Posted: April 22, 2015 | Written by Alexandra Ortiz
When we left our beloved Don Draper last season of “Mad Men” he seemed torn and lost of what was to come next. Flash-forward and it’s April 1970 and Don seems to have gone back to his old self, back to being a womanizer and being that witty yet charming adman we all adore.
The episode opens up as Don Draper is seducing some models with his dark childhood memories that he once struggled to live with. Roger Sterling hasn’t changed one bit and is still the old manther who preys on younger women.
For the rest of the clan at Sterling Cooper & Partners agency everyone seems to be dealing with the regret of not living the life lived which seems to be a major theme in this episode.
After Ken the head of advertising gets fired by Ferguson Donelly from McCann-Erickson (the company Sterling Cooper partnered up with), because they’ve had a grudge over him since he had left their company Pete opens up about his life not live. He tells Ken that in a way he envies him, because he thought he was making something of himself when he came to California but instead it all turned out to be just a dream and he’s right back to his ordinary life. Pete has always been hungry for power and money, but even he sees that has not been enough to fulfill his life.
Peggy Olson too realizes is worth to take a few risks here in there especially when it comes to love. Over the years we’ve seen Peggy be harmed by the man she has loved; let’s not forget when Ted picked his marriage over her and left to California. Mathis decides to set up Peggy with his brother in law and although she rejects the idea at first, an argument with Joan makes her over turn her decision and give Stevie (Mathis brother in law) a chance. Peggy ends up having an amazing time and even plans on going to Paris with Stevie one will have to stay tune and hope for our feminist Peggy to finally find love and live her life.
Joan also gets a slap of reality when for the first time she finds herself not being respected by the men she works with. She sees that what once was a blessing to her turns out to be a curse. Her gorgeous body was the reason the firm got millions of dollars from a deal with Cadillac and made her a partner, but she still can’t escape the stereotype that the only part she fits is the one of a sexy secretary even of a sales associate at a department store. Joan did not climb up the working ladder like Peggy did, as Peggy tells her in elevator “You’re filthy rich! You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to!”
Don of course is the character most affected by the theme of the episode, at some point he had to realized that he was fooling himself to think he was truly “living” life. He has a dream with his one and only true love Rachel Katz, who Don fell head over heels in the first season but was too much of a coward to leave Betty for. In the dream Rachel tells Don “I’m supposed to tell you, you missed your flight.” and walks out. The next morning Don tries to set up a meeting with Menke’s department store where Rachel was the owner of it once, in hopes of seeing her Don finds out the harsh truth that she has passed away from Leukemia.
He then decides to go to the funeral to pay his respects but instead her sister Barbara opens up his eyes to the life maybe he could have lived with Rachel filled with loved children and happiness by each other’s side. As Barbara says “She lived the life she wanted to live, she had everything.” unlike Don who truly has never been satisfied with what he’s had in life.
“Severance” was a fitting title for the beginning of the end of an era. Matthew Weiner is parting ways with his fans and paying us back with an unforgettable final season. An it wouldn’t be “Mad Men” without some harsh truths about life. But one might wonder is that all there is to this season? Once everything is said and done is that all there is to it epiphanies? So I got to ask you my friends like the Peggy lee song playing throughout the episode;
“Is that all there is? Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing. Let’s break out the booze and have a ball. If that’s all there is.”