UK TV review: Mad Men Season 7, Episode 12
Chris Bryant | On 07, May 2015
Already seen Episode 12? Read on at the bottom for some additional spoiler-filled analysis.
Don Draper’s journey, from selling cars and fur coats to advertising royalty, has been driven by a reinvented man trying to discover what he wants. He’s searched several hearts, multiple bottles, a few narcotics and although he’s valued, loved and successful, there’s little feeling that he’s found it. Until now. Upon walking into his new office, Don is met by Jim Hobart and Ferg Donnelly, both perpetually grinning heavyweights at McCan-Erickson. They tell him that he’s their secret weapon, their white whale, that he’s there to really drive the enormous company forward. Then, they ask him if he’s said it yet. Don pauses, relaxes. “I’m Don Draper, from McCan-Erickson,” he says, smooth and rich as the mahogany of his desk. Then he realises that the windows of his twenty-sixth floor office don’t open.
Lost Horizon is an aching examination of the future and past of the SC&P alumni. Don may get a glance of the cheaper side of their merger, while Joan is fury-incitingly undervalued. Belittled, objectified or simply ignored, Christina Hendrick’s powerful office manager is pitted against every brand of rudeness and bigotry McCan has to offer. On the weirder side of things, Peggy is simply forgotten, forced to work from the old offices where she discovers a forlorn Roger Sterling. John Slattery has a wonderful episode, evoking all of the odder parts of his account man’s persona. Spending a good chunk of his time playing the organ, it’s thinly veiled that Sterling is heartbroken at leaving his life’s work. Still ferociously witty, and suitably drunk, Peggy and Sterling give the offices one last, surreal party before they leave.
Elisabeth Moss\ prodigal fighter was once Don’s secretary. Now, she’s only a few steps away from being Don, albeit a more comfortable, happier version. When McCan mistake her for a secretary – she is a lady, after all – she embraces a little sadness. Drinking vermouth and roller skating, Peggy puts a pin in her force-of-nature ambition to have some fun. She receives an odd but unknowingly valuable gift, grabs some sunglasses and a cigarette and struts towards a future as difficult as the past in true Mad Men style: drunk.
The episode seizes the chance to juxtapose a tone of inescapable loss with a futile carelessness; these are people who have slyly evaded the clutches of this gigantic company on more than one occasion using clever schemes and a disobedient Englishman. Unable to run any more, they are now diluted by mediocrity in the face of the jobs they’ve always dreamed of. It astutely allows the characters and the audience to reflect on the past for a moment before gazing fearfully towards the future. Possibly the most consistently emotive Mad Men episode to date, if the deliciously unsubtle hints of what’s to come don’t cause a twinge of the heart and tear-ducts, then a brilliantly welcome cameo will do it. As always with Matthew Weiner’s drama, the times are changing. But instead of becoming a progressive or challenging future, as they’ve faced before, Don, Roger & Peggy are facing a grey, worthless future in which everything is for sale.
Additional notes (contains spoilers)
– A notable lack of Pete Campbell suggests that either he will fair better at the ad giant or that his implied relationship with Trudy has taken up his time, which can only mean one thing: Alison Brie’s wonderful array of hats could make a cameo soon.
– It’d be a crushing shame if the last we see of Joan is Roger talking her into giving up. It’s poetic, but a helpless horror to behold.
– Robert Morse’s cameo as Don’s Cooper-shaped hallucination was grandly welcome, but upsetting in a very unique way. Its continuation would be equally welcome and equally upsetting. However, Don needs reminding now more than ever that the best things in life are free.
– Viewers everywhere will spend the week praying that Peggy fairs better than Joan; she’s always managed to play the game a little better but having already been crucially pigeonholed, it’s unclear whether Peggy will manage in an environment where the partners are struggling so severely.
– Don’s examination of that window, coupled with Sterling’s analogous boat speech, made for troubling viewing. Indescribable, they bluntly gesture towards events which remain incomprehensible to any fan.
Mad Men: Season 1 to 7 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.