Mad Speculation – Roger Sterling
Roger Sterling’s witticisms have lightened the mood at Sterling Cooper since Season One’s quip, “When God closes a door he opens a dress.” By his own admission Roger spends his adult life living like he’s “on shore leave” rarely staying faithful to his first wife Mona or to trophy wife Jane. The closest he comes to romantic happiness is with his secretary Joan “Red” Holloway, but she wants more than he is willing to give. At work Roger lives in the shadow of his father’s legacy and never appears fulfilled by the advertising business.
During the first half of Season Seven Roger’s character starts to shift and show significant development. For example, when he makes his first appearance in “Time Zones” [7.1] Roger is awakened by a phone call while in a hotel room surrounded by six or seven naked women. One of the woman notes “we really got somewhere last night” suggesting that Roger’s affair with acid is still going strong.
Fast-forward through a mini season that sees Roger sidelined at work playing second fiddle to smarmy Jim Cutler, and watching as his daughter throws her child and her marriage away for an electricity-free existence living with a bunch of hippies “with diseases.”
In “Waterloo” [7.7] Bert Cooper, the firm’s co-founder makes the accurate yet cutting remark that Roger is “not a leader of men.” During the moon landing, in contrast to Burt’s assessment, we see that Roger has resumed a leadership role within his family, acting as the patriarch who has a hand in raising the astronaut on his lap. Margaret who once forbade her childish father from seeing her son Ellery has basically turned her parenting duties over to him and to the mother who spent her maternal years “locked in the bathroom with a bottle of gin.” Roger’s moon landing awe, like his drug induced sleep, is also interrupted by a phone call – this one telling him that Bert Cooper has died.
Bert’s death finally allows Roger to become his own man and inspires his exhilarating bid to eliminate Cutler. In a move reminiscent of “Shut the Door, Have a Seat” [3.13] Roger surprises all of his partners by selling a majority of Sterling Cooper to McCann Erickson, saving his own job and Don’s in the process. No one outwits Roger Sterling.
Meanwhile, Jane has gone on to more exciting adventures as The Flash’s Golden Glider where she neutralizes her enemies by turning them into gold, naturally.
Roger might reconcile with Mona, since I doubt he and Joan will find their way back to each other. Much to his credit and to our surprise, Roger has finally come home from shore leave; he has become a leader of men.