‘Mad Men’: Waterloo (Recap)

Mad Men

The moon belongs to everyone / The best things in life, they’re free

Let’s take a moment and just soak in what happened in the last five minutes of tonight’s MAD MEN. Most shows – really, any other show – would use the death of a long-running character as a shocking, dramatic moment.

Anytime someone dies, you can already predict the other characters crying out into the heavens and shouting “I WILL AVENGE YOU!” before falling to the ground and pounding their fist. So what does MAD MEN do in the face of this well-known television trope? 

Well, it turns it into a musical number, of course.

Sad as the death of Bert Cooper was, it wasn’t unexpected – he was very old, after all.

But having Don envision Cooper blissfully performing “The Best Things In Life Are Free” was completely out of nowhere, and completely amazing. I can’t think of a better sendoff for Cooper than the last five minutes of ‘Waterloo,’ one of the most unconventional sequences I’ve seen in a while. 

But the worst thing about all this? We have to wait another whole year before we get to see the final hours of MAD MEN.

Here’s what else went down in this weel’s mid-season finale.

One Small Step For Man…

The event that united every story in tonight’s episode was – as many suspected it would be – the moon landing. It creates the perfect background for the episode, and enriches nearly every story the episode has to offer (which is a lot, even by MAD MEN standards). And hey, at least Bert got to see a man land on the moon right before he passed away – that’s fairly poetic, in its own way.

Peggy Wins Burger Chef

How has Elisabeth Moss not won every single Emmy she could possibly win for this show? Her scenes tonight are career-best work, and a terrific encapsulation of Peggy’s entire journey. Her scene tonight with Julio was heartbreaking, as she silently wonders what could have been if she had kept that baby from so many years ago. But her real highlight was Peggy’s final transformation into Don Draper during the Burger Chef pitch meeting. Her speech was incredible, using the moon landing to lay the themes of the episode out perfectly, and bringing real emotional weight to the proceedings.

Working For McCann

My, how times have changed. Jim Cutler is determined to get Don out of the company, but Roger – having just lost Cooper, and not nearly ready to lose anybody else – makes a swift deal for the company to be bought out by McCann. Back in Season 3, this idea was ludicrous; now, it’s the new status quo. The scene in which Don and Roger convince the rest of the partners is terrific – only Ted and Jim are hesitant about it, but they give in because a) it’s a lot of money they’ll be getting, and b) well, what else are they going to do?

Quote of the Episode:

“That’s a very sensitive piece of horse flesh – he shouldn’t be rattled!” – Pete Campbell, about Don Draper 

Pete Campbell has always been one of the funniest characters on the show, and he was terrific tonight (his line, “Marriage is a racket!” after finding out about Don and Megan’s divorce is also wonderful). Still, the loyalty he’s been showing to Don lately is one of the best things about the show. We’re so used to annoying, arrogant Pete that to see Pete basically be a good guy is pretty nice! 

What did you think of tonight’s MAD MEN mid-season finale? Sound off in the comments below!

Michael Smith

Michael Smith

Michael Smith is a student living in New York who loves television. Coincidentally, he also loves to write about television -- so this works out great for him. He can’t wait to talk your ear off about the latest low-rated cult hit that he couldn’t bear to see cancelled.
Michael Smith

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