SPOILER ALERT: this post discusses AMC's "Mad Men," season 5, episode 13.
This season finale should have been titled "At Any Pryce." It seems many of the characters have gotten their heart's desire, but at what price?
We already know Joan got her partnership and the price she paid. Roger is a free man. He's free of marriage, most responsibility, and the constraints of his clothing—thanks to his mind-altering use of LSD. Peggy has her new job, and she appears to be doing quite well; although she appears lonely. No friendly bantering at the office, no sign of her boyfriend/roommate at home. She was genuinely happy to run into Don at the movie theater—both were alone. Success at the cost of friendship seems very empty to me.
In a sick twist, after a brief meeting on the morning train while with her husband, Beth calls Pete at work for a rendezvous. They meet at the hotel and she tells him about her impending shock therapy treatment. She may not remember him, so wants to have one more tryst. Naturally, Pete goes to visit her in the hospital the next day and is quite shocked she does not know him. The confessional scene in the hospital was depressing (yet insightful) for Pete. He gets into an altercation with Beth's husband and get's kicked off the train on the way home. By the time he finally arrives, bruised and battered, Trudy agrees that he does need an apartment in the city. Lucky Pete finally gets his bachelor pad in the city—too little, too late.
Perhaps Megan connects so well with Sally because her mother, Marie, is just as unfeeling as Betty. She doesn't even try to console Megan, who isn't able to land an acting job and is quite miserable. I was surprised to see this ruthless side of Megan when she not only asked Don to help her get a part in a client commercial, but neglected to help her friend as promised. In the end, Megan gets the part, will likely lose her friend, and has, more or less, given up her independence since she couldn't get an acting gig without hubby coming to the rescue. As Marie said, "she has an artist's temperament with none of the art." She's such a supportive mom.
All this pain of grief and guilt manifests itself in the form of a toothache for Don. He sees visions of his dead brother everywhere, and can barely concentrate on the tasks at hand. He tries to assuage his feelings about Lane's death by delivering a check for $50,000 (interesting amount) to Lane's wife. She accepts the check, but wants to be clear that he's the only one who feels better about the money. The British don't wallow.
Finally, Don goes to have the tooth extracted. Perhaps now the visions of his dead brother will cease and he can let go of the guilt over both hangings. Or does that rotten tooth represent something else, something deeper that is abscessing within?
For all appearances, the company is doing well. Money is rolling in and they're expanding their office space to another floor. Once again windows and wide open spaces are prevalent in this episode. In fact, Pete mentions that with the new office space, his view will be the same as Don's. Although that may be the case, I highly doubt they see the same things.
Interesting ending—what will next season bring?