Mad Men: “Lost Horizon” Season 7 Episode 12 Review

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There’s a terrifying moment right at the start of “Lost Horizon” that sets the tone for an unsettling hour as we head toward a what may be a grim conclusion. I’m talking about when Don hears the wind whistling from the window in his new office at McCann Erickson and presses against a pane that isn’t as secure as the rest. Is this the avenue for Don’s fall, the same one we’ve been watching at the start of every episode in animated form?

Don’s story tonight felt like a wakeup call. His ability to tap into human nature to create advertising was unparalleled at the variations of Sterling Cooper over the years. But at McCann, everyone is just like him. Don Draper is no longer a name clients associate with quality because his name no longer exists. McCann owns him, and a boardroom full of other men just as good as him. For everything he’s sacrificed over the years building himself and revealing his true nature, Dick Whitman is, once again, without an identity.

So he runs, just as he did after Korea. He blindly races halfway across the country to Wisconsin to find Diana, the only woman he seems to have any interest in these days. He finds an angry ex-husband who’s tired of men coming to his door looking for a woman who did so much damage on his life. Don is again reduced to nothing special, just one of the many that fell for Diana.

Where Don goes from here is a mystery. He picks up a hitchhiker heading to St. Paul and says “I can head that way.” He has no direction in mind. He can become anything.

Joan’s battle for equal opportunity was far less abstract. She threatens McCann with lawsuits and a feminist uprising that should feel empowering but is too straightforward to match the tone of Don’s story that the episode feels somewhat divided. It’s a minor quibble, but Joan’s story the past few episodes has felt removed from the rest of the series. Simply because she’s a woman, being absorbed by McCann means a whole new set of problems for her.

But then, like Don, Joan is also having a struggle of identity. She spent over a decade building her reputation among Roger, Cooper, Don, and the others. Now she’s in an office so big that it’s a welcome surprise to run into a friendly face on the elevator. Her reputation has been washed away.

However, through Joan’s story, Mad Men continues to reveal how little things have changed since the ’60s and ’70s. If the show were in the present, Joan would still work in a world where women aren’t paid equally to men. Since its pilot, the series has had us comparing the past to the present. But perhaps the point of Mad Men is that time is irrelevant and that different people will always face different struggles.

On a much lighter note, Roger and Peggy shared some exceptional scenes this episode as they both seem to have trouble leaving the old SC&P office. While Roger just doesn’t want to give up the company he built, Peggy wants to get out of there, but McCann seems to be struggling to find her an office. These two rarely interact, but when they do it’s usually gold. This was no exception, as Peggy donned roller skates while Roger played an organ. Even while characters struggle with their own identities, Mad Men still finds time to get its characters drunk and let them be their goofy selves.

And now, we have just two episodes left. There was just enough new and old in “Lost Horizons” to give it a dire, nostalgic final-season feel. Mad Men hasn’t been hitting us over the head with the fact that it’s ending, which I appreciate. Instead, it’s asking big questions about its characters in new ways. That’s what has made the show so successful for eight years. What better celebration is there of a great series than to just keep doing what made it great? Well, maybe vermouth and roller skates. Grade: A


Some Other Notes:

– After the window incident, Don stares out at a plane leaving a trail directly across the spire of the Empire State Building. It looks like a cross. Is advertising or New York City intended to be his tombstone?

– Appropriately, as many characters seem to be back where they started, McCann’s offices look more like Sterling Cooper’s from back in the day than the super modern feel of SCDP/SC&P’s office.

– Don got another visit from the ghost of Bert Cooper, which was laced with all sorts of wisdom and lunacy, as per usual.

– Get it girl. #peggyforever


By Matt Dougherty

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