Last night we said our final goodbyes to Mad Men. Oh wait, no. Our penultimate goodbye to Mad Men but boy did it feel like a series closer. There are seven episodes to go, ruthlessly delayed until 2015 which will serve no one but AMC executives, but I wouldn't blame anyone for saying their goodbyes now. You'd be going out on such a well earned high, a breath-taking, teary-eyed, conflicted-emotion farewell in two episodes.
I want to go to the movies!"
Peggy whines in "The Strategy" as she struggles through her doubts about a campaign pitch for potential new lucrative client Burger Chef. Mad Men almost always hits its peak whenever it zeroes back in on the long form pas de deux between Don and Peggy. In this episode they refind each other as Don (Jon Hamm) helps Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) trust in her own creativity and Peggy learns to forgive her hard-to-love mentor. It even ends with a weary actual dance.
Don's other girl, Megan, also wants to go to the movies in the mid-season finale "Waterloo". I adore that the movie referenced by name here is The Wild Bunch (1969) which she plans to see with a girlfriend even though Don pathetically implies that she wait 'but I want to see it, too'. Megan is done waiting as that curtain closing wordless airplane scene in "The Strategy" implied and she breaks up with Don in what seems like an amicable surrender, both parties too tired to keep fighting off the inevitable death of their marriage.
Nine men who came too late and stayed too long."
Let's try not to read too much into it even though the episode is also called "Waterloo" which didn't end so well for Napoleon; in Mad Men's timeline ᗅᗺᗷᗅ has yet to be invented to make final defeats sound adorable and fun again. Let's try not to read too much into it even though Mad Men has lasted 8 seasons (or 7 whatever. I hate this bifurcated bullshit). That tagline could describe just about any ensemble series then dared venture past season 5. (Season 6 is typically when even the greatest of tv series start to stumble. That's my story and I'm sticking to it)
Aside from Roger Sterling's business maneuver to keep the company and team he knows and loves together - the title implies this might not be the big save everyone thinks -- the big events are all piggybacked into one night and morning, the simultaneous moon landing (which everyone watches on TV) and the death of Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) and Peggy's next day Burger Chef pitch which she improvises to include the Moon landing awe. A hearty "Bravo" to the Mad Men creative team that figured out a way to braid all of this together with a bravura but atypical fantasy sequence in which the ghost of Bert Cooper sings "The Best Things in Life are Free." It's a wink to the long shadow impishness and prickly warts-and-all personality of the Cooper character over the tone of the whole series and a tip of the hat to Morse's own history as a song & dance man and the original Tony winning star of the 1961 musical "How To Succeed in Business Withour Really Trying". A tearful Don watches in stunned silence.
I would like to file a class action lawsuit against AMC for intentional infliction of emotional distress for making us wait another entire year to see the last seven episodes of swansong to television's greatest series, even though they're already in the can gathering dust until 2015. But if the world suddenly ends between now and then, this would be a lovely send-off for the entire brilliant series.
Mad Men belongs to everyone,
The best thing in life on TV... ♫
The Strategy: A-