The final season of Mad Men began Sunday night. Instead of a long, drawn out recap (we'll save that for the finale) let's take take a look at the best moments from this past week's episode, "Severance."
Best POV trick and opening scene: The episode opens with a stunningly gorgeous young woman in a chinchilla coat playing submissive sex kitten as Don gives out instructions in a cold transactional manner. Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" begins to play and the shot shifts and widens to a roomful of ad execs. The exchange turns out to be an audition, sending home a sweet multitiered message about the selling of sex and the animalistic drive for masculine power, complete with a furry beautiful creature to be toyed with and captured. The shot lays the groundwork for other scenes involving female humiliation and subjugation.
Perfect episode theme song: Contentment is a foreign emotion to our protagonist. Don is never happy with what he's got. That aforementioned Peggy Lee tune captures the existential ennui and emptiness of Don Draper like none other.
Funniest insult of the week: We have a tie. “Mr. Potato Head here can relax” made me literally laugh out loud. Art from Topaz perfectly described what Harry Crane's giant dome looked like in that moment. The thick framed glasses did you in, Mr. Crane. “You know how great you’re gonna look on a book jacket?!” Pete to Ken, when talking about Ken having more time to write his novel now that he’s been fired. Pete is a terrible person, but comes off as an oblivious buffoon rather than a mean-spirited asshole.
Comeback of the week: “So what you’re saying is, I don't dress the way you do because I don’t look like you. And that’s very, very true.” Harsh and hurtful words from Joan to Peggy. The guys from McCann aren’t exactly as welcoming and accepting of females in the advertising world as the former SCDP. Joan is used to being objectified and not taken seriously, and Peggy shouldn’t blame Joan’s outfits for it (how is a woman’s her...let’s say, stature, supposed to dress?), but to take a shot at Peggy, who has had her share of male suitors, is a low blow.
The return of Don Juan Draper: A parade of model-hot women show up on dates, at auditions and for late-night booty calls. They may not be filling the void in since his divorce, cut they seem to help ease the pain.
Don hallucination of the week: Don has a history of seeing, or imagining things that aren’t there or didn’t happen. Tonight’s installment was Rachel Katz, the now deceased former head of Menken’s department store and mistress of Draper. Rachel was the one affair that Don seemed to actually care about, until she smartly attuned Don was never going to leave his family and run away with her. At her wake, her sister tells Don that Rachel “lived the life she wanted to live. She had everything.” Saying those words to Don, a man who now has nothing resembling a family, stings deep.
Best upper lip: The best look will forever and always go to Stan, who’s perfect beard is accompanied by a sweet feathered, parted haircut and ascot. However, one could not write about this episode without highlighting perhaps the best mustache in the history of television. That goes to Roger Sterling’s lip sweater. My goodness that thing is amazing. It makes me sad John Slattery doesn’t sport that sucker in real life.
Don hookup of the week: The man has a freaking call service to keep track of his dalliances. Since the experience with the waitress left me fairly uncomfortable, we’re going to go with the stewardess who spilled the wine on his carpet.
Date of the week: Peggy. It’s always good to keep your passport in your desk at work to avoid drunken, unplanned trips to Paris.