Mad Men s7 ep 8

mad-men-season-7-episode-8-christina-hendricks-elisabeth-mossWe’re into 1970, and as a result of the deal struck with McCann Erickson at the end of the last episode, the partners are all wealthy. There’s a new guy in the office – Johnny Mathis, I think? – trying to set Peggy up with his brother-in-law; Peggy goes on a blind date with him. Roger and Ted have moustaches. Ken is still thinking about retiring to write his Great American Novel, but when he’s fired by Roger, on orders from McCann Erickson, instead goes to work at Dow with the intention of being a difficult client for Sterling Cooper. Peggy and Joan are working together, trying to salvage the account of a tights-manufacturing client.

Don, meantime, is either divorced or about to be, and even by his standards is shagging anything that moves, with an answering service to cope with the deluge of booty calls he’s getting. But, as ever, with Don, he’s more intrigued by what he can’t have. He dreams about Rachel Menken, who has become more idealised in her absence from his life, but he discovers that she’s died.

And he becomes strangely fascinated with Diana (Elizabeth Reaser, who was Tammy in The Good Wife), a waitress at a local diner. He thinks he’s seen her before; she accuses him of using a line, but you can tell he means it. Their first sexual encounter strikes, perhaps, a True Detective-y off-key note; she believes that he left her a $100 dollar tip on a previous occasion as a sort of advance payment for a back-alley quickie, so accommodates him with minimal fuss. Women don’t actually do that, Mr Weiner. But Diana clearly isn’t prepared for the possibility that Don will come back, and he does. This storyline has the sort of dreamlike, surreal tone which Mad Men sometimes gets just right, almost as if it’s slipping in and out of focus – does Don know her? – and it’s intriguing.

But back in the real world Peggy and Joan have to endure a business meeting with three bros, which consists more or less of a string of sexist remarks aimed at Joan, who withdraws into herself while Peggy tries to keep things going. It’s what comes after that really stings, though: Joan is furious (“I want to burn this place down”); Peggy’s in go-along-to-get-along mode, and they spar a little. Then it kicks off. Peggy to Joan: “You dress like a ho.” (I paraphrase, but not much.) Joan to Peggy: “What you’re saying is, I don’t dress the way you do because I don’t look like you. And that is very true.” Peggy to Joan: “You’re filthy rich. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” And this might, in turn, be behind Peggy’s spur-of-the-moment decision to take her blind date to Paris – why can’t she be spontaneous? – although after sobering up she starts to back away from it.

‘Severance’ is all beautifully shot and exquisitely acted, of course; sometimes it’s on-the-nose, and at other times it feels as if meaning and significance are just eluding the viewer’s grasp. Very Mad Men, in other words. But although it’s good to have it back I couldn’t help wondering, well, is that all there is? Those of us who’ve stuck around know that sometimes with Mad Men you have to play the long game; but with only a handful of episodes to go it can’t afford to be too long a game.

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2 thoughts on “Mad Men s7 ep 8

  1. Snoskred April 16, 2015 / 9:58 am

    It is times like these when I really regret you did not watch the final season of Breaking Bad. Every single second of final season airtime was perfection. There was not one moment that had me thinking is that all there is?

    The reality is, I’ve been thinking that with Mad Men for a long time. I have a feeling that everyone is going to be vastly unhappy with this final season. 😦

    Sometimes showrunners get so invested in their own awesomeness and the awesomeness of their show that they cannot get out of their own way, plus, they have nobody around them willing to say hey, this storyline sucks, hey, people hate X character, lets give them less (or no) airtime.. and I have a suspicion – having seen episode 9 already – that this might be exactly what is going on here.

    This happened with Dexter as well, you could clearly see that the writers loved the Dexter character so much that they were not willing to give that show the ending it truly deserved, plus they wanted to leave the door open for a comeback later down the track.

    But this did not happen with Breaking Bad. That finale season was absolutely spot on, they were not too precious to kill off much loved characters, and the show got the ending it deserved. Plus, Better Call Saul is a beautiful prequel and it is fantastic. It gave a rebirth to a much loved BB character – Mike played by Jonathan Banks – said character I always hoped would have a show of his own but this is the next best thing.

    I always loved Saul as comedy relief and Bob Odenkirk is amazing but the new show went places with that character that I did not expect at all. It can stand alone – and I do recommend watching it even if you did not finish BB, if you can – but there are also a multitude of fantastic Breaking Bad call backs and little hidden easter eggs for us much devoted BB fans. 🙂

  2. Jed Bartlet April 16, 2015 / 10:18 am

    I think I know the character you’re referring to, Snoskred. Whether it’s coincidence or not, I think you can split the whole Mad Men run into two parts, the first of which is better than the second, and that character features strongly in the second part.

    It can also be contrasted with The Good Wife, in which the showrunners rapidly pulled the plug on the dreadful Kalinda’s Husband arc when it became very clear that the fans weren’t having it.

    I do still intend to get round to Breaking Bad!

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