Apr 6, 2015

Mad Cap: "Severance"

Welcome to Mad Cap: a series dedicated to chronicling every episode of Mad Men leading up to the series finale. Tune in every Monday to recap each new episode along with memorable moments, quotes, and predictions on where things might be going. Is Don Draper out of the hole on this one? Will the series do well now that it is in the 70's? There's a lot to unpack and no time to waste. So without further ado, please enjoy reading and sharing your own thoughts in the comments on each episode as it airs.


Season 7, Episode 8
"Severance"

"That's not a coincidence! It's a sign!"
 -Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton)
"Of what?" 
-Don Draper (Jon Hamm)
"The life not lived." 
-Ken Cosgrove 

Plot:

The episode opens in 1970. Sterling Cooper Pryce has been sold to McCann. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is auditioning women for a new line of mink coats. As this happens, he imagines seeing Rachel Katz (Maggie Siff) come in, discussing a flight that he missed. She exits without divulging more information. As he goes to lunch with Roger Sterling (John Slattery), he imagines that a certain waitress is Rachel. This is proven wrong, even after he has sex with her. Meanwhile Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) gets fired and remains optimistic because he believes it's a sign for him to write his book. He decides to also return to the agency as a client to mess with them. Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) deal with two male clients involving pantyhose that are very rude. Peggy accuses Joan of dressing too seductively. This gets Joan self-conscious and they end up working together to finish off the client. Don tries to track Rachel down and discovers that she has died very recently. Here he unleashes the information that he has divorced Meghan and is not doing too well otherwise. He is sleeping around and doing whatever he wants. The waitress ends up asking Don to not return to the diner to bother her, even though she feels very familiar.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jon Hamm
MVP:
Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

It is the question that opens and closes the episode: is that all there is? Continuing in the vein of Don's hallucination over Bertram Cooper's death, he is beginning to find signs everywhere of the world not being all that it is. There's Ken, who optimistically accepts his firing and shares the news with Don. He mistakes a waitress for a woman that he knew all the way back in season one. There's so much going on and it looks like everything is back to normal otherwise. He is still sleeping around and trying to determine if this is all that there is. Should he be so happy that he is living a life that has not fulfilled him for all of these seasons? The signs are there and while it may not come out, he does seem perplexed by these moments of desire to regress to a happier time or at least do something that makes him happy. What's odd is that we don't see any family member in this episode, leaving plenty to wonder about, including what that flight was about and what is likely to happen for him next.

Best Scene

To culminate the episode, Don returns to the diner to talk to the waitress of whom he mistook for someone. Is it Rachel, or possibly a woman from his whorehouse days? Either way, he seems enamored by her and despite having sex with her earlier, she is too defensive to have him hang around by himself. She tells him off, leaving him to wonder about what life is all about. With Rachel dead and clues about the life not lived starting to appear everywhere, what is Don to do? Is he just going to continue fooling himself as an ad man, especially as the 70's could represent a new era for him both literally and figuratively. The way that he slouches at the bar as the shot pulls out to the familiar tune of "Is That All There Is" shows a weak man and someone who has lost his will. He needs to figure out what makes him happy, especially since his familial life seems to be nonexistent at this point. Did anything happen to them or did he sabotage their relationship? So many great clues left to find out in the remaining six episodes.

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