I apologize to my readers who haven’t had any posts to read over the past few months, but I’m back with a take on last night’s Mad Men mid-season finale.
The episode, entitled “Waterloo” brings us full circle with Peggy’s decision to give up her child in the first season, as she shows remorse when her neighbor/quasi-son Julio hugs her goodbye and she gives a rousing presentation to Burger Chef about families from a mother’s point of view.
Then, Bert’s death makes Don realize two things. First, that he is to Peggy as Bert was to Roger: a mentor. Second, that “the best things in life are free.” Sure the moon landing cost $35 billion (according to the Francis-Draper houseguest that Sally didn’t get with), but the feeling of togetherness that the historic moment brought to the country and its families was priceless. Everyone was watching the moon landing with their families (even Roger and Mona), but Don was alone in his hotel room calling his family from half-way across the country.
Bert’s post-mortem song and dance at the end of the episode reemphasizes how Don is spiraling into insanity and falling further from the facade he has held up all these years as Don Draper. Maybe it’s time for Dick Whitman to come back?
Now, let’s look further at what’s to come from the final episodes next Spring. Don ended things with Megan last night (or the other way around), which I believe will set us up for a tragedy next season. With his new wisdom from the ghost of Bert Cooper, I think that Don will fly to Los Angeles to surprise Megan, only to find her victim to the violently brutal Charles Manson killing spree (the signs have been adding up for multiple seasons at this point). And with Betty fighting with her new husband, maybe Don will go crawling back to his family – it’ll be like Bobby’s summer camp all over again.
Let’s not rule out big changes to the show’s other leading protagonist, Peggy. She’s sacrificed everything a woman should have for the times – a husband, children, a home. The show can go two directions. Either praise her for her independence, or lay on the societal pressures to make her leap from the windows of Sterling Cooper & Partners – a homage to the “Falling Man” from the show’s title sequence.
The first half of the season started slow, but ended with some nice, original Mad Men vibes. Let’s hope Weiner and Co. keep up the good work for the last seven episodes, slated to air Spring 2015.