The A.V. Club on the ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 finale

Critic Todd VanDerWerff nails the unevenness of “The Phantom”:

Some of what hampers “The Phantom” is, surprisingly, Weiner’s direction. He’s done such a fine job with all of the previous finales—even nailing the tricky tone of “Shut The Door. Have A Seat”—that I’m surprised at how weirdly flat this episode feels, confined by lots and lots of unimaginative shots and brusque directing that might have been standard on any TV drama. The pacing is all off in the first half of the episode, as everything jumps between storylines somewhat haphazardly, and though Weiner comes up with one magnificent image toward the end—the five partners of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in their new office space, looking out toward what’s to come—so much of the rest of the episode feels like it’s trying to fit three or four episodes’ worth of plots into one hour and just barely pulling it off.

There were clearly some highlights – Roger’s mixture of happiness and genuine melancholy with Marie, Pete’s final speech to Beth – but I found this to be a pretty unsatisfying finale. Compared to the eloquence of Season 1’s “The Wheel”, or the surprise and movement of Season 3’s “Shut the Door. Have a Seat” and Season 4’s “Tomorrowland”, it was a pretty tame episode.