Severance – Mad Men Review

5 Apr

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We have six episodes left in the truncated final Mad Men season.  Whenever a show is reaching its end we, the viewers, expect to find closure.  We want to see the characters and storylines that we attract to reach some sort of conclusion.

If “Severance” is of any indication, the cast of Mad Men is looking for completion as well.

Let’s of course start with Don.  We are led to believe in the opening moments of the show that Don has gone all Season 6 “Fifty Shades of Don” again with a woman in a chinchilla coat.  We hear the slight degrading of the “show me how smooth your skin is” after the demand of closing her eyes.  We see the lean against the wall with a cigarette in his mouth, waiting for another conquest.

Then of course we realize its just casting for a commercial and Don’s professional life finally seems to be back on track.  Yet, later on we see Don with a gorgeous woman at a diner (with newly mustachioed Roger Sterling keeping a company of two) and he later leaves.  Roger pretty much patronizes the waitress and leaves a crisp $100 bill as a tip, though I’m unsure if that was just him feeling guilt or to just prove that he could in front of his new friends.

But Don is seemingly on a path towards a breakdown, one that was heavily hinted at during his Bert Cooper hallucination last year.  He is finding that returning to his life at SC&P might be fulfilling, but it doesn’t fill everything in his life.  He has a dream of Rachel Menken, the department store heiress/mistress/Don’s counterpart of Season 1, only to find out that she has passed away due to leukemia.

Rachel was probably the best match for Don of all his mistresses as she was his professional equal (if not superior?) and there was a deeper connection than just pure lust.  Seeing the look in his eyes at her wake, in which he is essentially turned away by Rachel’s sister, makes him realize his true loss.  He ends up hooking up with the waitress in an alley outside the diner, but the motives are different of both parties.  Don probably thinks its another relationship while the waitress, Di, believes its just a simple transaction thanks to a large tip she presumed Don left.

Don realizes that its great to have a professional life but the dude doesn’t have anything in his non-work life.  Megan hasn’t officially divorced him yet it appears but she’s as of now, not in his life.  Betty (not seen this episode) is gone as are Sally, Bobby and baby Gene.

But its not just Don who is lacking completion.  Peggy and Joan are in the business too and after a couple of douchenozzles pretty much degrade Joan to her face, the pair have a contentious elevator ride.  Joan, clearly threatened by Peggy’s professional success, is cold towards Peggy.  Peggy, on the other hand threatened of Joan’s attractiveness, is almost dismissive towards Joan.

Joan is next seen splurging on some expensive clothing and is appearing to just own up to what others see of her.  Peggy seemingly falls for a blind date set up by Mathis (the dude who played Freddy in Frasier) and makes drunken plans to go to Paris with her new beau until she cannot find her passport.  She admits to him that she feels a bit more attraction to him than she anticipated and he doesn’t spend the night.  Later on, we flash to her and Don both waking up in empty beds.

Completion still isn’t there.  Both characters want something more than just professional success.

Then we go with Ken Cosgrove, the affable and kind of sole “good guy” that the show has to offer.  Ken has the personal life, a loving wife (who he seems to love just as much) and a baby.  He’s well-connected and is accomplished in something that’s not work (with writing).  The one thing that he’s missing with completion seems to be his professional life as he is a likable and loyal employee but clearly gaped by Pete and Harry in terms of importance to the company.

But our likable guy is about to be fired from SC&P as McCan/Erickson is still pissed at him leaving the company for SCDP.  His father-in-law is retiring from Dow and Roger wants him to have “some dignity” and pass on his clientele to Pete.

It seems that Ken is going to retreat into the farm he always wanted and write that Sci-Fi book, or maybe one on advertising, before he gets the last laugh.  He’s now DOW Chemical’s head of advertising and Pete is now HIS client.  Hell yeah Ken.

Episode Grade:  B+

Other notes:

  • Well,  mustaches are in folks!
  • No sign of the following characters:  Hamlin, Betty, Sally, Bobby, Dawn, Henry, Megan.  With such little time left, it seems a waste to not get a Sally Draper sigh.  Oh well!
  • Meredith is improving as Don’s secretary!
  • Characters who got little time:  Pete, Harry and Ted (with a Dale Earnhardt mustache)
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