Mad Men: The 70's are here
We're back! I've missed you, Mad Men. Spoiler alerts for Season 7, Episode 8: Severance.
What Did Not Work: Matt Weiner's heavy hand
Ugh, I can't be bothered with Don.
Classic Don is back. Back to his old tricks (and some new ones). Back to work, back to drinking, back to chasing tail. Don seems a lot more comfortable with his past now, trotting out anecdotes for party girls, stripped of sentimentality. You can hide a wine stain with a comforter, but the wine is still there, seeping into the fibers.
Your misogyny is on display
Even accounting for Matthew Weiner's lack of subtlety, the scene between Joan & Peggy and the McCann Erickson boys was rage stroke-inducing. There was so much misogyny in the room, I was physically nauseous at one point. I understand that these exchanges still happen in boardrooms and offices all over the world, I just don't see the point of this particular scene that furthers any character or plot development. The only thing good about this scene is the moment that followed it, inspiring this:
Who wore it worst? I'm mostly concerned about Joan, whose aesthetic is so perfectly early 60's. Bell bottoms, fringe, and shapeless tops will not be kind to her. Ted Chaough looks disastrous and I'm shocked women continue to speak to him. But the winner (loser?) is Roger. That mustache! The frilly shirt. YIKES. This world has no place for you, Roger, despite your millions.
What did work!
Ken Cosgrove is Dead. (Metaphorically, of course).
Last season, I had postulated that Ken was a stand-in for the US's involvement in South-east Asia in the late 60's. As Nixon was drawing troops out of Vietnam, but doubling down in Laos and Cambodia, Ken leaves SC&P to work for Dow. Dow was the company that made the US military naplam, a shorthand at this point for the brutality of the Vietnam war. Ken does have a choice. His wife, Alex Mack, encourages to quit the business, buy a farm, and write the sweet and sad story that's inside him. There is no doubt that Season 1-6 Ken would be all about this. But now, he's lost too much. His sacrifice (his eye, his integrity, his time) has to mean something. But is that the life he really wants to live? (Hint, this is the theme of the episode, and get ready to hear this question a hundred times more THANKS MATT WEINER). Well, it's the life he picks as Dow's new head of advertising and SCD's newest client. I would say poor trapped Ken but he's made his choice.
A nod to 'The Graduate'
The episode is fittingly dedicated to Mike Nichols, director of the Graduate. The actress modeling the fur for Don looked eerily like Anne Bancroft, and the staging of the scene with her propping her leg up on the chair was deliberately evocative. Everyone is emerging from the collective haze of the '60's. As the smoke clears, we look around and ask "Is that all there is?"
Who wore it best? Def Stan. That ascot, that beard, those pants. He's been ready for the 70's for a while now. He's living the life we should all be living.