Monday, May 26th

Mad Men: Waterloo

Last night we were treated to the midseason finale of Mad Men, and indeed, what a treat it was!

Peggy on Mad Men

The moon landing set the tone and we got to watch this momentous piece of history through the eyes of the characters. Even old Burt is giddy during the launch.

Don's Secretary on Mad Men

Don receives a breach of contract notice for crashing the cigarette client meeting. (His secretary makes a big dramatic scene out of it and kisses him when she delivers the letter. It’s hilarious and Don’s face is priceless. I can’t help but think the old Don would have fired a secretary for this. New Don is a bit softer and has a sense of humor.) Remember, a stipulation of Don’s contract states that he can no longer speak to clients without prior authorization and a script. They lost that cigarette business, by the way, and Lou poops his pants over it. Jim calls Lou the hired help and puts him in his place. Hurrah!

Jim on Mad Men

Don starts screaming for all the partners to gather so he can confront them. Jim calls him a bully and a drunk, a football player in a suit. Turns out, no one else knew about the letter and they aren’t happy with Jim acting alone on their behalf. They put it to a vote and most vote for him to stay; Jim and Joan vote for him to leave. WTF, Joan? Why all the bitchiness?

Megan is sunning herself in California when Don calls her to let her know the agency is pushing him out. She suggests that maybe it’s better for him to move on and he agrees, saying now he can move to California. Confronted with the possibility of a full time marriage again, Megan’s wishes are clear. They break up. The marriage is over. Don quietly accepts it, knowing it would always end this way. Shit. Am I the only one who is sad about this?

Poor lonely Peggy is having building work done and hitting on the repair man. It seems the only man in her life is the ten-year old neighbor kid who hangs out, watches TV, and eats popsicles. Peggy asks him for fashion advice for the Burger Chef pitch. He tells her he’s moving and the look of anguish on her face is devastating. She enjoyed having this little boy to come home to and it’s clear that she’s a real mother figure for him. She cries and we feel her heart break.

Don and Pete on Mad Men

Eventually the gang heads to Burger Chef for the pitch. They watch the moon landing together in a hotel room. The Francis-Draper household watches with their houseguests, the family of one of Betty’s old friends. The hot older boy comments that the landing is expensive and unnecessary, and then Sally reiterates the snotty teenage comment to Don on the phone. He tells her to stop being so cynical so she goes outside for a cigarette and kisses the hot houseguest’s nerdy younger brother. Interesting choice, Sally.

Roger on Mad Men

While the landing is still on TV, Roger gets the call that Burt died. Roger is deeply saddened and heads to the office. Joan meets him there and the two embrace. Jim comes in and immediately starts making plans to move on, including ousting Don. Says he has a vision for the future with Harry and the computer. It’s calculated and callous, but Jim knows without Burt’s vote against him, he can do what he wants now. Roger calls Don to share the news about Burt and let Don know that he won’t be able to save him. Don insists that Peggy lead the Burger Chef pitch now, since it won’t be his business to win. She balks. She’s not prepared, but he makes her do it anyway and it’s a thing of beauty. They win the business.

Peggy pitches Burger Chef

Roger doesn’t want to lose the agency he built. Before he died, Burt frankly told him he wasn’t a leader. Yet he does what a leader does and swallows his pride for the good of the company. He arranges for rival agency McCann to buy them, while retaining their name and autonomy. It’s a good deal for McCann because they won’t have to compete with the superior creative at SC&P. It’s a good deal for SC&P because…I’m rich, bitch! The buyout will make them all millionaires, except Harry, who hadn’t signed his partnership paperwork yet. OMG, that’s totally something that would happen to me.

Joan and Pete on Mad Men

The deal is contingent on keeping Ted, who really wants to quit advertising altogether. Earlier in the episode he takes the Sunkist execs up in his little plane and cuts the engines with talk of ending it all, while the plane free falls for a few minutes. Don convinces him that as a creative, he needs to work. They vote to go through with the deal.

The partners join the rest of the company for an office memorial party for Burt and Don heads back to his office to work. He hears Burt’s voice and witnesses a song and dance number. Although it’s a weird way to end the episode, and the year, it’s a nice farewell to Burt. Actor Robert Morse has an esteemed broadway background and at 83, can still cut a rug. Each season closes in a place of optimism, and this midseason finale is no different. Because the show is so dark, I’m appreciative of the lighthearted ending.

Burt on Mad Men

So there we have it. What did you think of the episode and final season so far? Do you have any predictions for what’s to come next year?

Monday, May 19th

Mad Men: The Strategy

Don and Megan on Mad Men

Only one episode of Mad Men left in 2014 and the episodes are still going strong. Whether it’s the shortened season or the fact that we are almost at the very end of the series, I can’t help but feel a wave of sadness wash over me as the credits roll each week. Peggy, don’t leave me!

Peggy on Mad Men

Peggy is killing it at work. She’s thrown herself into the research of Burger Chef and discovered that the moms that buy their children fast food for dinner feel guilty. She builds a campaign strategy around alleviating their guilt and (whoa, insult) having the dads give them permission. It just always comes back to the men in this show, doesn’t it? An even bigger insult is when Pete Campbell suggests that Peggy let Don run the presentation for the client. It’s a huge slap in the face but she relents. I can almost see the giant bruise on her head as she crashes into the glass ceiling.

Pete and Bonnie Mad Men

When not insulting Peggy at work, Pete is over-the-moon in love with his girlfriend Bonnie, who accompanies him on the trip to New York. They have all kinds of NYC fun planned, but first he must visit his daughter Tammy. Being back in his old house triggered some asshole switch in Pete and he waits for Trudy to get home from her presumed date and picks an ugly fight. He lets it ruin the whole trip and Bonnie ends up flying back to California by herself.

Pete and Trudy Mad Men

Also visiting from California is Megan. It’s clear how much Don misses her. And it’s also clear that her life and happiness are on the West Coast. She’s slipping away. I mean, she’s even bringing her fondue pot with her.

Bob Benson and Joan Mad Men

Bob Benson is in from Detroit with the Chevy guys who seem as rowdy as ever. After picking one up from jail, Bob is told that the agency will be losing Chevy and that Buick is going to offer him a fabulous in-house job. He’s happy for the security and offers it to share it with Joan in the form of a proposal. But Joan is old-fashioned and would rather wait for love than marry her gay bestie. I love that he asked and I love that she declined. It’s a sweet moment. Also, Joan’s mother is awful. How is she still living there? Is there no other form of childcare in Manhattan?

The Partners Mad Men

Apparently his bitching has paid off, because the partners vote to make Harry Crane a partner. Joan and Roger are against the idea. I guess I am okay with it. Harry’s annoying, but he’s smart, innovative, and loyal. Still though…annoying.

Peggy and Don Mad Men

Meanwhile, Peggy can’t get past the strategy for Burger Chef. Don suggested framing it from child’s point of view and that seed of doubt blossomed into an obsession for Peggy. The account people are happy and the client will be happy, but Peggy wants to do better work. She and Don hole up in Lou’s office and drink from his tiki bar and hash it out. It’s a wonderful scene and I feel for the first time that they are truly on the same page and on equal ground. They are forever bound by their history, their creativity, and their misery. Their relationship is so complicated, but pure.

Peggy and Don on Mad Men

With roles reversed, Don shares insights into his creative process and they both share their fears that life and family have passed them by. She mentions that she turned 30 recently and Don gravely responds, “Shit.” Then they dance to Frank Sinatra and Peggy lands on the new strategy: Family.

Peggy, Don, and Pete at Burger Chef, Mad Men

In the final scene, Peggy brings Don and Pete to Burger Chef. She explains the new concept, that every table there is a family table. We can see that it’s true. She nailed it. The camera pans back and we watch them talk and laugh over burgers. Those three seemingly tragic and lonely individuals are a family. Tear.

 

Monday, May 12th

Mad Men: The Runaways

Don Draper on Mad Men

The latest episode of Mad Men shocked me to my core. And then it did it again. I love the bravery and just…the sheer audacity of the writers. I mean, who the hell do they think they are?! They think they can do anything they want? Well, last night proves that they can.

Stephanie on Mad Men

When Don gets a call from “niece” Stephanie, he has her go to Megan’s. Even though Megan knows that Don considers her family, she’s threatened by Stephanie’s hippie, pregnant beauty. She shows her plenty of hospitable kindness she could before showing her the door. At least she gave her a thousand bucks. Stephanie seemed okay with it.

Don didn’t even get to see Stephanie as he was delayed a day when Lou made him work late. Why? Well we can blame this one on Stan.

Stan on Mad Men

When he finds Lou’s hand-drawn cartoons on the copy machine, Stan leads the creative team in some behind-his-back ribbing. Only Lou catches them making fun of him and gives them a big lecture about Underdog and Bob Dylan and living your dreams. So his dream is to be a cartoonist? That should make Lou lovable, but I just hate him even more. He lumps Don in with the other “flag-burning snots” and rebuffs his advice on dealing with the creatives.

Megan Draper dancing on Mad Men

Eventually Don makes it back to California and while he missed Stephanie, he made it in plenty of time for Megan’s blowout party. Her acting friends danced, played music, and smoked plenty of pot. When Harry Crane walked in, Don jumped at the opportunity to get the hell out of there. They went to a dark bar and Harry spilled the beans that the agency is trying to get business with Philip Morris. Don’s public anti-cigarette tirade years ago will haunt him forever and this new business would be the opportunity the agency needs to get rid of him.

He heads back to Megan’s with the heavy news weighing him down. Megan and her California BFF (Amy) lift him out of his bad mood with a spirited ménage à trois. Whaaaat?! For me, this is a little gratuitous. Is Megan trying to save the marriage? Wasn’t she ready to throw in the towel just a few episodes ago?

Peggy on Mad Men

Okay. Whatever. We need to move past that because my beloved Michael Ginsberg is finding it impossible to concentrate at work with the constant hum of the giant computer. He is unraveling before our eyes and I hate it.

He shows up at Peggy’s to use her typewriter and work in an environment where he can concentrate, much to her dismay. Despite the fact that she’s wearing the most hideous ensemble we’ve ever seen, Michael tells her they must procreate to combat the computer. Um…okaaaaay. She kicks him out and isn’t too phased by the whole thing. On Monday at work he brings her a gift and said he’s learned to live with the computer. The gift is HIS FUCKING NIPPLE. He cut it off and put it in a box! Now Peggy knows how that Van Gogh girl must have felt. Michael is taken away on a stretcher, presumably to a mental hospital.

Michael Ginsberg on Mad Men

Shit. So that’s it? My favorite copywriter and character is gone? I hope he comes back but with only two more episodes of this year, it’s unlikely we’ll see him again.

Sally and Bobby on Mad Men

Things are grim in the Francis household. Betty and Henry are constantly fighting. Betty isn’t the pleasant little housewife he needs her to be. When he tells her to “leave the thinking to him” she retorts that she’s smart and is fluent in Italian. Get out of there Betty! Go move to Rome and start a new glamorous life on your own. Her own children hate her, too, and we see Sally and Bobby bond over their miserable childhood. Oh, and Sally damaged her nose sword fighting with golf clubs. Ha ha. Awesome.

Philip Morris meeting on Mad Men

At the end of the episode Don surprises Jim and Lou by showing up at the Philip Morris meeting. Either he just saved his job or tanked it. He confidently hails a cab, at peace with what he’s done.

What did you think of the episode? What body part would you cut off for your crush? (I’d pick a baby toe. Because it’s cute.)

Monday, May 5th

Mad Men: Monolith

Stan, Peggy, and Ginsberg on Mad Men

Mad  Men got techie last night. Harry’s bitching finally paid off and they got him a computer. The world’ largest computer, it seems, as the entire agency is turned into a construction zone and the creatives lose their lounge to house the giant thing.

Peggy loudly complains that Lou knows nothing about the creative process. Of course he overhears it and is none too pleased. He retaliates by giving Peggy a raise of $100 a week. Huh? Oh, and Don has to report to her for Burger Chef, a new account lead brought in by Pete Campbell. Lou is effectively screwing both Don and Peggy in this move. Oh, Lou…you’re the worst.

Don’s transition back to work could not be better. It’s like he never left and he glides back into his old office, picks up right where he left off creatively and has the support and respect of his colleagues. FALSE. His transition back to work is horrible. He is trapped in the saddest place in the world, Lane’s old office and suicide chamber. He resents having to report to Peggy and flat out refuses to do the work. Great. Like Peggy needs another reason to act like a jerk these days.

When he suggests pitching work to the computer company, Burt shuts him down and pretty much lets him know that he’s not trusted or welcome at the agency. It’s an ugly, demeaning conversation. It’s hard to blame Don for stealing a bottle of liquor and downing it in his office. He gets Freddy to pick him up for a Mets game (some kind of twisted homage to Lane) and Freddy wisely brings Don home where he passes out till the next morning. Freddy tells him his choices are to continue along this path, essentially leaving him without a job, or “Do the work, Don.” So he suits up, goes to work, and starts writing his tag lines for Peggy. It looks like this was another episode of humility for Don.

Now onto Roger’s story. His daughter (who was acting oddly last time we saw her) ran away to live on a hippie commune. Mona and Roger end up traveling to get her and speculate how she could leave her husband and son. Is it another man? Drugs? Looks to be a little of both. Roger partakes in some pot-smoking and bonds with his daughter (now called Marigold. Puke) in a barn under the stars.

The next morning he tries to bring her back home and the two have a blow-out which leaves them both sad and muddy. She coldly tells him he was an absent father and for now at least, it looks like he’s lost her. The look on his face as he leaves is beyond heartbreaking. I have to hold my breath for a second so I don’t cry. Grim episode.

I’ll leave you with a happy image of Harry. Because we all enjoy getting a new computer.

Harry Crane on Mad Men

Monday, April 28th

Mad Men: Field Trip

Don Draper of Mad Men

It’s painful to watch Don Draper circling the drain, but I’m appreciative that the Mad Men writers aren’t afraid to play with the dynamics. After all these years, the show still feels fresh.

When Megan’s agent calls Don to see if he can talk some sense into her, he hops on the next flight to LA. At first she’s happy for the surprise visit, but when he gently coaches her on dealing with rejection, she loses it. Of course, she had already lost her mind when she kept demanding new auditions and hunted down a director in person. (In today’s Hollywood, would Megan be the type to ruin herself with too much plastic surgery? What lengths will a crazy actress go to for a role?)

Megan and Don on Mad Men

Once Megan’s anger ignites, she unleashes a fury on Don that we haven’t ever seen before. She knows he hasn’t been calling her from work and insists he’s having an affair. She was his secretary after all and knows his ways. When he finally admits that he hasn’t been working she is unsympathetic. She tells him to leave and ends the marriage.

Okay, I want to take a minute to discuss this. I know Megan isn’t a crowd favorite, but I always liked her as Don’s wife. She was light and airy, youthful, and more importantly, called him on his shit. She forced an honesty in Don that Betty never did and I think their relationship gave Don dimensions we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I think the lighthearted moments between Don and Sally are due to Megan’s influence. So yes, I’m Team Megan. Haters to the left.

Betty on Mad Men

Team Betty-ites will be happy to see her interest in motherhood renewed. When she volunteers as chaperone for Bobby’s class trip to a farm, we get to see a fun side of her. She smokes on the bus with the kids and makes comments to Bobby about his teacher’s slutty attire. How fun! When no one wants to drink warm milk fresh out of the cow, Betty jumps in and drinks it straight from the bucket with a smile. Oh, this is delightful! I hope no one messes it up, by say, trading Betty’s Very Important Sandwich for a bag of gumdrops.

Damn you, Bobby! How could you be so selfish? Welp, the day is ruined as is their relationship and possibly motherhood. Forever.

Bobby and Betty on Mad Men

Back at the agency, the insults keep coming. Peggy’s not getting any CLIO nominations even though she’s doing some of her best work. Michael Ginsberg (who I just freaking love so much) is getting recognized, however. And Harry Crane still isn’t getting the respect (or computer) he deserves. Harry’s arrogance in the office cracks me up. I’m kind of surprised that he hasn’t been fired by now. Peggy, too, since Lou is an immature, threatened dirtbag of a man.

Don and Roger on Mad Men

Okay, back to Don. He’s attempting to get his life back on track. He takes a meeting and gets a job offer. He brings the offer to Roger and the two finally have it out. Roger tells him to come back if he wants; he can start Monday. Yay! But when he shows up Monday it’s a series of really awkward interactions. No one knew he was coming. No one knows what to say to him. No one knows he still works there. And where the F is Roger?!

Don, Jim, Joan and Burt on Mad Men

Eventually Roger shows up, drunk and all casual, like, My name’s on the door, baby. I don’t need to run nothing by nobody. Of course, the partners are pissed and they have a heated discussion. In the end, their decision to keep Don is financial. (Um, hello? He’s a creative genius. Why doesn’t anyone remember that? He has one emotional meltdown in front of a client and now he’s an untouchable? Freddy peed his pants at work. Roger threw up oysters in the office. Ken brought in a riding lawnmower that led to a coworker losing his foot. I mean, shit happens.)

They simply can’t afford to buy out his shares. But his return to work is conditional.

1. Don is not allowed to be alone with clients.

2. When he does speak to clients, he must stick to a pre-approved script.

3. No drinking.

4. He has to sit in Lane’s old office.

5. He will report to Lou. Fucking Lou!

Failure to abide by these rules means Don forfeits his shares. This is SO INSULTING. He ponders for just a moment before saying, “Okay.” I shriek. Mr Betty gasps. And then Jimi Hendrix closes out the episode.

What did you think?

Monday, April 21st

Mad Men: A Day’s Work

Shirley and Peggy in Mad Men

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air nowhere to be found. Actually, love can be found right on the desk of Shirley, Peggy’s secretary. Peggy mistakenly thinks the roses are hers and happily brings them into her office. Poor Shirley can’t seem to tell her that the flowers belong to her, not Peggy, and for the rest of the episode Peggy acts like a lunatic. She leaves cryptic messages for Ted, letting him know that she’s not willing to reignite their relationship. After a few comical miscommunications, Shirley finally tells her the truth. Peggy’s response is to sulk and act like a baby. This wasn’t her finest episode.

Peggy on Mad Men

In other secretary business, Dawn is having a hard time of it. Don expects her to keep him in the loop on all business matters and she’s uncomfortable gathering information on the sly. She’s even less comfortable taking cash for it, but Don insists. To make her life/job even harder, she’s also the secretary for new creative director, Lou. And Lou is…how should I put this? Oh, right. Lou is an asshole. When Sally stops by to see Don, Lou goes into a rage and gets Dawn removed from his desk.

Dawn on Mad Men

A few things to note here:

1. Sally’s in boarding school and is in the city with her friends to attend the funeral of her roommate’s mother. They orchestrate a shopping trip and Sally loses her purse somewhere. She doesn’t care so much about the purse or her money, but is sad to lose her address book as it holds all her contacts. I guess this is like losing your cell phone in today’s world.

2. Don didn’t tell Sally that he hasn’t been working. No surprise to us, since he didn’t even tell Megan. But Sally was certainly surprised to show up and find Lou in his office.

3. Dawn wasn’t around to manage Sally because she used her lunch break to buy perfume for Lou’s wife, but he berated her anyway. Again, Lou = Asshole.

Don Draper on Mad Men

Don’s been rotting at home, watching TV and drinking. Oh, this is so sad. How the mighty have fallen. It’s a relief when he starts taking meetings and warms up to the idea of working elsewhere. He’s not quite honest about his current situation, but the other agencies seem to know the score. When Sally comes looking for him at his apartment, they have a confrontation about his lack of honesty. He drives her back to school, thrilled to have something to do. He prolongs the journey by taking her to a diner and eventually breaks through her sullen teenage wall. My favorite moment is when he shocks her by suggesting they dine and dash. Oh, Don.

I really love how the relationship between Don and Sally has evolved. She’s honest about not wanting to go to his apartment for fear of running into Sylvia. And he’s honest about his shame over not working. They might have the healthiest relationship on the entire show.

Don and Sally Draper in Mad Men

Back to the secretaries: Joan moves Dawn to reception and the receptionist now works for Lou. But when ole’ racist Burt sees Dawn, he insists Joan move her elsewhere. He doesn’t want people to see an African American first thing when they walk through the door. Joan is appropriately horrified. And she’s tired of having to juggle secretaries all the time. (Even Peggy wants to get rid of Shirley over the roses.) When Jim realizes she has two jobs, he suggests a promotion to accounts and offers her a new office upstairs. Yeah, Joan! Looks like Dawn is the new office Joan. Yeah, Dawn!

Joan on Mad Men

But for every professional victory at the agency, there must be a regression. For balance, you see. This week’s disappointment falls to Pete, who busts his butt to land the local Chevy account. Southern California’s account is as large as their national dealings in Detroit and the partners bicker over how it should be handled. Only Roger has Pete’s back and in the end they decide Pete needs to default to Bob Benson. What an insult! Pete is angry and lashes out at the only person he can: Ted. He realizes this California position is a dead end.

Ted on Mad Men

And that’s it for this week. Still no Betty. Betty, where are you?!

Monday, April 14th

Mad Men: Time Zones

Peggy Olson Mad Men

The seventh season of Mad Men premiered last night. What did you guys think? I thought it was excellent. Let’s talk about it.

Only two months have passed since last season. This episode belonged to Peggy, Don, and Joan, with most of the other characters appearing in their orbits. Peggy’s wearing a kicky beanie, and that’s the most lighthearted thing happening in her life. Her new boss, Lou Avery, is a creative director of a different mindset than Don was. When Peggy presents a brilliant concept for Accutron watches that (now freelancer) Freddy Rumsen feeds her in a dramatic, camera-facing monologue, she is thrilled by the idea. Lou doesn’t give a shit and shuts her down when she fights for the idea. She doesn’t give up and tries again the next week, but ole’ Lou is immune to her charms and tells her as much.

Peggy Olsen Mad Men

Peggy realizes that she’s working with a bunch of hacks and no one cares about doing the best work. She’s the only one willing to maintain the level of creativity that Don established and she takes it very personally. I feel you, Peggy. When Ted drops by for a visit from California, she can barely stand the site of him. It is NOT civil. To add insult to injury, she still owns that horrible building and is constantly being bothered by her tenants to fix a toilet. At least her new secretary seems great. I hope we get to know you better, Shirley.

Shirley and Peggy, Mad Men

In the most beautiful scene of the episode, Megan picks up Don from the airport and everything is all sunny California glam. I want to move into this world. And apparently, Megan is already living in this world. Don is just visiting and taking time to “work” in the west coast office. Oh, so Megan doesn’t know that Don hasn’t been working for the last two months. Their marriage seems strained at best. Megan is thriving in LA with a promising career while Don is floundering. Their power structure is off.

Don Draper Mad Men

In his most raw moment, Don bonds with a beautiful stranger (Nev Campbell!) on the flight back to NYC. They each bare some painful thoughts and she falls asleep on his shoulder. Later we see Don and Freddy having lunch and realize Don is the one coming up with the creative concepts for Freddy. Ahhh, now it all makes sense. Mr. Pee Pants never struck me as that brilliant a copywriter. 

Ken has never been more stressed and desperately needs help. (He’s still wearing the eyepatch and Mr. Betty suspects it’s permanent.) When he sends Joan to a meeting in his place with the Butler Footwear head of marketing, she rises to the challenge. The meeting does not go well and Butler wants to start managing their advertising on their own, effectively firing the agency. But Joan saves the day and convinces them to stay, using some research from a professor she visits on the sly. She’s a smart cookie, that Joan. I believe she’d make the perfect account executive if they’d give her the chance.

Roger seems to have fallen off the deep end. I die when he wakes up in a trashed room with a dozen naked people all around him. What the hell? He meets his daughter for brunch and she tells him she forgives him for well, for being him. And for smelling like incense. He’s unphased by her kindness but he seems miserable and lonely, like both Peggy and Don. I’d say loneliness was the theme of the episode.

Roger Sterling Mad Men

A real moment of levity was seeing Pete Campbell, who’s taken to California like a fish to water. I gasped at the first site of his tan and pastel clothing. He had such a sad, dark season last year, so it’s good to see him looking so happy. “The city is flat and ugly. And the air is brown. But I love the vibrations!”

And that’s about it. I’m hoping we get some time with Betty next week.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Friday, April 11th

Catch up on Mad Men Season Six

I realize my life is flashing before my eyes when I see how quickly time goes by between seasons of Mad Men. It’s with a heavy heart that I anticipate this final season. I don’t want it to end! Clearly AMC doesn’t want the ad revenue and award nominations to end either, since they are splitting the final fourteen episodes over two years. That’s right. We’re only getting a trifling seven episodes in 2014. We’d better savor every moment.

Mad Men Megan and Don

Last season we saw that Don and Megan’s honeymoon phase was officially over. Her acting career took off and Don was all kinds of cranky about it. Personally, I was cranky over Don’s season-long affair with his neighbor Sylvia. Also, Megan had a miscarriage.

Linda Cardellini as Sylvia in Mad Men

Peggy had an affair of her own with Ted, her married boss. She thrived at work, showing her true talents as a copy chief, although as a boss she was cutting and cruel. I guess she learned from the best. (I learned it from watching you! Sob.) We saw the two agencies go head to head over Heinz Sauces and Beans. There was a lot of talk about beans and ketchup last season, actually. Secret meetings, under-the-radar creative, and ZERO hotdogs eaten. Seems like a missed opportunity.

Peggy and Ted on Mad Men

Don and Peggy were reunited when the two agencies merged. Don and Ted were constantly at odds and it caused lots of office rage. The creative personalities clashed and everyone was in a bad mood. Roger longed for Joan, but she was happily dating Bob Benson. And Bob Benson was very much in love with a Greek coffee cup, as there was one in his hand for almost the entire season. Oh, and Bob Benson is gay. Oh, and Bob Benson is not who he says he is. Kind of another Dick Whitman/Don Draper dealio, with a secret identity that only Pete Campbell figured out. So we’ll probably learn more about Bob in the new season.

Joan, Roger, and Bob Benson on Mad Men

In the theme of bad moods, Betty occupied in that bitchy state of mind she loves so much, while her hair color and weight fluctuated. But like Jessica Simpson, she stuck to her Weight Watchers until she returned to her former skinny blonde glory. All the sparkle and shine from her new relationship with was Henry is gone and they settled into the same old drudgery of everyday life, just like her first marriage. She allowed herself a one night stand with Don while visiting Bobby at camp.

Anyway, Peggy’s gross boyfriend (Abe) convinced her to buy an apartment in a bad neighborhood instead of the Upper East Side and staunchly defended it against her complaints. He didn’t even take it to heart when he was stabbed by a stranger on the subway. But when he was stabbed a second time by Peggy, that was it for their relationship. (The same annoying person stabbed twice in one episode? I mean…I just love this show so much.)

Pete Campbell Mad Men

Pete Campbell carried on one affair too many and Trudy finally kicked him to the curb. His mama drama sunk his spirits even lower when his mother who had dementia wreaked chaos, starting a fire in his apartment, and marring a shady gold digger who later dumped her off the side of a cruise ship.

The Civil Rights movement of the 60s played an important role in season six. We experienced the tension, the push for change, and the devastation of losing Martin Luther King through not only the main characters, but also the black community. Don’s secretary Dawn was particularly relatable.

Dawn from Mad Men

The Draper children became more complex. Bobby showed himself to be a sad little boy, even when acting out. Sally’s relationship with Megan was fun to watch, as they are closer in age and Megan was much nicer to her than Betty ever was. But when poor Sally walked in on her father and Sylvia going at it, she shut down emotionally. Kids are resilient though, and Sally flourished at bad girl behavior during a trial night in boarding school. Later, she seemed to forgive Don when he started opening up about his sad childhood. Unfortunately, he opened up a bit too much during a client pitch and the other partners fired him.

Mad Men partners

I’m looking forward to finding out what happened to Don and Megan when she found out that he lost his job. She quit her soap opera job in anticipation of Don’s job relocating them to California. My guess is that she, if not both of them, moved anyway.

Need more dirty details from season six? Check out my recaps of each episode:

The Doorway and Collaborators

To Have and To Hold

The Flood

For Immediate Release

Man with a Plan

The Crash

The Better Half

A Tale of Two Cities

Favors

The Quality of Mercy

In Care Of

Tuesday, June 25th

A Night in Jail

We close the book on another season of Mad Men. I’m trying to appreciate them, since we have far fewer left than have passed. The season finale was so well done in my opinion. Rather than beat you over the head with drama and cliffhangers, the episode eased into it, subtly delivering blows with the grace of a delicate razor blade. You don’t realize you’re bleeding till much later.

Let’s start with Pete. In the downward spiral that is his life, he finds out his mother married her gay nurse, Manolo. Oh, and she apparently “fell” overboard off a cruise ship. So the charming Manolo turned out to be a murderer, not realizing that the old broad he married for the money didn’t actually have any money. Since Bob Benson was the one who recommended Manolo, Pete has a place to direct his rage. Bob claims ignorance, and I’m curious as to whether that’s true.

Mad Ben Bob Benson and Pete Campbell

Pete and Bob still have to travel to Detroit together for Chevy and Pete makes a fool of himself by not knowing how to drive a stick. Come on, man, why’d you get in the driver’s seat then? His humiliations seem to know no end. Can we talk about what a tragic character Pete is? His father died in a plane crash, his mother fell off a cruise ship. After a series of joyless affairs his wife leaves him. And things aren’t going so well at work either. He is just a miserable, miserable man. I’m hoping for some Pete redemption next season.

Mad Men Chevy

In other Bob Benson news, he’s still with Joan and Roger threatens him in no uncertain terms. Joan takes pity on Roger and lets him come for Thanksgiving. He is so sweet with baby Kevin and my heart breaks for his loneliness. But seeing Bob in a frilly apron keeps me from tearing up.

Mad Men Roger and Kevin

Peggy and Ted’s attraction is intermingled with jealousy. She is enraged at seeing his wife in the office and throws on some lingerie and goes on a date to make him jealous. It works, because he storms into her apartment and spends the night. Or most of the night. Oh, Peggy. I’m happy you found love. And Ted’s way better than Abe. But you are too smart to date your married boss.

Ted and Peggy

Don is still messed up. Sally won’t see him and seems to have picked up a little of the drinky bug, getting herself suspended from school. When a pastor tried to get preachy with him in a bar, Don goes bananas and ends up spending the night in jail. He comes home and decides he wants to move to California and manage the Sunkist account and start his own little agency. Megan happily quits her job in anticipation of the move.

Later, Ted pleads with Don to trade places with him, to let him be the one to move to California. He knows his affair with Peggy will ruin his marriage and destroy his children. Taking his family to California will give him the fresh start he needs. Don relents and it probably costs him his own marriage. We don’t know for sure that Megan is leaving him, but I’d be willing to be a lot of money that they aren’t together at the beginning of next season. She’s going to California anyway.

In agency news, they are making a play for Hershey. Their campaign strategy is a nostalgic take on how children view the Hershey bar. Don talks about his own father taking him to the drugstore and letting him buy anything he wants. It’s a happy pictures and it seems he’s landed the account.

And then! And then…one of the most shocking Don Draper moments in the history of Mad Men occurs. He opens up and talks about his real childhood, growing up an orphan in a whorehouse. His memory of his first Hershey bar takes place there, and is so very sad, yet to him is still a happy memory. The power of his first Hershey bar evokes such emotion from him still. This well-written scene is so painful and it’s hard to watch Don recount this raw, honest memory in front of clients and stunned coworkers. A new side of Don has emerged and no one knows how to take it. He takes his kids to see the whorehouse where he grew up. A look of understanding, and maybe forgiveness, crosses Sally’s face.

Mad Men

Mad Men

That was enough shock for one episode, but they pushed us right over the cliff. Don is called in to an early morning partners meeting on Thanksgiving morning…and fired. He sees Duck escorting his possible replacement in on his way out.

Mad Men Fire Don

I will watch this episode at least one more time and will re-watch the whole season before the next season airs. I am struck by how human they made Don this season. His deep flaws didn’t necessarily make him more likable, but I think we all know this complex character just a bit better.

What did you think of the season finale?

Wednesday, June 19th

Boarding School

Only one episode left now. The season went by so fast, didn’t it? I feel like we don’t have too much that needs to be wrapped up at the point. The writers are free to do what they want.

Mad Men Ken Cosgrove

Poor Ken. As if the Chevy people weren’t beating him up enough, this time they actually shot him. I thought they killed him during their hunting expedition, but it looks like it was just a simple shot to the eye. (!) Not saying that I want to see Ken die or anything, but it might have made for a better storyline. Right, Game of Thrones fans?

Mad Men

So Ken removes himself from his Chevy duties and states his hatred for Detroit. Pete Campbell is his replacement on the account, meaning he has to work closely with his boyfriend Bob Benson. The question all season has been What’s the deal with Bob Benson? We finally have a little more information. The deal is…he’s not who he says he is. Sound familiar, Don Draper Dick Whitman? When Pete enlists Duck’s headhunting services for Bob, we discover that his background is more humble than he lets on. Pete confronts Bob, who asks for a day’s head start to get away. In one of the most shocking moments of the season, Pete lets him stay! This is baffling to me, and goes against everything we know about Pete. Well done, writers.

Don is drinking more heavily than usual. Sally catching him having an affair really bothered him, I guess. Megan suggests he reel it in a bit, and he agrees to stay home from work one day. Probably good, since he started the day with a Screwdriver. Ugh. Does anything sound less appealing than liquor in the morning? Later, he and Megan go to see Rosemary’s Baby and run into Peggy and Ted. I don’t know if they are having an affair or not, but clearly their relationship has reached a new level of compatibility and it’s evident to everyone. Especially Don.

Mad Men Don and Megan

Mad Men Peggy and Ted

In a move unlike the level-headed Ted we know and love, he disobeys a client’s budget to cast a commercial. Peggy has the idea of her life and he wants to bring it to fruition and see her win a CLIO. I’d like to see her win one, too, but c’mon, Ted. Don’t be a fool. Don catches it all in the knick of time and calls the client, which leads to a very tense meeting. Don powerfully toys with Ted, almost outing his feelings for Peggy in front of everyone. In one fell swoop, he gets the client to approve a higher budget and takes Peggy’s dream away, crediting the ad concept to the late Frank Gleason. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I hate for someone to lose credit on their own creative idea, but I also hate that Peggy is so blatant at work. I guess when it comes down to it, I’m always on Don’s side.

Mad Men Sally Draper

Sally is exploring a right of passage every New York rich kid who needs to escape their terrible parents tries: boarding school. She spends the night at a prestigious school as a trial. Not having been to boarding school, I can’t speak to this with any authority, but I believe the mean girl behavior is pretty typical. But Sally wraps those bitches around her finger when she smuggles in boys, booze, and cigarettes. It’s good to see Glen again!

Mad Men Glen

This storyline is so much fun. I hope Sally enrolls and we get to see her flourish into a bad girl. Betty lets Sally smoke in the car on the way home. Mother of the Year!