of exciting renewals (wrapped, of course, in some epic tragedies).

And while the third season focused a bit more on the doomed Draper home, its fourth year brought the core of the conflict back to the reborn agency and the lives of all the men and women fighting to keep it in business.

“The Good News” and “The Suitcase” were my favorite episodes this year, with the latter guaranteeing Emmys for Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss if this were a perfect world. (And maybe it will be. Bryan Cranston deserves the winning streak he’s earned from his work on Breaking Bad, but I have a feeling this is Jon Hamm’s year.)

Where last season’s finale poised the characters and the agency for new beginnings, this one seemed to raise more questions. There’s no way to squeeze in commentary on everything that happened in every episode this season, which would (and should) have happened had I been on the ball from its beginning, so I’ll throw out some observations and we can discuss those in greater detail if you’d like.

1. Knock, knock. “It’s Glen. Are you decent?” Ha!

2. I know Betty’s petty because she’s a child inside, but her dismissal of Carla was beyond cruel. I’m glad that Don — and later Henry — called her out for it, but in all fairness, Don’s reasons weren’t entirely about defending Carla’s honor, either.

3. As soon as Don invited Megan to come be the kids’ nanny on their vacation to California, well, the phrase “OH DON DRAPER NO!” comes to mind.

4. While I like Megan for Don, I don’t like Don for Megan, because he’s Don. How long can this really last? That final shot of Don staring out the window with a sleeping Megan nestled peacefully against him can’t bode well for this impending marriage. Will it even happen? I know that Don obviously responds to Megan on the same superficial level he responds to every other beautiful thing he sees, but then again he did seem to be sincerely calmed in her presence, for example, the scene where the kids knock over the milk shake at the burger joint. (I want to go to there.) Would Megan be good for Don and his kids? Of course she would. She’s Megan. But I just don’t see this ending well for the poor girl.

5. Don may be drinking less booze these days, but his recklessness and harebrained impulsiveness remain at all-time highs. I can’t believe he told Dr. Miller the truth about who he really is, only to turn around and throw her away for Megan. Will there be consequences? Dr. Miller does not seem like the type who would try to destroy him as an act of revenge, but she’s got all the ammunition she needs. Bert Cooper might not care that his name’s not really Don Draper, but the State Department is another story entirely.

6. What was up with Dr. Greg’s squint when he hung up the phone after talking with Joan? How gross was it that his primary concern about his wife’s pregnancy is making sure her already voluminous boobs are even bigger? The man is pathetic and disgusting. And of course we all knew that she didn’t really go through with aborting her and Roger’s baby, so how will that play out next season? The rest of the office will have no reason to think it’s not Greg’s, but Roger will know. How will that change the dynamic between them? Regardless of what happens, Dr. Greg needs to die in a terrible Army accident.

7. I loved the moment Don shared with Peggy. I loved that he told her how much he admires her, and I’ve loved the extra — and long deserved — respect he’s shown to Peggy this season, especially since “The Suitcase” a few weeks ago. But I also had this thought in the back of my head that maybe the perfect girl for Don is really Peggy. Someone who understands what it’s like to live a lie, but doesn’t let it rule her life and her choices the way Don does. I totally understand her outrage about Don’s sudden engagement to Megan, but I can’t help but think there’s some jealousy in there, too. Don telling Peggy that he loves Megan because “she reminds me of you” was, well, telling.

8. Henry Francis and Betty have both had moments this season where they’ve realized how idealized their union truly is, and I can’t help but think that it won’t last another season. What did you think about Betty’s response to Don’s news? I think she looks at Don and still sees “home,” as unhealthy as their marriage may have been.

So what happens next? Does Don really go through with his marriage to Megan? I say yes, he does, but then immediately falls back into bad habits. Note the use of “I Got You, Babe” as the closing song and its prominence in Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over again. Is this Don’s fate?

What about Betty and Henry? Roger and Joan? The agency seems to be back on its feet after Peggy came to the rescue, so those problems seem to be at bay — for now.

This show is amazing. And even though I spent my recent Smallville reviews wishing there was a way for Tom Welling and Erica Durance to make the transition to the big screen as Clark and Lois, all I could think about while watching Jon Hamm in tonight’s Mad Men was how truly majestic and inspiring he’d be as Superman. If only.

What did you think of “Tomorrowland” tonight?