I spent the weekend at WisCon, which was as absorbing as usual, which means I have a news post backlog! Two today:

Before Sunday’s finale, I wrote a piece about how this season of Mad Men (yes, it’s a season, this half-season split is BS) pulls so deeply on its characters’ pasts. The finale did a beautiful job of bringing that sense of long intimacy to a moment that indicated The Future.

I could have written another whole piece about the ways in which Peggy Olson, whose career trajectory we have followed literally from day one, has faced backlash this year for being brittle in the face of career sabotage. Don’t get me wrong, one of the things I’ve always appreciated about Peggy is that she’s not just a banner for working women – she has faults and can be as unsympathetic as many of the show’s other characters when thwarted. But gosh, it’s interesting to look at the backlash against her from audiences and even some critics for lashing out this season, despite experiencing seven seasons of her fight to get recognized for her work and being given ample evidence, at the beginning of the season, that her prospects were grim.

The return of Don, a character whose power to change a narrative is, at this point, equivalent to a fantasy element, is changing that, but even here people were angry at her for being distant. As with everyone else, I hoped they’d reconnect (I might be over-invested in the friendship between those two), but I also remember the time he threw money at her and shouted in a meeting. It’s been a grimly interesting experience to see how much judgment has come down on a character whose struggles we know intimately and at length. This whole season has been about the past worn as armor, which has been a hallmark of the season; my piece is up at AV Club.


The other thing that happened this weekend, of course, was the premiere of Petals on the Wind, which feels like much less of a Thing than the first one. In some ways that’s just as well; I feel like they have deliberately cast Chris and Cathy to avoid romantic chemistry twice in a row, and while that is certainly a smart strategy when casting most siblings, it’s the driving force of this particular pair of siblings, so it ends up undermining the single most important element in a story that otherwise splits into so many off-the-rails plots that it’s no surprise the movie kept fading out in the middle of a big moment in one plot disaster to fade in another one. (This picture popped up while I was double-checking the whole Julian subplot, and I laughed out loud.)

The toxic-motherhood theme is beautifully done; any scene where Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham face off, Ellen armed with Good Acting and Heather armed with Unmoving Face, is exactly what it should be. I never thought I’d want more of Heather Graham in something, but there you go. If they can just correct the part where we don’t care about Cathy and Chris being together (how could you not already have corrected this, this is half the reason the series exists), I’d be looking forward to the other movies! The full review is up at at AV Club here.

And, in news that is not TV-related, you’ll be hearing a lot this week about next Tuesday’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club launch party. You should come!