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Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 7.11 - Time & Life





First of all, the names of the last few episodes have been released - "Lost Horizon", The Milk and Honey Route", and "Person to Person". Feel free to speculate as you will, I'll be in the corner sobbing because I'M NOT READY FOR THIS TO END DAMMIT.

Oh yeah, and there's an episode, too.

Previously: Sale to McCann, Peggy frets about motherhood, Ken quits, everyone moves to California.

Opening credits - ALISON BRIE IS BACK, co-written by Weiner, directed by Jared Harris - now that's a curiosity.

Pete finds himself wining and dining Ken, with Don in tow. Ken might put in a good word for them with Ziploc, so Pete is practically shitting himself to get in good with Ken. They discuss toilet paper marketing strategies, which causes Pete to utter the word "poop", which makes me giggle like a child, cause it's Pete. Everyone is very tense and awkward.

Don gets calls from Diana the waitress, who is avoiding him but still calling him. Oh JFC can we just dump this storyline already? It's DULL. Meanwhile, at SC&P, Roger finds out that they've messed up their lease payments and yells for Joan. Dawn was supposed to do this, so now I guess Dawn's getting fired. Also, there are a whole bunch of kids in the elevator. What are they doing at SC&P? They could barely handle one Sally.

Trudy calls Pete, pissed off that Tammy hasn't been let into a snooty private school because her parents are - gasp! - divorced! "But Greenwich is built on divorce money," Pete protests, killing it as usual. In any event, he agrees to accompany her to an admissions interview to show that their preschooler is not morally tainted. JFC, this is why America is fucked now, you guys.

Roger (whose 'stache is positively Trebekian this week) tries to fire Dawn, Shirley and Caroline, but it turns out that what actually happened is that McCann has terminated the lease. The secretaries and office manager did not know the lease was terminated, thus leaving them off the hook. So they're leaving the building? I guess they'll find out.

Peggy unsuccessfully tries to interact with children, who are in the boardroom (and some of them are definitely the kids from the elevator). When they won't play on command, she yells at them, then criticizes their play. Smooth move, Pegasus. Stan suggests a "Battle Royale". Subtle, guys. Anyway, he gets them playing and giggling, but not before he takes Peggy to task for hating children.

Roger and Joan call Fergus, who is being very elliptical about the whole lease thing, then confesses that the entire office will be moving to McCann's building shortly. Roger is of course concerned for the company's autonomy, though Fergus pretends it'll all be exactly the same as before. Once he hangs up, he and Joan cling to each other.

He heads to Don's office, followed by Joan and the rest of the partners. They have 30 days to pack up their company and, essentially, finish it off. Pete can't get over it, refusing to go with them. Joan informs him he doesn't have a choice. Roger blames it all on Cutler, everyone trades barbs. They decide they will keep it a secret, and face what's to come with dignity. Well, except Pete. So the remaining partners toast the sinking ship and my heart is breeeeaaaaking.

Peggy reads out the kids who got cast in commercial, terrified whenever one of them tries to hug her. Pete asks to talk to her, so she extracts a little girl from her waist and follows him. He immediately lets Peggy in on the secret, despite what they literally just decided. He assures her that her job will probably be safe, for now. They assure each other that this change will be okay. It's honestly quite poignant. He asks her to keep it secret. I'm sure that'll last.

Joan chats with Richard, who tries to help her put it in perspective. He's also heading in to New York, so they can discuss it in person. She dries her eyes. Oh god, she's going to move to Paris or something with him and we'll lose her, won't we?

Don is also super bummed and wants to cancel all his meetings. Meredith is obtuse as usual. Lou Avery calls. He's bitching about the big secret - he's moving somewhere new. Tokyo, to be precise. Even unflappable Don is thrown for a loop. He's been recruited by an animation studio in Japan, the same one that made Speed Racer, which will soon be adapting the legendary Scout's Honor for the airwaves. Well, good for you Lou, don't let the door hit you on the way out.


The partners have a very secret meeting about very secret things, all while trying to prove everything is normal. Don has decided that, since Lou is essentially vacating Sterling Cooper West, the obvious answer is that they need to take it over.

Pete's enthusiastic, but Ted and Joan are hesitant. Roger wonders how many clients they can poach. That's right, in twenty-four hours, Sterling Cooper will be packing up the wagon and heading West. Shut the door, have a seat.

Peggy meets at her apartment with a headhunter, who thinks she can't do any better than McCann. After all this time, Peggy will finally have to take care for herself, and the vast opportunity a large agency could send her way. Meanwhile, Pete and Roger try to poach Ken and his business. However, he's not sure he can sell Dow on such a bold move. Pete and Roger beg him to try being outrageous, for once. Kenny, that darling boy, turns them down flatly.



Ted still really doesn't want to move, due to his current girlfriend, but Don thinks there's "something meaningful" in California. Oh, FUCK NO, do not go back to Megan. I swear to god I will smack you into the 1980s. Joan tells them that they haven't been able to poach Kenny, which Don treats as a setback but not insurmountable.

Trudy (with insanely big hair and a ridiculous hat) and Pete attend the ridiculous interview. Citing his family legacy, Pete begs them to let Tammy in. The school contends it's not an administrative matter, it's because Tammy is dumb as a rock, having flunked the idiotic "Draw a Person" test common in the '70s. Apparently, she just drew a head, a necktie and a moustache. The headmaster calls her careless and arrogant for not applying to other schools. When Pete demands he apologize, the truth comes out - it's about a feud between the Campbells and the headmaster's family which probably dates back to seventeenth-century Scotland. Yeah, this school is apparently ridiculous all around. They wind up in a fistfight. Well, that escalated quickly.

As a reward for beating up her enemy, Trudy invites Pete home. While they're waiting for Tammy and the nanny, she confesses that men hit on her, the women shun her, and she's finding it very lonely. Apparently, divorce is still a Big Deal ten years after Helen Bishop. Pete tells her that she's awesome. As he's leaving, he suddenly gets an idea. A few minutes later, he walks into the offices and proudly announces that he's acquired Secor Laxatives. Yeah, Pete's shaping up to be the hero of this episode!

Meanwhile, at SC&P, Peggy finds herself stuck with a child actor whose mom is running late. Worse, no one can watch her. She puts the kid at her desk while she and Stan go through all the auditions they saw that day. While they're doing this, she lets slip to Stan about the Big McCann secret. However, they're distracted when the kid accidentally staples her finger. The mother shows up at that moment and reacts in a sanctimommy way. Peggy tries to explain, but winds up condemning the mother for leaving her little breadwinner in an office with strangers for hours. "You do what you want with your children and I'll do what you want with mine," she snarls, before rushing her precious shnookums off to emergency for a sore finger. Geez. Peggy looks stricken, as she does whenever children are mentioned.

Stan wonders what's going on, but Peggy is focused on the task at hand.

The partners arrive at the Big McCann meeting, where they are met with suspicion from Fergus and interest from the other guy. Don gets ready to give the pitch of his life, proposing the move as an expansion of McCann. However, they stop him before he's even finished. Jim, the other exec, is nice about it, trying to dress up the bad news. Sure, they won't exist anymore, but with McCann they've hit advertising nirvana. They even have Coca-Cola, you guys! The name that must be whispered. He advises them to "Stop struggling - you won." And damn, this exec I barely remember totally hit it out of the park. Forget partner, they should hire him in Creative.

A disheartened Don, Ted, Roger, Joan and Pete go for a drink, finishing up by toasting Bert. They part with great affection, and Roger sticks around to toast Lou Avery. Joan and Pete share a cab on the way back, where Joan confesses that she doesn't trust a thing about this, and worries for her future. Pete expresses his confidence in her. In fact, he's pretty Zen about the whole thing. Looks like little Petey's finally growing up. Or he smoked a joint beforehand.

Stan and Peggy are still working, but Peggy won't let go of this afternoon's interaction. They agree that the mom is awful, but still manage to turn it into an argument. Stan assumes that Peggy's bitter because she never had kids, which enrages her. She tells him he can't understand. He tells her his own mother was terrible. Peggy counters that he can't judge her, "because maybe she followed her heart and got in trouble," and then reveals her whole story without explicitly saying so. Stan sees through it, of course, asking what she did. "He's with a family, somewhere," she says, staring into the distance. "I don't know, but it's not because I don't care...because you're not supposed to know, or you can't go on with your life." Stan apologizes, and she tacitly forgives, though she goes off to work on her own.

Don is officially back on the sauce, sweaty and red-faced in the bar with Roger. Let's hope no one brings any oysters. Don talks about his Sketchy Past, and Roger frets about the Sterling family name dying out with Margaret (who as far as I know is still wandering upstate New York with unwashed hair). Roger tells Don that he and Marie are now a Thing, and Megan approves. So does Don, after some brotherly honesty about marrying secretaries. Roger kisses Don on the forehead and walks out. Best bromance ever.

Don goes to see the waitress, but instead finds a gay couple occupying her apartment. She's disappeared without a trace. They invite him in, of course, because Don's allure is Kryptonite to all. (I think you've guessed what his answer is.)

Meredith, the worst person in the agency to overhear this news, overhears Dawn and Shirley talking about the sale. She goes to Don, demanding to know an answer. Of course, it is as over-dramatic as you can possibly imagine. "Everyone's living in a fright!" Don assures her that she's going, too, if she wants, though he looks slightly terrified at the thought.

Peggy tells Stan she's going to McCann, and wants him to join her. With all the rumors flying, Roger and Don announce the sale, which dismays all the workers. In fact, they can't even finish the announcement. Roger is left lamely yelling that this wasn't their doing. The camera zooms out on the disgruntled workers leaving en masse, while the partners stare helplessly. Looks like all is not well in advertising nirvana.

The next on reveals nothing, as usual, except that everyone's kind of grumpy and bitter. Oh and Don's totally going to jump but probably not since we still have three more episodes.

The midpoint of a season is always Mad Men's cue to pick up the pace, and tonight they did so splendidly. Okay, it wasn't Shut the Door Have a Seat, but it still carried a huge number of transitions with lightning efficiency. I wonder if this will signal some kind of major departure for Joan. It was also an excellent showcase for Pete, who was actually pretty tolerable this time and got some killer one-liners (though his story with Trudy was one of the lesser "Mad Men Quirky Detours"). And Peggy and Stan. Dear god, the scene between Peggy and Stan was beautifully carried off. Ultimately, the episode was about about the office, which is what makes Mad Men special, and it gave all those wonderful machinations a day in the limelight. After some meandering, it seems that we are back in the groove. I am so excited for what they've got planned next.

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