Mad Men Season 7 Ep. 12 Recap: 'Lost Horizon'

Photo Credit: AMC

“I've been trying to get you for 10 years. You're my white whale Don.” This is what Jim Hobart, fresh from a trip to the Bahamas, tells Don in his office. Hobart, clearly savoring the moment for all its worth, caps his triumph by nicely but firmly asking him to “say it.” Don turns around, flashes a grin, stretches out his arms and says, “I'm Don Draper from McCann Erikson,” like a charismatic trained seal.

But oh Jim, you didn't know? Don doesn't like to be tied down. And Joan doesn't suffer fools. And Peggy won't be treated like a secretary. And Roger just doesn't give a shit. If you haven't caught on yet, things have changed considerably since last week's “Time and Life.” The big move has happened/is happening—SC&P's partners and employees are now in a place so big Meredith has to guide Don to his office. Creative meetings, instead of the small, intimate pow wows we've witnessed, now resemble a cattle call, with pre-packaged box lunches and over a dozen creative directors stuffed in one conference room. And the aforementioned Jim Hobart has enough juice to buy a Minneapolis agency just so Don can pitch for Miller Lite.

Of course if everyone reacted to this with a shrug and a sanguine “that's life,” attitude, this wouldn't be Mad Men, and “Lost Horizon,” focuses on how SC&P's major players, save for Pete (who appears content for the moment), are dealing with this transition. Don deals with it by walking out of a meeting for Miller Lite to head for parts unknown. Well, the parts aren't exactly unknown, at least initially; Don was supposed to take Sally back to school, but Betty informs him she already took off, which leaves him free to scratch an itch to drive seven hours to Wisconsin and track down the elusive Diana Bauer.

It's all vintage Don Draper—taking off on a fool's errand under the guise of a perfectly plausible excuse. And what a foolish errand it is; even the ghost of Bert Cooper knows this won't end well, asking Don why he's traveling all this way for a girl he doesn't even know. He pulls up to the Bauer house and gives Laura, Diana's husband's new wife, a fake name and telling her she's won a contest as a weak ruse to learn her whereabouts. Don settles in for a drink, but when her ex-husband comes home he calls bull on the whole charade. Don subsequently tries sell some more bull, saying he's a collections agent before beating a hasty retreat. Though her ex-husband sees through that as well, following him outside to inform him he's not the first man to show up at his doorstep asking about Diana.

“She's a tornado,” he tells Don (twisters of a feather...I'm just sayin'), telling him he can't save her before instructing him not to come back. Don leaves, but doesn't go back to New York, opting instead to pick up a hitchhiker who's heading to Minnesota. All of this was quietly thrilling to watch. Don's been on his best behavior for the most part this season, and while that's good for the character (and those of us who want to see him at least a little happy as the series ends), turning over a new leaf means going without story lines like this, where he ditches work and fully indulges his hobo tendencies.

When you think about it, Don's old school antics don't come completely out of left field; much of SCDP and later SC&P's future existence depended on him being present, both physically and creatively, given they were scrappy upstarts. However McCann, like the Sterling Cooper of yore, is a huge machine. It's easier to blow off responsibility when you're not running (or bankrolling) the show.

Back at the agency, Joan gets greeted by the female copywriter welcome wagon, who quickly make their intentions known by running down their knowledge of her accounts and offering to let Peggy have the crumbs of their workload. We'll see how that works out.
Joan later takes a call with a client accompanied by Dennis, an idiotic McCann lackey who talks over her and puts his foot in his mouth when he makes a remark about playing golf, forgetting the guy is in a wheelchair. Joan rightfully starts to criticize him, before he bellows “Who told you you got to get pissed off?”

“I thought you were going to be fun,” he says before storming off and leaving all the work to her, another example of how her bombshell looks prevent others—more specifically guys like this jerkoff—from seeing her as anything more than a good time.

Pete's on her side, working to get her involved in business, but largely she has to resort to her old ways, giving evasive answers to the men in charge, and using feminine charm to pull strings behind the scenes. However, Joan now seems to neither have the energy or interest in doing so, given she's had to play this game for decades. A meeting with Ferg Donnelly doesn't involve any yelling, but in its own way goes even worse. He tells her her accounts are safe, presenting himself as an ally, but laces his promises with gross innuendos—like making sure “nothing comes between me and your business” and her “showing him a good time.” At least with Dennis Joan knew what she was dealing with; a collaboration with Donnelly seems like it'll be much more dicey and treacherous to navigate.

“It's a big place and I asked the wrong person for help,” she later tells Richard in bed. The final straw comes when Joan meets with Hobart and asks for more independence, explaining she can't work with Ferg. Hobart bluntly tells her her status at SC&P as partner is irrelevant now, and she'll just have to get used to the new arrangement. Joan pulls out the big guns, saying she'd be happy to take her half a million dollars and walk, then threatening to call up the ACLU, and rally the other women for a sexual harassment suit. Though it would have been glorious to watch Joan go full on Erin Brockovich, sadly it feels much more realistic for her to take Roger's advice to accept half her buyout—$250,000—grab her Rolodex and leave. Is this the last we've seen of Joan? Geez I hope we get that lunch she and Don were planning to have before things wrap up.

Peggy hasn't gotten much of welcome herself at McCann. Her new bosses think she's a secretary, sending her flowers like they did all the other secretaries and sending a messenger to tell her she can work in the steno pool until her office is ready. Peggy rightfully balks, and says she'll be working at her old offices until her new one is ready.

Her situation worsens when the lights get turned off at SC&P; the sight of her dropping a cup of coffee she made in a pitch black office is not a good omen for her future. And even when she finally gets her own space, she still has to work at a drafting table.
The sound of some spooky music leads Peggy to Roger, who's tooling around with an organ (who knew SC&P had an organ?) Roger asks Peggy to stay with him and pack, mostly so he could bitch and moan about his non-role at McCann, but Peggy reminds him he sold the business, to which he offers more complaints about the unpredictability of the ad business in general.

Peggy concludes the move is a good thing, a push they needed; he says he'll miss this place, she says it was miserable while they were in it, though she backs away from the sentiment when Roger challenges her on it. The whole conversation is a push-pull between fuzzy nostalgia and cynicism. Though it's easier for man like Roger to be sentimental, since his future is secure, than it is for Peggy, still hungry and striving to leave her mark.

Later, the scene, as all extended ones between two characters on this show often do, ends on a very whimsical, warm note, with Peggy roller skating around the now empty office while Roger plays a tune on the organ.

Peggy shows up to her new digs the next day, hung over but looking fabulous as the old Sterling Cooper theme--the one same that accompanied Joan when she wore infamous the red dress and showed what brings all the boys to the yard--plays in the background, shades plopped on her face and a cigarette dangling from her mouth, carrying Bert Cooper's octopus painting under her arm.

McCann-Erikson doesn't know what hit them.

Other Thoughts:

--Meredith's proving herself a worthy secretary, laying out a look for Don's new place—he names her his new decorator—and covering for him when Jim Hobart asks about his whereabouts.

--Shirley had the foresight (and good sense) to secure a job elsewhere and tells Roger, who is shaken by her news, but mostly because it'll be one less face he'll recognize. Shirley talks about the trouble with starting over at a new place, and Roger says he's starting over too, before she subtly points out how that experience is vastly different for them, given their gender, race and class.

--Roger to Harry: “Maybe they can keep track of your hat size. It seems to be growing.” Shade.

--Betty to Don: “Your secretary is a moron.”

--Don missing Sally gives him time to talk to Betty, and they have a pretty civil exchange, as he massages her shoulders while lightly teasing her about carrying schoolbooks at her age. He even calls her Birdie. Aww.

--From Bert Cooper's cameo to Peggy hearing spooky organ music, the episode certainly gave an underlying sense of the SC&P/McCann absorption being a bad idea.

--Along with being a sexist pig, Ferg Donnelly is terrible at impressions.