Jon Hamm called it "our fourth goodbye," but for him and the rest of the cast and crew of AMC's "Mad Men," it was the final and, unquestionably, the longest farewell.
In a daylong blowout that combined an almost defiant air of celebration (Sad? Who? Us?) with the inevitable anguish ("Tomorrow morning, everyone's going to be like, 'Who are you?'" fretted show creator Matthew Weiner), the "Mad Men" gang on Sunday bopped between a two-hour-plus panel discussion in Hollywood and a Jason Reitman-led live reading at downtown's Ace Hotel. That was followed by an Ace screening of the series finale and a party that, for all we know, might still be raging at the hotel's bar.
"We are always the last to leave our own parties," Weiner told The Times. Earlier, "completely sober and incapable of functioning," he introduced the finale: "This is the last episode of 'Mad Men.' I will be in the audience watching. Leave me alone afterwards if you don't like it."
Solitude would have to wait. Judging from the parade of well-wishers approaching Weiner after the closing credits, the ending to the series' celebrated seven-season, 92-episode run was well received from those attending the event. Reaction on social media, however, was all over the map. The only area of agreement: Coca-Cola executives went to bed smiling.
The show's swan song, titled "Person to Person" (and, if you haven't watched, you should skip to the next paragraph), resolved some questions (Peggy gets a man! Joan starts a new business!) while leaving a few plotlines open-ended. The final image of Hamm's once (and future?) ad executive Don Draper sitting cross-legged on a (presumably) Big Sur cliffside meadow with the famous 1971 commercial "I'd Like to Buy a World a Coke" playing in his head seemed perfect to some, frustrating to others.
Weiner has been barraged with questions about the finale since 2011, when the show fixed the seventh season as its last. As he worked on "The Sopranos," comparisons between the shows were inevitable.
"'The Sopranos' was very rock and roll, and that was a very rock-and-roll ending. This is more 'Theme From "A Summer Place,"'" Weiner told The Times, referring to the Percy Faith hit.
The Reitman live table reading of the first-season finale, "The Wheel," preceded the screening. Among those assuming the roles of the '60s-set drama were Colin Hanks as Don Draper, Fred Savage as Pete Campbell, Kevin Pollak as Bertram Cooper and Ashley Greene as Joan Holloway. Savage's spot-on work as Campbell drew the biggest applause.
Hours earlier, all the primary cast members — Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Jessica Paré and Kiernan Shipka — participated in a Q&A at Hollywood's Montalbán theater, with Weiner and members of the production team following for their own panel. Each actor picked a favorite clip and talked about its significance. Slattery revealed he hadn't even seen the scene he chose because he wants to binge-watch all the episodes from the back end of Season 7.
Weiner seemed happy enough on stage, reporting that his son, Marten (who played Glen Bishop on the show), came home from college for the day's events and that both families (blood and professional) were helping him deal with what Hamm called the "finality of it all."
"Someone asked me what the day is like and I said, 'It feels like Thanksgiving,'" Weiner said. "It feels like we're getting dressed up. We're gonna have a drink around 3. Open the door, let the relatives in and not forget what the day is about, which is being grateful for having this incredible experience."
As for what tomorrow will be like, Hamm shook his head and laughed. "I'm gonna be an astronaut and that starts Monday, so I should go …"