It’s an episode full of huge moments: Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, Megan and Don finally (?) call it quits, Peggy finds a hot handyman in her apartment, Ted gives Sunkist a near-death experience, Don’s nearly booted out of the agency, Roger saves Don by selling the company to McCann, Peggy has her “Carousel” moment with her Burger Chef pitch, Burt dies, Burt dances from beyond the grave, and Sally takes a cue from her mother to catch the eye of a hot jock, but kisses his nerdy brother instead.

 

Neil Armstrong may have made a giant leap on behalf of mankind, but Peggy’s leading women into the 70s. It’s hard to watch Peggy in this scene and not have the same look of pride Don was sporting. She nailed the pitch, going full “Carousel” on those unsuspecting Burger Chef execs.

This is also probably the best we’ve ever seen Peggy look. It’s a good thing she didn’t end up asking a 10 year old for fashion advice. Her scooter dress is kicky and professional, and in an episode full of reds, whites, and blues, the green stripes are perfect with her complexion. And I love that she accessorized with huge earrings and a dainty ring on her right hand ring finger. Striking, given the absence of a ring on her left hand.

 

 

 

Of course, we can’t give Peggy too much praise. Girl gets a little full of herself sometimes. So let’s just enjoy this shot of Peggy in her really, really unflattering housecoat, shall we?

Sorry, Pegs. Had to mention it. I’m pretty sure you could have smuggled Julio to Ohio under the hem of that thing. Ohio’s unpleasant, but to paraphrase your wisdom, nobody wants to go to Newark.

 

If Peggy was blossming professionally in this episode, Don’s other surrogate daughter blossomed socially.

All it took was the strong jawline of a guy who gives “Now and Then”-era Devon Sawa a run for his money in the “1960s heart throb” department.

 

Seriously, within minutes, Sally went from basically this:

To this:

Sorry, my bad. Don’t know how Betty got in there. Let’s try this again:

It’s okay, Sally. We all turn into our mothers eventually. And when presented with a smoking hot piece of angry 17-year old, it’s hard to resist the temptation to go full Betty. The woman knows how to work a look. Let’s just hope that you limit your Betty Draperisms to smoking and hair teasing.

 

I’d say kissing adorably nerdy Neil is a good start, but let’s be honest: it’s only a matter of time before you’re back at boarding school, smoking with the cool girls and laughing at the awkward boy who said “Now what do we do?” after you gave him his first kiss.

Sidenote: I am so, so relieved that Sally’s story ended with a much more innocent kiss under the stars, rather than the awkward first time sex I was afraid she would have with Hunky Son. I was not ready for a lot of potential events in this ep, but that was at the top of the list.

 

Back at the Sterling Cooper offices, there’s a whole lot of red, white and blue being worn. I didn’t notice it until I saw Joan’s dress against the partners.

I love how much Joan’s wardrobe in this shot sets up her otherness — she’s the one SC holdout, the woman, the one who knew about the letter but did nothing. I still don’t totally believe Joan’s hatred of Don, but at least she’s being consistent about it. And check out our all-American heroes rocking the patriotic colors – you can see it in Don’s tie, Pete’s shirt and tie, and I’m sure in Bert’s socks.

 

From the front, Joan’s dress is one of my favorites. The pattern is a little too tiki bar for my taste, but snaps for the demi-boatneck and notched collar.

She’s just so damned elegant, even when she’s being hateful. And that is a fabulous necklace. Given how many different pieces we’ve seen Joan wear, I’m starting to suspect she has her own magic accessories storage system.

 

Remember how, a few weeks ago, I suggested that Don singing the Mets song was a pretty good example of “rock bottom?”

Bottom, meet Ted. Good lord, even his clothes look sickly. Ted has taken to LA about as well as Dr. Faye took to parenting. It’s a good thing Roger saved the day, because otherwise, I’m pretty sure Ted would have disappeared somewhere off Catalina island after dropping a load of salt all over the Sunkist fields.

 

Alright. So, the thing I don’t want to deal with happened, but instead of dealing with it, I’m just going to post this photo of Roger leaning casually against a wall in Don’s apartment, like a remarkably well-dressed Jordan Catalano.

Again with the blues. Roger is sad, Roger is lonely, but Roger will be triumphant. He will return to his hotel room full of hippies stronger. A changed man. A leader. A very rich leader. Who will probably be spending the bulk of his advance on drugs. Drugs and suits. The man has priorities.

 

Okay, fine. Time to address the inevitable. It’s been an ongoing question about whether or not Don would make it out of the 60s alive. Same with Roger. Could either of them survive to the 70s, or would the 60s destroy them?

Amid these conversations, Burt fell to the wayside. He’s old, and the threat of Burt’s death has always been there, but not in the same way that Don’s death or Roger’s death has hung over the series. It wasn’t until Roger got the call that I realized there was no way Burt could survive past the moon landing. That was what he was holding out for. There’s nothing else left for him in the future.

So Burt sat on the couch of his apartment, with his African American housekeeper, and watched a man walk on the moon. I love that the housekeeper sat next to him, only a few weeks after Burt demanded Joan move Dawn off the front desk. It lets me forgive him for that moment, just a little, but it also reminds me that no, there’s no room for Burt in the 1970s. But at least he dies in some damn fine housewear.

 

Burt reappears to Don in an amazing, surreal hallucination. In case you haven’t obsessively read Mad Men interviews and articles, Robert Morse starred in the Broadway premiere and the film adaptation of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Go spend a few minutes surfing YouTube for clips; he’s fantastic. Getting to watch him sing and dance his way out of “Mad Men” was spectacular, even if it was kind of random.

This could pretty much be a still from any musical from the 1960s. I keep expecting Doris Day’s head to pop up from behind one of the secretaries. And, as pretty much every review out there has pointed out, what a perfect touch that Burt is wearing only socks.

 

And so ends the first half of the last season of Mad Men — with a merger, a musical number, and no new episodes until the very futuristic-sounding 2015.

 Bravo, Mad Men.