RIP Bert Cooper. You were a giant! A giant I say!
This episode was all over the place, wasn't it? A messy end to the the Mid-Season Finale (Mid-Season Barf is more like it) that takes good news, bad news, the infinite hope and wonder of man's first steps on the moon, and a major character death and mixes it up how Mad Men does best: very well-executed, and more than a bit perplexing. And another firm merger, because of course. They have had too many of those. And you know what they haven't had enough of? Ghost musical numbers! Oh wait!
Bert got to see man walk on the moon (a WHITE man, no less! What a good day for Bert. Aaah, I kid, he's obviously not that racist, he lets his housemaid watch the picture show with him!) and then he walks (dances?) into the grave. But that Bert Cooper, he was a leader. It's his last words to Roger that will have the biggest impact on the agency he helped found after he's dead. He never had any kids himself (if there is an afterlife, I hope that Bert will be reunited his long lost testicles. I hope they greet each other at the pearly gates, share a big sloppy kiss, and both trot off, hand-in-hand, excited for the new adventures to come), so it makes sense for him to put all that unrequited parenting (i.e. disappointment) on Roger's shoulders. He tells him he has no vision, unlike Cutler (who has vision, but not Bert's vision. Vision vision vision. Sounds weird right? Venison. Vision.)
So once he's in the ground Roger faces off with his CGC doppleganger, Cutler, for the future of the agency. Is it going to be President Sterling and his best buddy Don? Or is it bug-eyed Cutler and his fancy supercomputer? There are…ya know, meetings. And agency talk. And…blah blah blah, wouldn't ya know it? Roger's side wins! They are now a subsidiary of McCaan, which is the agency everyone hates. But Don gets his old job back (which will surely mean SEE YA LATER SCOUT'S HONOR) and everyone gets more money! Hooray, Joan! It looks like you actually don't need a homosexual to take care of you!
Honestly, whatever. Sterling Cooper, PPL, SCDP, SC&P, SC&P Macaan? It's not that important. Not at the prescribes, it isn't. I don't think it was ever the most important thing that Don get back to being Creative Director, that he prove to everyone in the office that Lou is a big stupid baby head and that he's the defacto genius in advertisement. What was important was for him to deal with the issues in his life that made him blow up in the first place. He needed to be humbled, and he needed to remember why he wanted to keep this job more than go with Megan to California. He shares with Ted what really is important, and that's doing the work. Creating something. Everything can be such a big damn mess, but when you stop dealing with the bullshit, you can still recall what made you love it in the first place. We've seen both Don and Ted at their absolute lowest this season, but that doesn't stop people from wanting the team that won Chevy.
Then they win Burger Chef! Hooray! Then they vote to get bought out by McCaan! Hooray? Don will get his old job back! That's a hooray, right? But it wouldn't be a Mad Men finale (Mid-season finale, hurl) without exuberant emotional ambiguity! Don's victory over Cutler and Stupid-Baby-Head-Lou are overcast by Don's vision (or maybe a hallucination? A brain aneurism?) of the freshly dead Bert singing and dancing along to "The Best Things in Life Are Free." I gotta admit, when it first started I let out a very genuine "what the fuuuuuuuck?" But then I noticed that statement was coming out gleefully grinning lips. It was so bizarre. So polarizing. I had to sit and think on that ending hard. The song and his dance number (shoeless, because duh) were so bright and happy, but left an eerily disconcerting blanket over everything that was happening at the agency and in Don's life.
Don just beat Cutler, so all should be sunshine and blow jobs right? But Don has a knack for looking at the negative side of everything happening in his life, and maybe the biggest problems still lay in front of him. Getting tossed over to McCaan, being stuck with a five-year-contract, and more money are not what is going to bring Don Draper peace. Bert spells it out for him pretty clearly: best things in life are free (just ask your mom). And then he tells Don that the moon belongs to everyone (kind of like for mom). Everyone is feeling such hope and excitement over the moon landing (I mean hell, it literally killed Cooper). It's an event that people can bring people together in awe and celebration. I think Don tried to feel hope, but if that last shot in the episode is any sort of indication, it all got gut-socked right out of him. Cooper looks like he's taunting him as he waves goodbye, leaving Don looking straight up wrecked (just like your mom).
Personally, I've been saying since the beginning of the season I don't really care that much about where Don ends up working. He tells Ted pretty much the same thing, that he doesn't have to work for them, he just has to work. Perhaps he spent too much time this season trying to get the right job back when he should have been focusing on important things like his children, and other less important-but-still-kind-of-important-I-GUESS-sorta-things. Like his wife.
There were plenty of other important things going on in this episode, so let's just all be adults about it and give them sonsabitches some bullet points. Pow pow!
- I think MVP of the episode goes to Peggy. She Don Draper'd the fuck outta that Burger Chef pitch. It was one of the most successful pitches in the entire show, I think. Beautiful hopeful, and just a small hint of sadness underneath (she mentions the ten-year-old waiting for her at home, and doesn't mention it's not her son. Which prompts a suspicious look from Pete. Really good stuff.) I think this was the most honest pitch Peggy could have ever come up with, and it made more sense for her to give it than Don. It was her emotional breakdown/breakthrough that led her, Don, and Pete to the glossy restaurant at the end of last week's episode. Not only was Don looking out for her in a number of different ways when he told her to do it, she dominated it. And awww, isn't she so sweet with that little kid in her building? Well ain't she just the sweetest? I hadn't liked Peggy so much since she stabbed Abe.
- Speaking of killing it, don’t you all wish we could have seen Bert Cooper dance and sing waaay before it happened in this episode? It could have been a finale tradition.
- Meredith, the world's worst secretary, is also a bit of a floozy, eh? That was the funniest kiss in the whole show. I love how slow she always talks. And it's also hysterical how clearly she sees herself as a person of great importance in Don's life. And then Don is like "haha gtfo bitch call my lawyer BUHBYE."
- When Pete clasps his chest to tug on his pearl necklace and squeals out “I have ten percent!” at the partners meeting. Watch it again. And again and again. It’s amazing.
- It bums me out a little that so much of the episode covered the agency issues when there was such a hilarious subplot about Sally Draper’s hormones (and hairstyle, good god child) going all over the place. But I can’t blame her, even Betty was checking out that shirtless hunk of man candy.
- “What do I do now?” That’s what that kid asks after Sally kisses him. He makes Glenn seem normal.
- Megan, you and Don don’t belong together. Stick to it this time, kid. Go see The Wild Bunch with your annoying friend. It’s an awesome flick. So long kiddo. Focus on your acting. Stop being crazy some of the times.
- This seems like the second finale in a row Don has given something up for Ted Chaough. Last year it was going to California, and this year he is letting Ted stick only to the creative side of the job, while Don, presumably is going to be dealing with McCaan and more bullshit. Ted sure talked about killing himself a lot this episode. It was funny. I like his sad jokes about his sad life.
- “Marriage is a racket.” Pete Campbell with the zingers. Pew pew!
- They all kicked Harry out of the partners meeting, saying he didn’t sign in time. Which means they just left him out of probably around a million dollars. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH good.
One more for good measure.