Mad Men: “Severance” Season 7 Episode 8 Review

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Well, welcome to the ’70s. For a mid-season premiere seemingly so concerned with both the past and the future, entering a new decade feels right. It allows us to be nostalgic and notice just how far these characters have come before we find out where they are going to go.

As with most Mad Men premieres, “Severance” does a lot of table setting. Don, Peggy, and Roger are all very single, and at first, they all seem to be enjoying it. We first truly catch up with Don and Roger as they have dinner with beautiful women, with Don recounting a story from his childhood (something he wasn’t able to do not too long ago).

But Don’s fun is interrupted when he has a dream about Rachel Katz, one of his old flames from way back in the day when he was still married to Betty. He later finds out that she very recently died.

All of this seems to be pointing to an exploration of Don’s love life for these last seven episodes. As Cooper sang in last year’s mid-season finale, “the best things in life are free.” The time has come for Mad Men to decide how the Don Draper story ends. “Severance” starts that process by revisiting some of the earliest stuff we ever saw Don doing. With Don’s work life seemingly well-balanced, it’s time for the show to explore his life outside of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Don attempting to rekindle old flames seems like an indication of things to come.

Peggy, meanwhile, does the exact opposite and looks outward for love. The date she went on here was fun to watch mostly because of how genuinely it was written. It’s rare to have purely good things happen to these characters, but Peggy had a great date, no matter how much she chalks it up to too much wine the next morning.

But “Severance” wasn’t just about Don and Peggy’s love lives. Ken Cosgrove is rarely at the center of attention, but as the show prepares to say goodbye, it makes sense to start wrapping up some of the supporting players’ stories sooner to allow more time for, well, Don and Peggy.

Ken was unapologetically fired in the mid-season premiere. But hey, it’s not Ken if he can’t turn the situation into a positive one. After getting screwed by SCDP, he finds a job as the Head of Advertising for one of their clients. That means that after years of playing second fiddle, not to mention losing an eye, Ken will finally get to call the shots at SCDP. He just had to stop working there to do it. If this is the characters’ ending, it is a happy one.

And endings is what these final seven episodes are all about. This half of the season has been labelled as “The End of an Era.” It most certainly is. “Severance” wasn’t the most energetic start to that, but it doesn’t need to be. The new status quo has been established, meaning Matt Weiner and co. can start playing in it next week. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

– Maggie Siff only appeared in a dream sequence as Rachel Katz, but it was well worth it.

– Poor Joan receiving sexist comments from another woman. You just keep doing you, Joan. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should dress.

– As for Roger’s mustache, it has to go.

– We’re in April 1970 now, as confirmed by Nixon addressing the nation about the Vietnam War expanding into Cambodia.

– No Betty, Sally, or Megan this week. Maybe next time, but you never know with this show.

 

By Matt Dougherty

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