It's the end of an era for Sterling Cooper & Partners. After selling a majority stake to advertising juggernaut McCann Erickson last season, the unthinkable — and yet totally predictable — happened on Sunday night's episode, "Time and Life." McCann is absorbing the firm. Everyone's jobs are in jeopardy, even though for now it looks like the partners will be safe. How did Don's secretary Meredith take the news? Not great.
She stands up to Don, demanding to know what's going on, in a polka dot drop-waist dress with a sailor collar and long white necktie. Meredith's looks are usually quite girly, even doll-like, but this outfit skews young even for her. Still, she's not scared to throw Don some shade for being borderline useless in the office.
Joan also chose a neck-bow to cover up her cleavage for a very important meeting with McCann: the partners' Hail Mary pass to try to save the company. It's hard to tell if it's a dress or a skirt suit with a patterned shirt underneath but either way it's a strong streamlined look that feels elegant and trendy. She adds a feminine but modern detail with a huge pearl brooch on her shoulder and both of her structured leather bags demonstrate a professional elegance. It is paramount that McCann take her seriously if she's going to survive there, and she's counting on this look to speak for her.
Meanwhile Peggy is confronted with the guilt of giving up the baby she had with Pete for adoption years ago as she auditions children for a commercial and considers where she should work next. In a rare moment of vulnerability, she tells Stan about the baby and defends her decision. She gets emotional but she doesn't feel conflicted. Why should she have to live with the consequences of a youthful mistake when men don't have to do the same? In every scene this episode, she is wearing bold, graphic stripes — in her usual polyblend fabrics — that are as defined as her professional ambitions. She's made peace with the sacrifices she's made to be a woman in this industry and unwavering in her determination.
Speaking of motherhood, Pete's wife Trudy is back. The Greenwich housewife calls Pete in a panic, hair in curlers and wearing a psychedelically bright nightgown, because their daughter isn't going to get into Greenwich Country Day. For a meeting at the school she wears a white dress with black edging — almost like an upgraded tennis outfit — along with a narrow-brimmed hat perched perfectly on her head. She adds a diamond brooch along with matching earrings. She may be divorced but she does not lack the finer things in life, and neither will her daughter.
The episode ends with the partners trying to put a positive spin on the office move in an announcement to the staff, but they know better. It was touching to see the entire company together one last time, with the range of hemlines and patterns and ties and facial hair. Is this really the end of Sterling Cooper? With only three episodes left, the answer is probably yes.