Fans of TV rejoiced last night with the return of the hit drama series, ′Mad Men′ on AMC-TV. The episode, Severance′ is the first of the final semi-season for the ground-breaking series. Many questions remain unanswered and the creators did well in selecting the 1969 song, ′Is That All There Is′ by Peggy Lee. Played at both the beginning and end of the episode, it certainly makes us viewers wonder, is this all there is? Will the final episodes be worth the investment in time and soul?
As we had left things before the break, the ad agency Sterling-Cooper is minus Bertram Cooper, who died while watching Neil Armstrong step foot upon the Moon. I′m still upset that Robert Morse didn′t win an Emmy for his performance, and song-and-dance routine, in the last episode, ′Waterloo′. With his death, another senior partner, Jim Cutler, moves to toss our anti-hero, Donald Draper, out of the company. Roger Sterling cuts a deal to sell the company under conditions to keep Don around for at least 5 more years.
So, ′Severance′ begins with the old, ′alley-cat′ Don Draper casting sexy models for a Wilkinson ad. His second wife, Megan, is divorcing him, so he′s running around with models and also seeing a TWA stewardess. Nobody can objectify a woman as a sex toy better than Don. The ad strategy is to show a model disrobing a for coat in such a manner to prove how smooth her skin is thanks to Wilkinson shaving blades.
Peggy Olsen and Joan Harris are busy trying to help one of their clients, Topaz Pantyhose, compete with L′eggs. Don suggests getting help from their new parent company, McGann, to market the product under the Macy′s brand name in department stores. But the team from McGann treats Joan with total disrespect. Meanwhile, Don decides to contact a former client and lover, Rachel Katz of Menken′s department store. He learns that she died just days before. Another old wound upon his soul opens up.
The McGann company reeks some payback on sales manager Ken Cosgrove, firing him after he had quit them to rejoin Sterling Cooper, taking his Birdseye account in the process. Cosgrove′s father-in-law is retiring from Dow-Corning and Ken′s wife wants her husband to retire as well to focus on writing fiction. Ken seems both torn and relieved about being dismissed. He winds up having the last laugh, turning down his severance pay as he takes a new job with Dow, in effect becoming the contact point for advertising. He warns Roger Sterling that he will be a difficult client.
Don continues to drift though his next metamorphosis, by way of involving himself with a waitress who reminds him of Rachel. The final blow comes when he meets with Rachel′s sister and she rejects his interest in how Rachel spent her life after dumping him. Don walks away feeling like he is two-inches tall. Oh well, luckily for him there is another casting call for the Wilkinson ad. Back in the Ladies Room, Joan reacts to her disrespect by going shopping while Peggy Olsen goes on a date. The episode ends during the Wilkinson casting call and another chorus by Peggy Lee.
So is that all there is to the beginning of the second-half of Season 7 of Mad Men? Over the next few weeks, w will have the final episodes of this series. Don Draper seems exhausted and ready for some horrible conclusion. Or is there still some hope of redemption? Will his tattered soul be saved? If nothing else, it fills the gap before AMC-TV unleashes its next big series, ′Fear The Walking Dead′, which should start off well with a ready-made audience of some 12+ million viewers.