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.”


-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

“Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential”

Luke O’Neil, who seems to write pretty much every article on every site these days, calls bullshit on that stupid “How much does it cost to book your favorite band?” link that around this past week. Some acts seem way lower than they should be, some acts seem way higher than they should be, and there a lot of bands making more for one show than you made last year. O’Neil mentions a lot of sites who should know better shared the list anyway. Basically, this isn’t what your favorite band earns every night, it’s what your favorite band would charge to play at your Bar Mitzvah. Lastly, and smartly, O’Neil ties the sharing of this list to that Facebook dude cluelessly railing against viral media content.

This is exactly the sort of thing the Internet Thinking Apparatus was talking about yesterday in the wake of Facebook exec Mike Hudack’s anti viral media rant. Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential. Being able to affix a few famous musicians’ names and some big dollar figures to a headline under the guise of Data is a perfect recipe for viral success. It’s certainly worked here. The post is one of Priceonomics biggest traffic hits, with 1.2 million views as of this moment. Someone should put together a list of what traffic-worshipping sites charge for their integrity. A few ten thousand views seems to be about the going rate. That would be a huge viral hit.

“Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential”

Militia on an Army base

This story, by Nadya Labi, about an anti-government militia forming on a military base really doesn’t make the US Military look very good. Isaac Aguigui’s wife died suspiciously resulting in a cash payment of about a half million dollars to Aguigui, money he then used to buy weapons and drugs, and befriend other disaffected soldiers. Eventually, the militia’s paranoia turned on itself and murdered one of the members and his girlfriend. Before that, the Army missed several signals something was wrong.

Aguigui became close to Private Christopher Salmon, nicknamed Phish, who had been caught committing travel-voucher fraud in Iraq and was assigned extra duty as punishment. His wife, Heather, was pregnant, and she had recently been discharged from the Army for prescription-drug abuse. The two men sat together, smoking Spice and talking about their deepening antipathy toward the military and the government. At first, Heather was skeptical of Aguigui; she had met him before Deirdre died, at a beer-pong party off post, and overheard him arranging to meet a girl at the barracks. But after Deirdre’s death she felt sorry for him—and, she said, “he was my husband’s best friend.” She suggested inviting him to dinner at their home, a white four-bedroom row house on the base. “He came to my house and never really left,” she said. “One night turned into a week, a week turned into a month.” He took over the couch, and then moved into his own room.

Militia on an Army base

Chuck Klosterman on KISS

I’m not sure I would have started reading “The Definitive, One-Size-Fits- All, Accept-No Substitutes, Massively Comprehensive Guide to the Life and Times of KISS” if I’d know it was over 10K words. Who am I kidding, I would have started it and then left the tab open for half a year. In any case, I read the whole thing in 2 sittings, and it’s quite enjoyable. Klosterman is at his best writing about metal he loves more than most people. This wouldn’t be nearly as long if it didn’t include a review of each of the albums, but how are you going to skip them when they’re right there? (Also, this marks the second KISS article I read this year, which I can’t really explain. I never liked the band at all, but they’ve got a different ethos to most bands (basically $$$), making them more interesting to read about.)

Some highlights:

Kiss do not make it easy for Kiss fans. There’s never been a rock group so easy to appreciate in the abstract and so hard to love in the specific. They inoculate themselves from every avenue of revisionism, forever undercutting anything that could be reimagined as charming. They economically punish the people who care about them most: In the course of my lifetime, I’ve purchased commercial recordings of the song “Rock and Roll All Nite” at least 15 times2 (18 if you count the 13-second excerpt used in the introduction to “Detroit Rock City” on Destroyer). Considered alone, this is not unusual; there are lots of bands who capitalize on the myopic allegiance of their craziest disciples. In 2009, Pavement announced a reunion tour and asked their most dogged fans (myself included) to purchase tickets a whopping 53 weeks in advance. Every decision was premeditated for maximum fiscal impact. “Instead of one announcement mapping out the entire tour itinerary,” noted the Washington Post, “concerts have been announced one by one, in a fine-tuned sequence seemingly designed to maximize profits in every possible way.” It was savvy business (and almost no one complained). Yet Pavement would never brag about this level of calculation. They would rationalize their actions, or they’d remind the media that they never explicitly said they wouldn’t add extra shows, or they’d chuckle about the swindle only when no one else was around. Pavement would always take the money, but they’d simply (a) say nothing, (b) feel bad about it, or (c) pretend to feel bad about it.

One thing I’ve learned in my life is that — creatively — it’s better to have one person love you than to have 10 people like you. It’s very easy to like someone’s work, and it doesn’t mean that much; you can like something for a year and just as easily forget it even existed. But people remember the things they love. They psychologically invest in those things, and they use them to define their lives (and even if the love fades, its memory imprints on the mind). It creates an immersive kind of relationship that bleeds into the outside world, regardless of the motivating detail. In pop music, the most self-evident example is the Grateful Dead, although Rush and the Smiths fall into the same class. Another example is Fugazi. Two others are Bikini Kill and the Insane Clown Posse. These are artists who diametrically impact how substantial factions of people choose to think about the universe. The social footprint they leave is far deeper than their catalogue.

Chuck Klosterman on KISS

Farm-to-table is not enough

Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill on the fallacy, or rather the inadequacy of, the farm-to-table dining ethos as a means to economic change. When done right, farms will rotate crops on different fields to be able to produce the items popular at the moment (in this case emmer wheat). Focusing on and buying only these items doesn’t give the farms much breathing room.

Standing in Klaas’s fields, I saw how single-minded I had been. Yes, I was creating a market for local emmer wheat, but I wasn’t doing anything to support the recipe behind it. Championing Klaas’s wheat and only his wheat was tantamount to treating his farm like a grocery store. I was cherry-picking what I most wanted for my menu without supporting the whole farm.

Back at the restaurant, I created a new dish called “Rotation Risotto,” a collection of all of Klaas’s lowly, soil-supporting grains and legumes, cooked and presented in the manner of a classic risotto. I used a purée of cowpea shoots and mustard greens to thicken the grains and replace the starchiness of rice. As one waiter described the idea, it was a “nose-to-tail approach to the farm” — an edible version of Klaas’s farming strategy.

Farm-to-table is not enough