May 28, 2014 – “Mad Men’s” half season ended Sunday night, leaving fans a bit frustrated. The episode was compelling and clever; the frustration comes from waiting another year to see how this critically acclaimed series ends. I don’t care that the split season worked for “Breaking Bad”. It’s a slap in the face to the faithful viewers.
The first seven episodes of the split season easily put the series back on the right track. The show began strong – seasons one through four had some of the best-written episodes of any show on television with arguably the finest character development ever. Seasons 5 and 6 waned slightly, although it was still better than most other television programs. The final episode of Season 6 last year, however, redeemed the series perfectly. Yet, there are two puzzling points that still seems off.
The first is Don’s firing. The Hershey meeting when Don explains to the executives what a Hershey bar meant to him as a young boy living in a brothel was startling, especially when he admitted he would pickpocket a john to buy a one. It also embarrassed his associates, but their reaction was even more startling. They fired him without an ounce of compassion, as if he was meaningless to the agency for all of those years. Was it really that awful? I don’t think it was as bad as Ted taking Sunkist executives up in a plane as he did in Sunday’s finale, and cutting off the engine claiming he wants to free fall to the ground? Ted got a good talking to by Jim and Pete about the incident, yet he remained employed, and he doesn’t even want the job.
There’s no doubt that Don needed to be fired for story line purposes, but I wish it would have unfolded differently. After working with people for so many years, they become family. After his confession, they all turned their backs to him. Sure, the advertising business is fickle, but an actual leave of absence to get help, and not one disguised as a firing, would have been enough. No wonder Don has trust issues and believes that no one cares for him.
The other puzzling point is the treatment given by those same co-workers now that he’s asked for another chance. It was difficult to watch the SCP board lay down their list of conditions he must follow if he does want a second chance, and it seemed as though they wanted him to reject those conditions. It was worse, however, watching Peggy and Joan mistreat him. Peggy and Don cleared the air, and he convinced her to deliver the sales pitch to Burger Chef, which she handled beautifully. However, Joan, who has been equally close to Don through the years, and who has known him longer than Peggy has, wants him gone for good, and reiterated that fact in Sunday’s finale. “I’m tired of him costing me money!” she snaps.
Gosh, Joan, partnership has changed you, and not for the better. Perhaps they should take it from you, and give it to someone more deserving. At least Peggy has a heart to go along with her head for business.
Those two points aside, the half season ended on a great note. Tying the episode into the moon landing was brilliant, and Burt Cooper’s send-off was a clever tribute that makes you wonder if Matt Weiner had it in mind all along when he hired Broadway star Robert Morse to play that role.
Where will the last seven episodes will take us?
- Will we have a Woodstock themed episode, which occurred a month after the moon landing, in August 1969, or will it be the 1970s when the series returns?
- What will happen with Betty and Henry? I’ve been watching old episodes again, and while she is a terrible mother, she’s grown on me, and Henry seems to be tiring of her childish ways.
- Will we ever find out what happened to Peggy and Pete’s son, who would be about seven now?
Unfortunately, for these and other questions, we’ll have to wait until April 2015 to find out.