"Every time something good happens, something bad happens," could sum up the action of every Mad Men episode, but what happens when you can't tell the good from the bad or the personal from the professional? Total chaos ensues.
There were lots of new couplings last night, but there were also relationships falling apart, the agency in jeopardy, and Don making more than one stupid decision when it comes to women. Of course this was all in the aftermath of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce losing Lucky Strike as a client—something Roger (and viewers) learned about last episode but was kept from the rest of the firm. When Roger asked closeted bully Lee Garner Jr for a stay of execution for a month, we figured it was so he could hustle and get some new business or find a way to soften the blow. Not only did Lee start talking to his new agency before the window was closed, Roger didn't do anything but sit on his hands and wait for the news to catch up with him.
In the first blending of the personal and the professional, Ken Cosgrove is out at dinner with his fiancee and his future in-laws (creepy Leland Palmer from Twin Peaks!) when someone at a rival agency tells him they lost Lucky Strike. He goes to the hospital, where Pete is waiting for his baby to be born and interrupts his personal life. They call Don, who ends a date with Dr. Faye when he hears the news, and they wake up Bert Cooper—who is either sleeping on the sofa in the lobby or couldn't be bothered to change out of his pajamas before showing up at the office. They get Roger in the office and he makes it official—Lucky Strike is gone, taking half the agency's business with it.
There's a big announcement to the staff while the major players scramble to try to keep their agency afloat. Everyone reacts differently to the news, and you know that their reactions and the series of events that kicked off last night are going to have serious repercussions by the season finale in two weeks.
Don knows that he is fighting to keep everything he's made. He tells his creative team that they have to be especially on target and go out of their way to please existing and potential clients. He singles out Peggy and says he's counting on her to land Playtex. He also gets the bad news that Glo-Coat, the floor wax whose commercial has been Don's creative acme at the new firm, is leaving. They don't give much of a reason and Don is so pissed off that he throws the Clio he won for their commercial across the room and screams at Pete for fucking up the account.
Don is still upset later that evening when Dr. Faye (with straight hair and a ravishing red blouse) shows up to comfort him. That's when he makes her a very indecent proposal.
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It's almost inevitable that Don would have to cross this line with Dr. Faye, but it's alarming how adamantly he insists that she help him out. All season I thought that Dr. Faye was the perfect lady for Don because she was a blend of the two things that he wants out of women—a blond bombshell to lust after and a smart person to open up to—but maybe I was wrong. Maybe it's that she is the perfect blend of the personal and the professional. He met her in the office and they work together, which is where Don feels safest, but he could see himself falling in love with her and forming a personal life, which is where Don has always felt the most vulnerable. With Betty he was always sacrificing the personal in lieu of the professional, but the new and improved Don—the one who wants to stop after three drinks and thinks twice about having silly dalliances with women—seems to have a good balance with Dr. Faye.
His asking her to help his business is a violation both ethically and personally. He knows it's wrong, as she points out, but he doesn't care. Don is so arrogant, thinking that she would bend so easily to his will and this his work is more important than hers. And she is pissed too. She wants to expand their relationship past the office to have something real and meaningful that has nothing to do with the agency, and his asking this favor shows that Don only wants to use his personal influence for professional gain.
It seems like he changes his mind later when he attends the funeral of an account exec from another firm. He an the other partners don't go to pay their condolences, they go to scoop up the vulnerable clients that might be attending. They take what should be a personal occasion to grief as a professional opportunity. During the man's funeral, several business associates give their eulogies of the man by talking about all his conquests in the ad world. Of course they interject their anecdotes with platitudes about how much his family meant to him, and that is what really defined him, but their arguments seem empty. You can tell by the blank looks on the faces of his wife and young daughter that he spent more time at the office than at home and that the man probably regarded himself as a mad man rather than a family man.
But Don is looking at the wife and daughter with something akin to sadness. He thinking that one day, at his funeral, that is wife and kids will sit there knowing nothing about the real
Dick Whitman Don Draper while his colleagues tell stories about his boozy conquests and creative inspirations. He wants more than that. He finally wants to integrate his life and be a better man. He wants to live a real life outside the office, not just have his big house, 2.5 kids, and Suburban Splendor Barbie wife so that he can have the facade that gets his firm new clients.
Of course that all is in jeopardy when he has a run in with his new secretary, Pretty Megan.
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Megan knows just how to get Don. She pretends like she wants to be like him, to do what he—or Peggy— does one day. She compliments his work, and stokes his fragile ego. That's how she approaches him after hours in an empty office. But Pretty Megan is masking the personal in the professional. She really just wants to fuck Don. Her motivation seems to be nothing more than carnal, because Don is an attractive and powerful figure and she wants him all to herself. He even stops her several times, but she relents. Finally Don knows that it's a bad idea to sleep with Pretty Megan, but she insists.
It's hard to blame Don, because a boner is a very powerful thing. What man hasn't been so turned on and vulnerable that he engaged in some sex he knew, just knew, was a bad idea even when he was doing it? All men who aren't strong enough to say no, apparently. What Don really couldn't resist was that this tryst was entirely professional. Not only does he work with Pretty Megan, but she works for him. She came on to him in his office and she says she just wants to have a good time. She's not going to run out crying the next day like former secretary Allison, who thought that because Don slept with her that they were going to have some sort of relationship. No, Pretty Megan is all business and it seems that's the choice Don made.
When they're done with their roll on the couch, Pretty Megan tells Don to go home and she'll clean up after him. It's like fucking the boss is just one more of her duties, one that she's happy to oblige. When he arrives at his door, he has the walk of the regretful—all bleary eyes and distractedness. Dr. Faye is there about to leave a note for him. Of course I think she's about to tell him that it's over, that she doesn't want a man who would choose business over a loving relationship. But no, she shocks us and tells Don that she got a meeting for him at Heinz. She wants to keep her man, and she's willing to compromise herself to do it.
With that, Dr. Faye has ruined her relationship with Don. After the funeral and his sad romp with Pretty Megan, he seems to have changed his mind about what he wants. He gazed into the void of a strictly professional relationship and he found it wanting. Meanwhile Dr. Faye, not getting that memo, proved that she is incapable of keeping their relationship personal and crossed over into the professional. Now there is no going back. He seems to resent her for doing what he asked in the first place. Like he set up some sort of twisted trap for her that she fell into. Of course he offers to have her stay, but he's going to "fall asleep on her." He can't even muster the energy to thank her properly and sexually. Now she's just another blond bombshell who is going to get the scraps, shut out of venturing any further into his personal life. Don is going to repeat all his past mistakes again with Dr. Faye.
Roger and Joan seem to make a similar journey to Don and Dr. Faye in the episode. When everyone finds out the news about Lucky Strike, Roger plays along like he's just finding out too, creating ruse after ruse to keep everyone off his scent. He checks into a hotel room instead of going to Lucky Strike's office to supposedly woo Lee Garner Jr and the company back. He feels so guilty that he calls Joan for some support.
Rather than finding a pliable and supportive girl on the other end, Joanie is pissed. Why? Because Roger knew and didn't tell her. Joan is upset that she had to find out like everyone else. Roger, her closest ally in the office and the man whose bed she shared for years, treated her like just another secretary, and that's a sin Joanie just can't stand. I have to think it also had to do with the baby that she's carrying—Roger's baby. I'm running under the assumption that she didn't have an abortion last episode like she said she did. If that's true, she's going to need all the money that she can get to raise this child, and if Roger knew about Lucky Strike and the fact that her job was in jeopardy before she made her decision to have this baby, well, that would seriously mess up her plans. Joan hates nothing more than having her plans messed up.
Actually, there is one thing she hates more, a man who isn't in control. That's why she gives Roger the brush off.
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Roger has been working himself into irrelevance all season. He has spent his time in the office recording his memoir, chasing Joan around, and not tending to his one client, Lucky Strike. When they leave, he barely fights for them and just watches them go with a sad finality. There's nothing he could do, he tells everyone. And then he wants people to feel sorry for him for losing the account, for lying about it, for having having nothing but a Rolodex full of dead contacts and a nagging laziness that won't allow him to land any new ones. He is no longer powerful or in control, he's just a relic who has conceded his position to Pete Campbell. How does he accept Joan's ruling? The same way he did Lucky Strike's, with utter resignation.
That is not what our Joanie wants right now. The time she gave into Roger was right after they got mugged. It was a situation Joan couldn't control but Roger could. He told her what to do and she responded by finally letting him sleep with her. Joan rules her world with such an iron fist that what she really wants is to cede power to someone else. When Roger proves himself incapable of that, she doesn't need him anymore. She'll control her life from now on. Well, her and her baby's lives.
What is Roger left with? He's without his professional mojo and without Joan, a talisman that reminds him of his more virile years, so he goes home to his little wife, Jane. She's sitting like a courtesan in splendor, wearing her robe and listening to classical music. This is the personal life he carved out for himself, one that is silly and that he doesn't really want. Oh, but the wife has a surprise! She printed up a box full of bound copies of his memoir. Now his great distraction is made real and he hates it. He hates her, he hates being powerless, he hates being bad at his job, he hates not having anyone like Bert or Don or Lee Garner Jr respect him, and—most of all—he hates that all he's left with is this bad book and this wife who he resents. She is just a reminder of when he was powerful enough to bag the hottest secretary in the office, and he traded in his real family to be stuck with her.
For Pete Campbell though, life is just starting. He's the powerful account rep at the agency and his wife Trudy finally had a baby girl. He has a family to take care of and he's trying to build a business so that he can be the good '60s breadwinner. Once Lucky Strike leaves, his meddling father-in-law (who is also one of his biggest clients) tells Pete to cut his losses at the firm and get a nice respectable job at a stable company and support his family. He wants Pete to give up his professional aspirations for personal ones, but Pete isn't quite ready to do that. He wants the selfish glory of making something of his own. His father-in-law should also see that this might not be as stable, but is probably more profitable in the long run.
For the second time a professional colleague invades Pete's personal time at the hosiptal with business concerns. This time it's Ted Chaough (pronounced Shaw), with an offer Pete can't refuse.
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Ted wants to make Pete a full partner and he says the most important thing he can, "I'm not Draper." Pete and Don have long had a contentious relationship and after Don made Pete sack his business with North American Aviation and then yelled at him for losing Glo-Coat, Pete's probably thinking that working with someone who is not like Don wouldn't be such a bad idea. Couple that with Lucky Strike and the pressure from the in-laws and that leaves Pete in a very pliable place.
This deal would also be a good blend of the personal and the professional. He's get to keep his goal of being a partner in a potentially powerful firm with the added advantage of providing for and pleasing his family. In sickening modern day business lingo, it's a win-win for Pete. It's also a lose-lose for Don, because without Pete, SCDP would surely go under and when Pete doesn't have his own self interest to look after, he is far more likely to divulge all the information he knows about Don's secret identity, and maybe even to a vindictive monster like Ted. Hmm, maybe that will be the big reveal in the finale?
The strangest new pair of the evening for me however was Peggy and Abe, the bumbling journalist who she told off several episodes ago. When they are both stuck in the back of lesbian Joyce's car, it suddenly reignites a passion that was just bubbling below the surface.
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This seemed a little rushed. We never get a good reason why Peggy falls in love with this guy, when he was clearly such an anti-feminist jerk the last few times she ran into him. Whatever happened to change her mind happened off-camera so I guess it's up to us to speculate (and, please, feel free to speculate). Shortly after, Abe shows up at the office posing as a delivery boy so he can have a nooner with Peggy and she is calling him her "boyfriend" around the office. Damn, Peggy, that was fast.
And while things are going well for Peggy personally we were afraid that she would let things slip professionally, especially when Don placed so much responsibility on her shoulders in the wake of Lucky Strike leaving. But, no, Peggy does swimmingly with Playtex even though she gives her presentation with lipstick all over her teeth (and in a red and blue dress that I think was a repeat from a previous episode).
Yes, the lipstick was all jerky art director Rizzo's fault, because he let his personal feelings about Peggy rejecting him get in the way of a professional decision. He knew how important it was for the firm to land the account but he just didn't care. It seems like Peggy and Rizzo are two sides of the professional/personal coin. Peggy is all about work and getting the job done, even when she has a boyfriend. Rizzo could care less about what happens at work, as long as his personal life is going well. When he finds out that SCDP might be going under, he's just happy that it will mean he might get laid more. He's tried to use work to get girls naked before and this time he uses it to try to get Peggy in the sack. Of course it doesn't work.
Rizzo is such a jerk that he knows how to get back at Peggy, by causing a professional blunder. That's hitting her where it hurts. It seems like his plan didn't do much to ruin her career or the agency. Just watch, we're going to find out next episode that the lipstick cost her the campaign and we'll all hate Rizzo passionately. But, with all the blending of the professional and the personal, I wouldn't be surprised if Peggy and Rizzo end up getting together. It's hard to tell whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing happening. Probably both at the same time.