The men of Madison Av. make their final goodbyes

Mike Colonna, Staff Writer

Don Draper. Meditating. On a rocky sea cliff, surrounded by hippies.  Finding peace.

This is the final image of Mad Men, the note that his story ends on; a note of harmony and forgiveness and ultimate happiness after Don’s heart-wrenching struggle for his own soul.

This ending, far from the dark ending many predicted, will certainly divide opinions.  Then again, Mad Men has always basked in its polarizing sequences.  To close the show on such an ambiguous note only makes sense for a show that has always defied typical television trappings.

 For those who are not familiar with the show, Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men follows the lives of the mysterious Don Draper (Jon Hamm), his family members, including Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) and Betty Francis (January Jones), and several of his coworkers at their New York advertising agency, including Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss).

Mad Men is not a show that relies heavily on plot; rather it has always been known for its heavily flawed characters and their deep, crippling internal issues.  Over the course of seven seasons, we get to know each of them intimately, watching them triumph, stumble, make mistakes, and ultimately grow into stronger and bolder people.

However, it is in the final season that themes of redemption, of independence, and of moving on are truly brought to the fore.  Throughout the show, Weiner has done an incredible job moving the show along at a very deliberate pace, slowly building on each character, adding just enough every season to accumulate into something huge.  The seventh season is the culmination of Weiner’s hard work and the show’s planned-out structure.  Every character gets his or her time to shine, whether it be Roger and his conflicted feelings over the loss of an influential father figure, or Joan fighting for her independence from her male-dominated business, or Peggy finally stepping into her own and climbing her way up the ladder of influence.  Each moment feels natural and completely earned.

Don’s journey is perhaps the most polarizing, the most abstract, and yet the most consistent with Weiner’s moral that money is not everything.  Don’s chase of an elusive waitress, who represents his own fears and tendencies to run when things look tough, leads him across the country on a search for his own soul.  This spiritual journey is clearly what Weiner always intended for Don, who has been plagued by his past and his feelings of being unloved his entire life.  His ultimate recovery of his own self and feeling of being whole is in many ways a better and more satisfying conclusion to this troubled character.

At the ending, Don creates a Coca-Cola jingle that becomes immensely successful.  The media has made many attempts to rationalize this advertisement and to fit it into Don’s scheme.  Make what you will of the Coca-Cola ad at the end; either way, it truly was an ending that left all of our beloved characters stronger and healthier than they were seasons ago.