“Bravo” – Bert Cooper
Bravo. Hell, I would have yelled encore had that been a live performance, through my tears at Bert’s closing dance number. I’m not sure what I’d be yelling it for more–for Bert or for Roger. Or maybe for Don, for Peggy or for Sally. No, I think it was for this episode, which somehow managed to top the magic that was last week and bring it all on home.
If we had to divide this season in half and wait until 2015 to see the rest of 1969, this was the way to do it.
As for what happened…what DIDN’T happen? In history, this was the week of the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s famous walk. But it was a day of historical import for the rest of the world in Sterling Cooper. In family land, Don’s marriage finally ended (thank god) and Sally Draper kissed a boy. In the office, Peggy made the Burger Chef pitch, and brought the client to tears in a way that only Don ever has. Ted came home to NYC. Cutler made his move to oust Don and take control of the agency. Roger stepped up and beat him. Harry lost his chance at that partnership.
But it was the death of Bert Cooper that mattered most.
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
– Frank Sinatra “My Way”
This week, Pete and Megan both returned to New York City to deal with their marriages. But the person I was happiest to see show up was Bob Benson, on leave from
CBS Detroit. (Here’s hoping he’ll be back from Detroit a little more now that his CBS series The Crazy Ones was canceled.)
But more than seeing the characters I miss return to the fold for even a little while, the best part of tonight was how perfect this episode was.
Let us be blunt: last season was bad. It was worse upon rewatch. So many people were asking at the end of last season if Mad Men had lost the magic, if it had run out of story. We were just watching Don spin his wheels in the mud, no traction, no forward momentum. Six seasons in and we were in the same place as we were before. Why were we still watching?
Because of episodes like tonight. Episodes that could act as moments of closure, and images of Peggy and Don slow dancing to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
It’s been a decade since we originally met the characters in Mad Men. Next week, we start their final year, 1969, to see how they’ll close out the decade. (It’s not a spoiler to say it’s 1969. It’s a fact. Weiner isn’t jumping to 1974 or anything at this point. Even the teasers are “hello end of the 60s!”)
(Yes, Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” was actually released in 1970. We’re still not jumping ahead.)
I don’t know about you, but since we’re in a spoiler-free, trailer free zone now, all that’s left is nostalgia. Let’s look back on some of our favorite characters, then and now.
I should have known. Mad Men loves to drib and drab out their promotions. Over the weekend, they continued to add to the collection of “Mad Men On A Plane” stills.
The good news: We get a much better shot of Peggy’s outfit, and she’s in the forefront with all the other guys from Sterling Draper behind her. (Note Harry still favors the scarves and Stan’s still in a shaggy jacket.) But they are all out of her way.
We have our first 1969 based stills from Mad Men‘s final season. (We can just assume it’s 1969, right? Right? I’m sure Matt Weiner would refuse to answer, but it’s not like we’re jumping to 1972 or something. Let’s be real here.)
The airplane theme from the teaser carries over, and much like the teaser, these contain very little in the way of spoilers. Actually, if anything, they suggest the events of the end of last season aren’t really taken into account at all. After all….
Does everyone remember Don’s pitch for the Hawaiian Resort back at the beginning of the season. A man arrives, he strips off all his clothes and disappears.
Tonight, Don did just that. He stripped away his barrier between himself and Dick Whitman that’s stood all these years. In the process he lost his job, he lost his wife and he lost his children. As we looked upon SC&P and the end of the episode, he was gone. Disappeared. At his desk, now head of creative: Peggy Olson.
“My father has never given me anything.”- Sally
So after last week’s absolute horror show, Sally has decided she wants to go to boarding school. Don’s been on a bender apparently since it happened, and is so relieved/guilty/drunk when Betty calls with the news that he’s all for this. He’ll pay for all of it! Sure! Fine! So off to Miss Porters School goes Sally, to interview for an escape from the hell she was born into. I’m a little stunned, but mostly disappointed. I wanted her to go full on stoner hippie. Running away from the family is such a Don like move–I just thought she’d do it via drugs instead of physically.
“Couldn’t it be that if someone took care of you — very good care of you — if this person would do anything for you — if your well-being was his only thought — is it impossible that you might begin to feel something for him?” -Bob Benson
So Bob is gay. We have our proof tonight, as he makes a pass at Pete, though it was sort of weird and underhanded and might have been missed if he hadn’t touched knees with Pete afterwards. Not only is Bob gay, but his nurse friend Manolo, the one that he got for Pete’s mother is also gay. Unfortunately *that* couldn’t be kept secret, especially after Mrs. Campbell is going around making it sound like she and Manolo are getting it on. Pete’s is about to fire Manolo for sleeping with his mother, until Bob explains that could only be the product of Mrs. Campbell’s fantasies, as Manolo doesn’t like the ladies, er, you know what he means? So instead Pete takes out his freak out over Bob’s pass by firing Manolo for the crime of being socially sexually unacceptable, and calls being gay “disgusting.”
We have a company name: Sterling Cooper & Partners. “It’s the only thing that’s offensive to all.” When in doubt, offend everyone.
It’s certainly the creed of those rebelling in 1968. Rebellion is everywhere–in the dress code, in the culture and now, in the streets. Yes, we have reached the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Yes, it was in another city than the two we visit tonight, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t on television affecting the under current. It upset Megan, who sided with the protesters. It upset people like Cutler, who see the protesters as long haired horrors. Better yet, it caused Ginsberg to start spouting words like “fascist.” That’s always a good time.
But the biggest rebellion of them all this week was The Rebellion of Joan Harris.
“Status quo, ante bellum.” – Arlene
Don is finally not the only one kissing other women in this marriage. Megan’s (bisexual? closet lesbian?) co-star Arlene, who we last saw trying to get both Don and Megan into bed with her and her husband decides it time to try to just get Megan into bed, husbands need not apply. The scene between them as Megan cluelessly gives off all the wrong signals and suddenly finds herself in a very embarrassing situation was almost as funny as the sight of her as her “twin” in a blonde wig on their terrible soap opera.
But when it comes to funny, nothing beats Peggy stabbing Abe with a harpoon.