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Mad Men: That Wily Kenny Cosgrove

04/09/2015 05:39 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2015

The sixties are gone, the finale of the first part of Mad Men's 7th and final season, titled, "Waterloo" had made plain and clear. And what better way is there to symbolically mark the closing of that decade than to include into the drama mankind's most adventurous scientific undertaking, man's first lunar landing. Whereas episode 7 left off on July 20, 1969, episode 8, titled "Severance" continues the second half of season 7 in 1970.

Fashion, office décor, and ownership may have changed, since the story of New York City Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper & Partners began, as Sterling Cooper in 1960. Along with all that, one man always seems to manage to navigate above the fray, with his marriage still intact even, wonder of wonders. And that man's name is Ken Cosgrove.

Kenneth "Ken" Cosgrove, Vermont born and raised, ex-Navy, and now college educated ad exec, makes a tactical move enough to make even Sun Tzu, Chinese military genius/philosopher occasionally quoted by business titans, very proud. For Ken Cosgrove on this rare occasion of his ad career, announces an unexpected surprise shortly after being fired by bosses from SC&P. Only this time the firing did not come from Don Draper, acted by Jon Hamm. For after being shocked from later finding out from Cosgrove that it was Roger Sterling, one of the original partners of Sterling Cooper, and Ferguson Donnelly, a McCann Erickson ad exec whose company now has a 51 percent stake in SC&P who both did the firing, Don Draper says, "I'm calling Jim Hobart (CEO of McCann Erickson) right now. You're the head of accounts." As Don Draper was willing to take the matter to the very top for Ken Cosgrove, whom both had worked together at Sterling Cooper since 1960.

Even so, Cosgrove later meets with Pete Campbell, after being told by Roger Sterling he would receive a generous severance on condition he would secure all his accounts to Campbell. Yet through the years of working together on and off ever since both worked at Sterling Cooper since 1960, while Pete Campbell, acted by Vincent Kartheiser, always saw Cosgrove as a rival, Cosgrove would seem nonchalant as if no rivalry ever existed. Nevertheless, one can trace an example of such rivalry all the way back to season 3 episode 12 titled, "The Grown Ups." For in that episode, Lane Pryce financial officer from Putnam Powell and Lowe, the British ad firm that secured a takeover merger of Sterling Cooper in season 2 episode 13, informed Pete Campbell about the decision to make Ken Cosgrove senior vice president in charge of account services. Although Campbell, would be made head of account management. Upon hearing all that, Pete Campbell was immediately flummoxed before stating, "What is it based on? Our billings are neck and neck." Which Lane Pryce follows to mix in a compliment while answering, "It's become apparent that you are excellent at making the clients feel their needs are being met. But Mr. Cosgrove has the rare gift of making them feel as if they haven't any needs."

Yet, the later meeting between Cosgrove and Campbell, as Cosgrove releases all his accounts, all goes so cordially that one would think they've been friends all along. Campbell swears that he only found out about Cosgrove's firing after Cosgrove. Whether that may be actually true or not, still the two ad men appear to begin confiding in each other.

Ken Cosgrove then admits to Pete Campbell that he had never fit in with what he saw was the corporate culture at McCann, while stating, "I'm not Irish. I'm not Catholic." Which was alluded to earlier by Ferguson Donnelly about Cosgrove's attitude, while sitting next to Roger Sterling in Sterling's office, as perhaps the main reason he gave to Cosgrove about firing him. Along with the fact that six years ago, Cosgrove left McCann Erickson with the Birdseye frozen food account. Only to return to work for McCann's then competitor, the newer Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in the season 4 episode 6 titled, "Waldorf Stories."

Because remember, when news that McCann Erickson would buy Putnam Powell and Lowe in season 3 episode 13, with Sterling Cooper partners along with it, Ken Cosgrove was not asked to join the startup firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, created quickly after the takeover news in December 1963. Therefore he remained to work at McCann, while instead Pete Campbell was asked by both Don Draper and Roger Sterling, acted by John Slattery. For in that episode Don Draper admits to Campbell all the plusses of bringing him aboard as he says, "You saw this coming. We didn't. In fact, you've been ahead on a lot of things, Aeronautics, teenagers, the Negro market. We need you to keep us looking forward." And not only was Campbell onboard that first day at SCD&P, but also Harry Crane, and Margaret "Peggy" Olson, acted by Elisabeth Moss, whom Don Draper had promoted from secretary to junior copywriter for the Clearasil account at the end of season 1.

Nevertheless, after Ken Cosgrove secures all his accounts to Pete Campbell, he later invites himself into a meeting between Campbell and Roger Sterling with unexpected breaking news. That is after Cosgrove tells the two men within Sterling's office, that he won't be collecting his generous severance which he knew was rightfully his before he says, "My signing bonus from Dow is so big, it feels like a second helping." And that's when he divulges that he's taking over head of advertising at Dow Chemical, the firm his father-in-law Ed Baxter recently retired from, as well as being among the top clients of McCann Erickson. "So you're going to fire us?" asks Pete Campbell. "No, it's going to be way worse than that. I'm going to be your client. And I hate to tell you, but I'm very hard to please," Cosgrove says, before adding, "Until we meet again." To which Campbell then says, "Sh--."

There is a very good web article by Samantha Rullo at Bustle on June 23, 2013 that gives a tribute to Ken Cosgrove, titled, "An Ode to 'Mad Men's Ken Cosgrove, the Series' Most Underrated Character." For she explains that although the rest of the characters on Mad Men are very well written, Ken Cosgrove has such characteristics that distinguishes him from the rest. And I have to agree.

Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner, has the distinction of having won four consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama. And one can see why after watching the episode titled, "Severance." For in this episode, Don Draper attends a Jewish Shiva memorial service of his former client and lover from season 1, Rachel Katz, acted by Maggie Siff. "She lived the life she wanted to live," Rachel's sister had said to Don Draper. And with now six episodes left of the final season 7, will the same be true of Don Draper?