Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Mad Men Season 7, Ep. 12 – “Lost Horizon.”
“You know I need to make men feel at ease.” — Peggy
“Who told you that?” — Roger
The title of this week’s episode hardly matters because it will forever be remembered as the one that incited seething rage in all its viewers.
In the early seasons of Mad Men the blatant sexism held a quaint charm, but in the harsh light of 1970, that charm has evaporated. Some of that may be due to the McCann Erickson boys being the absolute worst, but a lot of it has to do with perspective. A decade ago chauvinistic attitudes were the norm and women accepted it, but as the dawn of the Women’s Movement approaches, the men who refuse to grow with the times will start sticking out more than blending in.
And poor Joan will always be the one bearing the brunt of that particular fight. Peggy endured her own form of humiliation by being mistaken for a secretary and not given an office, but due to Joan’s given attributes and age, she receives the worst treatment. Joan spent such a large portion of her life believing her only worth was her power over men that she doesn’t have the capabilities to get out of her current predicament. Her only course of action was to keep appealing to other men.
But her departure from McCann Erickson can only be seen as a good thing. Yes, she is extremely talented and was under appreciated for most of her career, but from the beginning she has always been a woman searching for love. She stated that fact in the very first episode and only reaffirmed it last season when she turned down Bob Benson’s arrangement. She’s rich, her boyfriend is rich and we have every reason to believe that’s enough to keep her happy for a very long time.
So there’s one tally in the happy ending column. As for the rest of the SC&P expats, it’s not looking so sunny. While the move was sold as “advertising heaven” not a single person looked happy in their new position (well, maybe Pete, but we hardly got a look at his new position).
Don seemed happy at first, but it soon became clear that for all Jim Hobart’s talk about catching his white whale, Don was nothing more than a cog in the machine. The only way to get that Draper magic is to make Don feel like a special little snowflake. Not doing that is only a good way to send him off searching for Death.
It’s no shock that when faced with the potential end of his career, as he has come to expect it, Don would hightail it out of there. For ten years Don has toyed with the idea of escape. Every time life has gotten bumpy he’s thought about escaping, whether to L.A. or the bottom of a bottle.
This time, he’s taken to driving aimlessly across the country, searching halfheartedly for Diana and picking up hitchhikers. Perhaps not the ideal ending for Don, but a Don running away from his problems couldn’t be called a surprise.
Because, in the end, people don’t change. Their problems may be different, but their reactions will always give away who they truly are. Roger will drink and joke; Don will run away; and Peggy will brazenly walk right into the next adventure with a cigarette in her mouth and a dirty picture under her arm.
Finale Note: It’s a shame Elizabeth Moss and John Slatterly didn’t get more scenes together over the course of the show, but at least they went out with a bang. Roger playing the organ while Peggy roller skates around the empty SC&P offices will go down as one of the most iconic images from the show’s history. And that’s a tough list to crack.
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