Posts tagged Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
Posts tagged Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
You know how some Mad Men episodes after the premiere are filler until you get to gems like “The Suitcase”? While not being on par with heavy-hitters like “The Suitcase”, “The Other Woman, and other pantheon episodes, “Collaborators” was a pretty packed episode in getting through the private and professional lives, their intersections, and the rules that have been set or made up along.
2 hour episode like Season 5 premiere “A LITTLE KISS”, which show creator Matthew Weiner actually had to have his arm twist on this one. He was given an option: 2 hour finale or 2 hour premiere according to the New York Times interview he gave.
Those Hawaiian photos of Don and Megan are definitely in the premiere, but there’s a catch. This is not some vacation but it appears to be work related. According to the NPR preview of the show, Don may be there to do work on a Hawaiian vacation resort that the agency.
Last 2 episodes had Don totally on his game with the Jaguar pitch and then totally breathing fire, rather desperate, plea to Dow Chemical? Is he back or not? This episode appears to show a man still at a loss but there also seems to be a meta-commentary going on about the show that also happens to reveal Don’s subconscious. If you listen to the NPR preview, there is an audio from the premiere where what Don pitches what he believes connects Hawaii to the resort makes the clients think death (by way of James Mason’s end in A STAR IS BORN). While I think it also shows Don’s guilt about Lane still remains, I also think the show is being a little playful with its audience, with the fact the clients are not really into the potential macabre interpretation of the imagery.
Photos have part of the premiere take place during Christmastime. Is it 1967? Cannot imagine them passing through 1968, though they pretty much did with 1964 being the in-between passage of time between seasons 3 and 4. But 1968 aligns so well with the show’s tone. I will be shocked if we even make it to 1969. Shit in ‘68 was just that heavy. But that ellipses of time from when Don waited at a bar for an old-fashioned when a young woman propositioned him on behalf of her friend seems to not have impacted Don or Megan the way we imagined/feared it would. But who knows.
Some characters will get there screen-time while others will not. In the NYT interview, the interviewer mentions in passing Betty Draper Francis (arguably the most polarizing character on the show) will have an arc to start the season (though although the Season 6 promo photos show her back at her fighting weight, I do think it is significant that she is not featured in the photo gallery for the episode so I do think whether or not she is still overweight, which was never revealed in the Season 5 promo photos, is still a mystery). This may also connect her to Sally, who is photographed in the episode photo gallery.
And according to Matt Zoller Seitz on HuffPost Live, Joan, although in the episode photo gallery, is not in the episode too much.
The agency did indeed get the second floor they were browsing last season. But it is unclear what is the name of the agency. Is Pryce still in the name? How about Harris (or Holloway)?
James Wolk (Best known for the shamefully short-lived Lone Star and Political Animals) has a guest-appearance according to the AV Club review. And since Matthew Weiner is that secretive, we have no idea in what way he is part of the show. Is he a potential client with a recurring role like Ray Wise as Ken’s father-in-law and Dow Chemical big-shot? Is he a one-episode deal? Or is he a potential Ben Feldman jump-to-regular status for Season 6? Could he be another creative? Lord knows, the guy needs work beyond being the good-looking object of affection for girls and guys on network shows.
This was an episode that made time to wrap up things and also indicate that yes, there are still loose ends and there are future mysteries to ponder next season. But let’s go over what got wrapped up first and start with the after effects from the suicide of Lane Pryce.
A considerable amount time has past going from the early March, eternal winters in the Northeast (Easter came late in 1967) to the budding spring of late April (Casino Royale played in the movie theater Peggy and Don were in that clued me in on the date). The effects to the agency see their most successful quarter thanks to Jaguar and perhaps some other, smaller, unnamed accounts brought in. It is unclear if they got Dow Chemical and some current clients are restless (Topaz) and some have bleaker futures (Mohawk Airlines in June of that year has a plane crash), but the agency’s on the up and up, literally. They are expanding to a new floor with the five partners gaining that new space, since the other floor is seemingly haunted by Lane Pryce and Ida Blankenship. Hell, the agency even gets a profit with Lane with the life insurance. In a bizarre way, Lane leaving puts them in a better position. But that is not to say there is no guilt still felt.
The void of Lane was spatial, an empty chair present in scenes but never named. Joan and Don, the only two who could say had interactions with Lane beyond professional still have a limited mindset for the suicide. Joan thought offering herself to him romantically could have fulfilled him when there are probably darker issues in Lane’s past that made his trajectory unavoidable. With Don, following previous behavior in other episodes and other characters this season, tries to do the ‘nice thing’ and give Mrs. Rebecca Pryce money on the agency’s behalf. She refuses, believing that the agency had poisoned her husband both morally and ethically painfully accepting her husband’s professional limitations were his downfall. Money cannot buy away that kind of pain and personal agony about a love one and I think the Lane ending was very realistic and in-line with the stiff upper-lip that has clearly boxed in the Pryces.
We find out that Peggy working at CGC as the creative head has pretty much fully transformed into the female Don Draper with a take no prisoners attitude toward her creative underlings and hanging out in movie theaters while on the job to figure out the questions of the day later. Her superiors seem to accept this and let her take a personal business trip on behalf of what I believe we are being led to believe are Virginia Slim cigarettes. Peggy as a creative head taking on a cigarettes account? Oh my lord, she is Don! It is not the classiest business trip (even without the dog-humping shot the hotel was a by-the-numbers kind of shabby set-up) but it is something and she is reveling in it where she is trusted to get the account instead of being patronized as ‘the little girl’ by Bert Cooper and under-appreciated by Don at SCDP. We saw Peggy shine this season when she got to actually tap into her feminine side instead of professionally cross-dressing with the Heinz pitches to be Don-esque. She was already a Don-type of ad person but the Chevalier Blanc pitch showed a certain promise that makes me think even if she does not get Virginia Slims, her feminist streak is really going to come out next season, picking up the scraps of women products from other agencies and turning them into gold. It could just be that I am a Peggy fan and this is wish-fulfillment, but her and Don at the theater are equals and given that Don has to give angry, fire-breathing pitches to the big boys, I think Peggy may be in a better position than him come Season 6.
The last shot of Don Draper seems to be contemplating proposition by a woman at a bar who gets her girlfriend to do it for him. We never see his answer and it is a pretty blank canvass to project on if he will stray from Megan or cooly reject it like he did at the brothel in “Signal 30”. But the motif of a Don’s animalistic, carnal, ‘beast’ yearnings when his ‘beauty’ is no longer in his life (Mad Men writers seem to get the original story more than the those blinded by the Disney film) seem to signal ‘DANJA ZONE!!!!’. We know now that there is a definite possibility for stray Don Draper to happen.
Megan’s self-worth this episode took a substantial dive in order for her to get what she wanted. A rejected screen-test, a bitchy mother who is more in town to schtup Roger Sterling than hear about her problems, an acting friend trying to play a game of ‘I scratch your back if you scratch mine’ to appear in a commercial by SCDP, and ultimately deciding to get her major break by using her husband’s connections to appear on that commercial. Don initially rejects it that it is bad for business but there is a part of him that decides to let her go. Watching her screen-test, he realizes that for him, she was ‘his discovery’ romantically the way Peggy was his discovery professionally. But as Peggy tells him, letting them go and watching them succeed has to be something he wants. Don has kept Megan close in ways that verged on the abusive professionally. She rejects working in advertising, a major sin since she revealed to be good at it, but wants to be very public face in the crowd and if that includes appearing on a national campaign, then so be it. We have seen her give performances, from sex games to ‘Zou Bissou Bissou’, but Don has always been in the room and in a way he is in the commercial with his name on it, but she cannot just be his wife for her to be fulfilled and get traction. He cannot be the only person watching and falling in love with her on camera, others will have to as well. He has to walk away from the sound stage for her to get what she wants. That is going to be hard on the marriage and whether or not it lasts (I think there will still be a marriage next season but its strength is another matter) is up in the air.
In a way that Peggy was Don this season, Megan engineered her wooing of Don advertising a somewhat false avatar very much in the way Don has always advertised himself to others. He thought she loved advertising and was thrilled at the thought she also wanted to be his work partner. It is much more transparent now. She is an actress. Don knows Megan the way she knows all about him. She accepts him but does he and can he? Again more questions for next season.
The weak point of this episode was the Misadventures of Pete Campbell in Cos Cob. It was a bit too soapy for Pete to emotionally strip himself naked to a woman who no longer remembers him. It was also much too quick and resolved that Trudy agree he gets an apartment in Manhattan because his excuses for looking beat up stem from car accidents. I much more enjoyed professional Pete this season because he is such a ruthless manipulator and at-all-costs type of ad man. Seeing him distracted by Howard and Beth Dawes, after so much time elapsed, at work just did not feel right when we saw him so power-hungry in the previous episodes. If the episode just cut to the chase and had Howard reveal he had Beth shocked which led to the very strange territory of the audience actually pulling for Pete Campbell in a fight, I would have found his sub-plot a bit more acceptable along with Trudy being more feisty and not so gullible. Pete is one character I am most curious about going forward. I would much prefer to see him more business-driven next season if just because I find Roger, Joan (though I loved her authority in the partner meetings), Bert, and Don to still be woefully old-school about business where I think Pete is going to have to find the new blood accounts and finally get the company featured as a hip ad agency. He can also be despicable at the same time but I want office Pete to be the focus rather than retreading suburbia.
Overall, this season has been divisive for a lot of people. But for me a lot of the doom and gloom, the marginalizing of certain characters (Lane and to a certain extent, Peggy), the battling behaviors characters are fighting internally and externally, the yearning for control or maintaining control, the loss of control, and the changing times have made this season almost a prelude, an appetizer for the next two seasons. The agency is growing but there are still a lot of flaws that could preclude them from reaching their potential. Relationships seemed to have irrevocably changed on a professional and personal level. Characters know what can and cannot change them, some are accepting of that and others just do not care or try not to care. But the world and cultural landscape are going to make things even harder to turn away. Things are going to be more transparent, more cynical, and a lot more colorful. This is a show that knows it cannot be the same smoke-filled rooms of biting subtext. This is where modernism and ends and post-modern begins and I cannot wait to see what the show does moving forward.
I will be ranking the episodes in the next coming days. And I do not care what anybody says, “Mystery Date” will be near the top!
I saw the ghost of Adam Whitman coming and Don’s toothache added more opportunity for him to have macabre hallucinations. It was okay but it spoke more to Don also dealing with his new life leaving an indirect body count that finally hit him after Lane. Don knows he can never leave him but I am wondering why he wanted Adam to stay.
"You Only Live Twice" by Nancy Sinatra for the music montage and close-out song was a perfect choice considering this season has shown the lives of many characters fulfilling essentially these ‘other lives’ or ‘new lives’.
1968, much like the Kennedy assassination in Season 3, appears very unavoidable. Things start to go to hell immediately in January with Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive but Vietnam is still background noise with only side characters involved at this point. I think Dow Chemical would have to be under the agency for there to really make the war come out front and center.
I think Civil Rights are happening next season as well. Given that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and lack of bodies in creative, could there be a person of color hired? Or will they actually listen to Topaz and hire a girl (before Peggy clearly steals Topaz from them)?
I enjoyed the hell out of Julia Ormond as Mrs. Marie Calvet. She killed her lines both in English and French with a lot of dry wit and tone that was both devastatingly true and really funny. You get her affair with Roger Sterling as they are a bit of the same kinds of people.
Speaking of Roger, I think his LSD trips are going to be apart of his banality by season 6 and his phone-stalking for Mrs. Calvet was hysterical. And I am sure that was not the brief nudity people expected on the episode warning last night.
Shoot me, internet, but I enjoyed Jessica Pare as Megan (the character as well) and thought this episode in particular was a good one for her. Drunk-driven episodes on Mad Men are always good for characters on this show.
Excellent job by the people behind Inside Mad Men on misdirection. We know Jessica Pare had the hair flip wearing an outfit she wore in a previous episode when talked about the episodes but of course her last scene was in the kitschy, sorta Disney’s Snow White outfit. Christina Hendricks also was still in her costume from “Commissions & Fees” that made me think that episode was her last appearance (until I saw the preview, of course) but wore several different blue outfits this episode. Same with Jared Harris being in a different suit than he wore in any of the episodes. No stains and rope burns in sight. Also served as a good clue Peggy would re-appear since she never wore that red number until the finale.
Noted Loose-Ends Never Answered and Ones to Contemplate:
What are the partner percentages now after Lane. Pete seems to be on equal footing along with Joan. Was it too soon for a name change? How much does the rest of the agency know about this? Clearly nobody wants to touch Lane’s office.
So is Abe like Peggy’s wife sitting in her apartment writing for radical weeklies? We never returned to Peggy’s home life and now I am siding with her mother that Abe is test-driving her. I personally always found her dynamics with Stan more interesting and his explicit declaration that he is sick of working with Ginsberg makes me think Peggy will take him with her a la Lady Godiva on a horse.
Dow Chemical. Again, will the agency suddenly become politicized beyond doing campaigns? Will Ken successfully phase Pete out and will Ken’s standing at the agency be hurt or helped if they do get it? Will his personal life be in any danger? Will Don’s political apathy be challenged by the younger creatives given that I get a feeling Ginsberg hates war based on his personal history and Stan seems to be a firm believer in the military industrial complex. Guess they are saving that nugget for next season. Hopefully it means more Ray Wise.
"THE OTHER WOMAN"
Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway Harris. We saw them in the beginning as secretaries with Joan navigating Peggy how to play the game. But Joan’s passive aggressive queen-bee status and Peggy’s earnestness were just a mismatch. They are not the same kind of woman in a variety of different ways, and the different eras of the workplace each one represents reappears time and time again. Joan never thought of herself beyond being a secretary, even though it is proven and spoken how she could easily do the work of the male partners at SCDP. Peggy went from secretary to copy-writer and is still willing to kick in the glass ceiling even though I would say she is pre-second-wave feminism at this point. The moment after the news of winning the Jaguar account, Joan gives an exiting Peggy a look. Joan might not know off the bat that she is gone for good from the agency, but there is a sense of Joan can never leave the agency. She is the personified organ of the agency and ever the more indispensable after this episode. Peggy is moving on, she has outgrown the agency and the shadow cast by her boss and ‘older brother’ figure Don. We saw in “Lady Lazarus” that the empty elevator shaft that Don sees after Megan leaves seems to point how he can never really leave. Peggy leaving of course is horizontal at this point; same field, different agency. Can she move up vertically? Let’s hope Mad Men gives us the privilege to see that.
Prior to Peggy leaving SCDP, we have seen in little bits each episode that she has plateaued in her work there. From getting buried in an account that she got thrown off of, getting phased out of working on accounts because of her gender, and her work being under Michael Ginsberg’s name had to unnerve her as she was practically living in the office re-doing and re-viewing work for the day. Don throwing money in her face, who has ignored a lot of her situation this season be it with his marriage or being anxious over the Jaguar account, was the breaking point. Peggy has never given a thought with a career outside of advertising but her wings at SCDP seemed clipped and her pact with Ken Cosgrove appeared to just be in name only. But she realizes she can walk away, realizing money cannot solve her problem with her and the agency. There is no price for her creativity.
Joan also did not put a price on the asset that has gotten her most attention at the agency but that response was ambiguous enough for Pete Campbell to twist to the partners that she could do a proposition from an important Jaguar exec. Money will not do, for many reasons, but Lane Pryce plants a seed in Joan’s head that a 5% stake and partnership in the company will do. Now people think that Joan rejecting Roger offering to pay for Kevin seems like a much better option when weighing the two but for Joan, the Roger option still has her dependent on somebody else’s money. That is just not Joan. Yes, she is giving away her agency for the night but her reward is something in her control and not in a control of a man she knows far too well. It is heartbreaking to see Joan willingly let go of that agency with the Jaguar exec and even more perverse that the glass ceiling has somewhat cracked at SCDP based on this with Joan as the first female partner but, even if Joan does not know the whole story from all of them, the male partners at the firm have all been involved in ethically questionable and heinous acts with clients. Joan is not ashamed about it but even with her vertical rise through the agency, it is this agency and something she cannot walk away from.
I think for both Joan and Peggy, their options are completely in character. Peggy may have been raised through the agency but she is a woman who realizes she can walk away and not have to follow the path expected of woman at that time. Joan does follow the path expected of her and if anything, the path has been very disappointing and destructive to her. Joan relishes the power she has at the agency and there is something to note that with Greg out of the picture, but in the picture enough that he is seen as Kevin’s father, getting control back comes through the agency that not only helps her but the agency— as backwards as that is given what she has to do for both her and the SCDP.
People seemed surprised that Don was against Joan doing it or rather, the only one against it. I think in a way, he wants the Jaguar account for himself rather than Pete, Lane, Roger, and Bert openly pimping out Joan. Last episode, Don made it his mission to get the Jaguar account and his pitch, via the ever perceptive Michael Ginsberg, seemed like the one pitch to officially get him back in the saddle. However, we find out that his 11th hour trip to tell Joan not to go through with it was too late and that the account is tainted. And by the end of that day, he loses the thrill of winning the account, his protege, and the woman he could never have but respected. Work is no longer fun for Don already and a day like that may have done more long-term damage for him professionally at the agency. Don is removed from love-leave but also work, frightened that Megan was the one that would ‘run away’ when it stood true for Peggy. He does not really understand it, Peggy wanting to leave, but it makes him uneasy with what he is left with. Can he ever leave? Or is his exit that empty elevator shaft, that he can never leave?
Among the season 5 episodes, “The Other Woman” stands out in not just its all-around quality and balance but plot-wise it could be a real game-changer for the season and perhaps the series overall. My only real complaint is the lack of Roger, and not just for zingers, but the fact that we saw no dilemma going through his head about Joan getting propositioned and that he trusted Pete Campbell’s word. This season has been accused of being too “obvious” with its themes and the theme of women compartmentalized, objectified, and used as objects may scream out on paper as ‘try hard’ but it underscores that nothing has really changed. There may be more ways and options for women to walk away but I think it says a lot that the briefest but most on-the-noise (in a good way) sub-plot was Megan’s audition because I am certain that for Matthew Weiner and the like in the industry, that is kicking the hornet’s nest.
Yes, I definitely was in tears at the end of this episode with the way Don, Joan, and Peggy gave each other heartbreaking looks. This should easily be the Emmy submission episode for Christina Hendricks.
A show of hands: Who recoiled in abject terror when they saw Pete turn his head and smirk after talking to Joan?
I do not think this is Elisabeth Moss’ last episode of the season, let alone the series, though her beaming exit into the elevator as The Kinks’ "You Really Got Me" was stupendous. A much needed lift from all of the sadness.
My only negative response to Peggy leaving is that it is to work for Ted Chaough. I hate that guy! Why did Freddy have to direct her to him?
Don and Megan seem to need each other as escapes and breaks from their careers sexually. I think it has dawned on Megan that returning to acting is not easy but their talk about the Jaguar pitch at home after work showed she is not giving into the temptation of critiquing the ‘mistress’ pitch, leaving the bedroom to look at a script. But hell, even her late night visit to Don when she shoots down Stan and the free-lancers asking for any ideas had her give a dismissive statement that was still more interesting than what they were coming up with, with the exception to Ginsberg’s pitch- but he was on Mars anyway.
Now Ginsberg looking at Don’s office contemplating Don and Megan brings into question what he sees as who is getting ‘owned’, that most certainly inspired his pitch. At first, I thought for sure Megan was ‘the Jaguar’ (certainly not ‘the Buick in the garage’) but rethinking his phrase that she ‘comes and goes as she pleases’ makes me think it speaks to how she has Don wrapped around her finger. Given that he knew her as the boss’ wife, I think for him he easily sees that she is the one who won in this union and not the other way around and that is not necessarily her as the one ‘owned’.
Pete never answered Joan’s hypothetical of how he would react if Trudy got propositioned. I think we all know the answer to that question.
Joan’s mother flirts with plumbers, is casually racist toward people of color, and now wants Greg to die in Vietnam. I think we know what part of her personality she is fan-servicing as a character.
I note that Peggy’s realization that there is nothing for her at SCDP is pre-second-wave feminism. The fact that her biggest champions are Freddy Rumsen and Ken Cosgrove, not to mention Harry Crane speaking fondly of her to Don, shows that although the feminist streak in Mad Men in terms of plot and character arc is still in developing stages it is not going to be a random showcase of ‘The 60s!’.
Will Jaguar ever want their product on the show ever again? Now I just think all of their execs look like Antonin Scalia.
This took place in mid-January but close enough to Valentines Day in 1967. Did Super Bowl I already happen? The game was not really taken seriously as an event so I can imagine it goes under the radar in the zeitgeist whereas the Ali-Liston fight in Season 4’s “The Suitcase” was must-see, must-hear, must-watch.
This episode was co-written by Matthew Weiner and Semi Chellas who co-wrote this season’s “Far Away Places” and you got that feel of “Far Away Places” with the ‘return’ to Joan’s apartment to realize her tryst with the Jaguar exec already happened and Don’s quest to change her mind was too little, too late dramatic irony.
Janie Bryant style callback. Not just Joan wearing the black fur Roger gave her but a callback to her likeness to Rita Hayworth by going Gilda with the Black cocktail dress.
That montage of Joan’s tryst and the pitch was gold and would make Eisenstein cry if he did not hate capitalism and consumerism so much. Also helped the Jaguar models in Stan’s art work were hot red.
People are wondering why Don would be concerned with Joan using her body but not Sal with Lee Garner Jr. in Season 3. Beyond the homophobia and Joan being a woman, he admires Joan way more than Sal. For Don, Joan is the indispensable, living incarnate of the agency. Sal was a dispensable creative type who was a dime a dozen.
This episode was not on the level of “Mystery Date”, “Signal 30”, “Far Away Places” or “At the Codfish Ball” but I loved this episode’s Betty-ness a lot more than “Tea Leaves”. That episode had a lot of interesting stuff around it, Peggy shaking down Roger and the introduction of Michael Ginsberg while the center story was of Betty’s uninteresting, rushed story line explaining her weight gain and anxieties. This episode is about trying to overcome the anxieties of trying to lose the weight, and the prosthetics have either become more subtle or she has lost some weight since the summer, by joining Weight Watchers that I guess at the time was more of an Overeaters Anonymous for Women. She seems sympathetic and totally buying what WW is selling including delivering spiel to Henry that made me take pause at how kind Betty seems the way Peggy was disturbed by Don’s kindness in “A Little Kiss”. But that did not last long. The claws came out and Betty, and this seems underplayed in many recaps I have read, did one of the most evil things she has ever done on the show. Ever.
Sally is doing her family tree that she was mostly doing in the Draper Love-Nest and she with Bobby and Gene brought back a lot of scraps of paper they drew on, including on paper that was not meant to leave the Love-Nest, mainly a love note that Don and Megan seem to have a thing for since she has left SCDP. Betty reads it in Don’s voice and something triggers.
I am not sure if it is a reminder of what she had with Don or that this was a completely different man, as in a kinder, romantic man, who treated her poorly but is now with a younger, thinner woman who she catches an accidental glimpse of changing into a paisley shirt before their awkward first ever interaction on the show. Either way, Betty is pissed by the note and drops the nuclear bomb on unsuspecting Sally Draper. She tells her about his ‘first’ wife, Anna Draper. This is all new information to Sally, of course, but considering that Megan is the one helping Sally with the family tree, I am pretty certain Betty’s aims were to also drop the bomb on Megan about the Anna stuff which would lead into the Dick Whitman stuff which caused her marriage for Don to end and would surely in her mind really shake the foundation of the Don-Megan marriage.
Seriously, the revelation and what it could have done in terms of damage far exceeds Betty moving out of Ossining or firing Carla. But of course, Megan already knew off-screen and refers to Don as Dick Whitman in “A Little Kiss”. Betty is not aware of their union being more honest and open from the start than her marriage to Don ever was. Still, Sally feels some level of betrayal. She is entering teenage-dom and finding out how much adults lie and it bothers her a lot. So when Megan knows a secret about her father, she feels betrayed on a friend-level. Remember she has been in a friendship with her stepmother that existed before Don even had the male gaze for Megan (and remember, that was when Sally felt her father failed her in trying to escape her mother and Megan was her should to cry on in Season 4’s “The Beautiful Girls”). Sally does not really see Megan as her mother but a lifeline into adulthood the way Don saw Megan as a lifeline into youthfulness. She ambushes Megan in full Betty mode (and to a certain extent, Don at his worst) calling her ‘phony’ (how Holden Caulfield) and projecting a Disney Evil Stepmother to her and the deceased Anna.
Megan tells Don what has happened and basically can read what exactly Betty wants to happen. I mentioned in “At the Codfish Ball”, I see more Megan as an older Sally who has dealt with the drama of her parents bickering. She calms down Don before ever trying to make that phone call, with the awoken Sally hearing through the walls realizing that Megan cares about Sally’s feelings and that this needs to be talked about but not in an argument-driven, accusatory phone call to Rye, New York’s haunted mansion. Sally gets part of the story, but mainly the Anna Draper story without hearing about the Dick Whitman revelation. When Betty asks Sally, after hearing how good her grade was with her family tree, she asks if she included Anna, Sally responds lovingly with how much Don and Megan spoke admiringly of her and she ever saw photos. In one flail swoop, Sally tells her mother she knows more about Anna than she ever did, note how it was a complete 180 from Sally calling her and Megan insignificant. Sally ain’t stupid, she finds out she was a pawn and Don diffused her anxieties about hearing her father had another wife by saying he wished he had the chance for her to meet Anna and that it was the sweet California home he once took her to see. Betty’s plan gets foiled with great passive aggression goal-keeping by somebody who witnessed way too much of it in her childhood.
We move from Don’s very lovey-dovey marriage that seems to still be going fine if into mushy territory, not just the letters but him immediately realizing she is right about not falling into Betty’s trap, into him getting ahead in work, including stepping on the copy-writing golden boy, Michael Ginsberg. Don is no longer relationship-cheating, just work-cheating and it is indeed as pathetic as the reversal seasons ago. He skims through Ginsberg’s work after going into the empty SCDP office after realizing how much he screwed over Peggy and himself with the Heinz account fiasco. Everything interesting has been done by Michael, who goes against Don and Pete revealing ‘nobody chooses advertising as a profession’ in “Signal 30”. The guy is a savant but he gets cut down to size by Don, much like taking some of Peggy’s idea for the Glo-Coat ad, taking some of the general idea of Ginzo’s hundreds of pitches in his pocket for Sno-Ball and makes his own, which I personally think has appeal but Ginsberg’s was just better and more accessible. Peggy and Don had it out in “The Suitcase”, largely because Peggy had it pent up in her for a long time while being stuck working late with him (and amazingly at that time hated working late while now has made her office a surrogate home). Ginsberg is too blunt to keep his frustrations inside by telling Don he knows he left his ad in the cab and did not even present it. In many ways Don is correct but there was a lack of ‘That’s what the money is for!’ type of clarity Ginsberg needs versus ‘I don’t think about you at all!’. Instead it is childish and a little cruel because Ginsberg can always go to another agency. But Don wants his mojo back and gets a little bit of it even if he stepped on the wunderkind of the agency. He is the boss but is his agency hip or ‘hep’ as Bert Cooper says it?
While this episode was about Don getting a successful pitch account and Roger charming new business, suddenly using Jane’s once hidden Judaism as a plus, it is undercut by Pete realizing that this agency just is not up to par with the fresh faced agencies of the period like the real Wells Rich Greene aka Peter, Paul and Mary ad agency. It may not be wise for Don to bask in the glow of outdoing an underling with promise when that guy is the future. But cruel Don, or Devil Don (with Jon Hamm’s ludicrous devil voice affectation), can now only seem to function outside of the Draper Love-Nest because Megan is not tolerating it there and not just the smog monster of Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis trying to drop bombs from Rye, New York, as Alan Sepinwall notes in his recap.
Overall, the episode is getting undeserved flak for not being up to par with the other episodes but it shows SCDP actually functioning with new work and accounts showing the new talent as well as showing how old habits die hard with Don and Roger.
Sepinwall also nailed that maybe Don is still not completely in work-mode as the best pitch is his love letter to Megan that could easily be an ad pitch. I hope they find an electric light bulb company and fast.
Pete Campbell has a BUtterfield 8 fantasy of Beth Dawes (aka Rory Gilmore) that was somehow creepier than Don’s fever dream of strangling an evil ex.
Pete’s fantasies about the affair have become so overt it cannot sound ridiculous without the context, telling Howard on the train point blank he would have sex with his wife. Howard almost interprets it as Pete either upset he cheats on his wife or that Pete simply cannot take the idea that Howard snagged a beautiful 24 year-old woman. But Pete was asking to get caught in the previous episode with Beth. Again, this seems like a story-line moving along to bad things.
My mother told me nothing in those Weight Watchers meetings have changed in 50 years. That really depresses me.
I am ignoring the Roger story-line because it seems like he did feel empathy for Jane by ‘defiling’ her new apartment by being her first lay there. At first I thought Roger was regretting ever letting her go by her charms to the Rosenberg wine-magnate son but he was just jealous and their encounter held no meeting other than feeling empowered. Jane knew it and Roger knew it. Did Roger really change? Jane feels like she missed out on something in that LSD trip to the point I feel really bad for her and wonder if she is a candidate for the death-pool. I actually just hope she schtups the Rosenberg kid.
Kiernan Shipka during her act-out with Megan felt a little too much Betty, to the point where it felt like a horror movie when another person’s personality takes over a new body.
I normally do not say this but January Jones as Betty Draper was good tonight such as the Weight Watchers meeting, the passive aggression, and counting her points and bites. I feel like Fat Betty was the best thing that happened to her. Her Thanksgiving plate was so grotesque, darkly funny, and depressing at the same time. In all but 10 seconds, I laughed, clapped, and felt depressed by her eating and spitting out whipped cream.
So is there more to Megan teaching Sally how to act-cry? Should I start re-looking at all previous Mad Men episodes that featured Megan crying? Maybe I am too naive but I think she is just an earnest Canadian who wants to be away from the cynical world of advertising and using children as pawns.
So Megan’s actress friend is trying out for “Dark Shadows” and Megan dismisses it, except it does portray how for many actors, soap opera appearances are a **GET**. I think that Megan is choosy and snobbish toward soap operas, a carry-over from her father hating advertising and probably promoting high-culture into her education. I know “Dark Shadows” was/is a beloved soap opera, but the genre is pretty low-culture. So what can Megan find to do? I still think acting will not be her long-term profession.
Roger admits he should not carry around that much cash. Do not even look at the inflation index of what he has paid out to the likes of Harry, Peggy, and Michael in 2012 money. Do not even include how much he put into Jane’s new apartment.
I will finally get my Lane Pryce fix next week. A Christmas present, indeed.
I feel like the Mothers Day theme is more tied to this episode than “Dark Shadows”.
Some theories that the creative team will be leaving Don, even before this episode, and seeing the sight of Wells Rich Greene did feel like a foreshadowing of a triage that people are certain Peggy will be apart of, because she is having a rough season work-wise and is bitching about loyalty. She has a pact with Ken and I consider Stan Rizzo to be her work-boyfriend, so those three immediately stick out. Ginsberg is an X-factor but I cannot see Rizzo staying and Peggy going.
Next week episode is indeed Christmas themed and it looks like it will be Harry-heavy in addition to Lane and it looks like Don and Megan are going out to see something that I am certain Megan put Don up to. But that means deciphering another ‘Next Week on Mad Men’.
Betty inhales whipped cream gif:
It’s Thanksgiving of 1966. New York City has a smog issue. It killed 169 people.
Draper Love Nest:
Don gets the kids for the weekend (since it is November is it Thanksgiving weekend?) and takes Bobby and Gene out while Megan and Sally appear to be spending their time entirely at the Draper Love Nest. Baseball season’s over, not sure if the Garden with Rangers or Knicks games would be appropriate for two little kids (Bobby #4 is super short) nor would Yankee or Shea Stadium for a Jets or Giants game. Maybe a movie? Only kids-related films I could find that could fit is the Adam West Batman film or the family comedy The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! Would he take them to the parade? Would Sally and Megan not go? Screw it, Don is totally taking the boys to see Fantastic Voyage or 10,000 B.C. to keep up with the Raquel Welch quotient.
Megan appears to be doing a table reading of a script she has. It sounds very Betty. Is she having Sally or Don do a table reading with her? I believe it has to be a script because it seems un-Megan, especially given the context of her previous rapports with Don, Sally, or any of the kids.
Henry and Betty have driven to the city. Their conversation seems a bit too open to have the kids sitting in the back. So are the going into the city for something? Are they seeing somebody? Or are they just picking up the kids for the Francis version of Thanksgiving? Henry seems to be in a hurry while stuck in traffic. This drive also seems to be all about Betty the way Harry talks to her in an exasperated manner and it does not seem like the first time she is having this little moment. They’re going to some place she wants to that Henry is not too enthused about.
Crackpot theory: Did Megan do the unthinkable and invite those two over for Thanksgiving dinner? Surprise again, Don! She does it because she got a TV or theater call back to play an evil mother. She slyly invites Betty because Sally remarks how much the part is like her mother. Betty is there to be studied!
Don does indeed appear to be surprised by something Megan tells him in a very Don, “Are you kidding me?!?” way. Is it something to do with her new acting career or is it something as simple as the kids are coming at last second? I notice that Don and Megan are in the same clothes as they are shown when Don kisses Megan goodbye when he takes the boys out (although it is not very noticeable with Don in an overcoat) which seems to take place after the news. Given Betty’s propensity for such shenanigans, such as inadvertently planting the seed for Don’s second marriage by firing Carla for the Disneyland trip, this is believable. But boy how I would love for some legit Betty-Megan interactions. Betty last referred to her as the 20 year-old girlfriend.
I noticed that on the original promo telecast there was Sally remarking, “How did you do that?” or something in that vein. I think she was talking to Megan. So I am guessing there is going to be a little bit of girl time between those two. Betty’s going to hate that.
Prediction: Don and Megan get the kids for Thanksgiving weekend thanks to Henry’s tight schedule but Betty demands that on their way to what I assume is his political operative functions she wants to go to the Draper Love Nest to check in on Sally or just specifically, Sally and ‘that good for nuthin’ skinny French-Canadian harlot who stole my first husband when I was prepping to win him back with booze and angry sex in an empty house who has now also stolen my daughter’. Megan is actually doing a table reading with Sally who will also be interested in acting and they watch the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows that Sally is OBSESSED with since neither of them want to even think about going out in the smog. Also note, Megan still barefoot and in jeans (**gasp**). Maybe Megan gets a Dark Shadows script. Like many soap operas it was shot in New York and since the days of yore soap opera appearances provided a steady pay check to stage actors. Dark Shadows, however, may be a little too pop history but it could just be the script.
Now moving onto SCDP:
Much like Don’s lonely exit from the office of SCDP after Megan left. Did he pull an all-nighter (Megan’s acting classes are at night) or did he just go into an empty office on a holiday? He does have a lot of catching up to do.
Bert Cooper is telling who we presume is Roger that ‘This requires your finesse’. Another feather in the cap for ‘Roger’s got his groove back!’. Does Don’s fall mean Roger’s rise from the ashes? Roger is also calling somebody to have dinner. Is it Mona? It cannot be Joan, since I think Roger would just go into her office to ask. Or is it Jane’s pseudo-intellectual psychologist who introduced him to LSD? Or is it a client/account?
Harry Crane once again appears to project himself onto a situation because when he says ‘empty promises’, Peggy’s sarcastically inquisitive ‘What were you promised?’ seems like a line any character would ask to Harry in that situation because of what a total buffoon he has become. Seems that the creative team may be getting a pep talk from Harry as Head of Media and Peggy acting out since really, when was the last time Harry was specifically involved in anything work-related besides him smoking pot at a Rolling Stones concert?
Joan’s “It’s something to talk about.” I notice her hair is less put together. She may be talking about a current event, I guess. Too oblique for even me to try and decipher.
Pete is in Loveland over Beth, the poster girl for Mother’s Little Helper. What else could he be laying down in his office looking stupid for? But wait, who is this unexpected person in his office? Is it Beth? Pete’s tone makes me think it has to be a woman and a very vulnerable situation about to unfold.
Pete has been stalking Beth and she gives him a tearfully depressing piece of her mind to him before she splatters it while falling into Chekhov’s empty elevator shaft… or she just kills herself at SDCP. Her death leads Howard to suspect the affair and as does Trudy who immediately wants a divorce that causes her father to take away the accounts he has given Pete through Clearosil. The PR damage to the SCDP makes Don’s letter to Lucky Strike a distant memory and Pete has to be put on leave if not quit/fired from his position. I could go on and on. SCDP’s competition has to deal with dropping balloons on civil rights activists, they have to deal with dropping liaisons off buildings. Either way, Pete is destroyed professionally, ethically, psychologically, and romantically.
Transition into “You wonder who is going to get hit next!” by Don at a pitch meeting (Ginzo is beside him). Okay now even the promos have the illusions to violence and death and given this comes off a Pete clip…. Nah, it could be Don trying to get his groove back too.
Also missing from the original promo after episode is a scene of Pete with Bert Cooper, Don, and I think Roger all on an elevator telling all of them to be patient (But sadly no Lane Pryce). Pete would be the first one to be neurotic about an account so I am pretty sure people catch on to his weird behavior. In fact, I think he gets a look from Bert and Don. They are all on an elevator in their trench-coats either all going to see a client are just had a rough time with a client. Side-eyes could mean latter.
It’s back to work time at SCDP. Don will finally try to be serious and the copy-writers are moving on to media with an account (oh no, are we back to the Heinz Beans account?). Peggy’s work relations continue to be rocky while Ginsberg’s prospects are on the up with Don having him as his new ear to youth culture. Roger definitely gets his groove back with a client. Pete does indeed get a visit from Beth to cut it out and she probably is not long for this world but not as dramatic as my crackpot theory (coming back to the city was hard enough, I am thinking if there is a suicide it is in Howard’s love nest to spite him). Pete Campbell is also probably gone from even reasonable work productivity, suicide or not. Hopefully there is some Lane Pryce. Maybe that is who Joan was talking to!
5.01 “A Little Kiss”
What is the Time: Memorial Day weekend into early June, 1966
What has happened since the last episode since Columbus Day, 1965 (historically and fictionally):
Fictionally: Don and Megan have gotten married. She knows about the Dick Whitman deal and accepts it. Their relationship is pretty carnal. There seems to be a certain kinkiness that Don only previously tapped into getting slapped by a prostitute in Season 4. That said, I think he kind of ruined the Mary Poppins/Maria von Trapp facade of Megan to his kids because that woman is a sexpot.
New York Worlds Fair closes to major loses.
Henry and Betty moved the kids into the home of Gomez and Morticia Addams. Don and Megan’s apartment, though a little too modern for Sally, at least feels 1960s.
John Lindsay is elected the Mayor of New York.
Joan had a boy named Kevin who did not come out of the womb with white hair. Joan keeps on saying she is not at ‘fighting weight’ but with those curves? Please. Husband is still alive in Vietnam. Boo!
The soap opera Days of Our Lives premieres on NBC.
Joan wants to get back in the work force while her “babysitting” mother thinks she needs to stay at home. Joan misses SDCP and fears her role can soon be filled. Lane assures her that is not the case.
A Charlie Brown Christmas debuts.
Peggy and Abe are going strong while Peggy now has to work with Megan as a copywriter. Rizzo is still employed but they have more of a brother-sister bond. Peggy is highly concerned that Don has lost his mean streak and persuasiveness in the boardroom. But has Don become ‘too nice’ or has Peggy become ‘too cynical’?
Indira Gandhi is elected Prime Minister of India.
Pete still hates Roger and Roger especially loves to troll Pete and really anybody in the office for more boozing with clients. Pete wants Roger’s office, not just any office. But he ends up being completely fine with taking Harry’s office in the end.
The 1966 Uniform Time Act is signed to “promote the adoption and observance of uniform time within the standard time zones”.
Harry Crane has officially been corrupted by Hollywood. He makes lewd comments about Megan that she hears. Harry has fear she will tell Don or Roger but little has changed in dealing with harassment in the workplace. He is safe, for now.
Legendary albums Blonde On Blonde and Pet Sounds debut.
SCDP’s competitor has a PR disaster when their copywriters throw water balloons on black protesters. SCDP put out an ad that says they are an ‘Equal Opportunity Employer’ as a way to point the middle finger at their competitor who gave them unexpected extra business. Little did they know how many applicants would fill the waiting room.
Megan’s party ended up being Mad Men All-Stars with a cross-section of characters (central, auxiliary, and first appearances) representing the 1960s. Megan getting tips from Peggy on who to invite made for good Easter Eggs for longtime viewers.
Pete is at his vainest at the office but seems incredibly human in his Greenwich home. Roger is in a more inverse situation. He also seems to keep a front up at work but enjoys it as he is completely miserable with Jane.
The scene where everybody gets a look at little Kevin had a lot of subtext. Peggy in general looks the least uncomfortable but then you throw in the fact Pete enters the frame and the looks they give each other make for great TV. Megan, while good with children, does not seem interested in having one. And of course Kevin has gas when Lane holds him. But then there is Roger holding the baby with a cigarette at the end of his mouth. Adorable and irreverent.
I am completely surprised and unsurprised Weiner had the Whitman reveal off-screen for Megan. I am not surprised she was understanding of his life story and that takes a lot of regurgitation of a plot-point done before for the show to explore. Well done, Matthew Weiner.
Lane’s only normal relationship seems to be with Joan at this point. His relationship with Rebecca is up and down. She is great company for him at parties but the phone calls and talks revolving around their son going to prep school do not interest him so he gets a little escape from having day dreams about a wallet he finds in a cab that contains a picture of a pretty girl. He calls the number and has a flirtatious pillow talk session that only has the own of that wallet and photo (that Lane keeps) to come in and even give Lane a reward made for a ‘gentleman’. Given that Lane wants to have an escape and he has had a past with ‘jungle fever’, I am starting to think a female black secretary could be a future plot-line involving Lane. Actually Lane trying to pull off that ‘toodle-loo’ with any secretary can make for some uncomfortable but funny television.
I thought Peggy’s Heinz ad was kind of brilliant and the Heinz guy while does seem to be on track with demographic probably does need to trust the younger copy-writers about ‘getting’ younger people. Peggy has Abe and Joyce (unless Zosia Mamet has left the show for good to do Girls on HBO), Megan has a lot of friends, and I am going to assume Stan also has a lot of friends in the age group Heinz is targeting.
No Betty in this episode but it looks to be different next episode. This episode really did not need her. It was Megan-heavy to properly introduce a character and her dynamics to the main character as well as being as Joan-heavy in a long while.
Don and Megan still do not ‘understand’ each other yet but their sexual chemistry is off the charts to the point it will not surprise me that their work hours suddenly ending is not unusual. Megan was described more than once as ‘impulsive’ and Don indulges. It is too perfect to have Roger and Jane ruin Megan’s surprise party. Could that become that? Then again, Jane and Roger each seemed pretty envious.
I read beforehand that the Civil Rights protests were too pronounced. I disagree. It was the beginning and end to an episode that was the reality at the time to serve as a reminder that this is a life struggle than a public relations power play. It also shows how unromantic Weiner gets by taking off the Baby Boomer rose-colored glasses of the era by showing how civil rights was not taking seriously and how hard it was for people to be taken seriously for even showing up in the waiting room of a Madison Avenue office that was not ‘the help’.
Alan Sepinwall is right, Megan performing that “Zou Bisou Bisou” song was the unequivocal “This is the Sixties” moment of the show. Hot, hot, hot.
Overall, this was a fun two-hour (really 90 minute episode) full of humor, irony, sex, and interesting women issues all in one episode. Definitely worth the time off and the show gave enough of a reminder for why people love the show even though a lot of people have changed since the first episode aired. Cannot wait for 5.02 and I will definitely do more of these reaction posts.