‘Mad Men’ Review: “The Monolith”
‘Mad Men’ season 7 pitches its fourth episode of the final season, “The Monolith,” as Don finds his return to the office humiliating after being assigned to work for Peggy, while Roger ventures to a hippie commune to find his wayward daughter Margaret.
Last week’s episode, “Field Trip,” saw Don finally allowed to return to work, however awkwardly, while Betty took Bobby on a similarly uncomfortable field trip. So what does the fourth episode of the final season bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ season 7 episode 4, “The Monolith”!
While Pete has dinner with Bonnie, he runs into George Peyton, formerly of Vicks Chemical and Trudy’s father, who has since had a heart attack. George now works for Burger Chef, and implies an interest in switching their agency from McCann. Back in New York, Don returns to the office to find all of the staff gathered upstairs to oversee the installation of a new computer, which will take the place of the creative break room. In the process, Peggy accidentally insults Lou within his earshot, while Ginsberg laments the loss of a couch.
While Don heads into his new office and stumbles upon Lane Pryce’s old Mets pennant, Pete remotely informs the partners of their potential for Burger Chef’s business. Ted suggests putting Peggy on the account for a woman’s touch, though both Roger and Pete lobby for Don, and Jim leaves the final choice to Lou. Afterwards, Roger finds his ex-wife Mona and son-in-law Brooks waiting in his office, as his daughter Margaret has apparently gone upstate with a group of hippies. Roger supports Brooks' plan to retrieve her, though Mona believes they should be the one to do it.
Don watches the installation of the massive computer, as its employee overseer Lloyd (Robert Baker) explains that the machine has a way of putting office workers on edge of feeling obsolete. Peggy gets called into Lou’s office, but is surprised by the offer of a raise, and her very own account for Burger Chef, with Don working underneath her. Peggy awkwardly calls Don and Mathis into her office to recruit them both to her team, though a furious Don retreats to his office and slams the door, before leaving for the day.
Roger learns that Brooks has since been arrested upstate for getting in a fight at a bar, while Don passive aggressively ignores his meeting with Peggy for Burger Chef tags. Awhile later, Roger drives Mona out toward the hippie commune in the country, worrying that their daughter might have become a drug addict. Back at the office, Don learns from Lloyd that Lease-Tech doesn’t have anyone to do their advertising, and brings the idea to Bert as a means to get in on the ground floor with the computer industry. Bert casually dismisses Don’s idea, having no interest in anything Don might contribute to the firm anymore, leading Don to swipe a liquor bottle from Roger’s office and poor himself a drink.
Roger and Mona arrive to the commune, finding their daughter now under the name “Marigold” and uninterested in returning to society or her son. Roger encourages Mona to leave without him, and asks Marigold to show him around her new lifestyle. Roger questions the group’s aversion to technology, considering the truck on which they rely, while one of the men notes that they have “other” means of keeping warm in the winter. Back at the office, Don drunkenly calls Freddie Rumsen and suggests they see a Mets game together. Freddie immediately heads to the office to take care of Don, who drunkenly confronts Lloyd about his line of work on the way out. Meanwhile, Joan consoles Peggy for her difficulty working with Don.
Roger and Marigold sleep in the barn, admiring the stars and wondering if man might one day put someone on the moon, as Roger notes how happy his daughter seems. Later on that night, Roger sees Marigold sneaking out to be with one of the men for the night. That morning, Don awakens hungover in his apartment to find Freddie Rumsen waiting with coffee. Don laments that the other partners aren’t taking his second chance seriously, to which Freddie suggests he perform the demeaning work required to build back his credit.
Roger declares that his daughter’s time avoiding the pressures of motherhood has come to an end, and forcibly attempts to remove “Marigold,” falling in the mud in the process. Marigold points out that Roger had never been there for her and things had worked out just fine, leading Roger to give up. Meanwhile, Peggy arrives to the office to find Don diligently working on the tags, and promising to have them by lunch.
It’s hard to believe only three episodes remain in the 2014 run, and while we know Matthew Weiner wouldn’t likely let AMC’s decision to split the season alter the trajectory of storytelling too much, we do have to wonder just how effectively the current run will come to some kind of meaningful midpoint in a few weeks time. After all, it took this long just to get Don back into the office and another episode still to get him working properly again, though it still made a strong showing of Don needing to actually take charge and put in the work to get his life back. As tends to be the case with ‘Mad Men,’ the metaphor seemed a bit heavy handed as Sterling-Cooper finally brought itself into the computer age, though perhaps we’ll see a bit more from Lloyd on the narrative side as Don finds another outlet for his pitch to move into computers.
The Roger story made for a marked improvement on recent weeks, as well, as the character course has taken us through a number of phases, and we’d inevitably have to see Roger genuinely experimenting with the idea of free love before long. It wouldn’t feel right of Roger to all-out abandon the life he’d built without some sort of existential crisis, but positioning Margaret as the one in need of help took the story to a very logical throughpoint of having Roger see the error of his ways. We’ll likely revisit the idea of Roger’s burgeoning sensibilities before long, though it made for an intriguing visual, much as last week’s barnyard visit splashed a bit of color into the typically drab series.
There’s been some talk in recent weeks of the seventh season putting Peggy’s character through some unlikable beats, taking an otherwise strong and confident copywriter and reducing her to bitterness and mourning for Ted. “The Monolith” returned us a bit to Peggy’s successes, and certainly brought the series to a mirror now that Don has begun working under her, though she might have seemed a bit too gleeful to lord her power over Don. Hopefully we’ll see the two repair the relationship before long, as they tend to bring out both the best and worst in one another, depending on the state of things.
Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s latest, “The Monolith”? Get yourself caught up with Everything You Need to Know About 'Mad Men,' stay tuned for more coverage of the season, and check back again next Sunday for our review of 'Mad Men' season 7's latest installment, "The Runaways," on AMC!