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'Mad Men' Mid-Season Finale Recap: 'Waterloo'

By Ezekiel Hernandez,
We'll have to wait until 2015 to see the second half of this gripping final season

We start the show with Bertram Cooper reveling in the television images of the Apollo 11 launch. That puts the show in July of 1969. The moon mission was heavily on the minds of all of the cast throughout the episode.


Image courtesy of Peter West/ACE/INFphoto.com

Ted Chaough caused a scare with some clients as he was flying around in his small single-engine plane. After teasing that he wants to die, he takes a sudden dive with his plane by turning off the engine.

Jim Cutler gets on the phone with Ted, who is very distraught and drinking. He says he's tired of the advertising business and wants to get out. Cutler tries to talk him out of it, but Chaough hangs up.

Don Draper gets pulled aside by his secretary, who hands him an important letter. It's a letter from the agency's attorneys saying that he is in breach of his contract. Don is confused and shocked. His secretary tries to console him by kissing him and vowing herself to be by his side. Don says to get his lawyer on the phone.

Draper storms out and calls out all of the partners into the lobby to confront them. First he goes up to Jim Cutler saying he can't drive him out of the agency he helped create. Cutler asks him to take a swing at him, to make the process much easier.

Cutler was clearly behind the letter to the attorneys, and some of the other partners like Sterling and Cooper had no idea the motions against Don were being taken. Cutler charged that Draper walking into the Phillip Morris meeting put him in breach of the new stipulations he agreed to when he came back.

Draper sternly orders up a vote on the spot. Joan Harris and Cutler vote to hold Don in breach, while Pete Campbell, Sterling and Cooper stand behind Don.

Back at her apartment, Peggy Olson wonders out loud whether the astronauts will make it back. This leaves a young kid from her apartment complex deeply disturbed. He shares with her his problems and cries on her shoulder. Peggy and Don and Pete had been working hard on honing their pitch to Burger Chef. The day of the big pitch was upon them, despite Don's problems with the partners.

Don isn't sure about his fate, and it leaves him wondering whether he should even show up to deliver the pitch to Burger Chef in Indiana. Peggy and Don had been working with such chemistry lately, and Peggy tries to offer him words of encouragement.

Don phones his wife Megan back in L.A. She seems as distant as ever with him. When Don reveals to her that the partners want him gone, she gives no reassurance of her support. Megan simply says goodbye and hangs up. In such little words a massive rift between the two is very apparent.

Don decides to make the trip to Indiana anyway. At the hotel, Harry Crane, Pete, Peggy and Don sit to watch the astronaut crew make the moon landing. We get a montage of cuts between all the characters sitting in their own living rooms, seemingly sharing the moment. While Roger Sterling is sitting with his family on the couch, he receives a phone call with word that Bertram Cooper has died.

Don calls his daughter Sally up to talk. She sounds cynical about the moon landing. Don tries to cheer her up, but the two just say good night. The disinterested Sally goes out into the night with a young boy she had just met, and kisses him. Her mom, Betty Draper had just been talking about how fast she was growing up and how she's beginning to put on makeup.

Sterling, Harris and Cutler meet up in the dead of night at the office to console each other at the news of Cooper's passing. Cutler tries to take advantage of the situation, saying Don has lost Cooper's vote. This makes Sterling upset and the two begin to argue with each other.

Sterling calls Don up to inform him about Cooper. Don knows he's been compromised with one less vote. The ad pitch was the next morning and Don goes to Peggy saying he wants to back out and leave her to present. Peggy seems unsure of herself, and the two exchange encouraging words to each other and end the night with mutual reassurance.

The next day, the SCP team delivers their pitch to Burger Chef executives. At first, the presentation is tense, but Don gives a flattering introduction and Peggy delivers a clear vision of what a great TV ad should be for them.

Don walks up to his apartment back in New York and has Sterling waiting for him. Sterling reveals to him he wants to sell the firm off to a bigger conglomerate, to keep Don on board. He also wants to cut loose Cutler and Chaough, who have been a hindrance to Don. Sterling says he's already in the middle of talks on the sale.

The next morning all of the partners meet and they all seem to have an announcement to make. Cutler wants to inform all the employees about the death of Cooper. Chaough announces that he wants out of the business, and Sterling says that would be ill advised, because the firm is about to be acquired. He makes a solid case to the partners that everyone's shares in the agency will instantly be worth millions if the deal goes through. This has Joan Harris convinced. After verbal sparring between Don, Roger, and Jim about Don's status, the partners vote unanimously to favor the sale -- it's a lot of money to leave on the table.

If the deal goes through however, Don must remain as Creative Director, according to Sterling. On the way out of the meeting, Peggy stops Don to say that they won the Burger Chef account. The two hug.

Don walks downstairs to his office, where he has a hallucination/vision of Cooper approaching him, singing a show tune and dancing along with a few girls. Cooper leaves Don with a musical message about the moon, saying that "The best things in life are free." This leaves Don standing in the lobby in tears as we fade to black.

Thumbnail image credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

 
 

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