Mad Men: “The Monolith” Season 7 Episode 4 Review

Photo Credit:http://www.amctv.com/shows/mad-men/episodes/season-7/the-monolith

It’s about time Mad Men Season 7 took off. With Don returning to work but fighting a very new status quo, we got the best episode of the season so far.

Late in The Monolith, Don is presented a choice: he can either follow the same path that brought him to this point, or button up and rebuild himself from the ground up. From the very beginning, we’ve known that Don is great at his job. Then Betty divorced him, with good reason, and he’s never really recovered from that loss of structure in his life. At the end of last season, he was put on leave, but was also keen to show his children the truth. Just as Don was ready to rebuild his personal life, work dealt him a serious blow by essentially demoting him. This episode was not apologetic in showing us just how different Don’s work life is about to become.

Yes, his name is still on the building, but now he has to answer to people who’s names aren’t. Peggy, naturally, is his boss for this particular project. In a switch that has seemed inevitable since she started climbing the corporate ladder, Don struggles with having to answer to his protege. As we all would, of course. Don’s arc in this episode was relatable in a more obvious way than we’re used to on Mad Men.

He seems to have fallen farther than ever before, stealing a bottle of vodka from Roger’s office and spending the rest of the day slurring about a Mets game he would never make it to. Freddy Rumsen appears to be the voice of reason for Season 7. The next morning, he picks Don up, slaps in across the face, and tells him he needs to do the work he hasn’t had to do in years if he wants the level of respect he once had. So that’s what he does. Don walks in at the end of the episode in a nice new suit, on time, and tells Peggy his work will be in by lunch. This could be the avenue for Don to get his life together, having to rework his way up after the damage he’s done to himself. It was great material, even if it lacked some subtlety.

As Don reacclimates himself into the office, Roger deals with some family drama. His daughter Margaret has run off to a group of religious hippies in the country, leaving her husband and child behind. This forces Roger to be responsible, driving with his ex-wife Mona to try and get their daughter out of there.

Of course Mona’s methods don’t work and she drives off in a fit, but Roger doesn’t mind staying to slowly try and bring Margaret home. Roger’s adventures with hippies are always a blast, as he indulges in their behavior but never loses his snark toward their lifestyle. That’s what separates Roger from Margaret, he knows when to go back to his real life. It was tragic watching him try so hard to be responsible and bring his daughter back, only to fail so pathetically. It’s brilliant how Roger tries to appear so grown up but never manages to sell it.

This episode gave our three main players a ton of great material. Don and Peggy played off of each other as flawlessly as ever, while Roger had an off-the-wall excursion. Don being back in the office helped a lot to make this entry feel like classic Mad Men, while also tweaking the status quo pretty violently. It was a winning episode through and through. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

 

 

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