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Mad Men S07E07: "Waterloo"


Oh man, Bert Cooper is dead and it's not even the worst thing ever because Cutler got screwed over and Don had a vision of Sterling Cooper's late co-founding father tap-dancing his way into the feng shui'd executive suite in the sky. And behind it all, mankind's finest achievement to date (at the time)—the July 21, 1969 moon landing—provided an epic backdrop for the marvelous and mundane goings-on in the lives of SC&P's finest (and not-so-finest), as well as the suburgatory existentialism over at the Francis-Draper household. 

Time may have appeared to stand still for a few moments on July 21, but plenty happened while "men touched the face of God": Sally Draper kissed a boy, Peggy panicked over her impending Burger Chef pitch, and Cutler kept at his supervillain routine. That the world stopped turning was only an illusion, and no one sees through a gimmick quite like Don. He's spent his lifetime playing the master illusionist, after all. 


Despite putting on a good face and making one last effort, when Don finally found himself with the perfect excuse to move to California and be with Megan full-time—something she's been "wanting" for the last few episodes—Megan dropped the act and finally put their marriage out of its misery. Like Napoleon at Waterloo, the exiles pulled together a few dwindling victories, but ultimately lost the war. 

Elsewhere, Sally Draper didn't have an original thought in her head. True to form for so many teenagers, she set to parroting the views of whoever her new best friend or potential boyfriend was at any given time. Don saw through her cynicism and warned her not to succumb to it—and it's telling that she then trained her sights on the nerdier of the two brothers who were crashing at the Francis house to watch the moon landing. 


Peggy protested Don's decision to back out of giving the Burger Chef pitch, claiming she didn't have time to prepare and that Pete would never allow it, but Don knew it was the right move. Operating under the assumption that he would be fired following Cooper's death (and more specifically the death of the key support that Cooper had offered Team Draper), Don approached the Burger Chef situation both practically and symbolically. As Don explained to Peggy, if Burger Chef hired SC&P because of the pitch Don made, they would essentially be his client, and their loyalty to SC&P would be compromised if Don was ousted, essentially destroying everything that Peggy had worked on for the last few months. 

This latest professional defeat also seemed to strike a chord with Don, fueling the idea that maybe his time with SC&P—or in advertising at all—was really, truly over. Peggy was his protégé, and despite a few bumps, she succeeded at every turn. However, it's been apparent for some time that Don, intentionally or not, has held Peggy back, or at the very least, she feels like he's held her back. Giving her back the Burger Chef pitch signified Don's acceptance of Peggy—finally—as his equal and his successor. 


So, it'll be interesting to see how that plays out, since some late-night wheeling and dealing on Roger's part saved Don from the firing squad again and it seems that Roger is anticipating the partnership with McCann to restore the status quo around the office and bring back the good old days. However, while Roger's deal may've saved Don's job and severely limited Cutler's influence with regard to office politics, the reality of the situation is that time doesn't move backwards. Even Pete went so far as to declare that The Don Show was back on air, but it isn't and it can't be. 


Peggy is truly Don's equal now, and her influence will only grow—as it should. Joan is no longer subservient to the good old boys in the office; she has power, influence, and now money, too. Ted and Don, once and still legends in their field, are changed men with different priorities and outlooks regarding their lives. And Roger, for his part, is in no way immune to the ravages of time: While his renewed interest in the company and his passion for the work harkens back to a pre-acid-tripping, pre-trophy-wife Roger, that particular version of the character was basically a little boy stuck in a grown man's body. Roger's father founded the original Sterling Cooper, and Roger grew up with his name on the door. The company was a birthright, but his responsibilities were more pageantry than anything else. He deferred to Cooper as the sage old leader. 


The Roger we saw in "Waterloo," this Roger with "a vision," was a Roger who'd finally grown up. Yes, we've seen the guy strike out and make bold moves before—in establishing Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, in divorcing Mona, in partaking of a good old-fashioned acid test. It's not that Roger was a passive character by any means, but his actions were generally for the benefit of Roger himself... or what he perceived to be his benefit, anyway. 

Certainly, the move to sell out to the enemy stemmed from Roger's desire to stick it to Cutler and save his BFF Don's job, but Roger's vision goes beyond that. He sincerely believes that he saved the agency's world, and that a return to he and Don pulling the strings is the best possible situation for the future of SC&P. While their victory in this midseason finale was sweet, I can't help but question the vitality of Roger's plan. Man has landed on the moon. His daughter calls herself "Marigold." Sally Draper is kissing boys. Don has just added another ex-wife to the list. Bert Cooper is dead and gone forever. It's great that Roger has a vision, but it needs to be a vision of the future and not a nostalgia for the past. My concern is that Roger has become the Napoleon in his own life, and that his—and the firm's—Waterloo is yet to come. 


Despite a slow start, the first half of Mad Men's final season ended on a high note, in terms of the characters' lives and in terms of the storytelling. Mad Men has never shied away from highlighting the various historical moments of the 1960s—JFK's assassination ruined Margaret Sterling's wedding, and MLK Jr.'s forced race relations into an arena that was previously off-limits—but for as huge and lingering as the moon landing was, what was most apparent in "Waterloo" was just how fleeting of an impact it had on the players in Matthew Weiner's world. Everyone was in the same place at the same time watching the same thing, and it was a good thing—it wasn't death, war, or tragedy. During one of the most pessimistic times in history, mankind achieved one of its most enduring symbols of hope and optimism. And it was beautiful, man. 

But of course, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins hadn't even returned to Earth before everyone was back to business as usual, which is an important point to make as we gear up for Mad Men's final stretch of episodes in 2015. When the '60s draw to a close and the stories of Don, Peggy, Roger, Joan, and the others conclude, we will have witnessed only a fraction of their lives, a segment of the whole. We'll be able to interrogate and extrapolate based on what we know, but I don't doubt there will still be questions. We've watched these characters repeatedly get caught up in time and circumstance, and there has only ever been one way to truly halt time in its tracks. RIP, Bert Cooper, you will be missed. 



NOTES

– "The Best Things in Life Are Free" was so apropro. Don's job was saved by Roger playing on everyone's greed for more cash. All Don really wanted out of the deal was the ability to keep creating.

– Ted had a Don moment in his plane. I was really worried, and then I laughed really hard. Thanks for the emotional whiplash, Mad Men

– Peggy got Nick the Handyman's number. Bow chicka wow wow. 

– Mad Men versus AHS: Asylum: Who did the WTF song-and-dance sequence better?

– Predictions for 2015? How do you see Roger's plan working out? 


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/17/2015

Season 7 : Episode 14

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For a long time I've found Sally and Betty to be the most interesting characters in the series, pretty much everyone in SC&P has become (many of they started as) a money hungry troll, Joan who was once one of the more sympathetic characters has turned on Don, someone that's respected and supported her for as long if not longer than anyone else and was the only one above asking her to whore herself out. Now she's ready to destroy his livelihood for some more pieces of silver. Yet Betty and Sally while clearly not perfect characters (Sally mostly just because she's a teen) are trying to be better, which is more than I can say for pretty much anyone else. When we found Betty she herself was still acting like a teen, more concerned with what her neighbors thought of her and being worshiped than anything else, now she's finding her own identity, or at least looking for it, and Sally's much in the same place, trying to figure out who she is and I'm enjoying the ride. I wouldn't mind a spin-off about the Francis household, a show about a teenager growing up in the seventies could be good.
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I'm starting to dislike this greedy Joan. I liked the Joan with ambition in her work instead of this money hungry woman.
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Everybody all at once GOODBYE LOU AVERY (good riddance)! Let's celebrate with a look at him back in the day with a grunge mullet! I feel like he should be wearing a shirt that says "Soundgarden" on it.





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I'm expecting the partnership with McCann to slowly destroy the firm next season and help wrap up things.
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Was thinking we might get a little more on Ginsburg in the finale. Guess he'll be completely gone from the show next season.
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Harry Hamlin really killed it this season! When the merger happened last season it was all about Peggy's white knight Ted and his relationship with Don.

This year they switch it around completely and it's great. Ted's now in LA and depressed with Pete. Cutler takes over completely and becomes Don's archenemy.
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I know people don't like AMC splitting up final seasons but I have to say it worked almost as perfectly here as it did for Breaking Bad. In truth they are really two seasons (just look at it creatively, the mid-season finale wrapped up everything started in the premiere) and seven episodes instead of thirteen had a major effect on quality improvement.
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Great season! Mad Men managed to turn it around so well following a season that had perhaps went a little to depressing (which says something considering it's a show where the characters are always unhappy). A strong finish and a great starting point for next season.
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I love Mad Men but AHS definitely had the better WTF dance number.

So sad to see Burt go. Maybe he'll be reunited with Blankenship in that great ad agency in the sky.

Peggy's Burger Chef version of Don's Polaroid pitch was beautiful to watch. The Don/Peggy moments have alway been my fav - when he went to visit her in the sanitarium after she had her baby out of wedlock, when he made her work
late and she called him on all his shit. This one - when he finally passed on the baton to her is now my favourite.

I'm a bit worried as this episode was so good - it has a lot of the things that I love about this show and felt to me to be quintessential Mad Men. - that I'm concerned that the rest of the series will go downhill from here and end on a bad note.

I hate this trend of breaking up a final series - the wait will be excruciating!
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Wow, I've been sort of checked out of 'Mad Men' for a few seasons. This season with a sense of getting somewhere from all the scripts -- has been the best season since the first. Kind of loved Harry Hamlin's character thus far this season and he was fantastic in that finale. Ending as well as when you started seems to be a rarity on television anymore glad to see 'Mad Men' bucking the trend. See what can happen when you have time to plan your ending and do it on your own terms - good things!


('AHS: Asylum' Jessica Lange in character singing 'The Name Game'. Don't need to say anything more. You just can't beat that. Not even with the lovely performance by Robert Morse as Bertrum Cooper.)
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I loved this season 7A finale. It gave me the overall Mad Men vibe I want as a result of a season that got better.

And, I want a Sally Draper spin-off for the seventies. Not only has she become one of the most interesting developing characters, it would also give us the opportunity to hear (let's call it background noise) what the Mad Men characters are doing in those years.
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Mad Men will be long recognized for giving the best farewell ever seen on TV to a character and an actor.

The final dance number featuring Robert Morse as Bert Cooper wasn't just a tribute to the character, but to Mr. Morse himself, who has been acting for over 60 years and who starred in many of the classic movies from the 60's that inspired much of what is in Mad Men.

If you can find it, watch Robert Morse in the 1967 film, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which was also a Pulitzer winning Broadway play that Morse also starred in. The film is a great companion to Mad Men.

The tribute resonated so strongly because it was a tribute to Morse himself as well as the character, and what's more, it wasn't just a nice add-on, but a trigger for the grief that Don had been hiding until then. That was a great scene, in an episode full of them.
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You're absolutely right, a great tribute for a magnificent actor and an amazing Broadway singer!! A small correction though: it was a Tony that Robert Morse won in 1962 with the play "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". And then, 5 years later he got an Emmy nomination for the movie version.
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I also have to apologize to you...an addition to what you said,not correction.
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That's cool, we're obviously in tune about our appreciation of the finale.
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Reading thru the article and the comments I have to ask: was I the only who thought this episode was all about parents and children? I kind of thought that was the overarching theme of the episode: the comment that Sally was just like Betty when she was that young, how eerily Sally mimicked her mother's behavior in the backyard (tell me you couldn't see Betty doing something exactly like that!), Peggy and Julio saying good-bye, Peggy's comment about Julio in her presentation (which made it sound like it was her kid), Don passing the torch to Peggy, the way Bert gently chided Roger like an understanding father or Don chiding Sally, how Roger really came into his own after Bert passed, Don's comment about Bert loving Roger like a son, and finally Bert's goodbye started with 'Don, my boy." And the lyrics seemed to be telling Don how alike to Bert he was.
Thematic material aside, that last scene had me in tears, Don's smile as he realized Bert was at peace, and the devastation (almost tears) when he realized Bert was really gone forever: it felt like a goodbye between father and son. Hell, Bert WAS a father for Don, one of the best scenes in Mad Men was when Pete told Bert about Don Draper/Dick Whitfield. Mad Men has always been Bert and his boys, Roger and Don, or maybe that's my allegory.
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Why is it that Ted isn't blackballed like Don was/is? I would think Ted cutting the engine in a plane mid-flight with clients and talking about ending their lives is at least on par with Don going all weepy over Hersey's during a presentation.
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Maybe its b.c. Herseys is worth more than Burger Chef?
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It was Sunkist, if I'm not mistaken. And I'm not sure mental instability, as perceived by the partners, would be kind enough to only show up for the "lesser clients."
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2015? Did I read it right??? It looks like Mad Men is going to end on a high-note, the first half of the final season has been amazing and this episode was everything I loved about the show.
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does this mean Don has a brain tumor?
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Great "finale". Now I'm gonna go into a self-induced coma and wake up when 7B starts.
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This was a good "finale". Harry Crane always seems to missed out on everything. Poor guy. It was a nice way to say goodbye to Bert and we will miss him.
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...oh, i want more Bob Benson please..i just love him also bring Sal Romano back goddammit!!!
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Brilliant episode, i´m glad the balance is restored at the office now. I felt very sad about Bert Cooper, that last scene was so bitter sweet yet so perfect. It was very awesome seeing Roger being a proper leader for once also was very funny seeing how everyone was so greedy and money motivated. I felt so happy for Peggy after all this show was always about her from the start., now she has a proper voice in the office. i wish she could just date someone and be happy. Sally is just as mental as Betty is. I´m sure is a genetic thing or something. About Joan, she´s a rich important executive now and is a cool thing, however i don´t like her new attitude. With just few episodes and a year hiatus to wrap things up i hope they come out with something great next.
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Wow! If a man wrote a sexist article like MaryAnn did he would be fired. Poor girl must want a penis.

Joan is no longer subservient to the good old boys
Sally Draper didn't have an original thought in her head.

Let me give you a clue, men create, men start things new, woman follow along and say me too. We only have the EEOC because woman can't do things on their own.

This is Man Men, not Mad Woman. So why not go review ABCs woman shows.
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No cheersnorm you don't get to make judgements on sexism when your attitude doesn't even acknowledge its existense.

You have these particular views on differences between the sexes but where is the grouding in fact? Women are out there in the world creating and starting things, just like men. How do you reconcile that? It completely invalidates your position. Isn't it now time that you grew up and admitted your views are based purely on your desires, not in any way on reality.

You're scared of women , that's why you'd feel much better if they were prohibited from the work force altogether. Why does your ideal society require laws to protect you from the scary women? If they are ineffectual workers as you believe this would be clearly reflected in the employment demographics, next to no one would hire them, no amount of perceived affirmative action could overcome that. If you were actually interested in the well-being of society and not spreading your own deep-seeded fear of women then you would let the job market decide on the working merits of women and leave it at that.
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Let me see we have young boys shooting other young students, we have a very high baby-momma generation, we have millions of young men that never knew their father, we have AID's, we have millions of elementary school boys on Ritalin. Compared to a time when roles were more defined.....I am just not sure if we are headed in a good direction.



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You've said all that before, none of it has anything to do with a woman's ability to have a career and most of your criticisms are actually male bashing. Why do you keep spewing anti-female propaganda on this site if your problem is really with men? Why do't you criticise MaryAnn's review on the basis of it being too soft on men. You could say something along the lines of:

Wow! If a man wrote a sexist article like MaryAnn did he would be fired. Poor girl must think she has a penis.

Don accepted Peggy as his equal and his successor
Roger's part saved Don from the firing squad again


Let me give you a clue, men shoot students when they're young and high on ritalin, they don't raise their own kids and they compulsively have sex with other men and spread AIDS.

If that's what you really think then why not be honest about it instead of cowering behind a mask of misogyny.
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Let me guess, you're an angry single guy who is threatened by the mere thought that women are equal to men. I think most people are getting heartily sick of 'men' like you can't contain their hatred of women.
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Why is it we never see kissing anymore, except for Homosexuals?

Why is it woman don't get slapped around, but punch and kick a man is OK!

This woman's lib stuff has gone too far in the other direction.

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You happy now?
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Cheersnorm, do you even know this show? Mad Men portrays the sexism that was real in that day. This reviewer writes about Mad Men, ergo sexism is part of the equation, not necessarily the writer's beliefs. Sheesh.
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If I want your acceptance, do I need to be politically correct? Are you threatened because I don't follow the PC script?

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2/10
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Come on, the troll pose is so 2010...
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Bye, Bye, Bert, but what a send off, on the arms of your beauties with only Don, the newbie believer, watching.

Loved that Peggy and Don are friends once again, now that he has allowed her to shine with Burger Chef - can't wait for 2015. She looks like she's having regrets over not being the mother she could have been. Tears in her eyes while her little friend announces his move.

And now Don, his job saved once more, knows too well who's on his side while he's back to basics, sans the wife that finally let him go. 2015 will be fun.

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There were some great Pete Campbell moments in this episode...like when he called Don a "sensitive piece of horseflesh," told Cutler & Ted that the "clients want to live, too," and that "The Don Draper Show is back from its unscheduled interruption." CLASSIC Pete lines! Loved them.

I also liked Lou's line of "Don Draper Dinner Theater." LOL'ed at that one! ;-)

I liked the ending...it was a bit cheeky, but it surprised me, and that's what keeps me watching the show.
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Sad to say goodbye to Bert, and so the little song and dance at the end was nice, but comparing it to AHS is a bit much. That is to say, what I saw in the song and dance at the end of this episode was Don's image of Bert's farewell, whereas in AHS it was something completely different.

Farewell, Bert.
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You miss some important connections every week, and rarely (if ever) refer back to past episodes. The Burger Chef pitch was centered around the idea of dining as a family without distractions...the day after it seemed EVERYONE was unified while watching the moon landing on the TV. And the "forward" play by Roger and the agency, WITHOUT Harry Crane, his computer, and increasingly powerful media connections, also seemed to ignore the importance of the TV. Furthermore, we know Burger Chef is doomed, while we also know that Chevy's Vega will fail (interestingly AFTER dumping SCP or whatever it's called now).

The smaller firm was absorbed out of fear of it growing to become a true competitor. The irony is that the big-stick-carrying monster (McCann) will give Don, Ted, & Peggy the freedom to do what they do best, and enjoy - create - without the burden of scrambling from pitch to pitch. I conclude by returning to the Mets banner.

The Miracle Mets found their way on top after bottoming out mid-season (just like Don) - I'd love to see Don & Peggy sweep the CLEOs, sending Lou out on his buttocks, while Tobacco comes knocking on Don's door, looking for ideas again.

True irony would see Don die of lung cancer during the final episode - surrounded by Sally, Bobby, and Gene - as he sees a new ad for a new product on a new TV. His legacy will not be the work, the agency, or the money - it will be his kids, who have grown up to (hopefully) be better people than their parents.
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True irony would see Don die of lung cancer during the final episode. It would be irony and it might give us closure for the main character, but I'm not sure I want to. He is no Walter White who didn't have a future. He has one, although we won't see it. I do hope they will give us some small indications what his direction will be. All in all, I like him and want him to be happy.
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CLIOs (grr - need EDIT feature)
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I really loved how subtly everything was done in this episode. Bert's death, Megan and Don breaking up, Peggy's moment with that kid (I have a feeling we'll come back to that child Peggy gave for adoption because it had such a huge impact on Peggy's carreer and her relationship with Don... not to mention that she's kinda wondering if she'll die alone etc. She had an age crisis already..) And the newly single Don... really looking forward to that when Mad Men returns!
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Flawless!!!!! I loved it soo much...I'm gonna be so sad and miserable this whole remaining time!!!
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'Apropos'. Yes, it was. The fact it worked is testament to this show's greatness.
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Poor Harry Crane dragged his feet on signing the partnership paperwork and lost out on his chance to be an instant millionaire. Roger summed it up nicely: "It's too late. Get out."
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Why must they split the season? I so want to see the next episode. This is Breaking Bad all over again!
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It's a shame The Eagle has left his nest and that Joan is still a money whore.
But then it's touching that Peggy and Don are 'back together' and that Don's subconscious made him give Bertram a fitting send off.
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To be fair to Joan. She has a mum and kid to feed. And she was never really the creative type. I see her more as a female counterpart to Pete. As Pete said 'it's easy to be blaise about money when you already have it.' So I can see why she is more concerned about making a million than Don is.
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Was some great "back to business" episode in the mold of Seasons 3-4.
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Great ending to a great (half) season. I think the splitting up the season really helped cut out filler as each episode seemed focused. It was kind of crazy seeing what a close call it was for Don keeping his job, and who truly hated his guts, and who still stood by his side. The buyout kind of reminded me of the Boston Legal finale where the Chinese overtook Crane Poole and Schmidt. Also, one can't forget the song in Don's head at the end of the episode--showing the creativity of the writing staff. I'll miss this show, but admittedly I'm looking forward to next week's new AMC show that looks just as inspired--Halt and Catch Fire.
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I loved this episode so much I don't even know where to begin. Wait yes I do; the moon landing. I've wondered for a long time how they would do it and it was just so simple and perfect, every family (in all their varieties) sitting around their tv screens in awed silence. I loved it.

And Bert! :( Has a tv character ever got a better send off? I burst out laughing when the music started and was welling up along with Don by the end.

Hurray for Sally kissing the weedy nerd and not the dumb jock. That girl's gonna be alright.
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Yes. To all these things. Yes.
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Musical Number in Mad Men.... Nuff said!
Too shocked to be upset that this is the last ep of the 1st half of the season
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