TIME Video Games

10 Most-Anticipated New iPhone Games

Have a look at our picks for the most promising iPhone games yet to come this year

We’re already playing some of 2015’s best iPhone games—take a bow, Sorcery! 3, Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure, Planet Quest and Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be—so here’s a look at what’s left (that we know of, anyway) between now and year’s end.

  • Guitar Hero Live

    “No console? No problem,” reads the tagline for the handheld version of Activision’s upcoming rhythm rock-a-thon rethink. “The full game experience will be available on select mobile devices,” boasts the publisher, referring to a big-screen experience that’s designed to put you onstage with a live-ish reactive band and audience. How’s that work on a 5-inch screen? We’ll doubtless find out at E3 next month.

    Late 2015

  • Disney Infinity 3.0

    If playing Star Wars in story-less, multiplayer-focused, first-person shooter battle arenas turns you off—hello, Star Wars Battlefront!—then Disney Infinity 3.0 represents our best shot at solo-supportive, sandbox-based, story-driven Star Wars experiences. Look for characters like Anakin, Luke, Leia, Han and Vader to broaden Disney’s toy-game stable, and like last year’s version 2.0, the iPhone version of 3.0 should be all but identical to its console and tablet peers.

    Late 2015

  • Minecraft: Story Mode

    Telltale Games

    Did Minecraft need a narrative when part of the game’s triumph is the way it drives players to create their own? We’re going to find out when adventure-maker Telltale Games puts its imprimatur on the Lego-like sandbox builder later this year.

    TBD 2015

     

  • Age of Empires: World Domination

    The Age of Empires real-time strategy franchise fizzled a long time ago, and hasn’t seen a hit in years, so there’s understandable trepidation about this mobile-oriented version’s prospects. Can newcomer KLab Global resuscitate defunct creator Ensemble Studios’ once-beloved series? Pull it off without inundating players with freemium nagging? We’ll see.

    TBD 2015

  • Zodiac

    Boasting heady tunes by Final Fantasy XII‘s Hitoshi Sakimoto and expert scenario design by Final Fantasy VII‘s Kazushige Nojima, Zodiac is a 2D roleplaying game that marries side-scrolling levels with turn-based combat. Sounds a little like Valkyrie Profile, no? The difference: Zodiac transpires in an “ambitious” persistent online world, and supports cross-platform play (with Sony’s PS Vita handheld, and possibly others yet to be announced).

    TBD 2015

  • Ember

    If the demo teaser for N-Fusion’s Ember reminds you even a little of Ultima VII: The Black Gate, that’s no coincidence–the developer admits its upcoming fantasy quest-spinner was inspired by Origin’s classic 1992 title, remembered for its still rarely equalled depth of world and character design.

    TBD 2015

  • Firefly Online

    It’s one of TV’s most beloved science fiction tales reimagined as a roleplaying game in which players can pilot their own ships, assemble their own crews and trade with (or create missions for) other players. The original cast came back to handle voice work for their characters, which appear throughout the game.

    TBD 2015

  • Super Meat Boy Forever

    It’s the official sequel to 2010’s acclaimed platform game starring a tiny cube of flesh that darts and leaps through hundreds of trap-filled levels.

    TBD 2015

  • Forma.8

    You’re stuck orbiting an alien planet, your reserves nearly depleted, so you deploy a tiny probe to the planet, hoping to retrieve an underground energy source and continue your journey. Studio MixedBag dubs Forma.8 a “Metroidvania” (that is, Metroid plus Castlevania), wherein you’ll explore a mammoth and interlinked series of levels, solving puzzles and battling enemies to accomplish your goals.

    TBD 2015

  • Clockwork

    Explore a 400-year-old clockwork metropolis as Atto, a mechanical boy who sets out to mend both his malfunctioning machine city and its many robotic inhabitants—human survivors, who abandoned their organic bodies centuries ago to escape the ravages of a deadly plague.

    TBD 2015

TIME Television

History as Seen on Mad Men: A Timeline

How the show addressed assassinations, political movements and scientific achievements

Over the course of seven seasons, Mad Men—which came to a close on Sunday night—followed Don, Peggy and the rest of Sterling Cooper through a raucous decade. But, though its meticulous attention to period detail has often been praised, the show has always been more about character than events: Assassinations were met with quiet crying scenes; characters’ politics changed slowly over time; entire years were skipped.

And yet some pivotal historical moments did have an impact. Here’s how the show wove real-world story lines into the lives of its fictional characters.

  • The Birth Control Pill Is Approved (May 1960)

    Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 1, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/AMC
    Doug Hyun / AMC Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)

    The FDA approved Enovid, the first oral contraceptive for women, in May of 1960. When the series begins in 1960, Joan sends Peggy to a doctor to get a prescription. The condescending doctor tells Peggy he’ll take it away if she is too loose and abuses the drug’s power. Whether Peggy took the pill incorrectly or not, she does end up getting pregnant in the first season.

    Read original 1960 coverage of Enovid, here in the TIME Vault: Pregnancy Control

  • Kennedy Defeats Nixon (Nov. 1960)

    Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images 2nd televised debate between Richard M. Nixon & John F. Kennedy (L)

    Sterling Cooper helps create Nixon’s ads, but cannot measure up to the upbeat spots for Kennedy that helped lead him to a surprise victory. But that doesn’t stop the conservative boys at Sterling Cooper from celebrating: In this episode, Harry Crane cheats on his wife with a secretary and gets himself kicked out of this house.

    Read original 1960 coverage of the election, here in the TIME Vault: Candidate Kennedy

  • The Freedom Riders and Civil Rights (1961)

    Freedom Rider & National Guardsman
    Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett An unidentified Freedom Rider cranes his head out of the window of an interstate bus as a National Guardsman stands watch outside, May 1961.

    Though Sterling Cooper is completely white-washed, racial tensions fizzle in the background of the show’s early years. Paul Kinsey heads south to protest with his black girlfriend Sheila after Don takes his spot on a business trip to L.A. in the first season. By 1966, the ad agency jokingly publishes an ad promising equal employment opportunity. When dozens of people show up to interview, the company relents and hires its first black secretary, Dawn.

    Read original 1961 coverage of the Freedom Rides, here in the TIME Vault: Trouble in Alabama

  • Marilyn Monroe’s Death (Aug. 1962)

    Marilyn Monroe Portrait
    Michael Ochs Archives—Getty Images Actress Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in circa 1952.

    The actress overdosed on drugs on Aug. 4, 1962. Roger Sterling is surprised to find Joan Holloway crying over Marilyn’s death in his office. Hollis the elevator operator mourns Marilyn too—or, rather, he muses over how Marilyn’s ex, baseball player Joe DiMaggio, must feel. Peggy is a little colder, pointing out that Playtex’s rejection of their Jackie vs. Marilyn underwear pitch was a blessing in disguise.

    Read original 1962 coverage of Monroe’s death, here in the TIME Vault: The Only Blonde in the World

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis (Oct. 1962)

    Father John Gill (Colin Hanks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 2, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
    Carin Baer / AMC Father John Gill (Colin Hanks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) on Mad Men

    The employees at Sterling Cooper worry that any day could be their last during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the U.S. and the Soviet Union ever came to armed conflict during the Cold War. A priest at Peggy’s church tells worshippers they should prepare to meet God. Pete Campbell’s wife even leaves to stay with her parents, while Pete declares that if he’s going to die he wants it to be in Manhattan.

    Read original 1962 coverage of Monroe’s death, here in the TIME Vault: Showdown on Cuba

  • The Kennedy Assassination (Nov. 1963)

    Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) - Mad Men - Season 3, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
    Carin Baer / AMC Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) in Mad Men

    Betty stares blankly at the television, and Duck pulls the plug so that the tragic events won’t interrupt his dalliance with Peggy. Roger decides not to postpone the wedding of his daughter, Margaret, but everyone spends the reception glued to the TV. The episode is more about the fallout in the Sterling family than about the political ramifications of the assassination.

    Read original 1963 coverage of Kennedy’s death, here in the TIME Vault: “The Government Still Lives”

  • The Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking (Jan. 1964)

    Don Draper (Jon Hamm) - Mad Men - Season 3, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
    Carin Baer / AMC Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in Mad Men

    In 1957, Readers Digest had reported on the dangers of smoking—and the article was so influential that Sterling Cooper had to create a new strategy for Lucky Strike in the first season. They later lose the account when the Surgeon General confirms that smoking does kill, just as Roger, Don, Bert and Lane are breaking off to start their own firm. Don responds by writing a manifesto, published in the New York Times, about why agencies shouldn’t help sell products that kill people.

    Read original 1964 coverage of the report, here in the TIME Vault: The Government Report

  • Sonny Liston v. Cassius Clay (May 1965)

    Muhammad Ali Knocks Out Liston
    Agence France Presse—Getty Images Sonny Liston lies out for the count after being KO'd in the first round of his return title fight by world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Lewiston, Maine, May 25, 1965.

    The fight only lasted two minutes and 12 seconds, but formed the backdrop for one of Mad Men’s greatest episodes, “The Suitcase.” Don takes his own swing at Duck Phillips when he calls Peggy a “whore.” Later, a picture of Ali’s victory inspires Don to create a great Samsonite luggage ad.

    Read original 1965 coverage of the fight, here in the TIME Vault: Theater of the Absurd

  • The Beatles at Shea Stadium (Aug. 1965)

    The Beatles
    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium, New York on Aug. 15, 1965.

    Don bribes his daughter Sally, who is none too happy about his and Betty’s divorce, with tickets to perhaps the most famous concert in the history of rock. She appropriately loses her mind.

    Read a 1965 cover story about rock ‘n’ roll, here in the TIME Vault: Sound of the Sixties

  • Richard Speck Murders (July 1966)

    Mad Men (Season 5)
    Michael Yarish—AMC Dawn Chambers (Teyonah Parris) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) in Mad Men

    The workers at Sterling Cooper become fascinated with the then-unsolved Richard Speck murders in Chicago. Sally learns of the murders from the newspaper and becomes so frightened she cannot sleep. Simultaneously, racial violence rages in Harlem, forcing Dawn to spend the night in Peggy’s apartment.

    Read original 1966 coverage of the case, here in the TIME Vault: 24 Years to Page One

  • The Vietnam War (Nov. 1955–April 1975)

    Mad Men (Season 5)
    Michael Yarish—AMC (L-R) Joe Harris (S.E. Perry), Ruth Harris (Alyson Reed), Greg Harris (Samuel Page), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) and Gail Holloway (Christine Estabrook) in Mad Men

    Joan’s doctor husband, Greg, serves in Vietnam. When he reveals to her that he volunteered to go back for a second tour, she breaks up with him. In a later season, Don uses connections to help the son of Sylvia Rosen, with whom he is having an affair, avoid being placed in a dangerous spot when he’s drafted. In the final season, Glen Bishop announces he’s enlisted.

    Read a 1965 cover story about the war, here in the TIME Vault: The Turning Point in Viet Nam

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Assassination (April 1968)

    Martin Luther King at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church
    The Washington Post/Getty Images Martin Luther King speaks at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church February 1968 in Washington, DC.

    Peggy and Megan are both up for advertising awards at a ceremony that’s interrupted by Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Don encourages his secretary Dawn to go home, assuming that the news has hit her hard because of her race. She tells him she would prefer to stay and work.

    Read original 1965 coverage of King’s death, here in the TIME Vault: An Hour of Need

  • The Moon Landing (July 1969)

    Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC
    Courtesy of AMC Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper in Mad Men

    Despite being a momentous event, the moon landing took backseat to Bert Cooper’s dancing departure. Bert dies on his couch just as man takes his first steps on the moon—but is seen again, in Don’s hallucinations.

    Read a 1969 cover story about the moon landing, here in the TIME Vault: Man on the Moon

  • The Newsweek Sexism Lawsuit (1970)

    Courtesy of AMC Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris in Mad Men

    Forty-six women sued Newsweek Magazine for workplace gender discrimination in 1970 and won. When Joan threatens to take legal action against McCann Ericson for sexism, she references Newsweek and the feminist movement as precedent.

    Read original 1970 coverage of the lawsuit, here in the TIME Vault: Woman-Power

TIME celebrities

Rapper Chinx Fatally Shot in Queens

Hip-hop artist Chinx on June 11, 2014 in New York City
Brad Barket—Getty Images for BET Hip-hop artist Chinx on June 11, 2014, in New York City

The motive for the attack is not yet known

Queens-born rapper Chinx, real name Lionel Pickens, died Sunday from eight or more gunshots fired in close-range while he was sitting in his vehicle on Queens Boulevard with his friend Antar Alziadi, 27.

After the shooting, Pickens, 31, parked in front of a Dunkin’ Donuts while the assailant’s car drove away. Alziadi survived his wounds but Pickens died later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, the New York Times reports.

Police have yet to arrest anyone for involvement in the shooting.

In Pickens’ home neighborhood of Far Rockaway, Queens, the atmosphere turned mournful as residents paid tribute to the fallen artist.

“The only way out of Far Rockaway is either death or jail,” one resident told the Times.

[NYT]

TIME Television

John Oliver Has Beef With the Treatment of Chicken Farmers

Many poultry farmers live below the poverty line

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver spoke about America’s favorite food — chicken. He didn’t focus his diatribe on the treatment of chickens (although video clips of Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson assured viewers poultry is treated abysmally), but rather on the treatment of America’s chicken farmers.

According to Oliver, to sate the American appetite for chicken, the big four poultry companies use a system of contract farmers to raise their product — which currently requires 169 million chicks a week, which is as Oliver put it, “Warren Beatty numbers.”

Despite those impressive stats, according to Oliver, a surprisingly large percentage of those contract chicken farmers live at or below the poverty line. But when asked to comment about their impoverished contract farmers, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council asked, “Which poverty line are you referring to?”

As Oliver pointed out that, it doesn’t matter, because “the poverty line is like the age of consent, if you find yourself parsing exactly where it is, it you’ve probably already done something very, very wrong.”

Oliver then asked members of Congress to enact meaningful legislation to protect chicken farmers — and a call to arms to change their Wikipedia pages if they didn’t.

TIME movies

Watch the First Trailer for New Steve Jobs Movie Starring Michael Fassbender

"No one sees the world the same way you do"

Universal has released the first trailer for new Steve Jobs biopic of the same name, but the studio isn’t giving very much away.

Directed by Danny Boyle, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, and written by Aaron Sorkin, of The Social Network fame, the movie follows the Apple co-founder (played by Michael Fassbender) at three iconic Apple product launches.

In the minimal but tense one-minute clip, we glimpse Fassbender as Jobs, Kate Winslet as former Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffman, Seth Rogen as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Jeff Daniels as former Apple CEO John Sculley.

Fans wanting more will have to wait until Oct. 9 when Steve Jobs hits theaters.

TIME Television

Recap: Mad Men Watch: Om Sweet Om

Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell - Mad Men _ Season 7B, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC
Michael Yarish/AMC

Have a Coke and a smile: a rambling finale leads to either TV's saddest happy ending or its happiest sad ending.

Spoilers for the season finale of Mad Men below:

“There’s more to life than work.” –Stan Rizzo

Is there? The entire finale of Mad Men seemed to be making that point, or at least, it found the series’ central characters wrestling with the issue. Peggy Olson found love at work–no mortal can resist Stan’s suede and turquoise for long–while also finding a calling there. Joan found that her work cost her a relationship, as Richard’s supportive talk turned out to be all talk–yet when we last saw her, she seemed to have managed to integrate her work with her life. Even Roger Sterling ends his story out of the office, ordering champagne happily with Marie.

And then of course there was Don, whose hobo journey led him at the end away from the office, by way of the Bonneville Salt Flats, to a meditation center in California, where, stripped of everything–job, home, car, power suits, connection with family and friends and even hippie pseudo-niece Stephanie–he gives in to the vibe, breaks down in encounter group and shows up to meditate and greet Mother Sun. He closes his eyes. He gives himself over. He chants, “Om.” He smiles. His skin relaxes, his nostrils flare. He seems at peace. And we hear a bell, a chime of clarity.

Or is it just an idea lightbulb? A moment later, we hear the lines of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” the famous Coca-Cola world-peace-through-carbonation anthem from 1971. (Kudos, by the way to Vox and Uproxx for nailing the final-song prediction.)

[Incidentally, it’s true that the finale did not make explicit, in so many words, that Don wrote the Coke ad; it’s possible, I suppose, that it could have been Peggy, though then I’m not sure its connection to Don’s ending meditation. In that way, the ending was more Sopranos-like–open to endless interpretation–than I would have expected. But that’s my operating theory for now. I am glad to hear arguments to the contrary!]

So last things first: that ending. As a tag on Don’s story it was both incredibly clever and emotionally underwhelming–the opposite, really, of what I might have expected from Mad Men‘s finale. It does a brilliant, instantaneous double-twist, suggesting in one moment that Don has finally, through being stripped down, reached a moment of spiritual growth–and then that, really, he’s simply seen it as all b.s. and come up with one more way to sell product. He has looked into the eye of eternity and seen a Clio.

Ingenious? Yes. But it’s also, at first blush, much more bleak and cynical about Don’s ability to change and grow–much more Sopranos-like, in other words–than you would expect from a series that gave us the moving end moments of “In Care of” at the end of season 6. If that’s what happened in that instant, Mad Men has given TV its most cheerful, upbeat, miserable ending in the history of finales.

Because think about what it’s saying. Don has lost pretty much every human connection. He’s essentially accepted that the best thing for his children is to surrender their care to another man after the death of their mother. He’s unable to accept the love or encouragement of his protegé Peggy over the phone. He’s become the lonely, cold bottle on the refrigerator shelf in poor Leonard’s dream. And that has, apparently, made him a better ad man than ever: made him able, in fact, to come up with one of the most iconic ad campaigns of the 1970s (which, symmetrical with the pilot, is I believe the show’s first use of a real advertising campaign/slogan since Lucky Strike’s “It’s Toasted”).

Intellectually, I can accept that as both an example of how advertising co-opts ideals and as a statement of Don accepting that he is who he is–Don Draper, ad man, not Dick Whitman, spirit-questing, California-dreaming wanderer. It’s a satisfying idea to wrestle with. But this isn’t all about ideas. It’s about, as Don said to Peggy in season 2: “You, feeling something.” And where I’m sitting, early morning after the end of Mad Men, I wanted its last minutes to make me feel more.

Part of the issue here, I think, was the structure of the episode–finales always being a tough thing, especially in a show like Mad Men that’s not driven by a singular plot goal. Don spent the entire episode separated from the rest of the central characters, except by phone. And the problem is, we care about him mainly in relation to them. When Don realizes that this is it for Betty, his face crumples, and he says, “Birdie”: devastating. Don in the company of a bunch of hippies somewhere in the vicinity of Big Sur? Not so much. (Some of Mad Men‘s weaker segments historically have been around the counterculture–that’s where its seams start to show–and this was no exception.)

“Person to Person,” meanwhile, was very busy back at home on the East Coast, too busy, as it tried to give many characters final moments with each other. (And yes: if it hadn’t, fans would have complained about that. Again, finales are hard!) At times, it seemed to sacrifice consistency for fan service. It felt great to see Joan offer Peggy a partnership in her production company–offering her the chance to “burn the place down” together–but it felt sudden considering how strained their relationship often was. Peggy and Stan’s hookup was a wish fulfilled–and the show had been pointing at it forever–but the sudden, blurting I-love-you over the phone felt very convenient and not very Mad Men.

On the other hand, if you’ve seen Sally Draper as the secret protagonist of Mad Men, “Person to Person” delivered. Kiernan Shipka was absolutely riveting as Sally essentially took the parental role in her family, giving her father the mature argument that he needed to step back and let his sons have continuity with Henry, then coming home to have the honest talk with Bobby that Betty couldn’t. This was a dramatic personal change, but in a way that felt earned and convincing. Don told Sally earlier this season that she was indeed like her mother and father; but who would have guessed, after that childhood, that she might mature into a better version of both?

Sally’s storyline was probably the most conventionally satisfying of the finale’s shambling first hour (and let’s not forget January Jones, who got to go a long way to redeem a sometimes-misused character in these final episodes). As a conventional finale, Mad Men’s was not one of TV’s best, and there have been far better hours of the series over its run.

And yet right now, around 1 in the morning, it’s the weird, not-conventionally-satisfying last ten minutes of the episode that I’m still wrestling with. And that’s testament to Mad Men‘s determination to be weird, to challenge, to irritate and prod and engage.

I mean, look again at the last ten minutes or so. Don, the protagonist of the series, says almost nothing in his final act. He exchanges a few depressed words–“I can’t move”–with a group leader whose name we don’t know and we don’t care to. He goes to a seminar with her, has an opening to speak, and… doesn’t. The man of words, the guy whom we could always count on to deliver a tour de force, epiphanic pitch speech, instead sits back and lets the show’s final story–Don’s story, for all intents and purposes–be told through some guy named Leonard.

And it’s devastating. Because it’s not a pitch. It’s the realization of an actual feeling human who feels that his life has come to nothing, that he doesn’t have love, or worse, that he has it and is simply incapable of accepting or recognizing it.

And Don? Don has no clever speech. After having turned the full force of this character on us for seven season through the power of language. Jon Hamm is left to give us his final moments through action only. His eyes watering as he absorbs his own situation through Leonard’s. Through a desperate hug, sobbing. And finally, by turning to us, full faced–not giving us the back of his head as in the show’s credits–and letting his face, finally, relax.

No words. No story. Only: “Om.” Don’s story ends with a Coke and a smile.

Is this TV’s saddest happy ending ever or it’s happiest sad ending ever? Has Don changed, or has he come 3000 miles to find what he’s always found in a conference room? Has the man who said love was invented by guys like him to sell nylons found a way to accept love and managed to channel it into his work? Or has he, devoid of love and connection and family, become a kind of advertising bodhisattva, slipping the bonds of earthly relationships the better to tap America’s Coke-buying chakras?

This is where I’m supposed to bluff my way through Don Draper-style and tell you I know. I don’t. And maybe after seven seasons we should be left with a better sense of whether Don’s final change is genuine or not. But the way Mad Men left me wrestling with those last moments–and may leave me wrestling with them for days or weeks–is testament to what a challenging, inventive show this series has been.

In the first episode of Mad Men, Don posed a question: “Do you know what happiness is?” Then he listed a bunch of comforts–the smell of a new car and so on–that had little to do with happiness but rather with the appearance of happiness as sold through advertising. This was happiness to him: an agreed-on construct that he was paid to invent.

Don Draper went through Mad Men‘s run as a man of mystery. He left us with one more, sponsored by Coke: Has he, after years of selling fake happiness, found The Real Thing?

Now for a last hail of bullets:

* So much turquoise in this episode. So. Much. Turquoise.

* The series ended, evidently, in November 1970, which didn’t give us the chance for many 1970s cultural moments. But there was at least a guest appearance from our old pal cocaine!

* You might have recognized the naked encounter-group guy as Brett Gelman, who played a therapy-group member in Matthew Perry’s short-lived Go On. Who’d have thought that, after all these years, Mad Men would end with a tribute to Go On?

* One of the best exit lines of the episode went to, of all people, Meredith: “I hope he’s in a better place.” “He’s not dead.” “There are a lot of better places than here.”

* Seriously, whoever had “Stephanie is a major character in the finale” on your office pool, you are doing all my Emmy ballots from now on.

* Whatever issues I had with the sudden romcom resolution to Stan and Peggy’s love story, Elisabeth Moss’ read of her reaction–“What?”–was priceless.

* In the interest of kicking off discussion and not pulling an all-nighter–unlike Joan, I have nothing to sniff off my fingernail–I decided to err on the side of finishing this review sooner. Which means I probably erred on some other sides too, and I certainly didn’t cover every last scene in the episode. I may write more later, and I apologize in advance for any omissions, errors or brain farts. (As Ginsberg once said, my couch is full of them.)

* On a personal note: this one goes out to Richard Corliss, the late TIME film critic and occasional Mad Men recapper, who I wish I could talk over tonight’s finale with.

* Above all, it’s been a pleasure getting to dig into this richly rewarding show for the past eight years, and to have a community of sharp-eyed readers to do it with. I reviewed (nearly) every episode of this series for the first four seasons, and wrote about the show recurringly over the final three. Few series reward the kind of analysis (or overanalysis) that this has–and few shows have attracted the kind of close-reading fanbase that I’ve found in the comments here and on social media. For me, a great part of the experience of watching and dissecting Mad Men has been what you’ve brought to it. Thanks for riding in the time machine with me.

TIME Television

Here’s Where All the Characters on Mad Men Ended Up in the Finale

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in AMC's Mad Men.
AMC Jon Hamm as Don Draper in AMC's Mad Men.

Not everyone wanted to buy the world a Coke

Though there was some ambiguity to Mad Men’s “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ending, Matthew Weiner also gave viewers some clear-cut conclusions for his characters and signaled where the ’70s might take them. The finale had a touch of romance, a touch of bleakness and a spectacular power move from Joan.

Here’s where all the main characters ended up:

Don: Don, after learning of Betty’s cancer, goes to California to see Stephanie, Anna Draper’s niece, who brings him along to a retreat. When Stephanie leaves him abandoned there, he breaks down and calls Peggy, who tells him to come home. But he doesn’t, paralyzed. A woman at the retreat encourages him to come to a seminar. While there, a man’s speech about feeling like he’s on a shelf in a refrigerator stirs Don. When the man starts crying, Don goes to hug him.
Parting shot: Don, in a yoga class, saying “Om.” The sun’s on his face. A smile crosses his lips. Cut to: “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Peggy: Despite having an offer from Joan to start a Harris Olson production company, Peggy ends up staying at McCann, working alongside Stan, to whom she — surprise! — ends up confessing her love. After a fight over Peggy’s potential departure, a phone conversation leads to Stan telling her he loves her. She’s confused at first, but ends up reciprocating. He comes to her office and they kiss.
Parting shot: Peggy’s typing at her desk while Stan comes up behind her, rubbing her shoulders and kissing her on the forehead.

Betty: Betty learns she has lung cancer, but refuses treatment. She gives Sally instructions on how to handle her death, and wants the boys to live with their uncle, even though Don wants to take care of them. She tells Don: “I want to keep things as normal as possible and you not being here is part of that.”
Parting shot: Betty sits at her kitchen table, smoking.

Pete: Duck, sad drunk that he is, ends up maneuvering a great deal at Learjet for Pete, who sees the job as his chance to start over with Trudy and Tammy in Wichita.
Parting shot: Pete, Trudy, and Tammy board a Learjet.

Sally: Sally returns home to care for her brothers while their mother dies.
Parting shot: Sally washes dishes at home.

Joan: Despite her awful experience at McCann, a new opportunity comes Joan’s way through Ken Cosgrove, who needs a producer for a film for Dow. This gives Joan the idea to start her own production company. Her boyfriend, Richard, wants her to be fully devoted to him and walks out. Joan, however, forges ahead.
Parting shot: Joan hands off Kevin to her mother, and tends to her company, Holloway Harris, which she’s running out of her apartment.

Roger: Roger puts Joan’s son Kevin in his will, and decides to marry Megan’s mother, Marie Calvet.
Parting shot: Roger and Marie sit in a café, joking around.

TIME Television

Game of Thrones: Sophie Turner Says She ‘Loved’ That Horrifying Scene

Warning: Contains a major spoiler about Sunday’s Game of Thrones

Sansa Stark was brutally attacked on Sunday night’s Game of Thrones by her sadistic new husband, Ramsay Bolton, who finally showed her his true colors in the bedroom on their wedding night—all the while forcing Sansa’s former childhood friend Theon to watch. We talked to Sophie Turner back in October about the Ramsay storyline and Sunday’s instantly controversial scene—which the actress had not yet filmed but definitely had opinions about.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your reaction when you got the scripts and realized what was going to happen this season?
SOPHIE TURNER: Last season [Thrones director] Alex Graves decided to give me hints. He was saying, “You get a love interest next season.” And I was all, “I actually get a love interest!” So I get the scripts and I was so excited and I was flicking through and then I was like, “Aw, are you kidding me!?” I thought the love interest was going to be like Jaime Lannister or somebody who would take care of me. But then I found out it was Ramsay and I’m back at Winterfell. I love the fact she’s back home reclaiming what’s hers. But at the same time she’s being held prisoner in her own home. When I got the scripts, it was bit like, dude, I felt so bad for her. But I also felt excited because it was so sick, and being reunited with Theon too, and seeing how their relationship plays out. Theon’s a member of the Stark clan but she thinks he totally betrayed and killed her brothers. It’s a messed-up relationship between them

You’re sort of stuck with the two of the most messed-up characters in the show.
Theon’s just mental. I think it’s going to be the most challenging season for me so far just because it’s so emotional for her. It’s not just crying all the time, like seasons 2 or 3, it’s super messed up.

And then there is the scene described in the production breakdown as “romance dies.” Sansa’s wedding night in episode 6.
When I read that scene, I kinda loved it. I love the way Ramsay had Theon watching. It was all so messed up. It’s also so daunting for me to do it. I’ve been making [producer Bryan Cogman] feel so bad for writing that scene: “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!” But I secretly loved it.

Read the rest at Entertainment Weekly

TIME Television

‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ Was the Perfect Way to End Mad Men

The jingle is a perfect button on the end of Don's story

Mad Men’s much-anticipated closing song wasn’t a gritty track by an artist who served as an icon for the sex, drugs and rock-and-roll generation — but a jingle. It might not have had the adrenaline-pumping impact of The Sopranos’ “Don’t Stop Believin’,” but it made perfect sense for the end of a story about Don Draper — a guy to whom it was once said, “If you had to choose a place to die, it would be in the middle of a pitch.”

“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was, of course, a real ad from 1971 for Coca-Cola, Don’s white whale. The song was actually the brainchild of a man named Bill Backer, a creative director at McCann-Erickson, the firm that employed Don for a brief minute. It was such a success that it was released as a single with lyrics disassociated from Coca-Cola (“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”); subsequently, it’s been revived as the company’s jingle several times.

The song works not only because of its overlap with the particulars of Don’s career, but also because of its placement right after his seeming revelation while meditating in paradise. Has he really bought into the vision this retreat is selling? (Don’t forget, it is a business — Don thinks it’s a good thing when the receptionist takes his money after he arrives. Also note that the receptionist wore her hair in the same ribboned braid as a woman in the Coke ad.) It certainly seems possible — after all, that man’s weepy confession in group therapy sounded uncannily like a Don Draper pitch, complete with a domestic setting and a sentimental message. Don responds to that “pitch” like nothing else we’ve seen from him lately.

Advertising may be a lie, but the best lies have an element of truth. It’s always been hard to tell how much Don actually wanted that American dream he’s been selling to people — full of soap, lipstick, beer and cars. But it’s equally hard to imagine him sitting in a lotus pose just for the sake of going along with the crowd.

“It’s the real thing,” the singers declare in the jingle. But what exactly is the real thing? Don’s newfound inner peace? Or the idea that everything is a product that can be sold — including mental health? Is the meaning of life spirituality, or is it capitalism? That might be Mad Men’s ultimate cliff-hanger.

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Watch: The Game of Faces

Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton prepare for marriage.
HELEN SLOAN/HBO

Arya comes face-to-face with death, Tyrion and Jorah hit a small roadblock and Margaery Tyrell discovers the consequences of truths and lies

Spoilers for Game of Thrones, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” follow:

“I’m not playing this stupid game anymore!”

“We never stop playing.”

If you think about it even just a little, Jaqen H’ghar is right: No one in Game of Thrones ever really stops playing the game of faces. And those who do certainly don’t survive very long. It’s strange that it’s a lesson Arya has struggled to learn ever since entering the House of Black and White. On at least a basic level, it’s a game that the youngest Stark daughter has been forced to play ever since Joffrey took her father’s head. But, as Jaqen H’ghar and The Waif are all eager to prove, simply cutting your hair and pretending to be a boy does not make you worthy of joining the Faceless Men.

It’s hard to know precisely how long Arya has been scrubbing corpses by the time she confronts The Waif in the episode’s opening minutes, but Maisie Williams’ hair is certainly a bit longer and she seems to have grown at ease with the process. We get a great shot of her rapping her thumbs along the scrubbing table as her most recent patient is taken away, but learning what happens to the bodies clearly isn’t knowledge acquired simply through impatience. Demanding of The Waif that she get play the game of faces doesn’t appear much more effective. The Waif spins Ayra an entire tale about her own troubled childhood in Westeros that ended with the murder of her evil step-mother. As The Waif concludes her tale, a faint grin appears along Arya’s lips — one that rather resembled her initial reaction to meeting Brienne in last season’s finale. Just as quickly as that inspiration was given and taken away, however, this one was was as well when The Waif asks if Arya believed her story.

When Jaqen H’ghar later tests Arya’s readiness, it’s clear she’s still ill-prepared to join his ranks (and revealingly was struck several times for claiming that she hated The Hound). But Arya Stark is not one to be easily deterred, and sees the opportunity to simultaneously practice her lies and impress Jaqen when she convinces a terminally ill girl that drinking the water from the enchanted pool will heal her rather than kill her. It’s a cold, calculated moment from Arya, but certainly not one particularly out of line with what we’ve come to expect. Whatever Arya has always lacked in skill, she’s more than made up for in sheer determination. It’s that determination that convinces Jaqen to lead her down to a dungeon filled with enough dead faces to last another dozen seasons of The Walking Dead. “A girl is not ready to become no one,” Jaqen tells her as she gazes at the faces. “But she is ready to become someone else.”

Sansa Stark has spent much of the last season-and-a-half attempting to become someone else as well. She pretended to no longer be a Stark, dyed her hair black, and hitched her wagon to Lord Baelish. And for as long as Littlefinger was around to protect her, it was a rather successful endeavor (manipulations and tenuously-accepted advances aside). But with her true identity revealed, her dyed hair stripped from her head by her betrothed’s psychotic mistress and Baelish back in King’s Landing, Sansa was left an ultimately powerless teenage girl — certainly no match for the savagery of Ramsay Bolton. Their wedding ceremony was every bit as ominous as expected, though compared with previous weddings attended by the Starks and Bolton’s, it was a rather tame affair (and the band likely asked to skip its rendition of “The Rains of Castamere.”)

What followed, however, was an entirely different story. With Reek forced to watch, Ramsay stripped Sansa and raped her. It was a brutal, uncomfortable scene that almost certainly had viewers pleading with their screens and cursing them after. It’s hard to imagine anyone making Joffrey seem like a superior mate, but David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have spent a great deal of effort making that possible for Ramsay. Let’s hope his demise is equally horrible.

Things certainly seem headed in perilous direction for Margaery and Loras Tyrell. For as long as we’ve known him, Loras Tyrell has been tasked with keeping his sexuality a secret, but he has grown increasingly careless as the seasons have dragged on, as though playing this particular game of deception was no longer of any concern to him. It certainly will be now. The subject of an inquest into his alleged crimes, Loras categorically denies all the charges against him, and Margaery gamely backs him up. Their claims are rendered moot once Olyvar enters the High Sparrow’s interrogation room, revealing to the assembled everything he knew about Chekov’s Dorne-shapped tattoo. Loras and Margaery are summarily dragged off by the Sparrows as the latter cries out for Tommen to stop them. The boy king proves just as useless as he’s shown himself to be since ascending to the throne, sitting there dumbfounded as his wife is dragged off.

To a certain extent, it’s a rather stunning development. It would have been a good bet that Olenna Tyrell’s arrival in King’s Landing would have turned the tides back in Highgarden’s favor. Her meeting with Cersei was going just about as expected (the “Famous tart” quip was one of her finest) until Olenna allowed the Queen Regent to have the final word. You could easily be forgiven for expecting that the Tyrell matriarch had something up her sleeve for the inquest, but all she could do as her grandchildren were dragged away was shout objections. Now it’s possible that Olenna underestimated Cersei, but it’s a better bet that she overestimated her. Tywin never would have attempted (or allowed) such a bold ploy. Not only do the Lannisters need the Tyrell’s men, gold and wheat, but it’s not as though Cersei isn’t hiding a few secrets that the Sparrows wouldn’t approve of as — and Olenna Tyrell seems like just the sort of woman who’d know how to handle an overplayed hand.

Perhaps at some point, Cersei can compare notes with Ellaria Sand on just that topic. Prince Oberyn’s former mistress unleashed her Sand Snakes on Myrcella Baratheon at the worst possible moment. The trio arrived on scene right as Jaime and Bronn were attempting to exfiltrate Myrcella from the Water Gardens. The brief tussle was interrupted by Areo Hotah and his men, who had been sent by Prince Doran to protect Myrcella and Trystane. Moments later, Ellaria found herself surrounded by a dozen unfriendly spears. Making her intentions known so plainly might have been a bad move.

The lesson that Arya is attempting to learn (and the one that Game of Thrones’ most successful characters already have) is that you don’t necessarily need to become no one, you just need to become anyone who isn’t truly you. That can mean changing your face or your name or your allegiances or your intentions, just so long as no one quite understands what you’re doing. After more than four-and-a-half seasons in Westeros and Essos, we’ve learned that the game of thrones isn’t the only one where the two options are winning and dying.

And now for the hail of arrows:

  • No Daenerys in this episode. Or Jon Snow. Not sure that’s happened since the Battle of the Blackwater episode way back in Season 2. Something tells me we’ll see both next week.
  • No Brienne either. With all those candles in Ramsay’s chamber, it’s a shame she didn’t mistake his room for Sansa’s and gallop to the rescue.
  • Tyrion and Jorah hit a bit of a hiccup on their road to Meereen, getting captured by Lost’s Mr. Eko and his fellow slavers.
  • The slavers want to cut off Tyrion’s penis and sell it, explaining: “A dwarf’s cock has magic powers.” I would be shocked to learn if Tyrion hasn’t used that particular line on more than one occasion.
  • Tyrion convinces the slavers to keep him and Jaime alive and bring them to the Fighting Pits by claiming Jorah is a legendary fighter. Tellingly, it’s Jorah’s declaration that he killed a Dothraki bloodrider in single combat (not Tyrion’s lie that he once unseated Jaime) that changes their captors’ minds.
  • Jorah just before the pair was captured: “We better keep moving.” Personally think that would be a far more fitting tagline for the show than “Winter is Coming” or “All Men Must Die.”
  • Aidan Gillen continues to be delightful as Littlefinger: “We both peddle fantasies Brother Lancel, mine just happen to be entertaining.”
  • Baelish’s scene with Cersei was also rather informative — looks as though he’s angling to become Warden of the North after Stannis’ troops and Roose’s troops pick one another apart. Then again, it’s Littlefinger so there’s obviously something else at play here.
  • Doran Martell seems like a wise, just and kind ruler. I expect him dead any day now.
  • Yes, I would have very much liked to have seen a fight between Areo Hotah with his axe and a two-handed Jaime Lannister.
  • Asking all of you to cross your fingers that the Sand Snakes didn’t pick up any poisoning tips from their father, or Bronn isn’t going to be long for this world.
  • More from The Delightful Quips of Bronn and Jaime: “I like to improvise.” “That explains the golden hand.”

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