Tonight’s Mad Men was out of this world in more ways than one as the Apollo 11 mission framed the mid-season 7 finale titled “Waterloo.”
The mission to put the first man on the moon left the country on edge – would they make it back to Earth? They needed to, or else Burger Chef would be put on halt for a year due to the tragedy. Even for the people of SC&P, the stakes for this space journey were high.
At the start of the episode Don gets a letter from the agency’s attorneys noting he breached his contract by meeting with Commander Cigarettes. His secretary is more outwardly upset than he is, and her emotions appear to get the better of her: She plants one on his lips. Don warns they can’t be romantic, and she agrees. “Not right now,” anyway.
He goes straight to Cutler, who calls him a “bully and a drunk. A football player in a suit.”
A bully who will get his way. Don summons the partners because the letter had all of their names on it, but it turns out it was only Cutler who knew about it. He acted on his own because of the breach of contract. A vote strikes down the motion, and Don stays – but not without some scars from this attack.
Throughout these first seven episodes, Don and Megan’s relationship has been on the rocks. This episode was no different: Don places a call to Megan and speaks about the situation at SC&P. He thinks the partners want him to move on, and Megan encourages him to do so. He sees this as an opportunity to move to Los Angeles, but her hesitation to agree is not a good sign about their future. What appears to occur is a non-verbal break up, and the two end the phone call with tears in their eyes.
We watch all of the characters tune in for the live moon landing (fun fact: over 125 million people watched it live when it actually happened), but the fun stops when Roger gets a call and learns that his friend and business partner Bert Cooper has died. He, Cutler, and Joan meet at the office briefly to discuss steps forward, and Cutler uses the opportunity to remind them that Don needs to go, too.
Troubled by Cutler’s consistent attempts to get Don out, Roger calls his friend to warn him of what’s going on. With his business life on the line, Don tells Peggy that she has to give the Burger Chef presentation because he appears to be halfway out the door.
The presentation arrives and Peggy pulls it off flawlessly.
Back in New York, Roger presents to Don the offer from McCann to buy the agency. SC&P would be a subsidiary and Roger would be president of Sterling Cooper. McCann is interested in this proposal because they don’t want to compete with SC&P for a car. Don resists this idea because he doesn’t want to work with McCann, and worries that Roger won’t be able to get the partners to agree to sell the company anyway. There’s one more issue, which is that Don doesn’t want to do the business side of things anymore.
Roger presents the idea to the partners, sans Harry, who is officially not a partner, and after some persuading, everyone votes in favor of the idea. Don had to work convincing Ted a little bit, because he had wanted out of the ad world.
As Don returns to his office (and hears from Peggy that they got Burger Chef), Bert comes to him in a vision and begins to sing “The Best Things In Life Are Free,” with several
dancers secretaries performing with him. With lyrics like “the moon belongs to everyone” and “love can come to everyone,” there were several subtle references to the episode and the series on a whole. It was a bizarre, funny, light-hearted moment that will be remembered long after the show ends.
The episode closes with Bert’s performance, and leaves us wishing we don’t have to wait until next year for the final seven episodes.
– At the beginning of the episode Sally has the hots for Sean, the pretty son of one of Betty’s friends. But it’s his brother, Neil, who gets a kiss from Sally when they’re out watching the moon from a telescope. She really came into her own this episode, assuming the posture of her mother and the unpredictability of her father.
– Peggy’s got her eye on someone too: Nick the repairman. At least it seemed that way in the beginning, but nothing came of it. Maybe next year? Also, her friendship with the young neighbor Julio was on display during “Waterloo.” Viewers and Peggy learned that he’s going to be moving away with his mom, and it left Peggy visibly sad.