TV Review: Mad Men 707 – Waterloo (Half Season Finale)

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Mad Men ends this first half of the final season with a death, a rejuvenation, a kiss, quite a few partners meetings and yet another acquisition attempt of Sterling Cooper.

I don’t know where the drama is going to be next season, and some might argue that this week’s episode, Waterloo, might have wrapped up in too nice a bow, but I think all the developments were earned and served as an excellent caper to this season.

As most assumed, Weiner went with the Apollo Moon landing as the historical centerpiece of the episode and he really relished in it unlike many other big historical incidents over the course of the series. They do a great job of tying it into Peggy’s speech, Roger and Sally’s motivation and Don’s final vision, but I think Weiner and his team did a great job of capturing the dread and awe of the moment. Everyone at SC&P thinks everyone is going to die on the moon, but the country really did stop in that moment of scientific success and I think it felt appropriate for the show to reflect that. The success was so inspiring Bert Cooper decided he didn’t need to see anything else in this world. Poor Bert. He had a great run, but the death isn’t played for a shock as much as it is a catalyst to motivate Roger to become the man he has always danced around becoming. The episode was actually quite Roger Centric this week, with the battle between Cutler and him finally coming to its conclusion. In short, it was Cutler’s Waterloo. But it’s not surprising to see Cutler vote along with Roger and give up his fight in the end, like he said, “It’s a lot of money.”

I loved seeing Don get his station back with the agency (we don’t get to see him fire Lou though?!?), but him finally taking on his role as a mentor/leader with Peggy makes the heart a flutter and I loved everything about their story this week. Peggy kills it in her pitch, but we all knew she could do that, it is the stuff with Julio that really stood out besides the great stuff with Don. Julio loves her, in a way no one has loved her in her life, and I wonder if they might lead her back to look for her long-lost kid? Seems too soapy, but Julio’s love has triggered something in Peggy as she seems happier than she ever has been at the end of this episode. I hope we get more of the Draper & Olsen show next year, as these two can’t be topped by any other coupling on the show.

Speaking of coupling, I loved everything with Sally this week, even if it didn’t go the way I expected. I thought they might have Betty and Sally battle it out over this hunky eighteen year old. But in Betty’s restraint they let her grow as she watches her girl navigate young love. Of course Sally ends up planting a kiss on the dorky kid, but maybe this means she can spot the good ones who can actually show you something, not just the guy who looks good and doesn’t really know what she is talking about. Sally seems like on the possible right track for a change as well and I just hope the second half of the season doesn’t burn it all down.

Longer Notes:

-Ted Chaough comes out of no where and steals the show with his fuck it attitude and I really hope Kevin Rahm gets a lot more to do next season. Still, the bit in the plane and the phone call to Cutler were high comedic moments for the show, especially coming from a square like Ted. Interested if they go back to the Peggy/Ted well next season.

-Poor(?) Harry, missing out on millions for not being a partner for the merger as he is weaseled out of the partnership Cutler was only giving him for voting leverage. New President Sterling makes sure Harry is never on the board; shouldn’t have bargained for more money.

-So, over a phone call, the Megan/Don marriage finally came to an end and it barely registered in this packed episode. The moment was perfect and earned as the two grew distant over the season and the amicable separation, with Don willing to do anything for her, felt right for this couple. You will be missed, Megan.

-How bout that musical number? I don’t know how I feel, even if I like the message it is sending for the back half of the season. Money, possessions and power aren’t everything and I look forward to Don trying to straighten out all the “best things in his life” that are free.

A very fine finale for this stupidly split half season, I just wish we could have ended the show this year. Still, I can’t wait till Mad Men is back next year and I look forward to where the drama is going to come with this rather happy ending of the season. Don doesn’t have everything figured out quite yet, and a couple of interesting angles dangling out there for others at SC&P, I just don’t want to have to wait for Weiner to finally take us there.