Mad Men Recap: “Waterloo”
Well that was fast. As soon as it started it was over. The first half of the last season of Mad Men has come to a close, and with it comes some beautiful and oddly surreal moments.
“Waterloo” starts with Bert as he is watching the launch of Apollo 11; an event that will affect all of our characters this episode. In California Ted is seemingly suicidal, but tells Jim he just wants to quit advertising. Jim is having troubles of his own as he just found out he and Lu have lost Commander Cigarettes, effectively ending the “secret war” to try to get Don out of the agency.
Over at the Francis house, Betty and the family take in a guest. Sally quickly becomes infatuated with their oldest son Shaun. He shows cynicism amongst the moon landing, which she emulates on the phone call with Don. As much as she hates her mother, she is oddly becoming a mini-Betty up until her last scene. She chooses to kiss Shaun’s younger brother Neil, who is fascinated by the stars (which is a stark contrast to Neil’s jock thinking).
Peggy goes to 10-year-old neighbor Julio for some fashion advice for the upcoming Burger Chef meeting. Shockingly enough, he is not helpful. He also tells her that he is moving and is upset that he won’t see her anymore (or be able to use her TV). Peggy is clearly affected by this news as well. She might be loosing her only friend. She says she’ll visit him all the time but neither of them actually believes it.
Meredith shows Don a letter from the partners’ that discusses a breach of contract, saying he met with the cigarette company (which he did). Meredith steals the scene and remains as insane as ever by trying to move on Don and not accepting no for an answer.
In a very intense scene Don confronts Jim, and quickly gets all the partners together to call a democratic style vote to keep him in. Joan monitions for Don to be dismissed, still clearly upset about his past mistakes. The moment is a quiet heartbreaker, as Roger refers to her later as “Benedict Joan.” Speaking of quiet heartbreakers, Don and Megan’s marriage came to a subtle end via an accepting phone call. Don clearly didn’t want it to end, but he accepts letting her move on.
On July 20th 1969, Bert Cooper passed away as he watched man land on the moon. Roger steps into the leader role that Bert wanted him to, trying to find a way to keep Don in the agency.
Don goes to Peggy’s room, and wants to give her the lead on the Burger Chef ad. If he is forced out, she’ll have the business. Peggy’s very nervous about it up until the moment she makes her pitch, and then absolutely knocks it out of the park. The ad was her idea and she delivered it beautifully, effectively winning her own account.
Roger brings the partners together to tell them that McCann wants to buy SC&P (the company Don has been avoiding for years). Don is very hesitant about the buyout. He makes the point that they started SC&P (At the time SCDP) to get away from McCann. The deal will make the partners very rich, and the company will still get to keep their name, employees, and office. Ted wants to quit, but McCann wants him as part of the deal. Don convinces Ted by telling him of how pure it was to do advertising this season without all the politics of being a partner.
Just as everything seems to be going right, Don hallucinates about Bert in a hysterical and surreal musical number. In any other show this would have been a “jumping the shark” moment, but Mad Men handles it brilliantly. As the song states, “the best things in life are free”, which is quite a depressing revelation for Don. We are left to realize the first half of season seven has been all about material possessions for him. Just as the idea is setting in…
See you in 2015 for the second half of Mad Men’s last Season.