back to top
TVAndMovies

Here's A Reminder Of What Happened In Last Year's "Mad Men" Finale

The first of Mad Men's final seven episodes is Sunday on AMC — here's where we left Don, Peggy, and the rest of our friends.

Posted on

1. Passing time is not only one of Mad Men's themes, it's one of its obsessions.

AMC

Sometimes the show is hazy about where we are in time, and sometimes it is exact. The first shot of "Waterloo," Episode 7 of Season 7, is exact: It's July 16, 1969.

2. And Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) is watching Apollo 11 take off.

AMC

"Waterloo" closed the first half of Mad Men's divided final season. While it is in theory infuriating and absurd to have had to wait a whole year for the next seven episodes, I will confess that delaying saying good-bye to this show and these characters — well, I've been happy to wait. As Matthew Weiner's Mad Men closes out telling us the story of one of the most important decades in American history, it has also drawn characters so rich, we feel like we know them. We have been voyeurs in their lives, and have watched them grow up (and it's not only the children of Mad Men who have done that).

Bert Cooper throughout the show has been a quirky patriarch. In the first season's original agency, Sterling Cooper, he was the mysterious other half of the firm's name, and a fatherly shadow behind Roger Sterling (John Slattery). Casting Morse at first seemed like a nod from Weiner to the actor's famous role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway in 1961 and in the 1967 movie — that famous representation of how to rise in business in New York City. But as the years went on, Morse's Bert stopped being a shoeless novelty.

He dies in this episode, but not before he once again affects the action. "Waterloo" was written by Carly Wray and Weiner, and directed by Weiner.

Advertisement

4. Meanwhile, in California, Ted (Kevin Rahm) is losing his mind.

He threatens to kill himself and his passengers — the Sunkist clients – in a small prop plane. It's the first of many times in this episode that the characters see their own situations in terms of the attempt to land on the moon.

"Maybe they won't make it," Ted says of the astronauts. "Then all their problems will be over."

5. Jim (Harry Hamlin) and Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) call Ted to reprimand him.

Ted, drunk, doesn't care. He asks Jim: "You used to fly. Didn't you ever feel that?" Jim says: "Over Dresden? I wanted to live!"

Pete: "And the clients want to live too, Ted!"

Ted says: "I don't want to die. I just don't want to do this anymore."

Advertisement

11. Peggy comes home, finds a workman in her house, and flirts with him. She's also stern with him when she thinks he's going to ask her for money for a job that isn't yet done.

The workman thinks Julio (Jacob Guenther) is her son.

Advertisement

13. Betty and her friend Carolyn (Kellie Martin) talk in the kitchen. "I have to ask. Do you ever see Don?" "Only when absolutely necessary. I'm starting to think of him as an old bad boyfriend. Someone a teenaged anthropologist would marry."

15. Don's secretary Meredith (Stephanie Drake) shows him a letter he's received: "It's very upsetting news," she says.

AMC

It's from the company's attorney. He's in breach of contract because of his meeting with Commander cigarettes. "Are they firing you?" she asks. He's shocked.

Advertisement

18. Don storms into Jim's office.

AMC

Jim tells Don he's broken his agreement with the agency that they made when Don returned. "It was cut and dry."

Jim tells Don he used to be so intimidated by him. "What was that man up to? Such a cloud of mystery. Now that I've been backstage, I'm deeply unimpressed, Don. You're just a bully and a drunk; a football player in a suit. The most eloquent I've ever heard you is when you were blubbering like a little girl about your impoverished childhood."

Advertisement

20. Don gets everyone together. He asks for a show of hands of who wants him gone. Jim votes yes, and has Ted's proxy. Joan (Christina Hendricks) raises her hand too. Roger, Bert, Pete, and Don vote against. "Motion denied!" Don shouts.

22. Peggy asks Julio which outfit she should wear — a dress or a suit — to the Burger Chef meeting. She mentions they're worried the astronauts will die, which will be a national tragedy and will ruin their pitch. Julio looks sad.

23. Julio tells Peggy they're moving to Newark, and he doesn't want to. He hugs her. She hugs him back, and tries not to cry. She wipes away a tear.

AMC

"I'll visit you all the time," she says. "No, you won't," Julio responds.

Will Mad Men bring any resolution to the question of what happened to Peggy's baby? I don't care whether it does — and there's certainly an argument that the story should suppress answers as much as Peggy has repressed her thoughts about it — but it's a plot that does hang over scenes like this one.

Advertisement

24. Megan (Jessica Paré), who has only a few weeks to live before being killed by the Manson family — just kidding — gets a call from Don.

It's a casual call; they're both just sitting around. She's going to see The Wild Bunch. He says he wants to see that. She asks whether she should wait for him to see it.

He tells Megan he's going to get fired. "They want me to move on," he says. Then: "I could finally move out there." She doesn't answer. "Is that what you want me to do?" he asks.

Nope. "Don—" she starts. "I'll always take care of you," he says. "I'll be fine," she says.

27. Bert and Roger discuss Don. Bert agrees with Jim that Don is too wild. He compares Don to Napoleon — they have unsuccessful comebacks in common.

AMC

And now we know why the episode is called "Waterloo." But whose Waterloo will it be?

Advertisement

29. Pete, Peggy, Harry, and Don are flying to Indiana for Burger Chef.

AMC

Pete tells Don he should come to L.A. because Ted is losing his mind: "Lane Pryce," he says for context. Don tells him "there's no reason to go to L.A."

"Marriage is a racket," Pete says.

Advertisement
Advertisement

38. Joan arrives, teary-eyed. “I’m so sorry,” she says to Roger. Jim comes too: “Roger, my condolences. He was a giant.”

Jim uses this opportunity to keep trying to fire Don. Roger can't believe it. "Is this what would happen if I died?"

Advertisement

41. Roger calls Don to tell him about Bert.

"Now I'm going to lose you too," he says to Don. "We don't have the votes anymore."

Roger is drunk. "Poor Bert. I should have realized it was the end. Every time an old man starts talking about Napoleon, you know they're gonna die." And: "He was hard on me. But maybe he was right." He ends by saying, "Give 'em hell tomorrow." Don says OK.

42. In watching the lunar landing, Don has looked into the future — and he knows he's of the past. The future is Peggy. He goes to her room.

AMC

He tells her she's going to give the presentation. "You're going to be great." Peggy: "No. Stop messing around, it's not funny." He's doing it for their good, so they don't lose the business after he's fired.

Advertisement

46. All eyes are on her.

AMC

She begins by talking about the lunar landing. She talks about the communal experience of watching it on TV. And how that's what Burger Chef is competing with. She describes eating at Burger Chef: "There may be chaos at home. But there's family supper at Burger Chef."

"That's beautiful," says the Burger Chef guy.

She kills it.

48. Roger tells Don that they've gotten an offer from McCann Erickson, and they would be a separate, independently run agency.

Don is resistant, but Roger convinces him, or gets close to, that it's their only choice. He tells Don, "Cutler's not gonna stop until the firm is just Harry and the computer."

53. Ted tells them all that he doesn't want to stand in the way, but he's "done with advertising." Don asks Ted to imagine that he could just go back to creative.

"I know you. I know the man I walked into Chevy with," Don says to Ted. "You don’t have to work for us, but you have to work." Ted looks confused. "I'd move back to the city?"

Roger: "Ted's in. Let's have a vote."

55. Peggy tells Don they got Burger Chef. "Well, they heard what I heard," he tells her.

AMC

They hug. The Peggy/Don relationship is one of the most fully realized dynamics in television history. What will we do without them?

59. Bert sings "The Best Things in Life Are Free" to Don. He is shoeless!

AMC

Is the purpose of this oddly placed musical number to remind Don that though he's triumphed at work, he still has personal business to wrap up? Is it to remind us, the viewers, that even at 83, Morse can still sing and dance?

61. Don is so taken aback by his sadness that he sits down.

AMC

So many of the episodes in the first half of Season 7 felt like they could have been satisfying series finales, but we are not done yet.

This episode did not begin with Don, but it ended with him — reminding us that Mad Men is his story. Mad Men finales often end with Don having come to a resolution — a sad one, or a hopeful one. Here, Don has been staggered. In "Waterloo," Don actually won the battle. But will he win the war? And what is the war? We will find out soon enough, and like Don, we may have to sit down from where Mad Men takes us.

INTRODUCING
For beauty & style as you are.
a brand