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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 7, “Waterloo”

Matthew Weiner and company make a point of echoing Cutler’s flippantly opportunistic nature twice over before the episode concludes.

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Photo: AMC

As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon, the partners of SC&P seemed to be making their own small steps and giant leaps throughout “Waterloo,” the bittersweet mid-season finale of Mad Men. And in many of these dramatic gestures and concessions, a major point of contention involved just how big of a jump certain characters were making, such as Jim Cutler’s (Harry Hamlin) decision to send a letter meant to fire Don (Jon Hamm) from the company. For Cutler, Don’s dog-and-pony show for Philip Morris was a cut-and-dry contractual breach, and he uses this reasoning to justify forging the partners’ signatures on the letter. This arguably minor deceit says quite a lot about Cutler’s character, and showrunner Matthew Weiner and company make a point of echoing his flippantly opportunistic nature twice over before the episode concludes.

Cutler’s dismissal of Don is overruled, thanks to an unexpected vote of confidence from Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse). He dies later, unseen, not long after watching Armstrong take his first steps on the lunar surface, and it’s both thoughtful and telling that his last line, a small compliment, seems less directed at the awe of history being made than it is at the astronaut’s choice of words to define the moment. In many ways, his death brings people back down to earth, as the news of his passing causes Don to cede the Burger Chef presentation to Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). Similarly, Roger (John Slattery) sees enough sense in entertaining the idea of a buyout from a rival agency, but only under the stipulation that he’s allowed to run SC&P as a unique branch of the larger advertising firm. Roger’s final conversation with Cooper, his mentor, centers around a need for visionaries, which stirs Roger up, but the eccentric old man is clear when he points out that he prizes loyalty above all else. When Joan (Christina Hendricks) votes in favor of dismissing Don, she cites the money she lost because of him, but it’s clear that it has more to do with the fact that she feels betrayed by him and unable to take him at his word.

That she ultimately looks past her distrust, admittedly following a fiscal windfall, is in line with the episode’s insistence on looking forward and embracing new frontiers, and the writers express a noteworthy displeasure toward those who can’t see past the monetary cost of ambition. This defense of hope helps explain why Sally (Kiernan Shipka) kisses the kid with the telescope rather than the chiseled hunk who scoffs at Apollo 11, even though that last cigarette drag she takes knowingly makes her look like a Betty clone. The episode’s attraction toward unsentimental progress can also be seen as why Megan’s (Jessica Paré) farewell to Don seems so nonchalant and passive. In a way, much of this season has been built around incremental preparations made, mostly by Megan, in anticipation of this final split. The desperate ploys that charged Megan’s behavior in “The Runaways,” to say nothing of that devastating scene in “The Strategy” where she’s gathering her things from Don’s apartment, have paved the road to their short phone conversation. It’s to the writers’ credit, and specifically Weiner, serving as director here as well, that the scene does no more or less than affix a period at the end of Don and Megan’s story.

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The ending of Cooper’s life, and his legacy, isn’t so easily wrapped up. Though he was never treated as the face of the fractious nature of the merged agency, Cooper’s death seems to bring a new united front to SC&P, enough to get Cutler on board with Don staying and keep Ted (Kevin Rahm) from trying to kill clients, as he does early on in the episode. His passing and Roger’s ostensible surrender to SC&P’s rivals, echoed in the Napoleon-referencing title, bring stability to the company at a time when collapse seemed a foregone conclusion. As Roger speaks to the employees of SC&P about the agency’s future, Don imagines a fantastical end to Cooper’s life, a graceful, glowing song-and-dance number to Frank Sinatra’s “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” but it’s important that the episode hangs on the dead pause after the fantasy ends. In that moment, Weiner conflates memory and reality, as Don first sees how he imagines his old friend would exit this world only to then be left to feel the aching silence of a dear friend’s ceaseless absence.

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Let Your Sanity Go on Vacation with a Trip to the Moons of Madness

If you dare, ascend into the horrors of the Martian mind and check out the trailer for yourself.

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Moons of Madness
Photo: Rock Pocket Games

The announcement trailer for Moons of Madness opens with an empty shot of the Invictus, a research installation that’s been established on Mars. The camera lingers over well-lit but equally abandoned corridors, drifting over a picture of a family left millions of kilometers behind on Earth before finally settling on the first-person perspective of Shane Newehart, an engineer working for the Orochi Group. Fans of a different Funcom series, The Secret World, will instantly know that something’s wrong. And sure enough, in what may be the understatement of the year, Newehart is soon talking about how he “seems to have a situation here”—you know, what with all the antiquated Gothic hallways, glitching cameras, and tentacled creatures that start appearing before him.

As with Dead Space, it’s not long before the station is running on emergency power, with eerie whispers echoing through the station and bloody, cryptic symbols being scrawled on the walls. Did we mention tentacles? Though the gameplay hasn’t officially been revealed, this brief teaser suggests that players will have to find ways both to survive the physical pressures of this lifeless planet and all sorts of sanity-challenging supernatural occurrences, with at least a soupçon of H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism thrown in for good measure.

If you dare, ascend into the horrors of the Martian mind and check out the trailer for yourself.

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Rock Pocket Games will release Moons of Madness later this year.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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