“Do the work, Don.”
*WARNING: FULL EPISODE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*
If you haven’t been watching the final season of Mad Men, you’re missing out. So far in season 7, the show has moved quickly and covered a lot of ground. We’ve seen Don and Megan continue to have issues from afar. Dawn has begun to ascend the ladder at Sterling Cooper & Associates. We’ve experienced a surprising amount of development from Bobby (FINALLY!) and Sally. Hell, we’ve even seen Freddie Rumsen go straight. But, most importantly of all, we saw Don Draper make his not-so-triumphant return to SC&A last week.
That’s pretty much where we lead off with Sunday’s episode. Don is back, and it ain’t pretty. He’s now shoved into Lane’s old office — right next to Peggy I might add– and thanks to Jim Cutler’s aggressive suggestion to finally get Harry Crane a computer, he’s seated right in the middle of a construction zone. (Also, is anyone else uncomfortable with Don being in the office where a former partner who got himself into trouble ended it all? I don’t like the very overtly ominous vibe coming from that.)
As if being situated next to Peggy wasn’t awkward enough, Peggy is given a promotion of sorts by Lou, who also gives her the Burger Chef account that Pete has acquired in California, also finding out his former father-in-law has had a heart attack. With that account comes new responsibilities, like having a duo of copywriters report to her. Copywriters like Don Draper. This, of course, is not to Don’s liking. He outwardly refuses to participate, opting to play solitaire in his office instead.
Don then has an impromptu encounter with former IBM employee turned computer entrepreneur, Lloyd, who owns the company installing Harry’s new computer. While the computer is the subject of much debate in the office, especially with the creative team… namely Ginsberg, Don sees this as an opportunity to get the firm into new business withing a growing market. Don forms this idea after speaking to Lloyd for a few minutes, after Lloyd approaches him with some curiosities about advertising. However, when Don takes the idea to Bert Cooper, Bert makes it very clear that Don wasn’t wanted back and definitely isn’t being counted on for any new business. This sends Don into a fit, and after lifting a bottle from Roger’s office, things only get worse. Don drunkenly bails out of work to catch a Mets game, and after and awkward encounter with Lloyd, we’re flashed forward to Don passing out at home after Freddie drags him back home.
The next morning, after some debate, Freddie straightens Don out, telling him to get it together. He then utters one of my favorite lines of the episode, “Do the work, Don.”
While all of this is happening with Don, we also get some entertaining moments with Roger. Roger’s daughter, Margaret, has gone missing, and has presumably run off to a commune of hippies. After sending his son-in-law after her fails miserably, Roger must head out to finder her himself with his ex-wife, Mona, along for the ride.
When they finally get to the commune, Mona can’t stand what’s become of her daughter, but Roger seems to be more accepting. Roger lets Mona leave with his car, and decides to spend the night. Here we see Roger actively participate in the commune, peeling potatoes and offering to get fire wood. He appears to actually be enjoying himself, which isn’t a surprise really with his recent experimentation with “free love” and hallucinogenics.
In the middle of the night, after some touching dialogue back and forth between Margaret (now going by Marigold) and Roger, Margaret sneaks off with a guy and Roger suddenly changes his mind. The next morning Roger tries to carry Margaret away, but he falls in the mud and ends up all but disowned by his daughter.
During their argument, Roger tells Margaret that she has a toddler at home who needs a mother, and she needs to step up and be a parent. Margaret then retorts, pointing out that Roger was never much a father himself. Roger then leaves on his own will, in a mud covered suit, disgruntled, with no transport in sight. Is it possible that we’ll see Roger begin to repent for his past wrong doings from here on out? I hope so.
The episode ends with Peggy walking into Don’s office the following day, and Don tells her she’ll have her work by lunch, and continues hammering away on his typewriter.
All in all, it’s both jarring and fascinating to see Don at the bottom of the totem pole, answering to a boss who he helped get to where she is. It’s pretty awesome to see where the oft-unappreciated women of Mad Men have ended up, while the men who they often have to play nanny to flounder. Roger not only at the commune, but also interacting with his family was nothing short of great as well. Usually when Roger is involved you can expect a high quality episode. Always great to see Freddie Rumsen having it all together too. The cinematics so far this season have been top notch as well.
On a lesser note, there were some great quotes in this episode too, which Ginsberg’s “The other one is full of old farts” not being the least of them.
I did have a few issues though that hampered the episode. Pete’s uber-convenient run in with George from Burger Chef, formerly Vicks, seemed a little contrived. As mentioned above, I don’t really like the idea of Don in Lane’s office either, but that’s more of a personal preference. Also, is it just me or has Bert Cooper become a real dick lately? And finally, the passage of time has been blurred a little, which made the episode hard to follow at a few points.
This weeks episode was overall a pretty good one, and it’d hard to believe that we only have three episodes left this year due to the plan to split one season over two different years.That’s an idea that I think is pretty stupid even if it’s to emphasize the passage of time and worked for Breaking Bad.
Here’s the rundown:
+ Harry Crane finally gets something.
+ Don working so closely with Peggy is great TV.
+Seeing Don at the bottom, or close to it, is still new to viewers and is fun to watch.
+ Freddie Rumsen as the straight man.
+ Roger and his dynamic with his family and the commune. More Roger is always a good thing.
+ Good episodes for cinematics and quotes
+Nice, understated cameo from The Walking Dead’s Josh McDermitt as George
– Pete’s super-coincidence.
– Don in Lane’s office.
– Bert Cooper is a dick.
– Passage of time is getting confusing.
Overall Score: 8.0 – The episode was good, but not ground breaking. Seeing the new dynamic at SC&A is great, but the episode needed a little more than Don’s work issues and Roger’s family dilemma to push it over the top.