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Mad Men “Waterloo” Review (7×07)

26 May

Screen shot 2014-05-26 at 12.04.58 AM

“The best things in life are free.”

This is the song that closes out the first half of Mad Men‘s final season, one filled with pain and growth and realization, a seven-episode showcase for some of the best actors and writers on television. “Waterloo” is a moving finale that sets up what should be a very intriguing final run of episodes.

Ultimately, this finale is about triumph, even if it may be temporary. Triumph for Roger comes in the form of engineering a deal that allows everyone to keep his or her job and that allows SC&P to retain its clients; this arises after Bert Cooper suddenly passes away, causing Roger to rethink the situation, to realize he needs to protect those around him. Power has dominated this season, but Roger isn’t doing what he does out of a desire for power. He’s doing what he does because he’s trying to protect the essence of the company: its people. It may be driven by money and a computer and a desire to reach toward the future, but people are still essential, and people die. We must preserve what we can.

Bert represents an older era, and Roger sees this clearly; he sees himself going next, and then all his friends and colleagues after him. So, he calls a meeting, kicks Harry out of said meeting, and shoots down Jim Cutler’s objections. It’s a win for him; he’s coasted up until now, but it’s time to actually take action, to think about what matters.

Of course, the interesting thing about the new arrangement is that SC&P is now under the control of the very same company–McCann/Erickson–they were trying to avoid in the past. We’ve seen this kind of shift in the company dynamics before, but it still seems fresh; some things change, some things remain the same. What this means for Don, though, is a fear of spending the next 5 years stuck in a circle of his own loneliness and regret. The question becomes: can he heed Cooper’s advice (or warning, depending on the way you look at it)? Will Don be able to focus on the “best things in life”? The irony of this situation is that the promise of money–exactly what Cooper doesn’t refer to as one of the best things in life–is what gets the partners willing to go along with Roger’s plan.

There’s definitely a bit of an ominous tone to the final scene, but there’s also an uplifting vibe to it. For, it does acknowledge the journey Don’s been on this year, and it does acknowledge his growth and understanding. He’s in a better place with Peggy, Sally, Roger, and even Megan–they both know it’s over, and the break-up is amicable and respectful–and he now has everything he thought he wanted at the beginning of the season. Does Don Draper really want it now, though?

He’s been on quite a ride this season. So much of it was building back up his relationship with Peggy, which was strained and almost broken at the beginning of the year. Now, though, as a result of shared emotional states and shared experiences, they’re close again, entirely platonic, but beautiful. Don swallowing his pride and letting Peggy take the Burger Chef pitch is an important character moment for him, and well, Peggy deserves it. She owns that room, and in her own Carousel-esque speech, she speaks from a place of emotional truth, from her maternal instincts with Julio, from the dance she shared with Don last week. It’s a moving and emotional moment, and it’s something that’s been a long time coming. Peggy Olson, everyone.

Her pitch also seems to summarize the theme of this episode as a whole: interconnectedness. Much like the Moon Landing connected many of our characters, so did Roger’s plan or Don’s decision. The best things in life may not be merely a product of work; the best things in life go beyond money and business, taking you beyond the pitch and into the restaurant and into the booth you share with those around you. That’s what Don’s learned this year.

This may all be temporary, but they’ve all accomplished a lot.

As Bert would say, “Bravo.”

GRADE: A-

“The Beginning” (Season 7, Part 1) GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-No taking off of the shoes leads to Bert dying, I guess. Anyway, I love the stocking feet.

-Meredith. “We can’t do this.” “You’re right. Not now.”

-I like the Sally storyline as well. Neil and Don seem to parallel each other, and Sally pursuing the guy who actually goes out and does something emphasizes the fact that she does truly value Don’s opinion.

-Kudos to Robert Morse for an excellent run on the show, and what a fantastic way to (possibly) end his career.

-Oh, Cutler. Going along with the vote at the end because “It’s a lot of money!”

-Pete always has great lines. “I own 10%!” as well as “The clients still want to live, Ted!” Also, apparently, he’s “pregnant”.

– “I don’t want to go to Newark.” “Nobody does.”

-Still hate the split season, but if they use that extra episode to show us more of Bert singing and dancing, followed by a tap-dancing Ken making his way into the picture, followed by Bert breaking into “My Way” as Peggy and Don slow dance to the side and Pete yells/sings at people, then it’ll all be worth it.

What I’m saying is, I want Mad Men: The Musical.

-It’s been fun covering this half season! It was all too short, but it was truly magnificent, and I’m hoping next year is even better. Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: AMC, Mad Men

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