‘Mad Men’ Season Finale Review: “The Phantom”
‘Mad Men’ Season 5 shocks us with its its thirteenth and final episode of the year, as Don comes to terms with what happened to Lane with a visit from the past, while Peggy adjusts to her new job, Megan seeks a new role and Pete confronts his relationship with Beth in “The Phantom.”
Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “Commissions and Fees” saw Lane Pryce hanging from the rafters after his decision to forge a check came back to haunt him, while Sally engaged in some rather adult behavior with Glen and Don tried to get back in the game, so what will the latest episode bring? Could they possibly top Fat Betty, Hare Krishna Kinsey, or Lane’s unceremonious exit?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ season finale episode “The Phantom!”
Gross! Don dabs the inside of his mouth with painkiller to numb a tooth infection he insists will go away, while over in the kitchen Megan converses with her mother, hiding mail from Don about an acting reel she made that doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere. Elsewhere, Pete runs into Howard AND Beth on the train, as Beth is supposedly going to stay with her sister for awhile, and the woman quickly excuses herself from the pair.
At SDCP, Harry joins Joan on the elevator and quizzically asks her why she’d be visiting the offices of the floor above, especially since the company to own them just vacated. She insists she pressed the wrong button, and when they arrive, they pass Don getting off of a different elevator. Curiously, Don observes as his deceased brother Adam gets on a departing elevator. Huh? Meanwhile over in his office, Pete’s fantasy
of seeing Rory Gilmore’s boobs nearly comes true as Beth calls, asking to meet in the very motel she stood him up in earlier.
Hey, Peggy’s back! Still settling into her new gig outside of SDCP, Peggy’s boss provides her with her next assignment – figuring out how to market a cigarette for women, regardless of whether or not she actually smokes. Things are certainly looking up for SDCP as well, as new business means that their profits are up quite a bit, though Joan wishes to table any talk of expanding office space to the offices upstairs. Poor Lane Pryce’s seat at the meeting remains empty. Sad face.
Pete arrives at the Pennsylvania hotel to meet Beth, who reveals that the urgency behind their meeting lies in the fact that she isn’t actually going to stay with her sister, but rather every so often undergoes electroshock therapy for her apparent depression. As anyone who watched the past season of ‘Homeland’ would know, this in effect means that she might not remember Pete after it’s over, and Pete reluctantly agrees to give her one last memory. Afterward, Pete does his best to assure her that she doesn’t need the treatment, and that they could run away together to Vegas, but ultimately to no avail. And so much for all of you predicting Pete will kill himself, as he retorts Beth’s thoughts of suicide to be for “weak people who can’t solve a problem.”
Over at their apartment (sheesh, the life of an actor…) Megan searches for work with her friend Emily, who proposes tepidly that Megan use her marriage to Don to grant an audition for an upcoming commercial for Butler’s Shoes, seeking a “European-type” for a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ themed ad. Though Megan isn’t sure about leveraging her relationship with Don for a friend, she reluctantly agrees. Later that night, when Don arrives home, Megan instead propositions Don that he grant the audition to her rather than Emily! Taken aback, Don tries to insert that as an artist she should be someone’s discovery rather than their wife, though Megan insists she needs the exposure regardless. Just then, the phone rings, a repeated string of calls and hang-ups, that turn out to be Roger secretly trying to call Megan’s mother Marie! Their ruse kept in tact, Roger begs Marie to come see him at his hotel, and the woman reluctantly agrees while Megan retreats into the bathroom to cry for her failed efforts.
The next day at work, Don sees yet another vision of Adam as everyone in the office scurries about, when Joan meets to discussion reopening the conversation about moving upstairs. Going over the company finances, which keep pouring in, it would seem that Lane’s suicide brought in from life insurance a full $175K, though Don insists that they return Lane’s $50,000 collateral to his wife. Still broken up about his death, Joan wonders if she should have given Lane what he wanted, namely her, though Don insists she not waste time worrying about why he did what he did.
While Marie scolds her daughter for being so dour, Don pays a visit to Lane’s widow to return the $50 grand, though she coldly insists that he’s only doing it for himself, rather than out of any real care for Lane. Stating that Don had no right to fill a man like Lane with ambition, she questions the photograph found in Lane’s wallet (a remnant of “A Little Kiss“), though Don insists he has no idea of its significance, and dejectedly leaves.
Late one night, Pete returns home ignorant of his wife’s intent to put a pool outside their home, as Trudy insists she’s tired of his doom and gloom attitude. Elsewhere, Roger meets with Marie and tries to continue his mid-life trip by asking her to take LSD with him, particularly out of confusion for Lane’s decision to kill himself, though Marie insists she doesn’t want to be someone who has to take care of Roger. Don himself returns home to find Megan drunk, and despondent that he chose not to help her obtain the Butler’s shoes ad, putting her to bed before sharing a short conversation with her mother that Megan doesn’t truly have the spirit of an artist.
Finally incensed by his rotten, painful tooth, Don sees a dentist the next day, experiencing yet another vision of Adam while under the gas. Saying he’s in bad shape, Adam jokes that he’ll continue hanging around, before Don comes to, and observes the dead tooth Adam insists wasn’t the only part of him that’s rotten. Elsewhere, Pete pays a visit to Beth in the hospital, though it quickly becomes clear she doesn’t quite remember him. Making conversation, Pete talks in third person about his own problems, telling Beth that he’s visiting a “friend” in the hospital who partook in an affair thinking that it would make him happy, before discovering it only masked a gaping wound in his life caused by dissatisfaction at home. Bummer, dude.
Following his procedure, Don decides to partake in a movie, running into none other than Peggy! The two briefly catch up, Don assuring her he’s proud of her regardless of how things ended up, while Pete boards a train home. Predictably, he runs into Howard, insisting that with Beth gone the two share a night on the town, snapping Pete enough that he criticizes his friend for leaving his wife in a hospital like that. Realizing that Pete must have bedded his wife as she’s done before, the two come to fisticuffs before the train attendant separates them. When Pete oversteps his bounds and insults the man however, the attendant too punches Pete out! What a glorious season for those who’ve wanted to smack Pete Campbell.
When he arrives home, Trudy worries, but announces that she’s decided they’ll look for an apartment in the city, while over at SDCP Don takes in Megan’s acting reel, somewhat moved by it. Some time later, the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce partner s survey their new space on the floor above, and Don coaches Megan, having granted her the part in the Butler’s Shoes commercial. Next, it’s montage time.
Don heads the bar alone, while Peggy relaxes in a Virginia hotel for work, watching two dogs hump outside, as Pete listens to records and Roger nakedly enjoys his latest round of LSD. Back at the bar, a woman approaches Don to ask for a light, asking “for her friend” at the end of the bar if Don is alone.
Wryly glancing to her, the season cuts to black.
Well, so much for the latest season of ‘Mad Men.’ It’s easy to get lost in some of the potential symbolism of any given episode, and indeed it’s hard to top the drama of last week’s episode, but “The Phantom” still leaves us with plenty to digest in time for the next season.
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