Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Mad Men Season 7, Ep. 7 – “Waterloo.”
“Every great ad tells a story. Here to tell that story is Peggy Olsen.” — Don
Just when you thought Mad Men had reached its shock quotient, it found yet another turn to take; by delivering the happiest episode of Mad Men ever.
Mad Men is far and away the most depressing show currently on television and perhaps ever. It masterfully balances all that darkness with wonderful moments of levity, but it’s hard to argue that the show doesn’t spend a lot of time down at the sad side of the spectrum. But leave it to Mad Men to take its last moment before exile to finally give the viewers a full-on, fist pump worthy finale to get excited about. And they still managed to fit in another Draper divorce and a major death; win win for everyone.
But before I can even get into those turns of events, lets talk about the happiest moment of all; Peggy got her very own Carousel moment.
Don and Peggy’s relationship has weathered many ups and downs, but their beautiful reconciliation last week was punctuated by this final moment of mentorship this week. Don, after learning that Cutler was going to force him out, handed the Burger Chef pitch to Peggy and watched on proudly as she hit it out of the park.
When you factor in the added layers of Peggy using her relationship with Julio, who is around the same age as her own son, to imply she was a mother and Don’s bemused acknowledgment of the white lie, you have the very essence of Mad Men: nuance on top of nuance, smothered in a universal truth masquerading as the perfect fast food pitch.
Of course the circumstances that led to Peggy getting her moment were quite sad. I’ve always assumed that Bert was going to die at some point during the series for no other reason than his age. But even Bert’s death managed to be happy. A man born in the 19th century lived long enough to see a man walk on the moon. Bravo, indeed.
Plus, his death inspired Roger to take up the leadership mantle and pull off some masterful maneuvering to keep Don at the company and cut Cutler off at the knees.
I’ll be honest, I don’t always understand the nuances of the business dealings of Mad Men and so I can’t say if this new deal to become a subsidiary of McCann is the best move. Pete and Joan were certainly thrilled with the initial pay out; Don and Ted were happy just to keep working and to keep out of the boardroom politics; and anything that keeps Harry from his partnership and Jim from ruling with an iron fist is icing on the million-dollar cake.
Of course this is still Mad Men and we still have seven more episodes of the season (that we have to wait a year for. Grrr). Seven episodes is plenty of time for things to come crashing down again, but at least for now, at least once, we have a happy ending. As happy as we can get for Mad Men, anyway.
More Moments of Happiness:
Even the second (pending) Draper divorce didn’t come off as sad as the first. Megan and Don’s relationship has been over for some time. The fact they so easily and wordlessly agreed the marriage was over proves they both knew it was dead, too. Hopefully this points to a new Don that doesn’t need to fake his way through a marriage to find faux happiness. Perhaps he’ll finally be happy just with his work and his cobbled together family of outsiders.
Meredith’s inept attempt at seducing Don was hilarious, but still only half as hilarious as Don’s utterly confused reaction.
Perhaps Sally will be all right after all. When presented with the 18 year-old version of her father, she still went for the nerdy weirdo.
I find it very interesting that Jim waited until they officially lost Commander before attempting to enforce Don’s contract and punish him for his meeting crashing. Even Jim knew there was a chance Don could win them the business.
Poor Harry, so close and yet so far away.
Peggy got the great pitch of the night, but Don’s pitch to keep Ted from quitting was just as good and as effective. His ability to keep a man in a job he considered crashing a plane to get out of is proof alone that Don deserves his place at the table, flawed as he may be perceived.
And as for that song and dance that closed the episode… I’m not sure what to make of that. Yes, it was great to let Robert Morse get his musical on, but it felt completely out of place in an episode that was the least “dreamlike” of the season. I half expected the episode to end with Don waking up still watching the moon landing. Is it foreboding that moments after making a deal for millions Don hallucinates a dead man telling him the best things in life are free? Is it further proof that Don is getting his priorities straight? Does it mean he’s fallen off the wagon? Was this entire happy episode nothing but a dream? I guess we have a year to figure it out.
But perhaps the happiest part of this mid-season finale was the plethora of great lines. Here is but a sampling:
“That is a very sensitive piece of horseflesh. He shouldn’t be rattled.” — Pete
“You shouldn’t have done that.” — Joan
“The Don Draper show is back from its unscheduled interruption.” — Pete
“Every time an old man starts talking about Napoleon you know they’re gonna die.” — Roger
“How did you get in here?” — Don, "Money.” — Roger
“I’ve got ten percent!” — Pete
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