he fourth season of "Mad Men" came to a close last night, and the wholly unpredictable finale, in which Don Draper rashly proposed to his 25-year-old secretary Megan, "likely left a lot of fans feeling betrayed," says Logan Hill in New York. Critics are debating whether the abrupt left-turn was intriguingly unexpected — or just underwhelming:
It was shocking, but not necessarily in a good way: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bowled over by all this, but I'd also be lying if I said I liked it," says John Swansburg at Slate. Frankly, I can't make sense of Don and Megan's "whirlwind" courtship. After all Don's been through this season, I thought he was a changed man. "The shotgun affair with Megan felt like a big, disappointing step back [for] me."
"Week 13: Mr. Draper's wild ride"
Nah, it was shocking in the best of ways: Don's proposing to Megan may seem totally out of character, but it's actually just the opposite, says Logan Hill in New York. What Don likes best are "open-ended fantasies," and Megan is "a cipher, an attractive brand with no history onto which he can project any dreamy vision of Tomorrowland that he wants."
"Mad Men finale recap: Did Don disappoint you?"
"Who the hell is Megan?": Do we even know Don's fiancée's last name, ask Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly at The Washington Post. Apparently, this heretofore minor character was able to slay Don by skillfully babysitting his kids during a "whirlwind trip to Disneyland...[playing] every Julie-Andrews-as-caregiver card in the book." But though she may seem to be "the calmer, sweeter wife and mother that Don always wanted Betty to be," don't be so sure. She may have an ulterior motive, "a method to her Maria von Trapp-ness."
"The 'Mad Men' finale: Who the heck is Megan?"
Megan is symbolically connected to cancer: It's easier to accept this plot twist, says Heather Havrilesky at Salon, if you recall what Don told the American Cancer board about his strategy to keep teenagers from smoking: "'They're mourning for their childhood more than they're anticipating their future... they don't know it yet, but they don't want to die.'" Megan offers Don a seeming shortcut into the future. "He's so fixated on his past and Anna's death and his own mortality that he craves something magical to save him from it all."
"'Mad Men' finale: Hello, darkness, my old friend"
The finale left me wanting more: "Season Four came to an end not with a bang but a whimper," says Walter Dellinger in The Wall Street Journal. It didn't compare to last season's "spectacular ending," but there were interesting subtleties. It may have "felt more like an intermission than a finale," but "it left me looking forward to the next act."
"'Mad Men,' a conversation (season four finale, 'Tomorrowland')"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
Subscribe to the Week