clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Mad Men Final Scene We All Deserved

The culmination of Don Draper's career in advertising wasn't the creation of the hilltop Coke ad.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images


Don stands up at head of table.


What do you remember of your childhood? Your earliest memories?

Don motions to an executive.


I guess I remember my mother.


What about your mother?

Executive hesitates before speaking.


She was feeding me. Breakfast, I think.


What were you having?


Toast. Scrambled eggs. I guess I remember because I didn't like scrambled eggs. Still don't, but I ate them anyway when I was a kid.


But you couldn't tell your mother that, could you? Gentlemen, think back to your earliest memories. Maybe you were eating, like Steve. Or maybe you were playing with your siblings. Imagine being there in the yard with them, trying to keep up. They're older than you, stronger, and you want to play the way they're playing, but you don't know how to ask them to slow down, to not be so rough. You don't yet have the language.

Or maybe you were driving in your father's new Cadillac. Think back to that smell, to that rich leather smell that filled your lungs, that still lingers after all these years. But remember the feel of that leather, hot from the sun, sticking to your bare legs. Your father wears pants. He doesn't feel what you feel, but for you, that leather is like fire. You want to tell him this, want him to understand your pain, but how do you shape the words to make him understand you?

Our memories are always failures blurred with triumphs. We want to be known, to communicate something of ourselves, but we are all unintelligible. This is universal. We lack the ability to speak the truth of our lives, our experiences.

Now imagine a vehicle. Not a car. Not a truck. Something larger. A block of stone. A powerful, irresistible force. It exists on a plane beyond communication. It speaks to something primal inside each of us. Words, logic, clarity, these things cannot communicate experience. To connect with our audience, to get them to see the essential necessity of this thing, we need an unintelligible voice, a voice that speaks to the fundamental urge that drives us all. We cannot tell our mothers that we don't like eggs, cannot tell our brothers that they are too rough in their play, cannot tell our fathers that our skin is on fire. And when we see another unable to speak, it connects us to that experience, and that bond, it becomes the thing that is being resisted.

We all want to be understood. None of us can be, and that is tragic. But it also connects us.

Don picks up remote, points it at television, hits play.

With thanks to Gray Hardison (@BellyoftheBeast) for the inspiration.