However, that small step for Peggy is overwhelmed by that one giant leap for the partners of Sterling Cooper, basking and brimming in their newfound riches after Roger makes a deal with McCann Erikson for that company to buy the agency. The ad men and women get to keep their clients, their office and their jobs, while solidifying Don as a necessity for the company. Even an embittered Ted Chaough, who tells Cutler earlier in the episode that he does not want to advertise any more, relents, after Don makes a stellar pitch of his own. Don tells Ted that not working will cause him the ennui he felt a few months earlier. The partners (of which Harry is not quite a part of yet) could be dancing in riches, despite Bert’s song and dance routine suggesting otherwise.
Speaking of Bert’s closing showstopper – literally, since Mad Men is going on hiatus – his message that the “best things in life are free” should be remembered when the show returns in 2015. With the exception of Peggy, Don has not had many happy moments this season with the people who are closest to him. His friendship with Roger has been amiss, he has hardly spoken to his family (although he does call them during the moon landing) and he still feels out of place sitting along the partners. Meanwhile, him and Megan seem to be drifting. Could Bert’s message from beyond the grave be a signal that Don has something greater to fulfill? Will he thwart his luxurious paycheque for something deeper?
Meanwhile, Sally has eyes for an older boy, Sean Glaspie, whose family visits her home for the weekend, but ends up planting a kiss on his younger brother, fortunately named Neil. As arresting as it is to see Sally puff on a cigarette like her mother, it is even more alarming to watch her attempts to attract boys with lipstick and seduction. She may not like Betty, but she is turning into Betty’s girl, although one with a more cynical outlook.(Contrary to Bert’s wistful singing that the moon is great because it’s free, Sally agrees with Sean that the mission to get to the moon was a magnificently desolate waste of money.)
“Waterloo” gets its title from an expression that means a final triumph or defeat, which itself gets its name from Napoleon’s final battle, which was in itself referenced by Bert Cooper… you see how whoever named the episode such was one smart fella. Regardless of the layered title, this was a hard hour of Mad Men to not be over the moon about. Until The Don Draper Show is back from its scheduled interruption, we wait, hoping that Bert’s optimism does something to the heart of a certain, free-falling ad man. Mere seconds after the end of this masterful hour, I was starving to sit down with this great family of characters again.