Monday, May 26, 2014

Last Men

So we're at the end of the half-season on Mad Men.  That came fast.  And "Waterloo," after giving us a solid hour of fine entertainment, ends with one of the biggest WTF moments the show's ever had.

It's July, and Apollo 11 takes off.  Won't be long before they land on the moon, and everyone's worried if they'll make it.  Ted is out with some clients from Sunkist, flying a plane.  He cuts the engines and scares them to death.  Ted seems not to care.  There are repercussions at the NY office, especially from Pete.  Ted says he's done with advertising, just buy me out and I'm gone.  Jim can't calm down Ted, and then Lou comes in--they've lost cigarettes due to Don, and they're a laughing stock.  Jim gives him the back of his hand, but realizes, yet again, that Don is trouble.

Then there's a subplot with Betty and Sally and guests at their place which I found kind of dull, so I won't bother to recount it.  It does include Sally kissing a boy, ignoring Betty's advice from years ago that you don't kiss boys, they kiss you.

Now Harry is ready to be a partner (and his wife is waiting for it--she won't get a divorce until he does).  He, along with Pete, Don and Peggy, are prepping for their Burger Chef pitch out in Indiana.  (Harry may be a future partner, but he still gets no respect.)  Looks good, though they're worried if the moon shot fails it'll put a damper on things.

Peggy gets back to her place and deals with a handyman.  There's another subplot here with the kid, Julio, who drops by, which isn't bad, and brings out certain feelings in Peggy, but I'm going to ignore it as well.

Back at the office Don's secretary delivers a letter.  The partners--actually, Ted's behind it--are firing him for breach.  He didn't live up to the rules when he broke into that tobacco meeting.  The secretary feels bad and makes a play for Don--and just like when Peggy did this at the start of the series, Don isn't interested.  She makes it clear she's available.

Don confronts Jim.  You didn't follow the stipulations.  Don replies that meeting was to force me out.  Jim insults him and Don takes it public--he calls all the partners together outside Jim's office and says you want me out, do it now.  Only Joan agrees with Jim. She's become pretty nasty this year, but she's got her own problems, and she still blames Don for losing her so much money when they were about to go public--she may be a prostitute, but she doesn't want to sell out cheap.  So there's not enough votes.  Seems to me you can't force a guy out, contract or no, without the consent of the partners.

Don prepares for the trip.  Don calls Megan, telling her it looks like he'll be out. He says maybe he can move to Los Angeles, but she's not sure how to respond.  Probably not what Don was hoping for.

Roger barges into Bert's office and isn't happy about Jim.  Bert doesn't love Don, but explains he had to be loyal, yet he knows Don shouldn't be back.

The fearsome foursome are flying to Indiana, including Don (who, after all, could just drop out at this point).  Pete's worried he'll be skittish.  Don isn't, but also knows Pete can't really help him.  Once they get to their hotel, they watch the moon landing.  So does everyone else on the show. So did everyone else in the real world.  Then Roger gets a phone call.  Bert has died.

Roger goes into the office.  Joan meets him there. Followed by Jim.  Bert was Roger's mentor, and of course Joan was close for years.  Jim is a little more cold-hearted.  Joan wants to deal with the aftermath, but Jim is almost gleeful that this means Don has to go.

Roger calls Don to tell him the news.  Now Don knows, in addition to Bert's death, that he's out.  Yet there's a pitch tomorrow.  I figured Don would go through with it, but he figures he's got to have Peggy do it (and Pete will get no say, of course), because if he's gone, she'll have to have the account.  Not sure of the logic, but Peggy apparently goes along.  She back in love--well, like--with Don (as is Pete), and works with him.

Next morning, Roger meets with the McCann guy, and waves Buick in front of him.  Roger's plan--buy us out and let us act independently.  Roger is doing this, of course, to save not just Don, but all the old team, who might not make it (aside from Harry) in Jim's future. The only stumbling block is getting back Ted, since he and Don are what GM want.

At the pitch, Peggy is nervous (and Pete isn't entirely happy with the turn of events), but she pulls it off magnificently, tying everything in to the moon shot and almost getting some tears, like classic Don.  Times have changed.  In the first episode, Don didn't even like being spoken to in the wrong way by a woman, even if she was a client, but now he's more than happy to introduce Peggy's pitch, and watch as she moves up in class.

Don comes home to his apartment and Roger is waiting.  He explains the potential deal.  Wait a second, didn't we go to a whole lot of trouble just to avoid being gobbled up by a big company?  Roger says he'll be in charge and they'll be left alone.  Don can go back to pure creativity, and not worry about votes and meetings etc.  Better this than any other option, it seems.

Next morning. The showdown.  Ted is back, too, ready to leave.  Jim and Joan are all prepared to give Don the heave-ho right after they announce Bert's death. Meanwhile, Pete hasn't heard back from Burger Chef.  Calm down, everyone, Roger wants to talk.  They all sit down and he tells them about the McCann deal. Jim thinks it's to save Don (at least partly right), but so what?  Joan finds out she could make $1.5 million for her share, and that's all she needs to hear. Don, all if forgiven.  But this'll only work if Ted, who wants to leave advertising (and maybe this world) will sign a five-year contract.  While he's thinking, Harry drops by--sorry, Harry, you're not a partner yet, so you don't get to share the honey.  Don does a selling job--can't keep a good pitch down--telling Ted he was done not too long ago and now he'll do anything to get back.  Ted (I'm a bit surprised to say) agrees.  Roger calls a vote and now even Jim has to go along--who'd turn down all that money?

They go out to make the big announcement.  Peggy got the call from Burger Chef and they bought the pitch.  Don and Peggy hug. Dawn gets everyone together and Roger makes the announcement while Don goes downstairs.

So that's the end. Or could be.  Things have turned out okay for just about everyone, and the future seems assured.  Except that would mean the end of the series and we know there are seven episodes left, not to mention six months to go in the 60s.  So Don turns around and see Bert, who then, with some secretaries, performs (in his Robert Morse old-man voice) "The Best Things In Life Are Free."

What's going on here?  Is Don having a psychotic break?  A fond remembrance? I thought he was on an even keel again. Guess we'll have to wait a year to find out where this is going.

I'd love to show a video of Bert doing the song, but it's not available yet. So, in its place, here's Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths performing "Waterloo" from Muriel's Wedding.


Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter