Although it was a surprise, it all made sense, and fulfilled the movement of the series towards the great dividing moment between the old world and the new. This final episode is the first in the new world. Pete and Peggy are sixties people, and Don has learned enough from his marriage breakup to stop trying to bully them, and start trying to adapt to them. As always, he learns it too late for his family but just in time for his work.
The early sixties aesthetic, the authority and the restrictions, which seemed to be established for all time were actually just the transition period between the old and new - as Larkin put it 'In 1963... between the end of the Chatterley Ban and the Beatles' first LP'. The Beatles turn up in New York soon. Don will be the older generation in the new world, but he should be smart enough to cut it.
The final credits played out to Roy Orbison singing "Shahdaroba", "The future is much better than the past." Roy Orbison was one of the few crooners of the pre-Beatles period who thrived in the new world. In fact I just thought - he actually ended up forming a group with
I think Mad Men is such an important show because it isn't just clever, it suggests hope and ways to escape. I often feel it speaks directly to me, giving me new ways of looking at my own circumstances - for instance that my own ten year working environment will probably close down in the next few months - in a positive way.