Mad Men Season 7 Episode 13 Recap


Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “The Milk and Honey Route” is probably a reference to the 1931 Nels Anderson hobo piece.
Episode timing: I can’t imagine Don’s been on the road for a whole month, but that’s about the timing for the last few episodes.

I can’t believe we’re one episode from the finale and they’re adding new story lines. It’s unconscionable! And it makes me think we’re not really going to get a neat conclusion for Don.

The first scene is Don being pulled over with questions about his identity. I thought it was funny he was in a suit and tie while driving across the country, that was the first clue the scene was a dream. It’s been frustrating the last few years that Don’s identity storyline hasn’t been part of the show, so on the one hand, I’m glad it’s back to being discussed. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to ignore this big topic for two seasons and then come back to it.

Betty has terminal cancer and the kids at college call her Mrs. Robinson. This is a blockbuster, but the amount of time we’re allowing for these write ups don’t really allow for spending a lot of time on it. Shows not in their final season would usually spend an entire season on something like this. Shows in their final season don’t have that luxury and bring it up in their second to last episode. Henry Francis is a fixer and reacts as he knows how, by trying to fix it, the unfixable. He goes to Sally to ask for her help and Sally ends up comforting a crying Henry. Betty is more realistic and says she knows when it’s time to give up. That said, Betty’s final instructions to Sally where funny because of how vain they were. The personal note to Sally at the end was nice, though, and wistful. “I know your life will be an adventure.” To me, Betty’s cancer feels a little bit like they’re setting up a reason for Don to have to come home. Finally something not about advertising/money. He’ll need to raise his kids. Far fetched? Maybe. (The shot with Henry Francis alone in the kitchen was a nice shot.)

Don at the hotel reminded me of Don in California with Anna Draper. Mostly, I guess, because of how he was fixing things, the typewriter, the Coke machine. Remember when he was working on the cars? He’s not that handy in New York, is he? Also, if he’s so handy, why couldn’t he fix the TV? Don was reading the Godfather and got the Andromeda Strain from Andy. Also, when he was checking out the woman/girl at the pool, she was reading The Woman of Rome, which I took as a reference for when Don and Betty went to Rome in season 3. Remember she went down to the bar and they pretended not to know each other while he picked her up. The needy part of Don is still there, as evidenced by him inviting Andy to stay for a drink, even after Andy extorted him for the whiskey. It hadn’t been said explicitly before, but Don acknowledged he doesn’t have to work anymore. He also talked about advertising in the past tense, so he’s definitely not going back. “Wyatt thought you ran away.” The line from Don and Sally’s phone call where he said, “You have no idea about money,” was probably true, but a little out of place, no?

Duck Phillips. Duck Phillips. Duck Phillips. For all his ridiculousness, he does seem kind of masterful as a recruiter. He “bumped into” Pete on the elevator and let Pete think he was going to help with Don. Pete was the prize, though, and Duck knows just what to say to him to get him into the job. I can’t tell how many levels this goes, whether Hobart was working with Duck to make this work. That would make sense to me. Pete’s million dollars is twice what Joan had. It was pretty clear that Pete and Trudi would get back together based on her reappearance in recent weeks. It’d be funny if Pete, the villain from the early seasons, ended up with the only happy ending. Why was Pete, “Always looking for something better, always looking for something else” ? Because of Dad. But maybe he doesn’t have to be always looking, maybe he can recognize what he has as good enough. I had a hard time imagining Pete’s brother as a Casanova, though. In the Pete/Trudi reconciling scene, she says something about his eyes “With respect to whatever is happening in your eyes,” and then he does, too, “Say yes with your voice not just your eyes.” That wasn’t an accident, but what does it mean!! “I remember things as they were.”

So Don goes to the American Legion fundraiser and tells people, I think for the first time since Anna, what happened in Korea (leaving out a big detail). “You just do what you have to do to come home.” (Another hint at Don headed home? But where is home?) (Initially, while watching this scene, I thought the WWII vet implied they ate the German soldiers. My first thought was, how Dick Whitman had eaten Don Draper’s identity. I couldn’t figure out if “bounced” means ate, so I didn’t include it.) The money for the fundraiser gets stolen, and everyone thinks Don is a conman that stole the money. Incidentally, he is a conman, but this was about as honest as he’s ever been. What’s that say about who he is? That, even at his realest, people think he’s fake. Don connects with Andy, he has an opportunity to steer him clear of his life, making it obvious that the double life Don leads hasn’t been hunky dory. “I know you think you know how to hustle.” “If you keep it, you’ll have to become somebody else. And it’s not what you think it is. You cannot get off on that foot in this life.” Don gives Andy the Cadillac as a way to start his life. “Don’t waste this.” As far as first steps go, a Cadillac is nice, but he’ll have to sell it, right?

Last song: Buddy Holly

An aside, but the “Don Draper is DB Cooper” theory gets more legs with the Pete to Lear Jet story and also Buddy Holly playing to see us out.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 13 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 12 Recap


Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Lost Horizon.” Maybe based on the 1933 novel by James Hilton, which was the origin of Shangri-La.
Episode timing: Well, they’ve moved into the McCann building. Don was supposed to be driving Sally to school. And Bert Cooper said he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the summer, so… August? September?

This was a really bleak episode for something that takes it’s title from where Shangri-La originated, jeeze. I guess it’s a pretty bleak series. We knew this.

So the troops have mostly moved over to the McCann building. Seems like for a while (a couple seasons) each episode has been a month after the previous episode.

Don’s new office is about the same size, or maybe even bigger. The first thing he does is test the windows will throw the suicide theorists into a tizzy. Don then goes up to see Hobart and Ferg and gets pumped up. He’s getting welcomed to the club, apparently, and he seems to take a shine to it. Unfortunately, Hobart and Ferg seem to have given the same speech to Ted Chaough (Don hears the same thing said to Ted that was said to him about “taking them up a notch”). So what does that make Don? How many white whales does Hobart have? Also, Conrad Hilton might be back! In the meeting with Miller, Don realizes how much of a part of the machine he is. The meeting is made up of only half the creative directors at McCann. Ted is buying into all this, but is still amused at Don walking out of the meeting. I thought the image of Don looking out the window in the meeting was pretty corny. The VP of Connelly Research has eyes that are very close together.

Seems like this may have been the Goodbye to Joan episode. She’s getting a settlement of $250K to leave McCann, so I’m not sure what else there is to see. She got a bum rap and hit the McCann glass ceiling pretty hard. The episode started with Joan’s welcome wagon at McCann, two copywriters hoping to work with her. “If it’s in it, near it, or makes you think about it, we’re on it.” Joan takes a pass at asking Don for help in the elevator, though she hints at something being wrong. She asks Ferg for help, maybe thinking she still had juice. Ferg takes it as an opportunity to hit on her. Then she takes it to Hobart who, actually seems to be kind of a dick. She was going to take McCann to court, but Roger made her see the sense of settling for half the money that’s owed. $250K in 1970 money is about $1.5 million in 2015 dollars, so she’s still doing pretty good. “Who told you, you got to get pissed off?” “I thought you were gonna be fun.” Ferg is a slime. When Roger has to convince Joan to take the money, she obviously feels like she’s giving up more than half her money. At SCP, she was making a career and getting gratification from her than her looks for the first time. McCann took that away. “”It’s only about the money.”

It occurs to me that this may have been the Goodbye to Roger episode, too, though I hope not. He and Peggy drinking in the SCP office was a fun romp (especially the Peggy rollerskating around the office). Roger needed someone to talk it all out with, to say goodbye with. “We all have regrets.” “No, I did it, I just needed a push.” He tells Peggy a story about the Navy, he was scared, and just needed a push. I’m not totally sure how this applies. If I had more time, I bet I could figure it out. Who knew Roger could play the organ! Peggy walking into the office with the sunglasses, cigarette, and painting was pretty awesome!

Something else occurred to me during the Peggy/Roger scene, though. SCP wasn’t great for women or minorities, but it was certainly better than McCann. Joan and Peggy were able to grow their roles at SCP, but we’ve already scene Joan pushed down, and Ferg hinted Peggy would be, too. They think Peggy is a secretary and can’t even get her office set up. In any case, “You’re very amusing.” Roger’s secretary, Shirley, implied that SCP was an alright place to work.

This couldn’t also be the the Goodbye to Betty episode, is it? When Don goes to pick up Sally, she’s reading a Freud case study, “Dora,” which is about a woman diagnosed with hysteria, with loss of voice as a symptom. Telling!

So than Don decides to Racine (Hey, Bert!) looking for Diana, but “she’s a tornado, leaving a trail of broken bodies behind her.” Don wants to find her because, “she seems so lost.” I don’t know if I realized before that she’s the female Don Draper. Or rather, the messed up Don from a few years ago. I don’t really want to talk about this very much.

The scene where Don is about to pee, and then a quick cut to Roger pouring a bottle, I see what you did there, Mad Men.

Why is the SCP office in such shambles? I understand everyone just moved out, but I don’t understand why ceiling panels are missing.

Freaking Harry Crane.

Last song: Ground Control to Major Tom, I don’t think Major Tom ever did come home.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 12 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 11 Recap

Chris Piascik Mad Men illustration
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Time and Life.” (Time Life Building) I’m exhausted and this might be sloppier/less informative than usual.
Episode timing: No clue! When are applications due for Greenwich Country Day?

So, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) directed this episode. I think this was his first. There were a few really great shots (Pete and Ken in the opening scene, Don, Roger, Ted, Joan having a drink in Don’s office, and the partners after the Hobart meeting.), but I don’t know if that was his doing.

Well, here we go again. The agency is changing! Ohnoes. It’s as if this hasn’t happened once a season since… I don’t know. The agency is getting adopted, absorbed, eaten, swallowed, dissolved by McCann Erickson. “They waited so long, I thought we were safe.” The Partners see this as a bad thing, McCann tries to spin it as something good. “I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” I don’t know what to think! From Ted’s perspective, someone else will be in charge and he’ll be able to just work. Roger’s losing his agency and namesake, and Joan, as far as I can tell, is thinking only about that meeting from earlier in the season where Peggy and her were sexually harassed. “Need you to be the voice of the bright side.” “For the first time I feel like whatever happens is supposed to happen.” “They don’t know who they’re dealing with.” I’m not really sure what Don thinks except he generally does not work well with a boss so we can guess. It just feels redundant, this storyline, and I wish there could be some tension and something happen, without it being more agency upheaval.

(I think Harry Crane was somehow a partner at one of the previous agencies and decided not to sell or something, this makes me chuckle.)

The Partners come up with a plan to keep the agency together by moving to California with the conflicting accounts. “We’ve done this before.” They all feel pretty, pretty, pretty good about it, butttttt Hobart cuts them off and says they’re coming to McCann and that’s it. (“I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” This was just one meeting in tonight’s episode that did not go as planned. Roger and Pete try to convince Ken to move with them. Pete and Trudi try to convince Greenwich Country Day to accept their daughter. (This was funny in that the headmaster kept giving different reasons why he wouldn’t accept her, but the real reason is a centuries-old feud between the Campbells and the McDonalds.) And The Partners telling the agency that they were being absorbed, and them being comically ignored. Basically, no one’s buying what they’re selling anymore. They’re out of touch, which is about the worst thing you can be as an advertising agency. It seems sudden for them to have lost it so quickly, maybe they’ll get it back at McCann.

The other seemingly big storyline was Peggy telling Stan about having a child. Pete sees a kid hug Peggy and gets a look. He remembers. I thought the baby was living with Peggy’s sister at one point, but that is hazy. “You do what you want with your children, I do what I want with mine.” “I don’t know, but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know, because you’re not supposed to know, or you can’t go on with your life.” “You don’t know lots of things about lots of people.” Peggy’s mad at that lady for yelling at her, but won’t let Stan judge her for the decisions she makes. It’s complicated and I guess I don’t have a ton to say about it.

I say it every other week, or maybe more, but I can’t get over the fact that the “Don Draper is really Dick Whitman, and shh, no one knows,” storyline isn’t a storyline anymore. There are subtle references every now and then, but it’s just not a source of tension anymore. Why?

Don and Roger messy at the bar was fun. Roger mentions how there will never be anymore Sterlings because his daughter is his only child, like he was. “No more Sterling Cooper, and no more Sterlings.” Obviously, the loss of the Sterling Cooper agency hurts for this reason. Don says something about aspiring to be like Shakespeare or something, and Roger says this drive is what he envies about Don. Don says he envied Roger not having to have this drive. Just a quick little scene about being born rich and born poor, I guess.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, when Don starts to tell The Partners about moving to the west coast, he shuts the curtains. Joan tells him to open them to keep the calm. This struck me as a nod toward transparency being the right way. I wonder if this is a recurring theme I haven’t noticed before, or if it’s a new theme to keep an eye on.

Last song: Money Burns a Hole in my Pocket by Dean Martin

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 11 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 9 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episod 8 art by Chris Piascik

Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “New Business.”
Episode timing: Megan mentions the 24th of the month, so maybe a couple months later? The only other reference I noticed was Diana seeming to have been away from New York for a while. I didn’t pick up anything hinting at the date.

My favorite part about this episode was when Diana said she had “a twinge in my chest,” and Don said, “a pain.” I was so excited because this a reference to the Carousel scene from the first season. “Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.” Diana continues to be a reference to all of Don’s women from the past. (To drive this point home, Diana is the goddess of the hunt, worked at a Greek diner, come on.)

I hope we see Diana again. She’s so interesting and sad, real. She tells Don she lost a daughter, and Don thinks she’s punishing herself. When it turns out she’s running away from another daughter, Don realizes… something. She’s a lot like him. Diana living in an empty room contrasts with Don’s now empty house. Diana is living in her pain, wallowing it, and while Don has certainly wallowed, he doesn’t seem to want to remember the pain regularly. Some lines, “Can’t you see I don’t want anything?” “You don’t think I’ve felt grief?” “I know you think you deserve this.” “When I was with you, I forgot about her. I don’t ever want to do that.” Don does want to forget and continues to chase women to be able to… This might be a dumb question, but what’s his main pain? The failure of his family? His childhood? Dick Whitman/Don Draper?

It’s definitely been a while since Don’s double life has been a part of the show, I wonder why. That said, “I know it’s not real, nothing about you is.” Megan wasn’t really talking about Dick Whitman, but maybe she said. “Aging, selfish, sloppy liar.” For the crowd that despises Don, that’s about what they think. “I’m vain.” Yep. Don and Sylvia and Diana and Arnold in the elevator. Yep. (Other people write about the doors/elevators. Check that stuff out sometime.)

Harry Crane is such a dick. When he goes in to tell Don he was going to have lunch with her, he looked disheveled, which had to be on purpose. Harry hits on her and Megan at least has enough self-respect to walk away from him. He’s such a weasel. “Oh, Harry.” With such contempt.

Megan’s mother, Marie, stealing everything from Don’s house was…funny. Marie was mad Megan had to pay for the move, and without changing her tone or skipping a beat, called Megan a whore for letting Don pay for it. And then she clears out the house. And then Megan took a million dollars from Don for the divorce. I don’t know if he had to do that, but she seemed to appreciate it. Now Don can start over fresh with no furniture. Then Roger has sex with Marie in Don’s place, which he knew he shouldn’t have done, but did anyway.

Marie “hates what he’s done to this family.” And she could have been talking about any of the families. This, combined with the reference to the Carousel scene makes me think the loss of Betty/Sally/Bobby/Gene, etc is the big loss. Who knows?

The last story line to discuss in the episode is Peggy and Pima and Stan. I know I shouldn’t still feel like this, but I want more than anything for this story line to lead to a return of Sal Romano. PLEASE. In any case, Pima, a fancy photographer swoops in and seduces Stan and tries to seduce Peggy. Not sure why she was trying to seduce both of them. Wouldn’t she have continued to get work with just Stan on board? Peggy either sees the truth of Pima, or gets Jealous of Stan. Either way, I don’t know what any of this means. “I can feel the tension of your need for my opinion.”

Miscellaneous!

-Betty was on the show for the first time, but I assume we’re not done with her. She’s going to get a masters in psychology because people, “Seek me out to share their confidences.” OK, Betty.

-NAC = “No afternoon calls.” Not bad.

-Don’s secretary references the Manson brothers leading to a funny exchange where Don asks if they’re coming in for meeting.

-Don and Pete have to go golfing with Burt Peterson. Don says he’ll roll up his sleeves and rent clubs. Remember when Burt Peterson got fired from one of the agencies 4 or 5 mergers ago? Pete’s hair is still receding (the actor shaves his hairline back, which is so ballsy) and seemingly asks Don for advice on how to be single.

-The last song: C’Est Si Bon by Yves Montand

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 9 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Chris Piascik's illustration for Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Severance.”
Episode timing: Pretty sure the speech Don watches took place between April 20th, and April 30th, 1970 (when the draw-down was announced and when the incursion into Cambodia was announced). Nixon was announcing the removal of 150K soldiers from Vietnam. Episode 7 was on or around July 20th, 1969, so about 9 months from then. More importantly. It seems like the Manson murders may have been skipped.

It usually takes me 3 or 4 episodes to get in a groove with the recaps, so who knows how this will go. Not very well, probably. Over the years, Mad Men has had series finales with a lot of upheaval, only to start next season with everything smoothed out. Though it wasn’t a finale, the mid-season break last year had plenty of upheaval, and though this isn’t a premier, there was plenty of everything smoothed out. Whatever the agency was called last year, they’ve been merged into McCann Erickson. Notably, Don Draper is still there, and Cutler is gone. (Ted Chaough is there, to, with a great mustache. And he and Don seem to be friendly.)

The first scene in the episode, with Don casting a fur advertisement, calls to mind Don’s first copywriting job at a fur shop.

Don and Dottie: A waitress in the diner looks like Rachel Katz of Menken Department stores (Don likes brunettes), and I wonder if this half season is going to be a rehashing of all of Don’s multi-episode flings. Dottie had a book by Jon Dos Passos, but I can’t figure out the significance. Don thinks he knows her, Dottie thinks he’s soliciting her, and, well, Don goes along with it. “You got your $100 worth, you can go.” “You got your $100 worth, you can go” is a pretty obvious reference to the ‘advertising as prostitution’ theme throughout the show.  When Don goes back a third  time, she seems far more gentle, more empathetic. “When people die, everything gets mixed up.” This scene obviously contrasts with Don going to where Rachel Katz’s family was sitting shiva. Rachel’s sister asks Don what he was looking for and he gets that Don Draper puppy dog thing. He still doesn’t know what he’s looking for.

There’s been at least one (two?) airline attendants on the show, so if we are looking back at all of Don’s flings, Tricia from TWA fits right in.

Peggy and Joan: Peggy and Joan have a problem with panty hose (“We had a problem, but we solved it.”) and when they go to a meeting with their colleagues at McCann…it doesn’t solve the problem. Joan is super pissed and Peggy seems less so. Peggy probably (definitely?) has more experience with this, but at the same time, Joan slept with a client to secure his business for the firm. Peggy seems to blame how Joan was dressed, and the years long, unresolved tension between Peggy and Joan is raw. Their relationship is so interesting, because you can never predict how one will respond to the other. Peggy can’t understand why Joan is so pissed because she doesn’t NEED to work like Peggy does. I think Joan can’t really understand why Peggy would take that abuse and not stab anyone. Peggy’s response is to fall in love and Joan’s response is to go shopping. “I want to burn this place down.”

This plot line was contrasted with Peggy’s interaction with her employee Mathis, “You want a raise? Stop acting like a secretary.” And then, “The kind of girl who doesn’t put up with things.” “Funny,” “Fearless.” Peggy continues to be totally in control and totally out of control. “I thought you were a fling, but now I think you might be more.” “I’ve tried new-fashioned.”

Ken Cosgrove: Ken’s story continues to be up and down. His father-in-law is retiring, but a beneficial replacement is stepping in. His wife wants him to quit, and they fight, and the very next day he gets fired by a smirking Ferguson Donnelly and an in-season-form-with-ridiculous-mustache Roger Sterling. (I think Ferg was drinking from a Sterling Cooper Draper Price Mug?) Pretty sure Ken still hates Pete and maybe vice versa? But anyway, Ken goes over all the accounts and writing, “This world is boring.” I think Pete really does envy Ken. Then Ken gets the last laugh by getting a job at Dow to be McCann’s client. “Shit.”

Did you notice in one of the casting scenes Ted Chaough opens the door to let one of the women in, but Pete lets her out? Ted Chaough also has a ridiculous mustache.

Is That All There Is by Peggy Lee was the song at the beginning of the episode AND the end of the episode

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 episode 7 recap

Mad Men Art
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Waterloo.” Last week when I saw the title of the episode, I thought immediately Bert was going to die. Waterloo is where Napoleon was defeated, and Bert has always struck me as a little Napoleon. Usually I’m wrong about these things.
Episode timing: Apollo 11 took off on July 20, 1969, so that’s pretty clear. Note to Tate conspiracists, The Tate murders are about three weeks from now.

It’s easy to watch a lot of episodes of Mad Men and say nothing happened, even most of the episodes this half season. Well, not tonight. Not tonight!

Bert Cooper getting the opening scene confirmed for me the episode would be about him. I would love to see a Bert Cooper prequel at some point. He seemed to have so much cache (“He was a giant” get it, Napoleon), but in 7 seasons, I think we only saw him do 3 or 4 things. I watched his scene with Roger twice, about being a leader, loyalty, and Jim Cutler not being on his team. Despite him being mad at Don, and tired of him, he still backs him because of team. That was pretty great. “No man has ever come back from leave, even Napoleon.” Roger realizes that with Bert gone, and Don on his way out, he wouldn’t be able to hold off Cutler any longer, and so he engineers the sale of the agency to McCann. Isn’t it going to be weird in the future to watch Mad Men Season 7 and have this giant thing happen between episodes 7 and 8? Also, this feels like the 10th or 15th time a Mad Men season has ended with the agency facing a significant amount of upheaval in the future from some sort of restructuring or sale.

“Maybe they won’t make it, all their problems will be over.” Ted Chaough is done. He’s had it. He’s finished. We didn’t see much of him at all this year, but it seems like Don won the war they were having last season? It’ll be interesting to see if he has a bigger role next year. This is as good a place as any to mention Jim Cutler’s attitude toward the baby Lou Avery. As mentioned previously on the show, Cutler doesn’t care about creative, and Avery is evidence of that. His dismissal of him, “Get back to work” with a little wag of his hand was delicious. I hope we get to see Don fire him next year.

Harry asked Don for impartial advice and he offered, “Don’t negotiate, just accept the deal.” It was sound advice, I wonder what percentage Harry would have gotten. And then he missed out because he hadn’t signed yet. Poor Harry Crane, always looking for more. Maybe he’s the suicide everyone expects? Roger saying Cutler wanted to whittle the agency down to just Harry and the computer makes a lot of his actions previously more clear. “It’s the agency of the future.” Though Cutler didn’t have any interest in the computer until the 2nd or 3rd episode. Was going all in on the computer just an excuse to get rid of Don? When Cutler realizes he’s beat, he capitulates almost instantly. “It’s a lot of money.” It finally became clear why Joan was so venomously mad at Don (though, I guess I should have remembered this), when Don merged with Ted to cancel the IPO, he cost Joan about a million dollars. Don pitching Ted on staying was nice because we got to see Don pitch one final time. He mentioned again (though it hasn’t come up in a while) not wanting to deal with the the business side anymore, he just wanted to do the work, to be creative. “You don’t want to see what happens when it’s really gone.”

Cutler perceived Don’s surprise arrival at the cigarette meeting as a breach of contract, and moved quickly to have him terminated. He erred by not including all the other partners in his plans, especially because Don had been the good soldier lately. “Sometimes actions have consequences.” Earlier in the season or last season, Cutler said something about “what Don did to Ted” or something. It seems like he’s really had it out for Don since then. Pete is protective of his prize pitcher, “That is a very sensitive piece of horse flesh, he shouldn’t be rattled.”

Don being threatened with termination has his secretary throwing herself at him. That was… unexpected. It also leads Don to call Megan and discuss it as an opportunity. She doesn’t see it that way. It’s been happening all season, and some last, but they’ve grown apart. They seemed to have patched things up after their last fight, but only on the surface. Megan doesn’t want what Don can offer, he knows it, and he doesn’t even fight it. I think his offering to take care of her was also mostly, “Don’t tell anyone about my secret,” but at this point, who could she tell? None of her new friends would care. “Aren’t you tired of fighting?” “I guess I could see it as an opportunity.” “Marriage is a racket.”

The scenes of everyone watching the moon landing were excellent and foreshadowed Peggy’s pitch. Peggy, Pete, Harry, and Don; Roger, Mona, their grandson, and son-in-law; Betty and co; Bert and his maid. “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” Peggy’s pitch was like a less polished Don pitch. Same tempo, storytelling, etc. “All of us were doing the same thing at the same time.”

Peggy didn’t end up wearing either of the outfits she asked Julio about. Julio, who basically functions as a reminder to Peggy’s pregnancy. (As did “Pete’s pregnant,” which I’m not really sure I know what that means.) And during the pitch, when Peggy mentioned there was a 10 year old boy at her house watching television, the next shot was of Pete. There baby would only be about eight and a half, though. Don has been pretty supportive of Peggy for a while, or at least an episode and a half, but it was back to their early to mid-series form like when she was driving out to NJ to bail him out. “What if there was another table where everyone gets what they want when they want.” That’s been brought up before, mostly relation to Don doing whatever he wanted when he wanted, and not having any consequences. Peggy getting drop ceiling installed in her house was funny.

Cynical Sally is making eyes at the hunky older stud whose family is visiting. She does her hair and wears make up on her way to work, for his part, the hunky stud doesn’t wear a shirt when going down for breakfast. One might assume Betty would be furious at this behavior, but she’s not, I think, because she approves of it. Kind of a tie in to the conversation around Sally almost breaking her nose and her face being all she had. Also, from what we know about Betty, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for her to hit on the kid. I picked up on a contrasting of Sally and the football player with Peggy and the handyman, but as always, I’m too tired to figure it out, and let’s be honest, I probably couldn’t figure it out anyway. In any case, while I think Betty approved of Sally’s actions, I think Sally kissing Neil, instead of the hunky older stud, was another pushback against her mother. It was her not being cynical. The hunky older stud said something about how much the moon landing cost, a line of thinking Sally parrots to Don a few minutes later. Don responds, “Don’t be so cynical” and she takes it to heart. It’s nice. Also, she smokes cigarettes exactly like Betty and it’s spooky.

And that leaves us with a bestockinged Bert Cooper singing and dancing for Don, “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” Don appeared to be headed to his old office before the song and dance, and it makes him teary. So what are the free things Don is going to take joy in next year? The work! I don’t want to think too much about this song and dance, except, again, it’s going to be weird in the future when people are binge watching Season 7. I’m pretty glad not to have to stay up until 1:30 on Sunday nights anymore for a while, but splitting the season was done for purely money reasons on the part of AMC and it’s bullshit.

So what do we expect for next year? It won’t take 7 episodes to wrap things up tightly, so I imagine there will be more drama and intrigue. If Megan actually is going to be killed in the Manson Family murders, then next year will have to pick up 3 weeks from now. That would actually track roughly with a month passing between episodes, but I’m not sure how that’s more than a one episode story at most. What do you think’s going to happen?

Mad Men Season 7 episode 7 recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 6 recap

Mad Men Art
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “The Strategy.” Ostensibly, this calls to mind the strategy for Burger Chef, but I think it also refers to Bob Benson and Joan, McCann/Roger, Cutler and Phillip Morris, and ultimately Don.

I don’t know when the episode takes place, but maybe early to mid-summer based on Bonnie coveting the air conditioning and Don saying he’d be back in California at the end of July and it not seeming too far away. Let’s say mid to late June? (That said, Oh! Calcutta! the theater revue Bonnie and Pete were going to go to didn’t debut until June 17, so maybe it’s later in June?

One of the major themes of the episode was sexism, how women are treated, etc. The first scene, when Peggy was doing market research, she couldn’t get anything from the woman because the woman needed to beat her husband home. Picking up fast food was an issue because the woman was already supposed to cook.
“Bad enough I’m not making dinner.” Don was going to take Megan shopping and Pete told Bonnie he wanted her “shopping all day and screwing all night.” I don’t know why the writers would have both of them say it.
“Who gives mom’s permission? Dads.” The entire pitch of Burger Chef originally was couched in the idea that it needed to be OK for moms/families to eat there instead of a home cooked meal. Then, once they have a pitch everyone’s happy with (for the time being), Pete wants Don to do the pitch. “Don will give authority, you’ll give emotion.” While Peggy is, “Every bit as good as any woman in this business,” she’s not good enough to close the deal? On the pitch, Lou is happy to perpetuate the status quo, like a fucking chump. “It’s nice to see family happiness again.” Peggy is good enough at her job to know that while the pitch is acceptable, it’s not the best they can do.

Another storyline on the theme of a woman’s role is Bob Benson proposing to Joan. They have a great relationship, and it hasn’t been entirely clear (especially because he hasn’t been on this season) he was grooming her to be his beard. Joan reveals she knew all along Bob was into men. “Bob, put that away.” He was shocked she didn’t accept the proposal based on the fact he was offering her more than anyone else (his words). In his mind, a woman needed a husband. “I want love, and I’d rather die hoping that happens than make some arrangement.” Joan tenderly suggests Bob deserves that, too. “America needs engineers.” The smarmy Chevy VP who laid it on thick with Joan turns out to be gay and calls Bob Benson to bail him out when he gets arrested for it. I don’t know how he knew Bob Benson was gay, and I don’t know why I can’t just call him Bob or Benson, but Bob Benson. In exchange for bailing him out, the exec tells Bob SCP is going to lose Chevy, and Bob Benson will be hired at Buick.

Bonnie and Pete join the Mile High Club, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” I can’t quite understand what Bonnie saw in Pete, and Pete is clearly still tied up in Trudy. Rather, Pete doesn’t like something not going his way, and Trudy not sticking with him, despite his terrible husbandness, is Pete not getting his way. “I don’t like you in New York.” It’s true, California Pete is happy. This episode follows a series long habit of lulling the audience into sympathy for Pete for a few episodes before making him out to be a royal asshole in one episode. Getting Don to pitch instead of Peggy, being a jerk to Trudy, and then a jerk to Bonnie was asshole Pete in all his glory. Bonnie seemed interested things with Pete being more serious, but that’s not where his head was at.

“You really got to keep an eye on him.” Ken Cosgrove doesn’t disappoint.
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Let it not be said Lou Avery’s Tiki bar went unmentioned in this recap.
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Bonnie and Megan flying home on the same flight.
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“Say what you will, but he’s very loyal.” So I guess Harry Crane finally got what he wanted. I should have more to say about this.
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I suppose Bonnie reminds me of what Betty would be like if she was less of a child and more responsible.
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Roger in the steam room with a rival exec. I was unclear if he was trying to hire Roger or Don or buy SCP. Roger seems to figure out what he wanted at the end of the episode, so that’s good. I love it when a plan comes together. Cutler’s ploy to bring in a cigarette company to force out Don is fairly savvy, but Don has a strategy? “Stop thinking about Don and start thinking about the company.”

Which leaves us with Don. Megan visits and, I must have missed an episode somewhere, I’ve never, ever understood why Peggy likes her so much. She always has and it seems very out of character to me. “I didn’t know he was married.” Oh, Marcia, are you trying to get him in trouble? Speaking of trouble, Bonnie went right to Don’s office. What was that about? Not sure I can describe this well, but remember when Pete called Bonnie to tell her to go to the show without him, and then the next scene was the phone ringing at Don’s? Didn’t you think that was going to be Bonnie on the phone? In any case, Don wakes up and wistfully sees Megan out on the balcony. (There’s that balcony again! Watch, the series is going to end and nothing will have happened on that balcony.) At another point, he’s watching her pack up her things, making her move to the West Coast more official, more permanent. Don was also looking at the newspaper from the day after JFK was killed. It was uncovered during Megan’s packing, but I’m not quite sure what the allusion was. Maybe everything’s falling apart.

At the beginning of the episode, Don’s being the good team member, supporting Peggy even when Pete puts him on the spot. Peggy’s still mad at him, and eventually I’ll re-watch last season to remember why. It’s obvious why Lou doesn’t want him in that meeting. There’s a reckoning coming, Lou, just be aware. When Don finds out he’s supposed to do the pitch, he celebrates like a kid, pumping his fist. He’s doing the work like Freddy told him to, and it’s starting to pay off. He also puts a bug in Peggy’s ear that there may be another way to do the pitch, which ruins her weekend. (Peggy tells him to mention the tag at the end of the pitch like he just thought of it. “Do I do that?” I realized just now that line reminded me of the character Jon Hamm played on 30 Rock who is oblivious to how good looking he is.) On Saturday morning, she smokes a cigarette and calls Stan from Stan’s office. Later on, she’s drinking in Lou’s office where Don finds her. “It’s poisoned because you expressed yourself!” Peggy said she never would have done that, but Don explains the not knowing, being OK with not knowing, is how to get where he got. She asks him to, “Tell me what your saves the day plan is.” She’s finally willing to forgive him and they have a pretty serious conversation. In discussing the strategy, it turns out the family they were trying to portray, the one who eats dinner together etc, doesn’t exist. “Does this family exist anymore?” Don can’t remember if his family with Betty was ever like that. “The hell do I know about being a mom?” Is there ever going to be any more acknowledgement Peggy gave her baby up, or did she block it out completely?

Somewhat unsolicited, Don tells Peggy, “I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about you,” which leads to Don frankly telling Peggy his fears, “That I never did anything and I don’t have anyone.” He says it so matter of factily, it’s clear Don and Peggy are close again, and if that didn’t seal it, dancing to I Did it My Way seals the deal. This feels like Don giving up on Megan. This feels like Don hitting bottom (even though not really). Peggy and Don hit on a new strategy, making it OK to go to Burger Chef, focusing more on the restaurant than on the family. Don did the work, and now he’s repaired his relationship with Peggy. The end is nigh, Lou avery.

The last scene was interesting in that it was a visualization of Peggy’s strategy. No matter who is at the table, from outside it looks like family. Don, Pete, Peggy living the commercial. My wife commented Burger Chefs looked very 1950s (“1955 was a good year.” ahem), out of place at the end of the 60s. Pulling on that a little bit, the original strategy was out of place for the middle of 1969. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between the two decades and advertising strategies.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 6 recap