Don’t lose faith in this season

 Posted by on April 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm  Matthew Weiner, Season 7
Apr 142015

Matthew Weiner and Roberta Lipp I'M FEELING THE FAITH

Matthew Weiner and Roberta Lipp

We have not jumped the shark. New Business was a tough one, but with the split-season, consider it an episode 2. And many of those have been the toughest.

Matt always always pays off his seasons. Always. And he has assured us that he will do it again–that we’ll be able to trace everything back to the season opener. And, I suspect, as he has also always said, to the pilot as well.

Fear not, Basketcases. Things will move. There will be a gratifying (and also probably an equally confusing and frustrating) series finale. A payoff we want; a payoff we shall see.


  62 Responses to “Don’t lose faith in this season”

  1. I have faith! Mad Men is Matt Weiner’s story and I want to see how the story he is telling ends – on his terms. Maybe the ending will be challenging but I am confident that it will be a lot more interesting than anything I can dream up.

    Can’t wait ’til Sunday!

  2. That was my reaction as well, when I saw lots of unhappy tweets about the episode — that this is always how it is! The early episodes always seem odd or confusing or slow, and then somehow it all comes together as the season progresses. And then one day I watch those odd/confusing/slow episodes again and have a brand new appreciation for them. I’m keeping the faith, too. If there’s any TV writer out there I trust, it’s Matt Weiner.

    • This could also be an example of the disservice the split-season was to the final season. It fucked with the momentum and forced Matt to re-start.

      • Yes, the f’cking split season. Everyone has to restart and find their footing again. It’s a waste of episode time and a real disservice to the show and the audience.

      • He took their money, then he had to do what they said.

        Well, I’m pretty sure that at least one or two of the best things in life are free.

      • Exactly! I have faith!

    • Great article find!

      Mildred Pierce is one of my favorite films of all time! I missed the connection between Mildred and Diana! Like Diana, Mildred also loses a child to sickness/death and the other child she technically ‘abandons’ (because her daughter turns into a C U Next Tuesday!).

  3. I am curious about the exchange between Peggy and Stan. When she told him Pissa was a hustler and she would never hire her back and Stan asked Peggy if she was mad at him for liking Pissa…and then he is in his crib with Elaine and remarks Pissa liked his work.

    He made a face…
    When Peggy found out he was fooling around with Pissa she made a face…

    Am I wanting Peggy and Stan to get together so much that I am reading something into these faces??

    I know Mini’s character is not really named Pissa but it fits better than whateverthehellshewascalled.

    • I think there is much more to that whole thing than meets the eye.. Like Stan wants more out of life. He’s a real artist and he knows it.. He is also not satisfied with his girlfriend anymore…did anyone else notice that she mispronounced “Guernica”…That was not an accident on this show..he’s ready to move on… I think but I’m wrong a lot..

      • Now that you mention it, I did notice her mispronunciation. Stan feels she is not his equal, intellectually or artistically; he is indeed ready to move on.

        • Actually, I had the exact opposite feeling, as in he realizes how good she is to him and how supportive she is,, let’s go take those pictures, etc. I have found in my life that being in the same profession sometimes leads to more conflict. Of course, I’m sure both of our opinions probably say more about us than it does the story

      • This to me was as sad as Kenny not leaving and going to go write.

        In the last two seasons Stan has been love! Happily in love with his off screen gf.

        He is now valuing that love less than some ephemeral outside artistic appreciation.

        Remember he’s not sad that he isn’t in the process of making art, he’s bummed he hasn’t made art in a while: he doesn’t having anything to impress anyone with.

        Pimi came in cultivated his insecurities and planted a poison seed. 🙁

      • I think the whole “She isnt worthy of you” thing was about his gf, but also about his job. I agree Stan wants more out of life, and is unhappy with his career right now. He needs to learn photography just so he can remain relevant, and he doesnt seem to even like it (or do it very well).
        Im wondering if Stan might be moving an an quitting soon. Would love to see Peggys reaction to this.

  4. Is the last episode going to be 2 hours?

    • That would be an amazing treat! I hope so!

    • Weiner said in an interview that the penultimate episode will be 5 minutes longer than the average length, and the final episode will be 10 minutes longer.

  5. I have to remind myself after episodes as frustrating and depressing as “New Business” that the brilliance of Mad Men is the lack of exposition that Matt and Co. rely on. It makes viewers have to think and look at the whole picture by the end of the season. Right now it can feel like a bad episode, but that’s the beauty of the series. It’s one of the many reasons why I will miss Mad Men once it’s all said and done.

  6. we’ll be able to trace everything back to the season opener

    Continuing my thought in response to B.Cooper’s post in the previous thread, what was the first thing we saw Don doing in the season 7 1/2 opener? He’s telling a story from his childhood, Dick Whitman’s childhood. Somewhat bowdlerized (it’s a “boarding house” rather than what it really was), but this is how Don works; his talent is to tell stories drawn from his life re-written into ad copy. I can believe that by the season’s end he’ll be able to do integrate Dick Whitman into his real life i.e. his work.

    Whether he’ll be able to do that in his non-work life I’m not so sure. I find Diana a singularly unconvincing character. I used to think that the problem with the Don/Sylvia affair during Season 6 is that we never saw how it began. But seeing how Don/Diana began isn’t an improvement. I guess that, unlike Don, Matt doesn’t like the beginning of things.

    • Not the mid-season opener. Go back to Time Zones.

      • Are you referring to Neve Campbell saying “The doctor told me ‘They’ll all be dead within a year'”?

        • I’m not referring to anything specific. Matt has said this season, as he has said in other seasons, that everything that unfolds in the season is consistent with what was laid out in the season opener.
          Separately, he’s said (I believe it was to us, in maybe our first interview with him, years back), that everything that unfolded in the Sopranos was laid out in the pilot–we were discussing great pilots. Nothing we’ve seen in Mad Men didn’t have a seed in Smoke Gets in their Eyes.
          I don’t know what’s coming. But wait for it. It’s coming. And when it’s over, re-watch the season opener. And the pilot.

          • Not sure the origin of the quote, but the old line that great art must be both surprising and inevitable applies perfectly to MM.

            When you go back and watch the various season openers, it’s all right there in plain sight. And yet, everything is impossible to predict.

          • While I was growling at the screen this past Sunday in frustration over “too much Diana” and “no Joan, etc.”, I have since found fascination with the episode thanks to reading BoK reviews and comments. Definitely, more than one viewing is needed to fully appreciate the complexity and connectivity of the story.

            While it may not have been fully credible, I for one was absolutely fascinated by the “Members Only” connectivity someone presented on-line following the finale of The Sopranos. That analysis got me interested in delving into the story behind these stories. Thanks to everyone on BofK my Mad Men experience has been just the best.

  7. We’re in good good hands with MW, no question. He will challenge and frustrate, but the man is also a first-rate storyteller and entertainer. No worries here.

    To paraphrase that amazing Twitter-feed, @SCandPartners, where we are today has only the slightest bearing on where we will be at series-end.

  8. BTW – did anyone see the relevance in Diana’s having abandoned a child, as a reference to Peggy?

    Don and Peggy are true soul mates in many ways, and while I think we’re in mass-agreement they should never (ever) sleep together, is there some kind of link between these women, in Don’s eyes? Is that part of his attraction, or a coincidental part of their back-stories?

    • Here’s another connection to Peggy.

      Racine, Wisconsin is the birth home of SC JohnsonA Family Company, the proud makers of Raid, Pledge, Off!, Windex and – wait for it! – . . . . Glo-Coat Floor Finish !!!

      Is that all there is?

      • Omgggg!! That is genius…

      • It really is!

      • Was anyone else thinking, from the phone call from the restaurant, that they were talking about knowing each other in the past, long before we were introduced to her? I thought the wording made it seem like they had met a long time ago, and not in spirit or dreams. I feel their dialog has been confusing and leaving room for a good amount of interpretation.

        • That was my thought too. He might know her from another point in his life.

        • Diana kind of reminds me of the lady on the train — the one he met while escorting the real Don’s corpse, way back in season 1 — the one who suggested Don “forget about that guy in the box…”

      • How about this?
        “For Racine, love closely resembles a physiological disorder. It is a fatal illness with alternating moods of calm and crisis, and with deceptive hopes of recovery or fulfilment (Andromaque, ll. 1441–1448; Phèdre, ll. 767-768), the final remission culminating in a quick death. His main characters are monsters, and stand out in glaring contrast to the regularity of the plays’ structure and versification.”

        • Hmmm, let’s see . . .

          With Diana’s hometown we are introduced to the headquarters of Glo-Coat which also just happens to have the same name as a French dramatist whose plays highlighted themes of classical fatalism, the analysis of motivation and were noted for the well-defined female characters.

          Also while very popular, they were criticized for being too simple, too internal, too human and thus boring.

          That’s an excellent writer’s meta joke if ever there was one. Bravo Monsieur Weiner! Bravo!

          And so it seems Racine does double duty. It’s both a floor wax and a dessert topping!

      • Racine is associated with good news for Don (The Clio) and bad news (Glo Coat bailing, in the wake of the loss of the Lucky Strike account). I wonder if Di’s hometown registered with him, on some level.

      • “Deracination” is a term which means “to be uprooted.” Interesting how freighted with meaning are these details that might seem trivial at first glance.

    • Here’s something to mull over:

      I was thinking about Don in connection to the throw-away line Ted delivered in ‘Severance’ to Don about the fur ad: “Every man has three women in his life. ”

      So – 1) Betty, 2) Megan, 3) ?

      As a twist on the “adage” of how women marrry: first marriage is for love, 2nds marriage is for money, 3rd marriage is friendship, one could say that Don’s marriage to Betty was that he fell in love with her, his 2nd marriage to Megan was to take care of her (money) and the potential 3rd marriage is for friendship….and who would that be, I wonder? Possibly Peggy, who’s his work wife anyway?

      Silly, I know, but what fun!

    • I’m not in agreement with that.

  9. On a tangent to this – it has been my impression that over the seasons the discussion here has been less for S7 – is it possible to determine if MM Recap posts have seen diminishing comments over the seasons?

    • We lost some readership when we had site outages, it has nothing to do with the popularity of the show. Basket of News regularly includes information on viewership.

  10. This season is absolutely fine. This episode was just about confirming what Don *shouldn’t* be doing, just so we can clear the way for what comes after. I actually really enjoyed the compare and contrast between the mess of Don’s old relationship with what happens when he starts a new one. It all seems so soulful, doesn’t it? But it’s more advertising than art, eh?

  11. Thank you for this post. With all the “this episode sucked” and “Megan sucks” and “no one cares about Megan’s family” comments elsewhere I almost felt like I saw a different show than everyone else. And I’ve never felt like MW was trying shove Megan down our throats, her character served a definite purpose that makes sense in the big picture.

    Every season of Mad Men is a slow burn, and the first couple episodes are slow and a little hard to get. I’m sure MW & Co. know what they’re doing. I predict that the series finale will have everyone proclaiming how brilliant it is.

  12. One thing I’ve noticed with myself – When I participate in the Open Thread on episode night, I have trouble watching the show, following the comments and chiming in. I’ve only been participating this way in recent seasons, after adding the HD tier on my cable subscription, which offers the East Coast feed, so I don’t have to wait three extra hours out here in California. My early comments on the Open Thread trend negative, mostly because trying to do three things at once, makes me miss what’s happening on the TV. The show just doesn’t register as well. When I just carefully take in the episode, without distraction, the episode tends to make more sense and my comment tend to as well. (usually, anyway) This isn’t to bash the Open Thread or the season so far. I’m just sharing my experience. Overall, BOK, the fabulous Lipp Sisters and the amazingly astute Basketcases here, have enhanced my understanding and appreciation of Mad Men incredibly!

    • I agree. I’ve been NOT participating in the thread for a few seasons, and I was the better for it. Now I’m doing a bit of live-tweeting. Honestly, it’s fun and all, but it’s not the best way to watch Mad Men.

      • Agreed – the live tweeting is fun in the moment for what it is, but I cannot properly watch the ep while doing it. Always takes a second viewing to catch the primary beats I’d normally catch the first time.

  13. Great post Roberta! The fact that tidbits from S1-S6 play significant roles in S7 shows how well MW had thought out MM from the start. Perhaps the metaphysical and dreamlike vibe of S6-S7 is a reflection of the late 60’s interest in the spiritual and psychedelic (S7.1 poster).

  14. Many times I have heard Matt comment that he did not know the first couple of seasons were going to have follow up seasons. And then the conflict with AMC/Lionsgate over money issues cost a disruption in seasons. So, I am wondering if he stitched together this story based on the seeds he had planted. In fact he has said characters became more developed once he saw how they acted. Betty is an example of a character that had grown from January Jones presence in the first episode.

    It would be so cool if Matt would explain the creative process. Maybe he is saving it for a book. That is an item I would buy in a second!

    • He shares tidbits about the creative process every time he opens his mouth. It’s why I can’t get enough of listening to him.

  15. Oh I am not giving up! It was just my first time ever registering of a negative feeling, and in the opening episode All my joy in mad men had been crushed.

    Maybe this crushing had to happen to make way for a satisfying whole, in the end.

    And yes, I was always one of those people who said why do people complain at the beginning episodes of every season? MM has always been structured like film in three acts.

  16. I apologize in advance. But.
    Just like the Harvard kid is in the 99th percentile, and some other kid has to be in the worst 1st percentile, one episode o Mad Men has to be the worst.
    Don’t know yet which one would get the designation, but with 2 story lines that seemed crammed in, the shrill cartoonishness of a previously astute character, mundane dialogue this offering is in the running.
    Second episodes, have not been rich with exposition, but they have been interesting.
    Love Among the Ruins will forever be my favorite episode. S3 Episode 2.

    Season began with a ‘heart attack’ that was never fully explained. So MW didn’t come through with even a MacGuffin explanation.
    The Strategy, and Waterloo, restored my faith that MM will not go out staggering.
    It will never be the S1 through S4 perfect episodes marathon that it was, but still better than anything else out there right this minute.
    Even Michael Jordan threw in a few stinkers.
    I’m not alarmed.

    • I have little doubt that the Lady Lipps will solicit a ‘worst of’ post-714.

      MJ was not a shot-blocker (in the usual sense of a dominating fill-the-lane big man) BUT he did not shirk that duty when called upon. As a result he was “posterized” many times along with every other top defender.

      The great (perfect, best) is the enemy of the good. The Mad Men writing team has often posterized itself. As a result I will follow Matt Weiner as a reliable artist for many years to come.

  17. I had a random thought about the series, but I don’t know where it fits into the conversation. I thought I’d post it here, since we’ve been exploring various aspects of the show and why it’s imperative that we not lose faith now. I don’t recall ever reading anything online about this and I don’t believe Matt Weiner has touched upon it either. What started me thinking about this, is how we Basketcases are forever finding similarities between characters and situations in the show, but this is about a difference.

    During the course of the show, there have been very few references to or scenes depicting characters engaging in spiritual pursuits. The obvious ones: Peggy at church and interacting with Father Gill. Also, Peggy’s sister in the confessional. Paul Kinsey’s scenes with the Krishnas. And, most recently, the prayers being said for the late Rachel Menken Katz. Then there was also Sally’s referencing that Carla goes to church, but why don’t the Drapers? And, Conrad Hilton’s little homily to Don about the Bible, prayer and the importance of strong family values. Less obvious examples, but still in the realm of spirituality, I think: Anna Draper’s Tarot reading for Don. Also, Roger and Jane’s LSD trip. (Did I miss any others?)

    Why so few examples of spirituality? I suppose the obvious answer is that the ad game is a pretty secular setting. Then there’s the era. Things like religion and politics weren’t as openly discussed back then, unlike today. Then there’s the issue of such things not really fitting easily into the show.

    My point? Well, I’m not sure I have one. It’s just something that dawned on me, while reflecting on the timespan of the series. We’ve met a hundred or more characters along the way, but there have been very few scenes or references about spirituality.

    • There’s also Abigail Whitman’s religion, and Don’s “Jesus” speech to Belle Jolie.

      People of this era considered religion private and didn’t discuss it. Certainly the kind of on-going professions of faith we hear today would have been considered utterly tasteless. But also, I think part of the story of the show and this moment in history is the pulling away from conventional values. Marie-France, Megan’s sister, is deeply religious and hates that in New York people do as they feel. It’s that breakdown that is crucial to the historic moment.

      • Another I just remembered – When Megan fired the housekeeper, she and Sylvia had coffee in the apartment and Megan told her about her miscarriage. There was some talk of Megan’s acting career beginning to take off and the bad timing of a pregnancy then. There was an allusion to having an abortion and I believe Sylvia said that was something she would never consider.

    • “the only unforgivable sin…”

      Also, Abigail made several references to being a Christian, I believe.

      And in the very first episode, Don looks to the sky and says thanks; Roger says he’s probably looking in the wrong direction!!!

  18. Mrs. Rosen’s character showed hypocrisy in religious following.
    She claimed to be Catholic but slept with her neighbors husband.

  19. There are a few characteristics of Don I would like to know.
    What is his belief in God?
    What is his favorite music, song, poem and story about his kids?
    And did he ever try to look up where is prostitute mother came from?

    • SmilerG – your comment reminded me of the scene in the bedroom between Sylvia and Don. Don wanted her to remove the cross from around her neck. Possibly because it very sinful what he was doing with the neighbor while still married to Megan?

  20. As long as it’s not like the sopranos. Even though I have my own theory about that.

  21. MAD MEN jumped the shark with “In Care Of”. Season 6 was rocky, but Matt Weiner did pay off each of his first five seasons beautifully. Don getting fired and wrecking a second marriage was not a pay off. It was a punishment. I have never enjoyed the show since.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.