Warning: Spoilers from the “Mad Men” season finale are ahead.
As of last night’s midseason finale, there are only seven episodes left before “Mad Men” ends. But one of the old reliables of Sterling Cooper and Partners, a stalwart member of the “Mad Men” cast, has already taken his final bow.
During the midseason finale, titled “Waterloo,” the world of “Mad Men” watched in awe as Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Don Draper, Peggy Olsen, Pete Campbell and Harry Crane watched in a crowded, booze-free motel room while on business in Indianapolis. Roger Sterling watched surrounded by family. And Bertram Cooper, a founding member of SC&P, watched from bed.
“Bravo,” he marveled at the television. And with that, he died.
“Matthew Weiner came to me and said, ‘Bobby, I want to talk to you… You’re going to pass away in this episode. I’m sorry,’” actor Robert Morse says of his character’s departure. “I said, ‘I perfectly understand.’”
The episode moves on after Cooper’s death, with several business deals still to be made. But Cooper returns at the very end, in the form of a song-and-dance fantasy that plays out purely in Don’s imagination. Cooper sings “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” surrounded by beautiful women, as he dances his way to his office and closes the door for good.
It’s a fitting tribute for Morse, who has won multiple Tony awards for his work on Broadway, most famously his turn as J. Pierpont Finch in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
“I think he’s very much present in his mind, and very much a part of Don moving forward,” Jon Hamm says of how Cooper’s death affects Don. “What’s it going to be like without this guy who has been the figurehead of this company for many, many years?”
“This fantasy in [Don's] mind, it’s a message from his subconsciousness: that in the wake of all this, they actually lost somebody very important to them,” adds “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner. “Cooper’s loss is really about life itself. It’s not about money or anything like that. What is the real value of success when you still have your life on the other side of it?”
Cooper’s death is the final nail in the coffin for the first half of “Mad Men’s” final season. The second half airs next year.