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Matthew Weiner (#110 of 36)

Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 14, "Person to Person"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 14, “Person to Person”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 14, “Person to Person”

Considering that “Person to Person” is the series finale of Mad Men, it’s best to start with its final images: the famous “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial from 1971 that married we-are-the-world humanism with an absurd and insidious kind of capitalism. Writer-director Matthew Weiner cuts to the ad just as Don (Jon Hamm) begins to smile, settling into his first meditation session at a new-age pavilion in Northern California. Is he imagining the ad? There’s not much to suggest Don is going to revert back to his life as a calculating ad man, especially after the way he reacts to Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) saying McCann would take him back. More conceivable is the idea that even this seemingly positive-minded form of self-exploration will eventually be co-opted and dumbed down to sell carbonated sugar water to the masses. And as much as a way of processing existence, such as meditation, can be packaged and sold, so can people begin selling themselves as a product or a way of life, something that someone must choose over something else to prove their worth.

Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 13, "The Milk and Honey Route"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 13, “The Milk and Honey Route”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 13, “The Milk and Honey Route”

The title of last night’s episode of Mad Men, “The Milk and Honey Route,” comes from a handbook for hobos written by Nels Anderson, who himself lived the hobo life in the 1920s before writing his sociological study of the behavior and function of homeless people. In essence, he argued that living homeless is as honorable and worthwhile a way of life as any other, and that’s the kind of life we might very well find Don (Jon Hamm) in by the end of next week’s series finale. Indeed, all the characters in “The Milk and Honey Route” seem to be closely examining how their lives should be lived, whether their death is imminent or the farthest thing from their mind.

Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 10, "The Forecast"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 10, “The Forecast”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 10, “The Forecast”

If there was something somewhat heartening about Don (Jon Hamm) not ending up with Diana, whose obsession and regret over her own past seems poised to haunt her to her final days, “The Forecast” makes it perfectly clear that the next thing isn’t always easy to pinpoint. In fact, the episode hinges on a series of actions and events that, depending on perspective, could be seen as backsliding or moving on. This, of course, begins with Joan’s (Christina Hendricks) meeting with Richard (Bruce Greenwood), an incredibly handsome, well-off older gentlemen who initially wants her to abandon everything and run off to Europe with him. His offer suggests a total abandonment of the past, including her child, but Joan, unlike so many of her co-workers, has a strong idea of what she wants out of life outside of her professional goals. Her son is a necessity, and part of the invigorating dramatic pull of “The Forecast” is watching Joan curtly reminding Richard that he is not.

Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 9, "New Business"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 9, “New Business”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 9, “New Business”

Before one can start new business, one must settle old business, and this is of primary import in last night’s episode of Mad Men. As Megan (Jessica Paré) returns to collect her belongings from Don (Jon Hamm), a number of ghosts get stirred up for more than one member of SC&P, and the episode hinges on what is the appropriate price for forgiveness and making amends with the past, or if there even is a price. In one of the more ghastly scenes, Harry Crane (Rich Sommer), in essence, attempts to rectify Megan’s marriage to Don and bungled career by offering her a good agent, but only if she’ll sleep with him. Just as Megan is trying to start anew, Harry is trying to reclaim an old crush, in the most crude way possible, and the episode makes a point of showing an array of ways the past infiltrates people and seduces them away from the present or, often enough, reason.

Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 2, "A Day’s Work"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 2, “A Day’s Work”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 2, “A Day’s Work”

The day in question in “A Day’s Work” is Valentine’s Day, and showrunner Matthew Weiner and company crafted an episode riddled with allusions to business as a love affair. When Don (Jon Hamm) is caught taking a meeting with a big shot by a headhunter for a rival agency, he quips that he’s just “looking for love.” And back at SC&P, Don’s relationship to the company is compared to that of an ex-wife of Jim (Harry Hamlin), who’s still having trouble finding footing in his relationship with Roger (John Slattery). And when Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) is in the midst of undressing peppy realtor Bonnie (Jessy Schram), the dirty talk takes the form of something like contract arbitration.

This feeling of emotional disputes being handled like salary negotiations is most potently felt when Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) allows the flowers on Shirley’s (Sola Bamis) desk to become the inanimate agitator for her still-raw feelings for Ted (Kevin Rahm). The episode continues to return to Peggy to see how long her unfortunate presumption reverberates in her, and she shows deeper shades of confusion, insolence, uncertainty, and shame as the day goes on. It’s one of the most assured, self-contained storylines the series has conjured thus far, made complete by its aftershocks felt in a secretary shuffle managed by Joan (Christina Hendricks), who also, in a quick bit, has the intentions behind her flowers mistaken.

Mad Men Recap Season 7, Episode 1, "Time Zones"

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 1, “Time Zones”

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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 1, “Time Zones”

Late into “Time Zones,” the first episode of Mad Men’s final season, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is literally stuck in a holding pattern, flying above the East Coast alongside a talkative widow, played by Neve Campbell. She offers him a ride home with a wink and he pointedly responds that he has to get back to work. It’s the same line he lays on Megan (Jessica Paré), his wife, when she insists they have a few more hours of time together in Los Angeles before he has to catch his flight back to New York. It’s a seemingly throwaway line, but it’s the way Hamm delivers it that reveals the sinking desperation and boredom that Don is stewing in. The fact that he’s reintroduced via Spencer Davis Group’s strutting “I’m a Man” is telling: “Well, if I had my choice of matter/I would rather be with cats/All engrossed in mental chatter/Movin’ where our minds are at.”