During The Vintage Project's hiatus, many things fell by the wayside. I realized that one of those things was the Cocktail Hour post for the mid-season finale of Mad Men. Since I'm getting the chance to make certain things right, I'm going to make this one right - right now. There was no way I was just going to gloss over this one - ESPECIALLY since both the cocktail and the episode were ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!
If you somehow missed the first episode of the second part of the last season on Sunday (how's that for a mouthful?), and want a little refresher of how things were left, then this is your lucky day! You're welcome.
Megan Draper/Sharon Tate connection, I was hoping that these theories would pan out and incorporate the Manson family, but my real money was on the Moon Landing being featured on this last episode. So when I went in search of our cocktail for the evening, I came across a drink I had never heard of before. The Moonwalk. This was the first drink the Apollo astronauts had once they returned from walking on the moon. I chose this on the off-chance that the landing would take place in this episode (instead of that taking place in the second half of the season)...and I celebrated when this actually came to fruition. It was Perfection- both the timing and the libation! This cocktail is simple (1 oz grapefruit juice, 1 oz Grand Marnier, 3 drops rose water, and bubbly) and is definitely going to be incorporated into my cocktail repertoire going forward!
So now that we have our cocktail situation situated, let's move on to the episode. I know that I rave about Mad Men on a regular basis, but this last episode of this split season was seriously amazing. While we got the regular office politics and drama, what really set this episode apart were the things that brought us, as well as the characters, together. Within the Mad Men universe, the death of Bertrand Cooper was arguably more significant than the Moon Landing. The wise yet largely peripheral character served a patriarchal role in Sterling Cooper and had some really insightful musings over the years. In this last episode, you see that while he seems pretty hands-off most of the time, he understands that the company is more important than the pettiness and politics that seem to be the focus for many. In his last conversation with Roger he tells him, "I'm a leader. And a leader is loyal to his team." and even though it doesn't make Bert happy, he realizes that there isn't anything that he can do to diffuse the situation between Cutler and Don. "No one has ever come back from leave, not even Napoleon." It is this conversation that makes Roger realize he needs to step in to save Don - and in the process elevate himself from 'boss' to 'leader'. Roger really is a remarkable character! But this is about Bert, so let's continue to...NOT talk about him?
The first character that we saw go in this episode was Megan. Did that hurt? Not at all. I have been waiting for this for some time now. And it seems, so has Don. Megan served a purpose in the beginning but in the last season or so, that purpose was gone. Did we need to be reminded the differences between Megan and Betty? No. Did we need to see that Don was desperately trying to be modern and relevant? Not in the least. Did anyone want to hear her whining? Negatory. So buh-bye Megan! Not sorry to see you go at all. But it was kind of sad to watch a marriage end over the phone without either one actually saying it was over...
With the breakup of Don and Megan's marriage we saw two people parting ways, but shortly thereafter we saw millions of people being brought together. With the Moon Landing. My generation has never experienced being part of something like the collective mourning experienced during the JFK or MLK assassinations (both of which were written into prior seasons) or the collective awe and inspiration of the Moon Landing. We, superficially, have been brought together and remember where we were when Princess Diana died or the OJ verdict was read. We live in a time of instant gratification, where literally EVERYTHING - important and impactful or not - is at our fingertips. Watching families (whether they be blood or by some other construct) come together in front of a television set and watch the marvels of both science and man's achievement was pretty magical. Watching the first man walk on the moon brought the country as well as the world together. And the breaking apart of two people was quickly forgotten.
The juxtaposition of Roger coming together with his estranged family to watch and the Sterling Cooper 'family' on a business trip sitting together while Bert was watching with his housekeeper made me both sad and instantly I knew we were going to lose him. It was just a gut feeling. The fact that he didn't have any type of family to come together with for such a monumental event was heartbreaking.
After everyone was notified of Bert's passing, the partners met in the office and while Cutler had issues with him, his first words to Roger were, "My condolences, he was a giant." And, truly, he was! The somber nature of the scene is lightened a bit by Roger's trademark humor. "Every time an old man talks about Napoleon, you know he's going to die."
If Bert's last conversation with Roger hadn't truly hit home at the time, it certainly did after his death. Bert was the glue that held Sterling Cooper together and Roger knew it. He was old school and represented the spirit of the company as it once was. When it was good. When politics and mergers and self-interest hadn't been the driving force. To me, it felt like definitive lines had been drawn in Bert's passing - Us vs Them. The original firm and the outsiders that had come in with their own agenda. With Bert gone, I think Roger felt like it was now his responsibility to make things right and look out for both his people and his company. "Cutler's not going to stop until the firm is just Harry and the computer. That means everybody goes. And you know it." Roger was right - and his next move saved the company. Selling 51% to McCann and staying on as President meant the company, and Don, were safe from smarmy Cutler and that all the partners were going to see a very nice bump to their bank accounts. Win-win! That move solidified Roger as the new patriarch of SC&P.
As a fitting tribute, Don saw Bertrand Cooper one last time in a musical number - a heartwarming, and tear jerking song and dance that may lend some credence to the not-so-heartwarming speculations that Don has a brain tumor... But it was still amazing for a character like Bert to get this kind of a sendoff!
I know this was VERY late Kittens, but I've got one more episode to catch up on before Sunday's new episode. So I'm going to have to get cracking!
Until next time, Kittens, may I recommend having a Moonwalk while you wait?