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television -> Mad Men 712 recap/ review

Mad Men 712 recap/ review

Lost Horizon

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Recaps contain “Mad Men” spoilers.

“Lost Horizon” catches up with Don and company as they finalize their transition to McCann-Erickson. He boards an unfamiliar elevator, off-boards, and meets Meredith on the way to his new office.  They chitchat about his schedule—mostly about refurnishing his new apartment. He also must drive Sally to school in the coming days. After she leaves his office, he approaches his window and admires the impressive view of NYC outside the building. Back at the old office, Roger runs across Harry Crane as movers empty SCP.  Harry attempts light conversation, but Roger refuses to mask his opinion of Harry.  He tells the bespectacled man that he’ll build another floor between them at McCann if he must.  Harry says he’ll “See you in the funny papers,” as he exits.  Shirley then approaches Roger to inform him that’s she’s taken a new position elsewhere.  He tries in vain to retain her as an assistant and she leaves.  Back at the new office, two female copywriters greet Joan and invite her out for drinks after work.  Joan politely turns down their offer as she was never one to fraternize with anybody beneath her on the office hierarchy with the exception of Peggy. Already this scene should have the viewer concerned for Joan’s place in the new environment.  She was one of the five SCP partners.  If her earlier interactions with McCann representatives have served as an indication, it doesn’t look an appropriate arrangement. The two women also ask about accounts specifically belonging to Peggy, which also seems suspicious.

At SCP, Peggy walks into her office and finds all of her furniture still inside with Ed seated behind her desk.  There’s been a mix-up. We cut back to Don as enters a meeting with Ferg Donnelly and Jim Hobart.  It’s Jim’s absolute delight to inform Don that he was Jim’s golden goose for years, the “white whale.” Jim also informs Don that McCann recently acquired Miller Beer, and will meet them tomorrow. Before he leaves, Don must demonstrate his new greeting for his bosses’ benefit. “I’m Don Draper from McCann-Erickson.”  The camera catches up with Joan again.  Now she’s teleconferencing alongside the misogynist jerk from “Severance,” Dennis.  Dennis enters the meeting completely un-briefed, interrupts and disrespects Joan, puts his foot in his mouth, and subsequently insults the disabled Avon representative on the other end of the phone. Joan disciplines Dennis for his behavior and he storms out in a sexist flurry. We catch back up with Peggy after work, now at home as she begins watching “McCloud” before her secretary, Marsha, interrupts to drop off flowers for her which McCann sent to all the newly-joining secretaries.  Just one more mix-up from McCann-Erickson. She tells Marsha that she won’t work in the pool because she is a copywriter and makes herself available for phone calls in her old office.

Joan

The next day, we find Don back on an elevator as he delays it for Joan to board. Joan explains a “bumpy” transition to ME, to which Don replies that he can involve himself.  Joan is her own woman and elects to handle it alone. The next scene stays with Don as he chooses an apartment from a spread that Meredith arranged for him. We follow Joan again as she runs into Pete and Ferg on their way to a Sears meeting. Fortuitously, Ferg is the man with whom Joan wanted to speak. Joan tries to separate herself from Dennis in the workplace without making it come off as a complaint. Ferg tells her to “say no more” because he’ll “take care of it.” Back at the old office, Peggy enters an empty floor with wires hanging from the ceiling and unclaimed trash still in the baskets. Ed waits in her office, gabbing on the phone. He turns in his final assignment and leaves Peggy in the building, where someone just cut the power. The camera returns to Don entering his Miller Beer meeting, but it isn’t like the ones he was used to at the old office. Several standing, talking men populate the room instead of a few people seated and awaiting his arrival. Ted hands a lunch box to Don and tells him that only half of the creative directors are present before the meeting officially begins. A research specialist begins his exposition and asks the attendees to picture a middle-aged man living in the Midwest in order for everybody to understand the target demographic.  With all we’ve learned from six and a half seasons, we’d be sure that Don knows this imagined man. Everyone brandishes a pen and flips through their documents…except for Don Draper, who doesn’t lift his pen and instead stares at an airplane through the window.  This inspires the mysterious protagonist to stand and exit the meeting, which doesn’t surprise a nostalgic Ted one bit.  Elsewhere in ME, Ferg enters Joan’s office and before he propositions her in not-so-many words, he defends Dennis’ actions from the earlier scene.

Don meets a studying Betty at her place where Sally has already left for school. It will be a while before the boys get home, so Don decides to leave then. Leaving on a supportive note, Don calls Betty “birdie” for possibly the last time on “Mad Men.”  The camera briefly checks in at the empty SCP office where Peggy burns her hand on her coffee mug, which she dropped. We’re quickly drawn back to a driving Don. Instead of going toward Manhattan, he heads for Pennsylvania-way before the camera again cuts over to Joan in bed with her new man, Richard.  She doesn’t divulge all the details, but lets him know that she’s certainly not pleased with her new situation. Good thing Richard can help with business problems and tells her there are two ways to get what she wants: 1) a lawyer, or 2) a guy—depending the guy, he may just have to show up for her. She tells him, “You’re disturbed,” as we transition to Don continuing in his vehicle.  As he passes through Cleveland, he hears a familiar voice talking on the radio. The voice sounds unmistakably like Bert Cooper (special guest star Robert Morse), who appears to Don sitting next to him in a vision. Don kicks off the conversation with, “I’m really tired, aren’t I?” Don reveals to his old friend and boss that he’s headed to Racine, Wisconsin.  They chat as the picture becomes clear—Don’s arguing with himself as to whether or not he should continue his trip to find Diana and whether or not she even wants to see him.

birdie

At the empty SCP, Peggy answers a call from Marsha to inform her that her new office is ready at ME. She hears mysterious music that draws her to discover Roger playing the organ alone. She startles him before he tries to cajole her into a liquor run.  Peggy counters that she already has a bottle of vermouth in her office.  The camera then jumps over to the new building where Joan finds a delivered, ribbon-wrapped box of chocolates on her desk.  A smile grows on her face as she suspects Richard sent her the gift, but the smile leaves when she reads the note and finds it to be another advance from Ferg. We cut over to the other ME bully, Jim Hobart, as he disdainfully enters Don’s office to find Meredith cutting photos.  He asks if Don’s on a bender, but she replies that he’s dropping his daughter off at school.  In fact, everyone (except the Drapers) doesn’t know that Don isn’t driving Sally to school, but for Wisconsin instead.  The next scene is a brief shot of Don leaving his car to probably urinate.  I have no idea why this shot was written or included. 

Roger and Peggy drink as she tries to get away for her new office.  Roger convinces her to stay, first by gifting Bert Cooper’s old hentai painting to guilt her into not immediately departing.  She insists people won’t take her seriously for the painting and that it will not put men at ease when they enter her office.  Roger doesn’t exactly say it, but it’s clear that he doesn’t think she should put men at ease but instead empower herself.  He reminds her she won’t get to goof off at ME as she points out that this is the most attention he ever paid her. They talk about Roger’s old role at Sterling Cooper.  He says he held the company together all those years, but she counters that he sold it, which brought about the present undoing of all things familiar. “This business has no feelings…Even if your name’s on the damn door, you should know better than to get attached to some walls.” Peggy wishes to have the same problem some day for herself. He then tells her a story from his Navy days in World War II when he was afraid to make the two-story jump from his ship into the ocean to swim on a hot day in the Pacific. He eventually made the jump, but needed a push.  He looks around the emptied office floor and says, “This was a hell of a boat.”  This sequence between principal characters Roger and Peggy was a long time coming, and after it ended, I realized the show had this amazing, unused dynamic at its disposal for over six years (seven, if you count the vacation year).  Think about all the debates we could have heard between these two forces.  She’s one female at the office Roger doesn’t flirt with and seems like the hard-working, unspoiled daughter he always wanted when one compares his real daughter to Peggy Olson.  

Peggy

Across the country, Don Draper gains access to a house in Wisconsin where Diana’s ex-husband’s new wife greets him.  He lies and doesn’t mention Diana, stating that he represents Miller Beer and that Diana Bauer won a refrigerator. When he sits on the woman’s couch, an adolescent girl approaches him and reveals herself as Diana’s daughter. “If my mom won something, I should get it.”  The camera returns to ME where Joan meets with Jim. Everything at the sexist, misogynist, male-chauvinistic corporation finally becomes apparent when we learn that Jim Hobart is the evil villain pulling all the strings.  Every suspicion Joan had about her status there gets confirmed.  She threatens lawsuits and reporters, but none of these really faze Jim, who claims to have a ridiculous amount of sway in New York City.  He even claims that the New York Times is so deep in his pocket that he could make them print Mein Kampf on the front page. She gives him the option to cash her out, but he only agrees to pay half. He excuses her before they reach an understanding.

Back in Wisconsin, Diana’s husband arrives and immediately calls Don’s bluff with anger.  Don leaves when the man threatens to call the police.  As he leaves, Diana’s husband warns Don about his “tornado” of an ex-wife and tries to convert Don to Christianity. “Don’t come back,” Don hears.  The camera jumps back to the empty SCP at night where Roger smokes resumes his organ playing as Peggy glides around the open office in her roller skates.  It’s a brief moment, but a pleasant way to tie up the day these two shared together at their old stomping grounds.  What a simple, nostalgic send-off for the office that saw so many happy, exciting, tragic, and romantic stories.  We jump back to Don driving on the road, smoking like Roger, in the black of night before cutting back to follow Roger walking into Jim’s office the next day. “Are any of you planning to work here? Or is this the con of the century?” Jim asks him.  He begins complaining about Joan as we transition to our third smoking person in thirty seconds, Peggy, entering ME with sunglasses, a cigarette, Bert’s one-hundred-fifty-year-old hentai painting under her arm and her belongings in a letterbox.  Joan and Roger meet in his office where Roger tells her that he can’t help and that she can’t get any more than half of her payout. She grabs a framed photo of her son and her rolodex before leaving and looking Roger in the eye to tell him Jim has a deal.  Somewhere in the Midwest, Don picks up a hitchhiker who looks like some sort of folk musician headed for St. Paul as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” plays on the radio and eventually takes over the audio. Is Don supposed to be Major Tom floating out the door?  The vehicle is his tin can like the space ship in the song. “Lost Horizon” was a lost horizon indeed as the impending future for our main characters looks unclear and cloudy.  Where will Don land? Does Peggy take advantage of her new digs? Will Joan have justice? Can Roger find fulfillment?

Keywords: Mad Men, Lost Horizon, recap, review, AMC, Space Oddity, women's rights, Miller Beer, McCloud, Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss
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