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“Mad Men” returns for the end of an era

| Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mad Men WEBMary McGraw

Finally, after a full year of anticipation, the second half of the final season of “Mad Men” has begun. On April 13 last year, when the first episode of the seventh season was released, fans were enthralled with the start of a new season, and here we are, 12 months later, finally receiving the second half of that season’s whirlwind beginning.

In case you (understandably) forgot what happened in the season’s first half, titled “The Beginning” by creator Matthew Weiner, here is a little refresher. The season begins in January 1969, with time split between the New York and Los Angeles offices. Roger (and probably Don too) begins experimenting with the 70s counterculture, including run-ins with LSD and other psychedelic drugs. Additionally, Don struggles with his alcoholism as his job and his life in general dangles by a very thin thread; he also continues to grow farther and farther away from his second wife Megan, both emotionally and physically, as she pursues her acting career in L.A. Peggy rises in status due to her hard work and clear talent, and Pete struggles with keeping women in his life. The first part of the season ends with Bert’s death and a trippy dream and/or drug-induced musical number, while Don hits rock bottom.

“The Final Era,” also known as the second half of season seven, started airing Sunday and carried through the themes seen at the finale of the previous half-season. Don dominates the episode with nostalgic looks and depressive, regretful comments filling his every appearance. Unsurprisingly, he has several sexcapades in the hour-long episode, attempting to fill the enormous void in his life left by his two ex-wives and estranged children. Peggy continues to shine, finding a new love interest as well as working on important campaigns in the office, though she and Joan face severe sexism in a pantyhose meeting with misogynist company representatives.

As always, this season has already showcased its authentic costuming, with short, groovy-printed dresses on secretaries and bright, accessorized yet professional numbers on both Peggy and Joan. During the hiatus between season halves, AMC attempted to hype up the fashion with numerous articles and gorgeous cast photo shoots, trying to draw in new viewers and keep existing, impatient ones. They left no one wanting after the hippie-chic fashion shown in this much-anticipated episode.

Conspicuously missing from the first episode was the always fashion-forward Megan, Don’s most recent ex-wife; viewers were left anticipating her whereabouts, perhaps ‘IMDbing’ her character to see if she will appear in any episodes at all. Speaking of Don’s ex-wives, Betty and the children were also absent, though surely they will make an appearance soon, as they have firm roots in the previous six and a half seasons and extensive fan bases (January Jones, who plays Betty, has been blowing up her Instagram with “Mad Men” references).

Since its start in 2007, “Mad Men” has gathered a dedicated audience, and although the surface-level storyline has morphed quite a bit, Weiner still keeps viewers captivated by the underlying mystery of Don’s childhood. Whether it’s the historically accurate 60s and 70s setting, the fantastic all-star cast or the storyline that peeks into the scandalous advertising industry, “Mad Men” has been one of the most successful shows to span eight years. Although the extenuated split in the airing of season seven left viewers frustrated and impatient, the time has come to finally witness the “end of an era,” as the characters transition into the 70s and the show winds to a close. If this first episode was any indication, Don will continue with his lusty, immoral antics, Peggy will never slow her ambition, Joan will continue to be graceful and desired and Roger will … well, who knows what Roger will do, but hopefully he’ll at least shave that hideous mustache.

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About Maddie Daly

A senior English and French major in love with Paris, cooking and fashion, currently residing in Chicago.

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