Mad Men “Lost Horizon” Review (Season 7 Episode 12)

Mad Men Lost Horizon 2

My heart broke this week for Joan. She’s always been one of my favorite characters because of her poise and perseverance. She’s one of those unique people who can legitimately complain that her stunning appearance is a handicap. Joan has endured years of being harassed and underestimated because of her appearance. With the exception of the Jaguar encounter, Joan has largely made her way based on her skill and fortitude. This week, she lost everything she’d gained.

The Sterling Cooper folks try to settle into “advertising heaven” at McCann, but no one’s heart seems in it. McCann buys an ad agency in Milwauke just so Don can keep Miller beer. This demonstration of enthusiasm towards Don hurts more than helps. Don’s realization that he’s the golden child will simply encourage him to self-sabotage. Which he does.

Joan’s fears are realized when she tries to bring a McCann employee onto her client call. The guy makes a fool of her and challenges her authority. I was livid on her behalf and hate that she lets any man talk to her like that ass hat did. This is one of the things that has always perplexed me about Joan. She’s strong and assertive, but rarely ever puts a man in his place. I do respect that she’s willing to handle it on her own and not involve Don, even though he has the clout to clear the path for her. I know that sexism still exists in the workplace, but I can’t even imagine living in an era like Joan’s where the sexual aggression and coercion is so pervasive and blatant.

Joan’s situation is unenviable and unfortunately something that women still face today. She tries her best to manage, until she realizes that she’s going to have to fend off sexual advances from Ferg. She goes to see Jim and tells him that she wants to handle her accounts herself. She doesn’t fully appreciate that by complaining about the firm’s favorite son, she’s making a serious mistake. This is a battle that she can’t win. When her concerns are brushed off, she goes into full nuclear mode and threatens an EEOC lawsuit and public scandal. The problem with this tactic is that she’s playing a card against someone far more powerful and she doesn’t have a strong enough hand. At this point, all Joan has is her sense of discomfort. No one has actually propositioned her or threatened her. She went in for the kill when she was too weak. It made me incredibly sad when she agrees to walk away for 50 cents on the dollar. It’s a symbolic sum considering the pay inequality women face. I did admire that while she became emotional, she did not shed a single tear before taking her rolodex and walking out.

Peggy doesn’t suffer the same sexual propositioning as Joan, but that doesn’t mean she’s free from the inequality. She’s unable to move with everyone else because her place at McCann isn’t ready, which has to be disheartening. Then she gets bouquet of flowers from them intended for the new secretaries. Peggy is going to be a small cog in a large machine, which will be challenging for her. The one thing I have to say in her favor is that she kept her cool and let her secretary take care of things for her. Old Peggy would’ve run to Don.

As you would expect, Don doesn’t like being part of the mothership. He’s used to being the captain and doesn’t like to be one at a table of twenty. He leaves in the middle of a meeting and goes to take Sally back to school. His daughter has already left, so he stays a moment to chat with Betty. It’s a nice moment that shows what things could be like if the two of them weren’t self-absorbed. Betty talks about her schooling and Don, fortunately, doesn’t scoff at her this time. He’s actually encouraging.

Then Don does something that is incredibly stupid. Instead of returning to work, he goes on a road trip to track down the waitress, Diana. It is so pathetic. His hallucination in the car of Burt Cooper is correct—Don does love to play the stranger. When he arrives at Diana’s former home, he concocts a ridiculous story about a refrigerator full of Miller beer, then lies that he’s a collection agent looking for Diana. At this point, I don’t know what to say. For someone with confidence and swagger, Don can act like a complete fool. At least Diana’s ex-husband calls him on his bs.

This episode gave me one of my favorite scenes of the series. Roger is always good for comic relief and really delivers this week. It was hilarious when he and Peggy get drunk in the empty Sterling Cooper office, and Peggy roller skates around the place while Roger plays the organ. I also adored the scene at the end with Peggy finally strolling into McCann with a cigarette in her mouth and holding the lurid octopus picture.

In the end, Don doesn’t find Diana and doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry to get back to work. He picks up a hitchhiker, which feels like a declaration that he does not want to be alone. Yet the closing song “Space Oddity” is all about a man floating out into the abyss alone. Don can run all the way to Wisconsin, but can’t outrun himself.