Mad Men is the coolest show on TV. Sure, that's probably a given from the picture above. It's also the best-written, most consistently riveting and strongest-acted show on TV. I realized this during last nights season-finale that involved major players jumping ship and starting their own advertising firm from a hotel room. Almost every loose end and underdeveloped character is resolved in this process, laying the groundwork for a whole new set of questions.
This episode was everything that a longtime viewer of a series wants to see in a season finale. Things that typically take half a season to develop are solved in a single scene and strained, frayed relationships are rejuvenated in a simple phone call. People who have found themselves being pawns or worse yet, doormats, for much of the series find the strength to stand up for themselves and reap the rewards in a single episode. Surely not every episode can be this compelling, but an episode like this makes you appreciate the methodical pacing of the rest of the season.
The early sixties were a time when the American Dream of a white picket fence and a yard was beginning to fracture, much like the old boys club that had ruled Sterling-Cooper. With the JFK assassination, you could see the ancient walls come tumbling down in the characters faces. Unable or unwilling to change, many will go down with the ship, but the resourceful will find themselves afforded a fresh start from the rubble of their former lives.