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Mad Men “Person to Person” Review (7×14)

18 May

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“Happiness is just a moment before you need more happiness.”

This specific quote is nowhere to be found in the series finale of Mad Men, but the idea behind it plays out in nearly every scene of the hour. It’s certainly not the best episode this show has produced, but it puts a thematic bow on the series, giving us a snapshot of and hope for these characters’ futures; yes, there will always be something in life that knocks them down and causes intense self-doubt, but what matters at the end of “Person to Person” is the fact that they find happiness in this moment. What matters is that we see just how much life is built on being person to person, on being formed out of the relationships we share with others. Happiness, therefore, is only a person away.

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Mad Men “The Milk and Honey Route” Review (7×13)

11 May


“We knew we’d catch up with you eventually.” 

The phrase “for old time’s sake” is repeated several times in this episode, and it’s an apt thing to say in a series that largely revolves around the past. As the show moves toward its final hour, its characters are dealing with the past in one way or another, whether that means bringing up feelings of nostalgia or finally letting go of your past or looking back on an unfulfilled life. For all the differences in motivations and in mindsets of these characters, the past is the force that unites them all, that informs who they are in the present and who they’ll be in the future.

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Mad Men “Lost Horizon” Review (7×12)

3 May

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“This business doesn’t have feelings.”

On paper, it seems like a perfect fit: Don Draper has the Miller account, Peggy and Joan are thriving, and everyone’s going on to do bigger and better things at McCann Erickson. However, “Lost Horizon” is an examination of what happens when reality doesn’t mesh with ideality, when the land and job and life of your dreams end up being a harsh slap across the face. It’s an episode that isn’t quite the all-time classic “Time & Life” was, but it’s still a great hour that has both an air of uncertainty and an air of inevitability to it; it’s clear that the end of the series is coming up quickly, and we know that we’re only going to be spending two more weeks with these wonderful characters.

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Mad Men “The Forecast” Review (7×10)

20 Apr


“It has to get better.”

The ad is all about capturing the future, about predicting future trends and desires and mindsets. It draws you in, displaying image after image of a new life you can make for yourself…if only you had that one product. Because Mad Men is built around the ad, the show’s oftentimes dealt with the future, asking its characters whether they’ll be able to move on and change, whether they’ll be able to answer their own glaring questions: What’s next? What does the forecast of your future say? Is the forecast accurate?

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Mad Men “New Business” Review (7×09)

13 Apr


“You think you’re gonna begin your life over and do it right, but what if you never get past the beginning again?”

“New Business” is about new beginnings, about the desire to change and move past stagnancy. It’s clear that the 1970s social, cultural, and political influence is snaking its way throughout the show, and we see people adapting to new lifestyles at every turn. Yet, aimlessly floating through our television screens right now is none other than Don Draper, a man who’s both out of touch with the times and with those around him. We see this mismatch visually with him in his suit and Pete in his golf outfit, and him telling Pete to “watch the road” is representative of his inability to change with the times; he’s looking in one direction, and he’s driving down the same path that we’ve seen him go down before.

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Mad Men “Severance” Review (7×08)

6 Apr


“Is that all there is?”

There’s one life that you live, and then there are an infinite number of lives that you don’t live. “Severance” is about what happens when you grapple with those un-lived lives, when you wonder what could’ve been different, when it seems like you’re in a pool of stagnation even though things have changed around you. As Ed Baxter insists, he’s “still young enough to enjoy things, to make up for lost time.” The problem is that it may already be too late, and you’re left falling back into old patterns because that’s what you do.

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Mad Men “Waterloo” Review (7×07)

26 May

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“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.

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Mad Men “The Runaways” Review (7×05)

12 May


“Get out while you still can!”

Michael Ginsberg warns Peggy and the rest of SC&P as he’s being wheeled out of the office, one nipple missing and downward spiral complete. Although the breakdown doesn’t have the effect it could’ve had, it’s still an incredibly sad situation to witness: here’s a man who’s unable to run away from the circumstances, who feels like he’s on the outside looking in, so much so that paranoia sets in and sends him hurtling over the edge.

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