Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 “Severance”
Directed by Scott Hornbacher
Created and written by Matthew Weiner
Starring Jon Hamm, Elizabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, Vincent Kartheiser, John Slattery, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, and Kevin Rahm amc
Air Date: Sunday, April 5th, 2015, 10pm
First a recap, then a review. Beware of spoilers!
The first of the final seven episodes of acclaimed AMC series Mad Men aired last night nearly a year after the 7th season began, and I miss it already. The first half of the season ended with a major death, that of quirky, wear-only-your-socks-in-his-office Bert Cooper (Robert Morse). Although Roger (John Slattery) got the news that he passed while Bert was offscreen, Don (John Hamm) was treated to a song and dance of Bert (either a ghost or the insanity in Don’s head) doing “The Best Things In Life Are Free,” with secretary back-up dancers. Don also lost his wife and almost completely lost his job in Episode 7.7 “Waterloo,” against the backdrop of the Apollo Moon Landing. It was the losing of the job that spurred the realization of divorce, for when he called Megan (Jessica Pare) and the possibility that he was now free to move to California to be with her came up, there was a knowing silence. It turns out McCann saves Don as they want a partnership with the company that makes them all rich, but they won’t do it without Ted (Kevin Rahm) or Don. And just like that, he’s back.
Mad Men 7.8 “Severance” review: Even if you didn’t note that Don was watching Nixon’s Vietnam speech, you would have known it was the 70s (namely 1970) based on Roger and Teds’s mustaches, a staple for men of the 70s. The episode opens with what looks like Don seducing yet another beautiful woman, scantily clad under a chinchilla coat, but that ends up being a full casting call with the other execs there. Don is in full throes of singlehood, having food at a late night diner with Roger and three women, calling up a stewardess for sex, having sex in an alley with a waitress who reminds him of Rachel Mencken (SOA‘s Maggie Siff) from season 1. And then trying to reconnect with Rachel after he dreams of her, but she died the week before. Her sister is barely civil at the shiva, knowing all about him.
Ken (Aaron Staton) gets fired right after he and his wife talk about him quitting to write a book. He takes it as a good sign, but he is still angry at Roger listening to Ferguson Donnelly. C’mon Ken, they are partnered now. He gets the last laugh as his father-in-law retired and he is the new head of Dow chemicals. He is now a client that they need to try to please. Sweet justice!
Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) agrees to a set-up and completely hit it off with the guy, so much so they decide to go to Paris on a whim. After she cannot find her passport she decides to not sleep with the guy because she actually likes him. They agree on another Paris date. The next day, amidst a hangover, Peggy finds her passport and her second thoughts.
Peggy and Joan (Christina Hendricks) have catty words as the Topaz execs respond to their warning that Leggs pantyhose are outselling them, with chauvinistic and sexual rudeness. Peggy kinda blames Joan and Joan gives back just as good.
I definitely missed Betty (January Jones) and Sally (Kiernan Shipka) this episode. I really want to know how their story leaves off. Their relationship was always strained, but I do believe that Betty loves her daughter and doesn’t want her to make the same mistakes she did.
This episode was great as all the Mad Men episodes are using subtle actions and dialogues to lure us into caring about these very flawed people. It seems as though Don is back where he was at the beginning – on top in his career, yet unhampered by his childhood secrets and nagging wife. I did think that his reach out to Rachel was him looking for that ever elusive true love, which I think he craves but doesn’t know how to hold onto.
I don’t know how Mad Men is going to end, but I’ve always thought it would end mirroring the opening credit sequence, with Don jumping to his death to escape his cluttered mind. Perhaps that is too obvious to do, but Don has never struck me as a “happily ever after” kind of guy, so I think that’s off the table.
I guess, we’ll see.
Mad Men airs Sunday nights at 10pm ET on AMC.
Talked About Scene: Episode 708: Mad Men: Severance