What’s Worth Watching: The End Is Nigh for Mad Men

Mad Men
Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Mad Men

Mad Men, “Severance,” Sunday, April 5, 10/9c, AMC

Is that all there is?

This refrain, both musical and metaphorical, may well haunt the seven final chapters of the groundbreaking drama, returning from a punishingly long hiatus. Thankfully, the first episode back is narratively stronger and more entertaining than much of the somnolent first half of the final season. Written by series creator Matthew Weiner, “Severance” is altogether satisfying in its sexually driven soul-searching as Don Draper (Jon Hamm in top form) and his fellow ad men and women take stock of the paths they’ve chosen in their turbulent lives, personally and professionally.

We’re nearing the end of the 1960s, which means an alarming proliferation of facial hair (thankfully, not where Don is concerned) and also, despite advances in the sexual revolution in the culture at large, a dismaying stubbornness when it comes to reinforcing sexism in the workplace. Besides catching us up with Don’s existential journey, once again rocked by the specter of death, this is a quite eventful episode for fans of Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Joan (Christina Hendricks) and the eternally underappreciated Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton). If the remainder of this final season is this powerful, Mad Men will be going out on the creative high for which fans have long been hoping. And when it’s over, we can all join in the chorus, singing “Is that all there is?”