Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 7: One Small Step for Man, One Giant Step for SC&P
Mad Men RecapSeason 7, Episode 7 **SPOILER ALERT
This week’s episode, “Waterloo,” was the season finale for the year and brings us one step closer to the ending of the show. Season 7 thus far has been focused primarily on the dichotomy between what is the past and future of not only the agency, but of the world at hand. The entire episode was encapsulated the July 1969 moon landing, this pivotal moment in history was beautifully presented on the show and every character experienced it in their own way. There was a commonality to it all, with the presence of live television, at a time before people were streaming videos to their smart phones and tablets, everyone sat around their TV set waiting for it to air. People watched together and there was a communal world view or sense that the world was on the verge of changing and the future was no longer a thing to admire from far away, but something that was happening right before their eyes. The world that Don Draper inhabits is changing, the people he once loved have changed and the Draper we once knew ebbs and flows from a charming, charismatic person to a depressed, lifeless one. Somewhere in the middle is where we find him now and where he will end up in the finale of the entire show that has yet to be seen.
Let’s take a final recap back at Sunday night’s episode and discuss what occurred.
The only thing on everyone’s minds is the moon landing and the hope that everything will go as planned, not just for the astronauts, but for the sake of SC&P too. Peggy frets over this as they go over the Burger Chef account. She mentions how she will introduce Don and then he will take it away. When it is Dons turn to give his portion, Pete glosses over it, saying it will be great. He knows Don and has confidence in his capabilities to work magic, but this does make Peggy seem and probably feel inferior of her abilities. Don on the other hand believes in Peggy and completey is behind her ideas.
Due to Don’s insertion into the Commander cigarettes meeting and the fact that they lost the account, Jim Cutler proceeds to draw up a legal document that calls out Don’s breech of contract. Apparently, no one knew about this letter and none of the partners agree with his decision, except for Joan. Bert Cooper tells Roger that he voted against it because that is what a leader does, agrees with the majority to allow any dissention to settle. From this conversation, we can see that Roger listens to Bert almost like a father and the two have a close bond where they can be honest and truthful with one another.
Don feeling depressed and down, calls Megan to tell her that maybe this is his opportunity to move to California and be with her. It is obvious from her tone and silence over the phone that their marriage is over. We got a hint of that last week when she took her fondue pot home. Everyone knows that’s a sign, only second to taking back a crock pot. He tells her, “I’ll always take care of you” and she tells him he doesn’t owe her anything. This moment was sad and we feel that Don is at the point where everything that once was gold to him, has turned to dust.
Down at Peggy’s apartment, we see that a handyman has come to fix up her place. She looks at him, half sweaty from the July heat and the other from her longing for a real male figure in her home. Julio her neighbor kid, tells her he is leaving and that he will miss her and if he can borrow her television set to watch the moon landing. We are starting to see Peggy have a tiny bit of a maternal instinct. Is this a sign maybe we’ll see her baby materialize again next year?
Peggy and team travel out of town to the Burger Chef meeting and upon arrival settle in to their hotel rooms and gather together in front of the TV, beers in hand to watch the moon landing. Everyone is on the edge of their seat. We next see Roger at home with his first wife Mona and his grand-kids, space helmet in tow they watch the moon landing occur in front of them. We also get a glimpse of Bert at home with his nurse, smiling peacefully at what he has just witnessed. The phone rings suddenly and Roger answers it, hearing the news he rushes to the office, turns out that Bert has passed away. I know this was a really sad moment on the show, but I am glad they showed it. Bert’s passing will bring in a new turn for the agency and a progression into the future that maybe has been stunted by him in the past.
Roger calls Don to tell him the news and he talks with Peggy and tells her she must present at the meeting because if he wins the account and then gets pushed out of the agency, she will have nothing. He helps her prep and gets her ready. It’s like she is all grown up and ready to leave Don’s nest. At the meeting, Peggy pulls out all the stops and utilizes the successful moon landing mission as her backdrop. Not only is she authoritative and knowledgeable, her presentation is emotionally perfect and it comes at a perfect time in history. The account is theirs, mission accomplished for Peggy.
At Betty’s home, she has guests in town who happen to bring their two young sons with them. One is a teenager, ripe with abs and teenage angst, the other a nerdy tween. Sally all of a sudden, upon seeing the hunky new friend, does up her hair and goes to work as a lifeguard. When she comes home and sits with the family to watch the moon landing, she takes on the views of the her new guy friend who thinsk the moon landing is somehow pointless and uses up the government’s money. Don calls to check on her and ask her what she thinks of the moon landing, to which Sally spews the cynical verbiage she just heard. Oh boy, Sally is growing up so fast.
She goes outside to look under the telescope with the nerdy boy, she lights a cigarette just like her mother, taking drag after drag and goes in and kisses the kid. He has no idea what to do and he runs off. Sally is becoming a mini-Betty, yet despite her rebellious, skeptical nature, she does have some grit about her and a maturity beyond her years. I love Kiernan Shipka who plays Sally, what a great actress, she really knows how to evoke some deep rooted emotions for such a young person.
Back to the death at hand, upon arriving at the office, Jim and Joan show up and immediately launch into plans for the new office and once again bring up getting rid of Don. Roger leaves and the next morning sets a meeting with the head of McCann Erickson and proposes a deal, for them to take 51% stake in SC&P and allow Roger to run it while they operate as an independent subsidiary. Together they would no longer be adversaries, instead ideal partners, and a sweet deal for McCann Erickson to own their competition. One of the stipulations of the agreement is that Don and Ted must be part of the deal because Buick loved them and it wouldn’t be possible to have the agency without them. Don also has a vision, he sees Bert calling him over and he does a little dance for him. Good bye old pal, we will miss you Bert. What a cool send off for the patriarch of the agency.
Roger presents the merger to the team with Don in tow, ready to help pitch the idea. The deal is made even sweeter when Roger tells them they will be millionaires if they allow this deal to take place. Not only that, but the agency will have its’ pulse on the newest advertising techniques from media buys and placements to a database of resources utilizing their computers. Ted feels like he will just die if he works one more day, he is ready to ruin the whole thing, but Don swoops in and tells him if he leaves and has nothing then he will really feel like dying. He felt it when he was forced out and if Don can’t convince someone, then I don’t know who can and of course Ted gives in.
We are left now with the possibility of what will be next year, the final conclusion to this tale we have been watching so closely. Will Don fail? Will everyone find out he is really Dick Whitman? Or will he end up all alone? Forced into loneliness by his past actions. Overall, this was a great beginning to the final season, every episode was fine tuned, there wasn't a moment that felt insignificant or pointless and I am sure that everything has a deeper meaning and foreshadows something that will happen at the end.
I will leave you with this, what if two of my favorite shows Mad Men and Game of Thrones switched? Look at how it would look below. One word...Awesome!