‘Mad Men’ Finale Recap: Don Draper Finds His Peace In ‘Person-To-Person’
Mad Men’s finale wrapped up its six-season run Sunday night with “Person-to-Person,” an episode that both tied up loose ends and left room for ambiguity.
‘Mad Men’ Finale Recap
At the start of Mad Men’s finale, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), dressed in a blue denim outfit, speeds around in a car, advising the mechanics about the shimmy that takes over around 130 mph. He’s out in Utah for his spontaneous retirement and wants to invest in their work. When night hits, he’s unsurprisingly in bed with a strange woman, who tries to still his entire envelope of cash. He’s forced to acknowledge the life he left back on the east coast, though, when he gets a call from Sally (Kiernan Shipka), who tells him about Betty’s (January Jones) lung cancer.
Speaking out of pride after getting over the shock, Don insists on coming back home and that Gene and Bobby will eventually live with him. Sally, taking over as the adult in the conversation, tells him not to come. All she wants him to do is to convince Betty to allow the boys to stay with Henry instead of sending them to live with their Aunt and Uncle. After getting off the phone with his daughter, Don calls Betty, insisting that she let him help. She refuses his offer, tearing up after he cries “Birdie” into the phone.
In New York City, Roger (John Slattery) is firing Don’s secretary since he shows no signs of returning. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) picks an argument with Lorraine about getting taken off the Chevalier account, and then receives a heartfelt goodbye from Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) before he takes off to Kansas with Trudy (Alison Brie). Joan (Christina Hendricks) and the wealthy Richard (Jim Hobart) try some cocaine and make plans for their life together, which won’t include marriage.
Though Joan is now retired, she’s still keen for business opportunities and takes a meeting with Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton). He tells her about an industrial film that he needs to have made, and how he’d like her on as the producer and Peggy to write the script. Joan later calls up Peggy, saying the pay will be $1200 for a 12-page script. The paycheck is just the beginning, as Joan, over lunch, tells Peggy that she’s ready to start her own production company and wants her in as a partner. The more ambitious side of Peggy wants it, but Stan (Jay R. Ferguson) cautions her against leaving a job she truly loves and is best at for prestige and power. When Richard finds out about Joan’s business plans, he breaks of their plans.
When Joan gets a surprise visit from Roger, he tells her that he’s re-doing his will so that he can leave half to Ellery and have to their son. Roger confesses to Joan that part of the move has to do with his forthcoming marriage to Megan Draper’s mother Marie. Joan, chiding Roger on his latest love interest, decides to let him leave whatever he wants for his child.
As for Don, while Sally cancels her plans to travel to Madrid to be with her mother and brothers, he’s getting drunk. He then decides to go visit Stephanie (Caity Lotz) in Los Angeles and tries to give her Anna Draper’s ring. The following morning when he’s sobered up, Stephanie wakes him and takes him to a spiritual retreat. After a few days there, Stephanie, struggling with her lack of desire to be a mother, leaves, leaving Don behind.
Don is stuck at the retreat, with no mode of transportation available to him. He phones Peggy, who is shocked but happy to hear from him, but grows worried. “I messed everything up. I’m not the man you think I am,” he tells her. “I broke all my vows, I scandalized my child, I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.” He says this is his goodbye.
Peggy calls Stan and tells him that she’s really worried about Don, believing that he’s unstable and might do something rash. Stan tries to soothe her fears, to convince her that Don is survivor. Then, he finally confesses to Peggy he’s in love with her. Though Peggy couldn’t believe what she was hearing at first, it slowly sinks in that she loves him too. “I mean I must be… I can’t believe this. I think I’m in love with you too. I really do,” she tells him. He immediately runs down to her office and they share a kiss.
Don, meanwhile, remained nearly catatonic slumped down by the payphone, where a woman finds him and tells him to come with her to a seminar. At the seminar, a man in the group talks about how he feels invisible to his family, and how no one cares that he’s gone. Don, moved by the man’s speech, goes over and hugs the sobbing man, crying into his shoulder.
A short time later in November 1970, Pete is off to Kansas, Joan is running Holliday-Harris, Roger is in Canada with Marie, Peggy and Stan are settling into their new relationship, and Peggy smokes a cigarette in the kitchen while Sally does the dishes. Don is still at his retreat, sitting cross-legged on the grassy cliff, chanting “Om” as the leader talks about “a new you.”
Mad Men‘s finale closed with the famous 1971 Coca Cola ad, “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke,” from the agency that Don had left – and quite possibly returns to with the ad idea.