Since McCann’s acquisition of SC&P each of the principles, with the exception of Peggy, are by most earthlings’ standards stinking rich. And as John Dos Passos warned in his USA Trilogy (featured in Diana the waitress’s pocket in the second scene), this has come at the cost of their humanity. The episode’s most gruesome severing of all, and I think the one Matthew Weiner really intends for us to reflect on, is an internal one. All the characters are alienated from their own personal stories, the progress they made over the last two seasons abandoned and left to rot.

In no particular order:

Ted Chaough, the family man who once fled New York to escape an affair, now has an apartment in the city where he hosts cocktail parties for Vogue models.

Don Draper, who up until last episode appeared a reformed man, is on fuck overload. His life is emptier than ever.

Roger Sterling, “Leader”, has consigned his predecessor’s example to the rubbish heap, firing long term colleagues without batting an eyelid. This was the man who described his old nemesis Jim Cutler’s plans for SC&P-as-it-was as “Everyone goes”. An insight which spurred Roger to sell the company to McCann in an effort to protect it. Now he couldn’t give a shit.

Joan Harris, a woman who was learning to trust other women and to play the business game on her own terms, is drowning her sorrows in dresses and demeaning other women along the way. (Many fans will be glad to see that she and Don have resumed an at least cordial relationship, but I can’t help wondering if this is cash related too. From Joan’s perspective – something I may go into at a later date – she still has good reasons to be angry with Don. The relatively pleasant scene between both of them is, I’m afraid, probably indicative of yet more unfinished business. More karma yet uncleaned.)

Peter Campbell describes his current situation thusly: “I thought I was really changing my life when I went to California. Of course, now it sorta feels like a dream, but at the time it felt so real. [....] Look, here I am!”

That’s because it was real Pete, not like the reality distorting bubble of money you’re currently floating around in.

While Kenny’s story, its resolution as grim as any of the above, felt a bit pat this time around, I applaud its unpleasantness. It doesn’t just illustrate how having power can see people acquiesce to their baser urges, but demonstrates exactly what can happen when you sever or deny a part of yourself, as SC&P has just done – it comes back to bite you on your ass.

Much has been made of Roger’s ridiculous moustache, but it’s key to the whole thing. Mr. Sterling isn’t a serious man on the path of self actualisation, but a comedy general straight out of a Carry On film. And this along with all the other bad taste 70s accoutrements the show’s wearing right now, all that lurid grotesquery, is in the end not funny but disturbing. It’s a warped world, with a rupture running right through it. It was a violent, horrible episode, its totem product one of the world’s most successful razors – the kind of account that can split your soul in two.

It’s made Don Drapers of them all.

*PFC Dinkins, A Tale of Two Cities

3 Responses to “Mad Thoughts Season 7.2 – Severance: Dying doesn’t make you whole*”

  1. Cass Says:

    Glad to see more mindless Mad Men. I enjoyed shesanastronaut when it was around. I hope you do end up writing that piece on Joan. I like that certain aspects of her old life are proving inescapable this season, even now that she’s a high-powered millionaire.

    That being said, I do have a special request: can you avoid spoilery images before the jump? I only ask because I’m often a week or so behind the Mad Men party bus, but I check mindlessones pretty often for new SILENCE!

  2. Cass Says:

    Errrr, that is to say, I like the realism of the narrative. I don’t like that it actually happens that way for women in real life.

  3. amypoodle Says:

    It’s tricky, Cass, because I want these posts to be short enough that there needn’t be a jump, and, well, the first one was pretty much *only* images. I hate to say this because I do give a shit about being nonspoilery and not screwing things up for people but I think you might just have to scroll down past these posts, eyes closed, going LALALALALA!

    I miss the shit out of she’s an astronaut, but the thing was Adam’s idea, and he’s since decided it was a bad one, that we should have always focussed our Mad Men related efforts on Mindless Ones, etc. There were/are reasons for this, but I’m exhausted after a long day at work and don’t have the energy to get into it now. He could probably explain better than me anyway.

    One Adam related thing we should all do though is encourage him to post about the new season of Mad Men. It’s the final season for God’s sake. You’d think he might have stuff to say, eh?

    The Joan post already exists but it needs serious editing. Will get around to it at some point over the next week or so though, promise.

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