Every week, Aaron Cohen (@UnlikelyWords) writes a recap of Mad Men for his blog Unlikely Words, and I illustrate something from the episode to go with it. Here’s Aaron’s recap for season 7 episode 11:
Episode title: “Time and Life.” (Time Life Building) I’m exhausted and this might be sloppier/less informative than usual.
Episode timing: No clue! When are applications due for Greenwich Country Day?
So, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) directed this episode. I think this was his first. There were a few really great shots (Pete and Ken in the opening scene, Don, Roger, Ted, Joan having a drink in Don’s office, and the partners after the Hobart meeting.), but I don’t know if that was his doing.
Well, here we go again. The agency is changing! Ohnoes. It’s as if this hasn’t happened once a season since… I don’t know. The agency is getting adopted, absorbed, eaten, swallowed, dissolved by McCann Erickson. “They waited so long, I thought we were safe.” The Partners see this as a bad thing, McCann tries to spin it as something good. “I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” I don’t know what to think! From Ted’s perspective, someone else will be in charge and he’ll be able to just work. Roger’s losing his agency and namesake, and Joan, as far as I can tell, is thinking only about that meeting from earlier in the season where Peggy and her were sexually harassed. “Need you to be the voice of the bright side.” “For the first time I feel like whatever happens is supposed to happen.” “They don’t know who they’re dealing with.” I’m not really sure what Don thinks except he generally does not work well with a boss so we can guess. It just feels redundant, this storyline, and I wish there could be some tension and something happen, without it being more agency upheaval.
(I think Harry Crane was somehow a partner at one of the previous agencies and decided not to sell or something, this makes me chuckle.)
The Partners come up with a plan to keep the agency together by moving to California with the conflicting accounts. “We’ve done this before.” They all feel pretty, pretty, pretty good about it, butttttt Hobart cuts them off and says they’re coming to McCann and that’s it. (“I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” This was just one meeting in tonight’s episode that did not go as planned. Roger and Pete try to convince Ken to move with them. Pete and Trudi try to convince Greenwich Country Day to accept their daughter. (This was funny in that the headmaster kept giving different reasons why he wouldn’t accept her, but the real reason is a centuries-old feud between the Campbells and the McDonalds.) And The Partners telling the agency that they were being absorbed, and them being comically ignored. Basically, no one’s buying what they’re selling anymore. They’re out of touch, which is about the worst thing you can be as an advertising agency. It seems sudden for them to have lost it so quickly, maybe they’ll get it back at McCann.
The other seemingly big storyline was Peggy telling Stan about having a child. Pete sees a kid hug Peggy and gets a look. He remembers. I thought the baby was living with Peggy’s sister at one point, but that is hazy. “You do what you want with your children, I do what I want with mine.” “I don’t know, but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know, because you’re not supposed to know, or you can’t go on with your life.” “You don’t know lots of things about lots of people.” Peggy’s mad at that lady for yelling at her, but won’t let Stan judge her for the decisions she makes. It’s complicated and I guess I don’t have a ton to say about it.
I say it every other week, or maybe more, but I can’t get over the fact that the “Don Draper is really Dick Whitman, and shh, no one knows,” storyline isn’t a storyline anymore. There are subtle references every now and then, but it’s just not a source of tension anymore. Why?
Don and Roger messy at the bar was fun. Roger mentions how there will never be anymore Sterlings because his daughter is his only child, like he was. “No more Sterling Cooper, and no more Sterlings.” Obviously, the loss of the Sterling Cooper agency hurts for this reason. Don says something about aspiring to be like Shakespeare or something, and Roger says this drive is what he envies about Don. Don says he envied Roger not having to have this drive. Just a quick little scene about being born rich and born poor, I guess.
Lastly, if you’re still reading, when Don starts to tell The Partners about moving to the west coast, he shuts the curtains. Joan tells him to open them to keep the calm. This struck me as a nod toward transparency being the right way. I wonder if this is a recurring theme I haven’t noticed before, or if it’s a new theme to keep an eye on.