Last night, AMC aired Mad Men’s fifth season finale and it was almost worth the wait. After episodes full of ups and downs, everything came to a semi-rewarding close. “The Phantom” featured the return of Alexis Bledel, Pete’s obsession and possibly “Old Don.”

The Players:

  • Director: Matthew Weiner
  • Writers: Jonathan Igla
  • Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Alison Brie, Ben Feldman, Jay R. Ferguson, Alexis Bledel, Julia Ormond, Embeth Davidtz

Episode Title: “The Phantom”

The company experiences a run of financial success. Meanwhile, Megan tries everything to break into the acting business and Pete deals with the fallout from a recent romance.

The Good:

  • Success: She may have moved on but Peggy and Don’s scene brought hope to the future of the Gruesome Twosome. It’s doubtful she’s headed back to Sterling Cooper Draper Price anytime soon, but at least their relationship isn’t defunct.
  • Full Circle: In the last moments of the episode, we presumably leave Don in the same place we found him. He’s lending himself to pretty young things, while his wife waits at home. This may not seem like the greatest conclusion, but it may mean the return of a more familiar Don. With these crafty writers at the helm, things will never be quite the same, but they’re certainly about to get interesting.

The So-So:

  • The Trip: As nice as it was to have Megan’s mom around to stir up trouble in French, Roger’s need to take another dose of LSD totally eclipsed her visit. Is Roger becoming a druggie?
  • Flush: The company’s cash flow brought the loss of Lane into a greater light. His empty chair and unwanted office was a black cloud over the episode. Without a proper wet blanket partner SCDP could be doomed to propel them back into financial ruin. It’s possible Joan might take over the role, but if not — a new face?

The Bad:

  • The Stranger: Pete’s obsession with Mrs. Dawes (guest star Alexis Bledel) had to come to an end at some point. Ever present, Mad Men was careful to utilize electroshock therapy, commonly used to “cure” unhappy or unsatisfied women at that time. It was almost poetic that just as his love for Betty was forced into the immediate past, Trudy agreed to let him have his city apartment. Now he’ll get a taste of the life he always wanted: Don’s. With that will surely come all the pain and headaches that world brings.
  • Ms. Calvet: Megan’s character took a rapid swing downward. Thanks to her stealing her friend’s idea and pressuring her husband to help her career. Her use of her maiden name seems to be a slap in the face to Don, one that helps propel him into his old ways. Megan seems to be on the her to being as disliked as the former Mrs. Draper.
  • Adam: It was obvious last week that Lane’s suicide weighed heavily on Don’s conscience. His guilt manifested itself into the vision of his brother; the only death he can never forgive himself for. With Adam promising to stick around, it looks like Don won’t be dealing with those demons until next season.

Overall:

It may not have been the ending you wanted, but you got the conclusions you needed. Every question wasn’t sewn up perfectly, but things were left in a way that allowed for a break. Somehow, the final moments were almost more enticing than the entire season. Watching Don pull out that cigarette and order an old fashioned almost made you salivate. That moment made you pine for what’s to come.

Rating: 8/10

Mad Men airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on AMC

What did you think of the finale?