Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 14, “Person to Person”

A lot of viewers and critics – myself included – have speculated about what the Mad Men finale would look like. How could we not? For a series focused so squarely on character rather than plot, the possibilities for the finale seemed nearly endless. Would it focus exclusively on Don wandering through America, letting the previous final appearances of the other characters serve as their respective series finales? Would Don return to New York upon learning of Betty’s terminal cancer, and encounter the other characters once again? Would Don commit suicide, or drop the Don Draper identity entirely? While some of these possibilities – especially a return to New York and suicide – seem distinctly likely at various points throughout the finale, ultimately the series ends with something more satisfying by touching on each of the major characters, providing both a firm coda for their arcs, as well as an idea of what their lives will be like heading into the 1970s and beyond. And then there’s a Coke commercial tacked on to the end for good measure!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 13, “The Milk and Honey Route”

The penultimate episode of Mad Men features Don, Pete, and Betty each reaching epiphanies of sorts, as each comes to a realization about their lives or the lives of their families. I was somewhat surprised to find myself most interested in Pete’s story this week. Pete’s happiness in “Lost Horizon” reveals itself to be rather genuine here. As he tells Duck – who makes what is likely his final appearance as one of the longest running and most frequently recurring characters on the show – he’s contented with McCann’s hospitality, and the importance he’s been accorded. However, despite his own protests to the contrary, Pete is too self-aware to know it will last.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 12, “Lost Horizon”

Last week’s episode was the best of this half season thus far, but this week’s episode far surpassed it, easily ranking among my personal pantheon of Mad Men's greatest episodes. Where to begin with such an embarrassment of riches? Perhaps with some of the indelible, beautiful, and at times haunting imagery: the empty, torn down offices of SC&P; Peggy roller-skating to Roger’s drunken organ music; Peggy’s grand entrance into McCann, turning heads as the absolute essence of cool, with Bert Cooper’s Japanese erotic octopus painting tucked under her arm; Don being the odd man out and wearing his suit coat to the Miller meeting while all the other McCann creative execs go with only a shirt and tie; or even Don leaving Diana’s former Midwestern home to step into his Cadillac. This was a marvelously directed episode from start to finish, one that made great use of the all of the irreversible changes afoot in the world of these characters.