The fifth season of “Mad Men” ended with Don Draper being propositioned in a bar, but the scene faded to black before we could find out if he said yes or no.
That amounted to a not-too-suspenseful cliffhanger ending for this “Mad Men” season, in which Don (Jon Hamm), this show’s incurable serial adulterer for four previous seasons, emerged as the only major male character who didn’t cheat in the fifth.
I suppose the proposition in the bar is meant to whet our appetites for a Season Six in which Don possibly returns to his old ways, but we’ll have to wait about a year to find out if he does or he doesn’t.
Meanwhile, the fifth-season finale of “Mad Men” seen on AMC Sunday night — an episode titled “The Phantom” — did a fairly complete job of capping off the season’s storylines for a host of characters. The time was around Easter, a couple of months after partner Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) hanged himself in his office (in last week’s episode). Here’s what happened to:
Don Draper: As the only guy who knew the real reason why Lane killed himself, and keeping it a secret as much for Lane’s sake as his own, Don’s been carrying around a load of guilt. As a result, in Sunday’s episode, he was seeing a phantom of his own — his dead half-brother Adam who hanged himself back in Season One after Don spurned him. Guilt, depression and a seeming weariness over his marriage to Megan (Jessica Pare) seemed to lead Don into that bar at the episode’s end.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser): Earlier in the season, Pete was pummelled in a conference-room fist fight with Lane. In Sunday’s season finale, Pete was again clobbered, this time on a commuter train — first by Howard Dawes (Jeff Clarke), the man whose wife (Alexis Bledel) Pete had been cheating with all season, and then by the train’s conductor, who threw him off the train. Earlier, Pete had his last fling with Beth Dawes before she checked into a hospital for electro-shock therapy ordered, apparently, by her husband. After her treatment, she forgot Pete totally — which is what led to the commuter-train donnybrook. In the end, though, Pete got what he wanted — wife Trudy (Alison Brie) approved his plan to get an apartment in the city.
Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss): It was great to see Peggy hard at work in a supervisory position, bossing around her copywriter underlings at her new job. She was assigned to spearhead a campaign for a new brand of cigarettes aimed at women, presumably Virginia Slims, though they weren’t named in the show. She ran into Don at an afternoon movie, and the two made their peace. We hope Peggy will be back next season.
Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks): As a new, full partner in the agency, Joan was seen asserting her leadership. With the agency apparently flourishing, she secured new, contiguous office space to handle a staff expansion. But she confided to Don that she still couldn’t understand why Lane committed suicide. Don wouldn’t tell her, but they agreed to pay $50,000 to Lane’s widow (Embeth Davidtz). Don went to visit Mrs. Pryce, who accepted the check, but threw Don out of her apartment after berating him.
Roger Sterling (John Slattery): The now-single Roger moved into one of Manhattan’s then-swankiest residential hotels — the Stanhope on Fifth Avenue at 81st Street — where he bedded Megan’s mother, Marie (Julia Ormond) and then took a solo LSD trip that had him standing naked before a Stanhope window in his final scene. In a way, Roger was the anti-Don — a man completely comfortable in his own hedonistic skin.
Megan Draper: She finally won an acting role, in a commercial for a shoe company that was a client of Don’s. He helped her land it too, though he didn’t really want to.
Next stop for “Mad Men”: The Emmy awards next September, where riches no doubt await.