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Monday, April 6, 2015

Mad Men 7.8: Don, Rachel, and the Waitress

Mad Men was back for its final half-season bow - episode 7.8 tonight - with a fine surrealistic, watercolor story, suitably blurred by longings for what was lost and cannot be regained.

Rachel was one of the best characters in that first season that seems so long ago now, in that summer right after The Sopranos had ended.  Maggie Siff's character didn't work out, and she went on to portray Tara in a brilliant performance on Sons of Anarchy.  It was great to see Rachel back tonight, if, sadly but significantly, only in Don's dream.

She can never be in more than a dream now because, as Don soon learns, she died last week.  This is a crucial moment not only for Don's character, but the story as a whole, because it makes the point yet again, having been made so many times already on this show, that you can't go home again.  Don couldn't go home to his earlier pseudo-life, nor could any of the other characters, having realized they wrongly discarded something earlier, ever been able to double back and be happy.   Maybe human beings can, sometimes, but not those who build dreams for others in advertising.   Maybe that's because their own lives are in large part dreams, which evaporate all too fast in the light of new days.

But Don does manage to capture something of Rachel, in a waitress who looks a lot a like her, and whom Don manages to sleep with, in part because she's grateful that Roger, now sporting a mustache, left her a hundred dollar tip the night before.  (The waitress's looking like Rachel is no doubt what triggered Don's dream.  Roger's mustache had nothing to do with that, but this seemed the best place in the review to work that in.)   Possibly Don will initiate a long range affair with this waitress, and the two will live happily ever after - nah, that's not likely to happen, it's too much even for a dream.

The other big news involves Ken Cosgrove aka Ben Hargrove, who is fired from Don's firm by Roger, and who may be taking up his calling to become a renown science fiction writer, like Alfred Bester, who also had a career in advertising.   But that dream was also not to be, and, instead, Ken winds up putting one over on Roger and Pete - something is always being put over on Pete - when Ken becomes the very client over whom he was fired.

We're not out of the age of blatant male chauvinism on Mad Men yet by any means - some would say we're not in 2015, either - and Joan gets a  taste of it from clients who are more interested in her "pair" than anything she or Peggy have to say.  Interestingly, Peggy is not very sympathetic, later in the elevator, prompting a great comeback by Joan that Peggy could never understand what Joan has to go through with men.   Meanwhile, Peggy's love life verges on a dream - or a day dream - to complete the arc of bubbles that explode in daylight.

I'm going to really miss this series when it's over - there's been nothing like it on television, and not likely ever to be.

See also Mad Men 7.1: Vignettes and Playboy ... Mad Men 7.2:  Flowers and the Hung-Up Phone ... Mad Men 7.3: "Lunch with Rod Serling" ... Mad Men 7.4: Computer! ... Mad Men 7.5: Retrofit Paranoia ... Mad Men 7.6: The Dance ...  Mad Men Mid-Season 7 Finale: Telescope vs. Television

And see also Mad Men 6.1-2: The Lighter and the Twist ... Mad Men 6.3: Good Company ... Mad Men 6.4: McLuhan, Heinz, and Don's Imagination ... Mad Men 6.5: MLK ... Mad Men 6.6: Good News Comes in a Chevy ...  Mad Men 6.7: Merger and Margarine ... Mad Men 6.8: Dr. Feelgood and Grandma Ida ... Mad Men 6.9: Don and Betty ... Mad Men 6.10: Medium Cool ... Mad Men 6.11: Hand in the Cookie Jar and Guy de Maupassant ... Mad Men 6.12: Rosemary's Baby, Dick Cheney, and Sunkist ... Mad Men Season 6 Finale: Beyond California

And see also Why "You Only Live Twice" for Mad Men Season 5 Finale ... Mad Men Season Five Finale

And see also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ...Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power ... Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..." 4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ...4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season TwoMad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season OneMad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ...Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ...Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

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