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

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by AMC

Lou is not up to the task of taking on Don, so he takes the coward’s way out and delegates the task to Peggy; whiny Harry gets his computer and will be even more insufferable from this point forward (if that’s possible); and Roger and Mona remain my favorite divorced couple on television.

Don v. Peggy Rd. 1

I’m sure I missed an emotion or state of mind that was reflected on Don’s face when Peggy informed him that he is going to be one of two equal members on her Burger Chef team, but I read a few of them: shock that he will be reporting to Peggy instead of directly to Lou, hurt, humiliation that he’s fallen even farther than he knew, resentment, disgust when he hears Lou’s approach to strategy, and finally anger. Rage. He came back for this. This is when he realizes that the agency might not be worth his effort after all. I hope Peggy enjoyed her moment of smug, but probably justified, celebration after ordering her former boss to work over the weekend because she is in for quite a ride if she’s going to go toe to toe with Don. After Freddy has talked some sense into him by the end of the episode, Don looks like he will eat his crow and do what is necessary to regain his footing, and Don at his best will certainly best Peggy at hers because he’s got more to lose.

Team Don

When Bert was so cruel to Don, I donned my Team Don gear, (eh, I think I may have been fully Team Don after the Don and Sally restaurant scene, who am I kidding?) and began to actively root against Bert and Cutler. I was opposed to Lou when he stepped off the elevator with Duck. The others will be addressed on a case by case basis as the season continues to progress. Bert was unspeakably cruel. His drawing the line so clearly from Don to Lane (Fine, Bert! How about you as the man in the credits, huh? How do you like that?) leaves me hoping for Don’s ascent to happen quickly, and Don’s immediate backslide was hard to watch. I think it was completely understandable and perfectly predictable that Don was going to have one, but I was so upset to see it happen. And I think it was Bert’s intention to drive Don to it. I think in his meeting with Peggy was when Don realized that the agency might not be worth his time. But after his encounter with Bert, he realizes that it doesn’t matter what he thinks because the agency brought him back only to set him on fire with front row tickets to his incineration. They want him to self-destruct, and they want it to happen as soon as possible. And this realization is devastating to this new Don, which is doubly affective to the viewers because it would be outright ignored, if not completely missed, by the old Don. Objectively, I understand the stance of the others. The exception remains Roger. He needs Don. Both characters need redemption, and I’m hoping to see it realistically happen by the end of the series.

Send Help

Don and Margaret both need rescuing this episode. Mona and Roger go to retrieve Margaret who has run away from the humdrum existence of her life, so she can avoid her responsibilities. A real daddy’s girl. And Don clues Freddy in to his need for a rescue when he drunk-dials him from the office. Don wants to escape the unassailable knowledge that he’s lost every powerful ally with the exception of Roger. And he knows that Roger is a slippery character that could just as easily sink Don as save him because Roger’s power is on the wane. I do think that Bert’s betrayal was a particularly difficult one to accept because he’s calm and logical. That Bert no longer feels that Don offers the firm anything of value is extremely unsettling to a man struggling to remain confident in his ability to remake himself. And Bert’s cruelty left no room for doubt.

Been There, Done That

Mona tries to convince Margaret to return to her life, but Mona can’t understand Margaret’s motivation to flee it in the first place. She talks a good game. She understands the difficulty of motherhood because she’s been there, but she doesn’t understand how someone could ever consider an alternative path rather than acceptance. Roger understands perfectly that feeling of despair, of not knowing where you fit in, and searching for meaning to feel like you matter. He understands it, but he has no intention of allowing his daughter to submit to the seduction of that lifestyle like he has. He knows how empty it really is when she has so much to lose. So just as Mona insisted from the beginning, Roger was always the right person to rescue Margaret. He’s the best one to offer her advice and talk her into returning home. But Margaret’s having none of it because Roger abandoned her as a child, and their relationship (which is true for many familial relationships) makes it difficult for advice to be given and received without lots of false starts, if it ever works. It’s so unfortunate because Margaret certainly has more to lose than Don here.  Hopefully she’ll ruminate on what her father said and return to her family.

Don does better and takes Freddy’s advice in stride. He recognizes the truth in what he’s saying. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to keep his ego in check to the extent he will need to as the path to regain his former glory will be arduous and littered with roadblocks.

Questions

  • Does anyone else think it’s strange that Lou is so afraid of Don? He wouldn’t even take a swing at him, but immediately assigns the task to Peggy. Wouldn’t you think some ounce of pride would have him itching to tussle with Don and come out the victor? With the stipulations on his side, the odds were stacked in his favor. I realize that his intent is partly to make Don furious that he has another layer to report to. But his primary motivation for putting the target on Peggy is his fear of Don. I still wonder if there’s something more there. Don certainly doesn’t appear to recognize Lou from before, but I wonder if Lou has been impacted by Don before in some way.
  • I’m still confused by Joan’s apparent hatred of Don. Why does she feel such antipathy towards him that she’s anxious for him to self-destruct? He’s been such a fan of hers. I realize how she felt that he undercut her, but I would have felt that with the passage of time, she would understand his motivation and forgive him. Let’s just say I would think she’d be much more neutral on Don. It’s puzzling.
  • Does the carousel mention in the closing song hint at a return to Don’s old creative glory????? Oh please let it be so.

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