Mad Men S07E07 – Waterloo

Mad Men capped the first half of their final season with “Waterloo”, an episode that captures everything that is good and bad about the show. It was poignant and allowed the relationships to breathe, then threw something in that just didn’t seem to fit, no many how times you watch the episode (and I’m on viewing #3). Let’s go……

-The episode opens up with the launching of Apollo 11, which is the spacecraft that sent Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (and the oft-forgotten Michael Collins) to the moon, so that places the episode on July 16th, 1969. Think we’ll get to 1970 before it is all said and done? I doubt it.

-Teddy is in a plane with some Sunkist people when he cuts the engine and starts talking about how all their problems would be over if he crashed the plane. The agency seems to taking its toll on people, first Ginsberg, now Teddy, who wants the partners to buy him out so he can just leave. Things haven’t gone as planned since they joined forces to become Sterling Anderson Cooper and Friends or whatever.

-Lou shows up to try and yell at Cutler and blame Don for losing the Commander cigarettes account, but Cutler one-ups him by telling him he is a hired gun and to get to steppin’. It seems like Lou was really only brought in to help push Don out. I still wanna know what Ginsberg saw Lou and Cutler talking about in the office, though.

-Betty welcomes an old friend and her family to their house for the weekend, if only just to show that Betty has more than one friend, ol’ girl from the first episode we saw Betty in this season.

-Then we kinda go quickly through a couple scenes where Don, Peggy, Pete and Harry run through the Burger Chef pitch, then we see Peggy back at her apartment. There is a handyman working on some stuff there and he seems a little shocked that Peggy owns the building, which bugs Peggy as she has been dealing with some sexism throughout the entire season. But then the handyman gives her his number for professional reasons, and you can see Peggy on some “Stella Got Her Groove Back” shit.

-Back at the Francis house, Betty places a plate of eggs RIGHT BESIDE her ashtray. Mother Of The Year, folks! Then the older son of her friend appears with no shirt on, and Betty looks at him with some pedo eyes, while Sally enters the room before she goes out to her job as a lifeguard, but Betty notices she is wearing lipstick. The son needs to just chill and let things happen, because something good will go down if he does.

-Meredith asks Don to step into his office, where she gives him a letter from the partners on some breach-of-contract shit. As he is reading the letter, Meredith tries to comfort Don, telling him that she is his strength, and then kisses him. The look on Don’s face throughout the scene is priceless, right up there with his face during the meeting in Peggy’s office when she tells him about her ideas for the Burger Chef team. Meredith, on the low, has been the best secondary character Mad Men has added in years. That being said, Don passes it up because he has been trying so damn hard to be a good person this season.

-Don rushes into Cutler’s office, and Cutler is trying to get Don to hit him, but Don steps back and calls out the partners, who had no idea about the letter, which has to be illegal in some form or fashion. Don calls for an impromptu vote over him leaving, which he wins, but it might not matter anyway. Meanwhile, we find out that Joan is mad at Don for costing the company a million dollars when they were going to go public. However, even though Joan backed Cutler, she tells him he should have gone about it in a different way, which is fair.

-In the middle of that, Harry just runs in the middle of it because he heard that there is a partners’ meeting, but we find out he isn’t a partner just yet, so Roger tells him to get out.

-Peggy is at her apartment again, and the kid from upstairs tells her that they are moving because his mother got a job. The kid is just behind Meredith in the secondary-characters power rankings. He started off annoying, but he allowed Peggy to fulfill some maternal stuff that she claimed to be missing out on in her conversations with Don last week.

-Don calls Megan to tell her about all the stuff with the company, and then he hits her with the, “hey, maybe I’ll move out there”, which Megan throws in the bushes with an awkward silence. From there, the marriage is pretty much ended in like, 1-2 minutes. I know we have been watching this marriage dissolve for a while now, and I’m glad it is over, but it seems like they short-changed this. #DemTeef looked ill in a bikini, though, so I’ll take it, I guess.

-Roger and Bert get together to talk about the Don situation, and Bert tells Roger that he isn’t a leader. I’m not sure if Bert has always been as pragmatic as he has been this season. He probably has, maybe it was just highlighted this season. He throws out a Napoleon quote which comes in handy later on.

-EVERYONE is getting together to watch the moon landing: Don, Peggy, Pete and Harry in Indianapolis before the Burger Chef meeting, Betty and her houseguests and the kids, Bert is watching it with his black maid, Roger is with Mona and his grandson (so I assume his daughter is still off fuckin’ around in Hippyland). When it is all done, Don calls the Francis house to talk to the kids (not Betty, who said earlier she only talks to him when necessary), and Sally echoes the older boy saying that the moon landing is all a waste of money; we could be using it on Earth. Mad Men isn’t really political on the surface, but they throw you some bones every once in a while, hell, we are still having the same left-right wing/liberal-conservative arguments in this day and age. But like Betty last week with Henry, Sally’s beliefs are shouted down by Don.

-Roger gets a phone call. Nothing is ever said, but we can tell what it is: Bert is dead.

-Joan comes to the office and so does Cutler, who starts talking about getting Don out of the office. Man, this dude is just AWFUL with people. He could have easily gotten everyone on board with getting Don out if he would have handled it properly, or even let Joan handle it. Roger even says, “is this what will happen when I am gone?”.

-The younger son of the visiting guest is out looking through a telescope, and Sally comes outside to smoke. The kid tells her that smoking causes cancer, so she doesn’t light up just yet. After some talk about about the stars or something, Sally kisses the kid, who looks like he might pass out and says, “what do I do now?”. He gets called inside by his mother (whom I suspect watched all this go down), but the important thing about this scene is that we’re watching Sally Draper grow up. It has been happening all season, but here, it’s almost eerie. And was it just me, or did she kinda looked like Betty as she was smoking? Sally (and actress Kiernan Shipka, who I have been hard on in the past) is the MVP of the half-season, no doubt about it.

-Roger calls Don to tell him about Bert, and says, ““Every time an old man starts talking about Napoleon, you know he is gonna die”. He is starting to lose it a little; first Bert goes, and now Don might be out the door?

-Don calls out an audible as he visits Peggy in the middle of the night to tell her about Bert, as he says she is going to give the pitch to Burger Chef. He says to her that he wouldn’t do this if he wasn’t sure she could do it, and if you couldn’t tell from the last couple of episodes, he does really care about Peggy, if no one else in the show. But there has to be some selfish reasons involved, because it’s Don Draper.

-Roger meets with the McCann guy from the sauna last week, and gives him an idea about buying the agency to push Cutler out, or at least wrest back some of the control Cutler has. He also knows how much McCann loves Don and wants him involved, which would keep Don in the company and give Roger a friend.

-Peggy looks like she is going to throw up before giving the pitch, and Don sees how nervous she is, so he takes the reins and introduces her using Peggy’s own words on how she is going to introduce Don. Peggy then proceeds to use the moon landing and the collective experience of everyone watching it to push their “everyone is welcome” tag on the Burger Chef guys, who eat it up. Happy and confident Peggy is so much better than angry Peggy.

-Roger is waiting for Don when he gets back from Indy to tell him about the McCann stuff, but Don doesn’t seem to be on board at all. He doesn’t like the McCann people at all, so I’m sure there is something I am forgetting that happened in the past.

-At the office, the partners are gathering to tell the employees about Bert, but Roger gathers everyone to tell them about McCann buying 51% of the company, with Roger in charge. However, McCann wants Teddy to be involved as he was a major part of the Buick account, and as we saw earlier, he wants out of advertising, even though he could make as much as $6 million from this. Don proceeds to pitch Teddy on the dangers of wanting out, which he has seen firsthand, and this is why he is Don motherfucking Draper. Son could sell ice to an eskimo. He also probably saved Teddy’s life, because he wouldn’t have made it out of the office alive if he refused, starting with Joan. Meanwhile, Cutler eventually gives in and agrees because, well, it’s a lot of money he stands to make.

-During this scene, Harry pops in on some “So, I hear there is a partners’ meeting” and gets shut down again. Two solid comedic moments from Harry.

-Peggy tells Don that they got Burger Chef, and she is so proud. It’ll be interesting to see where it picks up next year.

-Then, we come to the end as Don hallucinates and sees Bert, who puts on a song-and-dance routine to “The Best Things In Life Are Free”. I’m sure this has some sort of connection to Don, maybe it was some sort of goodbye from Bert to Don, but I just think it was out of place and didn’t serve a purpose. Hell, there is a good chance we really won’t know what it means until it returns, which I could see this show doing.

So, now we wait until next spring when Mad Men drops the curtain on their run. The first half of season 7 has been good to very good to straight up confusing at points, but they have done enough to keep me interested until it comes back. Does it end well for Don Draper and the crew? Will Roger end up being the leader Bert didn’t think he was? Will Betty EVER be a good mother? Who else will die? A lot of Mad Men questions still left to be answered.

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