Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, Time & Life (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by AMC

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I wanted to get this done yesterday. Really, I did. But that episode needed two views because it was a beautiful thing. I saw one reviewer who noted that he felt handled throughout the episode, and I felt similarly. And like that reviewer –I can’t remember who it was or I’d link– I found it perfectly fine, too. The episode was vintage Mad Men, and just because I could see behind the curtain a little bit didn’t diminish my enjoyment in the slightest. Everyone was killing it, and there probably has to be some viewer-steering here in the last few hours if we are to make it through to the end with so many pieces left in the puzzle to place. Even Weiner can’t trust us quite that much, and he’s been pretty trusting up until now. It’s one of my favorite things about him. He’s placed a lot of critical character development in the “hands” of Jon Hamm’s facial expressions sparing the dialog that could diminish the effect (or affect, for that matter). Hamm’s face has delivered, and here we are with a really good understanding of a very flawed, very nuanced character who isn’t easily categorized as either good or bad — just human, and real, and deeply damaged. Also, toxic to any woman with whom he becomes romantically involved.


 

So, there’s no mistaking the obvious. This is the alternate ending version of “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” As it should be, since it’s impossible to believe they could deliver yet another magical maneuver to free themselves from the clutches of the devil. I saw it coming, although I never stopped rooting for the happy ending. Right up until Don’s fur salesman desperation showed up instead of his usual ad-man swagger, and Jim told him to sit down before he even managed to make the full play. That shot of their faces as Jim Hobart listed the big names, and told them they are dying and going to advertising heaven was like a kick in the gut.

Only Ted smiles during the portion of the meeting when it becomes clear that Sterling Cooper West is not to be. It was ominous that Hobart used the word dying, and certainly devastating and telling that he didn’t even bother to list Avon for Joan despite the fact that it’s her client, which leaves her completely empty-handed. They sold their soul to the devil, and after trying to outrun him, he finally caught up to collect. (This whole meeting made me very suspicious that Cutler’s stealing that fifth spot from Joan which will not be ok.)


 

I’ve loved the idea of Stan and Peggy for a long time. They genuinely like and respect each other. There’s a chemistry there, and they balance each other out really well. I loved that Peggy talked about her son with Stan. That scene was such a well-acted scene in an episode loaded with them. I thought Stan’s dawning realization of what Peggy was revealing was particularly well-done. It was just such a quiet and effective exchange.

They may not give the relationship a try before the series ends, but make no mistake. Stan and Peggy will become a couple. I’m perfectly satisfied with it even if we don’t get a peek into what that might look like in these final episodes because I think this scene did the remaining bit of pre-work so well that I can fill in the blanks.


 

Roger’s going to be ok. At least for a while. Because he hasn’t really figured out how not ok he is yet. And I love that character so much, that I’m rooting for continued unenlightenment for him. But Don’s figured it out. He’s always known really. He’s just always thought there was something or someone that or who would ease his pain if only he keeps searching. That he would find the answer someday. But I think Don’s figured out that he’ll never be ok. So for me, the key moment in this entire episode was when Roger’s kissed Don on the cheek and said reassuringly, “You are ok.” Because there are so many ways to read that moment. On the second watch, Don’s face as he watches Roger leave makes me think that he realizes that having a man like Roger, equally against the prospect of working for McCann and in a romantic relationship with its obvious negatives, reassure you that you’re ok is not a good turn of events. It means that you are on “suicide watch” so to speak. So, of course, I’m keeping Don on suicide watch because I’ve already had him on the watch since the past couple of episodes have had a troubling comment or facial expression to make me concerned.

I really did enjoy that hint of the old Roger and Don magic at the bar, despite the underlying current of impending disaster, because I’ve always loved watching those two banter and play off each other. I know there were a lot of ways that people read the comment from Don, “What’s in a name?” but I think Don means that in an all-encompassing way, not in a way to exclude any other meaning. For him, it’s just a fundamental point. Names mean exactly nothing. He may not know about Kevin, but he probably suspects. I’d actually be surprised if he doesn’t. But the comment isn’t just about Kevin not getting the legitimacy of the Sterling name. It’s not just that they lost the agency name to McCann. It’s not just about Don not being Don Draper, although it’s certainly that at the foundation. But it’s about so much more than that. Because to Don, it’s not about the name. It’s about the meaning. The substance. It’s why he’s breaking down. His entire life has been built on a lie. But even as he wants to erase the lies, he’s still working in advertising. And he’s still Don Draper. He’s existentially bereft. And he’s no longer in denial about it, which makes me worry very much about his surviving the series finale, although I can’t deny it would make perfect sense for the character’s arc.


 

I absolutely hate that Lou left feeling that he had the upper hand over Don. It’s a disgustingly unearned “victory” for Lou and entirely unsatisfactory for me. I realize that the viewers and Don are in on the joke that his comic is unlikely to be successful, but it still feels pretty great to Lou especially since he got an advance. It’s clearly not an unwarranted smugness that he’s feeling as he snots to Don about his “miserable life,” and it’s certainly not the exit I had planned for Lou. I wanted to see Don dance on his funeral pyre. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

It’s almost over. And I’m still in denial.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, New Business (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Justina Mintz/AMC

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I’m late again with this post. Can you blame me? Weren’t there a fair amount of new people running around there that we needed to decide whether to invest time into getting to know or not? I mean there are FIVE episodes left, right? FIVE?????? Maybe I’m miscounting? I’m not great at math. But this is pretty easy math, and I’m feeling confident that I can do it. I’ve got plenty of digits to get this one accomplished. So, what in the hell, Weiner? Also, I couldn’t give two shits about Sylvia and Arnold and their smug dismissal of Don. Sure, Don’s been un(?)intentionally campaigning to change the term shit spiral to Don spiral. But if I remember correctly, our friend Sylvia was a willing participant in their little let’s-introduce-Sally-into-how-truly-awful-the-real-world-actually-is. So let’s quit it with the judgment there, pot. The kettle looks horrendous, but you’re black, too.

I have to take a minute and plead with Rog to stop with the pornstache. It fits him, and this episode just made the pornstache even more on point, but I just can’t take it anymore. Marie, you DID see the pornstache, right? And you do feel Roger’s utter lack of investment, right? You’re trading one man for his exact replica. At least from the very small bit of info we were provided in this episode. At the very least, you’re unhappy with your current husband? Roger will make you equally unhappy as he is not a long-term strategy.

I’m not going to tackle the Megan and Don bit. I’m disappointed in the information we were given here. I think Megan was intentionally demonized. Perhaps justifiably, perhaps not. I have no idea. Without the backstory, there’s no way to know. I refuse to weigh in on it.

The most interesting part for me with the arrival of our most interesting new character (Hi Mimi!!) was Peggy’s and Stan’s BS meters and the effectiveness of them. Stan’s doesn’t work at all. Maybe just when it comes to women, but I think flattery will get you almost anywhere with Stan. Peggy is a far more suspicious type. And while I think a fair amount of this can be attributed to Peggy’s personality, I think this is a continuation of last week’s commentary on what women were dealing with back then. Even when dealing with other women. They were always on the alert and sussing out the adversary’s agenda. Because in those days, just about everyone was an adversary, and everyone needed to be viewed as such until proven otherwise. There was an initial flicker of surprise that Stan fell for it, followed immediately by a look of disgust at his weakness, and then there was that small and not quite satisfactory bit of smugness that she spotted what was occurring immediately. I thought that was the most interesting piece of the entire episode though it made me lose any hope for a Peggy and Stan relationship because she lost so much respect for him.

Don’s and Diana’s approaches to dealing with their tragic circumstances are very telling. Diana’s would seem to be much more cynical and Don’s more optimistic. Don’s would seem to be the try and try again approach. But Don is an ostrich. Continually sticking his head in the sand and never really learning from his mistakes. I think he’s turning the corner, but that’s not the point that I’m trying to make. Diana is hurting. And Diana knows that the only path to salvation, though she may only know this deep down, is through the wallowing in the grief and letting it fester and finally heal. It’s a great and interesting juxtaposition that appears to show her as the one whose approach is least healthy, yet, I think, is the one that will lead, in the end, to the lasting salvation. Let’s hope I’m wrong because I’m actually really hoping for a Don salvation with the end of the series. Do I think it’s realistic? Not really. But I’m hoping for it anyway.

I’ll do better next week. I promise. These last two episodes were both disjointed for me. I don’t want to say that I’m disappointed, but I’m looking for some forward movement next episode. And Sally. Please, let’s have Don and Sally together again.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, Severance (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Michael Yarish/AMC

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I’m going to continue my Mad Men day after posts. And I’m going to try to post early the day after, but this episode had me reeling, so it’s late. Late, late, late. Blame the moosetaches!! Listen, the sheer number of moosetaches (yes, I’m taking spelling liberties so you’ll understand what I shout in my head or out loud whenever one tries to steal the scene, because I feel it’s warranted based on the ludicrous aspect of these top-lip riders I was forced to endure through the entire episode), threw me entirely out of the episode until Rachel appeared during Don’s dream sequence. And then I spent the whole time from when Rachel appeared up until we discovered that she was dead, shipping Don and Rachel. Again. Because I always thought she was his lobster. I did have to giggle when his secretary said she was going to get Don a sandwich when she saw he was upset about hearing she was dead.

And then I ruminated on the fact that Don watched Bert perform a stockinged-foot, obvi, dance number posthumously and now was spending brief but flirty time with Rachel, also, posthumously, so what did that mean? Had Don started hitting the serious drugs, no doubt with Rog’s encouragement? Was this some strange inter-network crossover tv event where the ghost hunter crew was going to stop by for some silly hijinks and mess up my show? Was someone going to die next? Well, obviously, the deaths are portentous, and now I’m extremely worried about my boy, Ken. Also, I’m really going to need Ken to wear that eyepatch 24/7, because I’m getting weirded out for the actor by the sight of that eye. And that’s saying something because that was during his I-don’t-button-my-pj-top scene where I made sure to focus on his pecticles just in case he was equally lackadaisical about his pj pants, and we were going to have a twig and berries sighting. But back to Ken’s weird eye in that scene. It looked glued shut or something. Let’s keep the eyepatch on for everyone’s sake. Don’t go method, Aaron, and take a sharp object to it to be all super serious about your craft. Dude, there are only six eps. left. Eyepatch. All the time. So, it took two rewatches for me to figure out how to block out the moosetaches, focus and actually take in stuff. And hoo boy, I know I missed so much even still. I cannot wait to start reading what everybody else wrote, so I’ll know what actually happened during that slightly schizo episode. (I’m not complaining. There’s a lot of setting up to do, people. We only have six eps left to wrap this whole mess up. I’m not sure why Ken’s chestage got so much air time as I hardly feel it’s going to be a major player in the end game, but I’m not Matthew Weiner.) Anyway, here’s the lightning round:

Notes

  • I always thought Rachel was the only woman that was the right match for Don, but the timing when they met was completely wrong. He was far too immature to understand that he needed a fully ego-formed, independent woman who knew exactly what she wanted. She was confident and mature. And the bittersweetness of watching him realize how right the path not taken would have been cross his face as he looked over at her children was extremely impactful. I’m continually amazed at what Hamm is able to convey with facial expression alone. What I saw in Don’s expression was the realization that he has chosen the wrong path that leads to his destruction every time, and this is the first time that I’ve seen that fundamental truth really resonate with him. I’ve seen him continue to reach the realization that he keeps messing up and needs to clean that slate again, but this is the first time that it appears that he really understands that it’s his actions and his actions alone that have created each destructive path.
  • Ken. It’s not looking good for my favorite. I love Pete’s brand of crazy misanthrope, but if we need to throw someone off the building, I choose Pete over Ken. And come on. The wine spill. Yikes that made me nervous. Portent. Watch your back, Kenny. However, his last piece of business with Rog and Pete was AWESOME!! Yes, I did pump my fist in the air. Luckily, I was alone. Unfortunately, I did just confess this embarrassing fact to you.
  • OK. Time to talk about the scene with Pegs and Joan in the elevator. I’ll get this part all wrong. I can’t wait to read what others say about this, but here goes. I’m not even going to give the McCann idiots in the conference room the time of day. Pathetic. I just hope that Joan gets revenge for having to sit through that bilious bullshit. There’s not enough time in the day to unpack that little exchange between Peggy and Joan in the elevator. But I felt so much for Joan there. Even looking up there, you can tell that Joan isn’t dressed at all inappropriately. Well, I guess she could have worn a sack. That would have been quite business-like. The point is this. Joan is always dressed very office-appropriate. Is her body gorgeous? Of course it is. I’m not going to pretend it’s not. But she is dressing nothing like Peggy is insinuating that she is. And really, so what if she was dressed more “provocatively” as long as it met company dress code guidelines? Would that make it ok for the men to remark constantly and with no regard to her obvious annoyance on her body in a meeting clearly intended to be focused on business? No. But that’s not even the case here. And Peggy has no sympathy for her. What’s interesting is that Peggy throws that last bit out about all the money Joan now has after the McCann deal as a misdirection ploy. Peggy finally got how really upset Joan was and realized that she was not much better than the McCann men in the end if she was brushing off how what Joan dealt with was similar to what Peggy experienced. As rough as Peggy as had it, she has garnered a great deal of respect from her peers and her reports. And it was clear in that meeting with the McCann bozos that all of their comments were directed only at Joan. Joan will never escape that type of attention. It’s an extra cross that Joan must bear in addition to what Peggy experiences. It was a sad commentary on how women can have trouble supporting each other when we are busy dealing with our own injustices, but I think Peggy will rectify this. She has done so in the past. She’ll have a tone-deaf reaction to something, but she knows how to reflect on her mistake and at least try to make things right.
  • Stan!! I heart Stan. Still shipping Stan and Pegs even though that date was a lot of fun to watch. Peggy was so overdue.

 

Joan and Peggy vs. McCann-Erickson? #MadMen #AMC

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Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, Waterloo (SPOILERS)

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

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Don’s no angel. He’s about as flawed as a human can get. And yet, Weiner and co. have done such a fine job crafting this complex, complete, and sympathetic character that I find myself rooting for Don over one of my all-time favorites: Joan. I’m glad they finally explained Joan’s animosity towards Don. It makes perfect sense that money trumps friendship for her. It has to. She’s a single parent. I really can’t fathom how difficult it would be to raise a child in those times with the double standards she faced and that suffocating glass ceiling that even she can’t surmount. This was why last week’s revelation that even Joan will hold out for love instead of accepting Bob’s pragmatic “offer” for the sake of her child was heartbreaking and touching. To find out that ball-buster Joan is a romantic at heart really makes her storyline all the more tragic. And that we are getting this insight into Joan now, allowing us to look back on all that she has endured throughout the course of the series, makes the impact more forceful. What’s worse for me is that, while Don’s childhood was certainly not self-inflicted, the fact that he continues to redefine what it means to hit his own rock bottom certainly has been. That I should be rooting for Don now and angry at Joan for trying to eject him from the firm is outrageous. He has brought all of this on himself. And yet, I’m fully on team Don. Is it Jon Hamm? Is it Weiner? I’m guessing it is a combination of superior work on both of their parts. To clarify, I don’t mean to say that Christina Hendricks isn’t knocking it out of the ballpark. She’s wonderful in that role. I have always adored that character, and I feel that the character’s arc has been satisfying and realistic.

Goodbye Bert Cooper

We knew someone would probably be leaving us this year. Did you see his face as Apollo 11 launched? That was a face of satisfaction and completion. (You can see in his later reaction to the moon landing that he never doubted that the mission would be a success.) Anyone who was watching this episode with the knowledge that one of the characters was going to die would know it was Bert. Robert Morse performed a Jon Hamm facial delivery of lines in that scene. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Bert over the course of the series. It’s been love up until the past few episodes when I thought his hatred of Don was a bit outsized for the passage of time. But Bert’s loss will definitely be felt because he grounded them. It was interesting to see how quickly Roger was able to manage his grief and become galvanized. I fully expected Roger to wallow, so that was one of the better reactions to Bert’s death that we saw. Certainly Cutler’s reaction was the worst. Wholly expected but no less despicable.

The fantastic Morse musical number at the end of the episode was a real treat. I’ll admit to wearing the exact same expression that Don wore for the first few seconds because it came out of left field, and I struggled to ascertain what it meant for Don’s state of mind. Then, I just relaxed and enjoyed it. I told myself that Don’s unpickling brain is saying goodbye in the only way it can. I refuse to assume that Don will head for the bottle as a reaction to Bert’s ghostly reappearance.

Cutler Makes His Power Play

“You think you’re going to throw me out of my own company?” – Don.

Here’s the thing. Cutler should have known he didn’t have the pieces in place quite yet to make this move. He had to know that Don would make another move that would have given him two justifications to fire Don for cause. I imagine he thought he had Bert firmly in his corner. I actually thought he did, too. But Harry hadn’t signed the agreement yet. So why do this now? But I’m certainly glad Cutler made the play because I love a fired-up Don, and the scene of gathered partners was a delight to witness. Don’s face when he saw Joan vote against him was sad, but his recovery was swift. It’s great to see that he’s in game play mode.

“You’re just a bully and a drunk. A football player in a suit.” – Cutler.

Cutler, a word of advice, don’t insult the wound-up man in front of you before all the other partners have weighed in. It’s not a wise plan. But you do have a way with words. Perhaps you might try your hand with tags? If a power shift comes, you might want to have a back-up plan.

Peggy Had a Baby

I love the callback to Peggy’s baby who would be near Julio’s age. Moss kills it in these scenes. You know she is remembering that baby without any wasted dialogue to cheapen it. Someone last night tweeted that they thought Peggy would be a great mom, and I agree. She’d be dedicated to her work, of course. But I have no doubt she’d be a terrific mother.

The Moon Landing

If you didn’t tear up watching the various gatherings and reactions to the moon landing, you’re made of sterner stuff than I. And you most certainly are anyway. But it was interesting to see how different people processed the momentous success. “Bravo.” – Bert who thankfully got to see them land before he died. I’m so glad to see that the Burger Chef team had zero interest in any impact that the landing might have on their presentation. They were all fully caught up in the spirit of the event. Not that I would expect otherwise. How could you at that time be anything other than overwhelmed by the magical wonder of humans reaching a realm never before breached. Well, except for Sally’s crush who wants to posture and show off. And then Don, who can still be swept away by magic, calls Sally. I love that conversation between a typical teenager whose hormones are on overdrive and her parent. Sally can muster only minimal enthusiasm for a phone call with her dad, but you see in her actions that the conversation made an impact on her despite all appearances.

I say, and I’m not sure that others will agree, that Sally went after star child because of Don’s reaction to the moon landing. And I’m really gratified to see the relationship between Don and Sally on such solid footing. It’s my second favorite relationship of the series: second only to Don and Peggy’s. I also say, and everyone else says the same thing I’m sure, that Sally standing outside smoking is a mirror image of Betty. I don’t think that bodes well for Sally’s character arc.

The Burger Chef Presentation

“We have no liquor.” – Peggy

I love the Peggy and Don scene. Don insists that Peggy give the presentation, not only because he knows she needs it to retain the business for herself in the event he’s fired, but because he knows she can win the business. It’s nice forward movement on their relationship that was healed so nicely in the last episode, and it’s more evidence of Don’s respect for her that Peggy has earned and needs to hear. It’s a great effect to have us experience the beginning of the BC presentation from Peggy’s perspective. It’s a real men’s club, and I felt just as nervous as I was supposed to feel. When she coughed, my throat responded by feeling less tight. Don’s opener was short and simple, yet set her up having to hit a home run. And I’ll admit I watched Don’s face in the background as she began, and I thought his face showed a lot of tension. I thought that was troublesome as you wouldn’t want to appear anything other than confident and supportive when someone on your team is presenting. But I realized that Don hasn’t played this role before and doesn’t know how to let go of the reins. He has no idea how to truly trust someone else in this situation. I believe he fully trusted Peggy to deliver, but he couldn’t control his expressions because he’s had no practice. But Don’s inability to fully control his reactions didn’t matter because Peggy nailed it! And the look that Peggy and Don share as she begins to deliver the details of the ad is intimate and earned and made the hostility that she showed to Don upon his return to the agency more bearable in the end.

Roger Makes His Power Play

I didn’t know Roger had a power play of this magnitude left in him until Bert died. The seeds were sowed in “The Strategy,” of course. I know Roger could have put this together with Don’s help, but I enjoyed watching Roger make the magic happen on his own. I just wish it was a different play. I realized watching it all play out, that I was, and still am, hoping for a Don, Pete, and Peggy agency. I’m happy with this as a stopgap, however.

Notes

  • The way Don’s secretary gives him the news about his firing was particularly funny. And then, particularly weird when you think back to all the times when Don took “liberties” when he shouldn’t have. And then, funny again.

  • Pete was funnier than ever this episode.

During the “private” call between Cutler and Chaough, Pete makes clear he’s been listening in the entire time because he can’t contain himself any longer.

“That is a very sensitive piece of horseflesh. He shouldn’t be rattled!”

“Marriage is a racket!”

“I’ve got 10 percent!” Pete says with glee upon hearing about the McCann deal.

  • I’m going to need a bigger Lou funeral pyre, metaphorically speaking. I certainly hope that we witness a spectacular Lou/Don showdown when the series returns to wrap everything up next year. I need more of Lou’s wonky underbite coupled with powerless indignation!
  • The Burger Chef presentation prep was fun to watch if only to see the genesis for Harry’s failure to sign off on his partnership in time; to see how much faith Don has in Peggy as he tells Pete not to worry about the specifics about what Peggy will say; and to see Don’s face as he registers that Pete’s so utterly certain that Don will be perfect that he doesn’t even need to see him present even the generalities, let alone the specifics. It’s the moon landing that holds them all hostage.
  • Did you see the smile on Ken’s face when Joan says to Harry, “You’re not a partner, yet.” He can deliver a smug grin with a patch just fine. Huzzah, Aaron Staton!
  • I thought Megan could have timed her revealing to Don that they had finally officially broken up a little better. Maybe give it another day or two for him to digest what just happened. After all, he wasn’t going to relocate to California in the next day. He’s reeling from this move by Cutler. But they both knew it was over when she moved her things over her last visit, even though Don refused to acknowledge it. If I let the timing go, I can acknowledge that that final call was quietly dignified and appropriate for the relationship that they shared. As far as Don’s horribly dysfunctional relationships go, his with Megan was heartwarming at times.
  • I loved seeing that Roger and Mona watched the moon landing together.
  • When Roger’s voice breaks as he tells Don that he’s going to lose him too, I almost teared up. FINE! I did tear up!
  • I watched Don’s and Pete’s faces when Peggy mentioned the 10yo boy in her apartment, but I only detected the slightest of reactions on Pete’s face and virtually none on Don’s. I’m not entirely surprised by Don’s non-reaction, but I was actually expecting a little more reaction from Pete. However, this is Pete. He’s probably not thought about that child in years, so the reaction was probably spot on.

See You Next Year

And now I can go read the other reviews to see how much I got wrong about this season finale. It was wonderful and impressive, and I don’t know how I’m going to make it a year until the remaining 7 episodes air.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, The Strategy (SPOILERS)

Photo by AMC

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by AMC

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Pete joined the Mile High Club. Yawn. It’s Pete. Who cares. But Bob Benson’s back! (Sorry, I could not resist the alliteration siren call.) I guess the fact that he’s been absent for a number of episodes dictated that he return with a couple of showstopper scenes? Other things happened that were quite interesting, but I have to get the Bob Benson bit out of the way first.

Bob and Joan

Sal was one of my favorite characters, and it crushed me when he was fired. I don’t have the same kind of attachment to Bob Benson, though I love the fact that he was the catalyst for Pete’s “Not great, Bob.” But I do have enormous sympathy for Bob’s situation and how awful it has to be to hide such an important, defining facet of yourself because people are giant, judgmental jerks. Despite my sympathy for Bob, I felt worse for Joan during the proposal scene. Her life has been anything but easy. She’s fought for every small success that she’s enjoyed, and that partnership came at a steeper price than any person should ever have to pay. For her to be offered the position of beard for Bob, a man she genuinely cares about which means that she will have to swallow any indignation that she feels at the proposal so she won’t hurt him, is just another in a long line of concessions that she is expected to make to navigate the life she’s been handed. And I’m really happy to see that she held out for love. She certainly deserves it.

Roger and Cutler

I’m nothing if not overly dramatic, but does it seem like Roger is being set up to architect his own destruction? Cutler is clearly working on Roger to have him assist with the ouster of Don. And Roger is going to become powerless without someone else in that firm to join with him. He’s leaking power daily. If Don does leave, either on his own steam or otherwise, Roger is toast.

Pete and Peggy and Don

First, I noticed how Don put his dining table back to its former state, including the centerpiece, when he scooped up all of his work stuff and typewriter. Don’s always been a careless type. Always. I’m not saying we’ve not seen successful runs from him, but he’s always been carelessly successful. This, while it may be short-lived, is definitely a change for him. I sincerely hope it’s not. But that was a telling little change, and it’s clear that he’s committed to making a real, sustained turnaround.

I stupidly was delighted when Pete invited Don to the Burger Chef campaign presentation. I knew it would create friction with Lou. I didn’t think about what Pete’s motivation might be. Even after the episode, I’m not sure what Pete’s motivation is in continuing to champion Don. I think the clues are all there, but I’ve been unable to read them. It’s either Peggy or Lou that he’s surely setting up, I’d imagine. Don and Pete have had such a tortured relationship that I need assistance with this one. Help me out, people. What’s Pete up to? Regardless of the motivation, Pete’s maneuver allows me to check out a delightful Lou underbite reaction, and I’m super giddy. I love a pissed-off Lou. I’m less thrilled with an unhappy Peggy – I want her to succeed – but I’m happy to see that she hides her reaction far better than Lou.  

I hate this whole mess. They’re making Peggy construct her own glass ceiling. It’s disgusting. And Peggy lost her last bit of naiveté after Lou gave her Burger Chef and put Don on her team. She instantly knows how gross the maneuver is as it’s happening. The fact that they are trying to make her complicit in it by stating that it’s up to her is one of the nastiest moments on this show. She knows it’s not up to her. And Lou’s disgusting face when Pete says his ridiculous comment about how Peggy is as good as any woman in this business makes me want to find every stupid cardigan sweater within a 100-mile radius, cut it into tiny pieces and let my dog pee on it. Peggy handled it with incredible poise and equanimity.

When Don mentions to Peggy that she change the campaign’s POV from the mother’s perspective to a kid’s, she, perfectionist that she is, begins to doubt herself. Whether she wasn’t completely sold on the campaign or not, she has always had to battle intense self-doubt when it comes to Don, and he’s been notoriously stingy when it comes to handing out recognition of her talent. And it’s not just Don who’s instilled doubt, but his esteem is the one she seeks the most now that Ted’s is tainted.

I love seeing Peggy and Don making their way back to becoming a team again. Together they can accomplish so much, and I’m hoping we can see that storyline as the series ends. I’ve always been most fascinated by what’s going on at the office, and Don and Peggy’s relationship has been the lightning rod for me.

“You love this.” – Peggy

“Not really.” -Don

I loved that short exchange because, that quickly, Don diffused what could have easily and typically escalated, and I think that was the tipping point for the scene. Instead of devolving into a session of finger-pointing and the further destruction of their relationship, they began the work of mending their relationship. It happened that quickly, and yet completely realistically, because of the way Don chose to respond to Peggy. And Don continued to remain, atypically, calm and measured in his responses giving Peggy the chance to actually listen and understand that he does trust her skills, and while he might go a different route, he doesn’t believe that his route is necessarily better. It’s just different.

This is a callback to that scene when Peggy, Pete and Ted are in the restaurant celebrating Ocean Spray in Season 6 and Peggy and Ted are crushing on each other. The Peggy and Ted relationship was not built on a solid foundation, and their love was tainted, but I wonder if the callback is intentional to tell us that something is coming for Peggy and Don? There’s no doubt that Peggy and Don have deep feelings for each other. Forgive me for this, but they really do complete each other. I think they understand each other much better than any other person has understood either of them. That’s sloppily worded, but I think you know what I’m trying to say. I don’t know what a relationship between the two of them would look like, but I was initially horrified by that dance scene. And now I think it’s because Hamm and Moss play so well off of each other that the true emotions of those two characters was just a lot to process. Watching Don’s face register that “coming home” emotion was a big moment there. This is what I tweeted.

And now I feel almost entirely opposite about the whole thing. I trust you, Weiner. Do with it what you will.