‘Mad Men’ Recap, Season 7 Episode 4: ‘The Monolith’

Taylor Bigler Entertainment Editor
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We’re halfway through the first half of the final season of “Mad Men” — whew, that was a mouthful — and so far Don hasn’t ENTIRELY screwed up yet.

“The Monolith” (the computer, the Don Draper, the future) is all about power: who has it, who thinks they have it and who wants it.

From the company’s new computer that will make Harry Crane seem important, the fact that Lou sees himself as a “leader” and Peggy’s new status over her former mentor Don, everyone at SC&P thinks that they are SUPER impotant, even when they’re not. Especially when they’re not.

Don is back at the office after his leave and he is just dying to get back in on the action. But not only does he have to answer to Lou, he now has to report to Peggy — a younger female who was once his secretary — on the Burger Chef account.

Naturally, Don acts like a petulant child and refuses to turn in his 25 tags. And, of course, Peggy — who has kinda been acting like a big ol’ bitch the entire season so far — LOVES the fact that she can tell Don what to do, even as she channeled old Don by holding a glass of bourbon in her hand when conducting her creative meeting.

But instead of doing the work that he’d promised he would do when he got re-hired, Don is sitting on Lane’s old couch in his suicide office reading “Portnoy’s Complaint.”

There were a couple of moments during this episode that I thought were a little too on-the-nose. The first is when Bert reminds Don that Lane “is a dead man whose office you now inhabit.” I mean, come on, Weiner. Do you really think “Mad Men” viewers, who know that every single decision is deliberate, are too dumb to catch onto this motif?

When Roger’s secretary, Caroline — who is awesome, by the way — was running through the halls shrieking, I half-expected for something brutal to have happened, but it was just little Ellery chasing her with a fake gun.

Don wasn’t the only one going through some tough shit. His daughter, Marigold — née Margaret — now lives at a hippie commune, and his first wife, Mona (Talia Balsam, the actress who plays Mona is actually Jon Slattery’s wife in real life and was the first and only wife of George Clooney, until now. The more you know!), is super pissed about it. Of course, Roger thinks the whole thing is hilarious and even takes a shine to the “Martha Marcy May Marlene”-esque compound, all the way until he sees little Marigold go off to have sex with a gross hippie.

That’s the final straw for ol’ Rog who, of course, has dipped his toes into the free love pool this season. Roger doesn’t want to be a square, but he totally is.

The second on-the-nose moment was when Marigold started berating Roger about being a bad dad for working a lot when she was growing up and how that’s exactly like what she is doing to her son. Again, COME ON. This is the explanation you’re going to have for the fact that Roger just gives up and leaves her at the commune? That’s how we’re going to wrap this storyline up?

The whole Computer As Metaphor thing was also a bit too precise. Did we really need the Lease Tech guy explaining to Don that sometimes a computer acts as a metaphor because people are scared of computers/the future? Much of the dialogue in “The Monolith” felt extremely purple, which is really rare for “Mad Men.”

The episode was saved by Joan — in a STUNNING green, silk dress — and Peggy’s tete-a-tete, in which they toast “to cowardice.” I love the moments when they are allies, which are few and far between.

Freddie Rumsen — who is serving as an old Don/old Peggy combo — and who Joan once saw piss his pants at work, asked Don point blank, “Are you going to kill yourself?” Freddie, that IS the question.

Other notable moments:

  • Pete about Peggy: “They will love having a woman’s point-of-view, if that’s what Peggy is.” I like their adversarial/buddy-buddy relationship. Remember that they did make a baby together, so Pete knows very well that Peggy is a woman. #Neverforget
  • How awesome was Mona’s road trip outfit? Love that she was wearing fur and pearls to a hippie commune.
  • The writers keep dropping in Bob Benson references, but where is Bob Benson?! There are only three episodes left! Bring back Bob.
  • I used to be unsure of the purpose of Ginsberg’s character, but now I realize it’s for dropping incredible one-liners.

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Tags : mad men
Taylor Bigler