Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mad Men recap: Don and Ted's excellent adventure

"Mad Men" spoilers below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

OK, first, an apology for my total flake-out on last week's episode. I kept meaning to post. I even have a half-written post about last week's episode, "The Flood." You don't want read it. There's a lot of confused yammering about how "Mad Men" always seems to time the deaths of major figures so that they throw a wrench in a formal event and how, usually, it's when you're not at the awards dinner that you hear some terrible thing. I don't know. I was trying to make some sort of a point, but I'm not sure what it was. It was weird.

But I'm back to write about this week's fab episode "For Immediate Release," in which Don is, at least temporarily, rewarded for acting like a complete jerk, thus encouraging him to continue doing so. The episode is more or less a kind of mirror to the third-season finale "Shut the Door, Have a Seat," in which Don, Roger and the gang form a new agency. This time, Don and the Famous Teddy C decide to pull their resources to go after the Chevy account. Yeah, it works, but is it really a success for Don?

The Chevy meeting happens not long after Don gets a raft of crap from Pete, Bert and especially Joan about firing Herb the Jaguar jerk unilaterally. Yeah, we all hate Herb, but it was still a hubris-filled, arrogant move that everyone is right to be upset about. And Don has the nerve to think Joan of all people will be pleased. But Joan, of course, just views this a huge slap in the face -- basically, she humiliated herself with that man to help the agency and Don just throws away the account (and her sacrifice) as if it were nothing.

But he learns nothing from that tongue-lashing, and proceeds to make yet another unilateral move in the partnership with Teddy. Well, in this case, he at least has Roger's backing. Yet it's hard to believe that the rest of the agency is going to be thrilled. Yes, they might get to go public now. But they'll also be sharing space with their former competitors. There will probably have to be some consolidation. Jobs might be lost (pretty sure old Burt Peterson will get kicked to the curb again). And poor, poor Peggy. Just as she thought she was free from Don, she's back in his orbit. Yeah, she's technically "working" for Teddy, but that's likely going to be awkward, too, given their growing attraction (and his desperate, drunken smooch -- which we all knew was coming). It's sort of like your current boyfriend and your ex-boyfriend becoming best buds, and then asking you to write a press release and name their new ad agency.

I realize this all sounds like I'm angry and negative, but I did really like this episode. It took the story in the direction we all kind of knew it needed to go -- Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce gaining the leverage it needed to stop fighting tooth and nail for every account; Peggy coming back to work with the rest of the cast; Pete and Trudy ending their sham shell of a marriage. Ah yes, Pete and Trudy. I don't which was the better humiliating Pete moment -- Pete getting rebuffed in bed by Trudy; Pete realizing that his father-in-law was pushing the self-destruct button thinking Pete was too big a wuss to rat him out about the whorehouse; or Pete falling ass-over-tea-kettle down the stairs while boiling with rage at Don.

That's a lie. The stairs were clearly the best Pete moment. The stairs were a thing of beauty. And I bet he was falling down the stairs two at a time after hearing about Don joining forces with Teddy Fogo de Chao.

Anyway, here are some more thoughts on "For Immediate Release."
  • Briefly, I thought Roger's stewardess friend was played by Amber "Joan of Arcadia" Tamblyn, which would have continued the trend of actresses from acclaimed shows from the last decade showing up to get groped by "Mad Men." Alas, it was actually Danielle Panabaker, best known to me for playing Ed Harris's daughter in the HBO miniseries "Empire Falls." Oh well.
  • Speaking of former TV leading ladies who get pawed by Don and co., Sylvia didn't show up this week. We did see a bit of Arnold, who seemingly misses out on the opportunity to perform the first heart surgery. And he lost a little bit of our sympathy when he seemed more upset about losing his place in history than he did about a child dying at his hospital. Both Don and Arnold are looking for ways to play God in the worlds they inhabit. Don, at least for the time being, has managed to maintain his reign, while Arnold hasn't.
  • So Megan's mom showed up again. Her speaking in derisive French about Herb's wife was funny, and she actually has some correct insight into why Don is pulling away from Megan. But, eh. Once she and Roger ruined Sally, I was kind of hoping I'd never see her again.
  • Herb's wife is named Peaches? Really? They're Peaches and Herb? As in "Reunited"? As in "Shake Your Groove Thing"? OK, they had to have done that purpose, right?
  • Peggy and Abe have gotten their place in the West 80s, which comes with free human poop on the steps. Yay. 
  • Yet another episode in which Christina Hendricks isn't given a ton to do, but makes every second count. Her righteous outrage at Don is devastating.
  • Most importantly, how will sharing an office again affect Stan and Peggy's friendship? Can they still be friends? I so want them to be friends. Seriously. I'll be so mad if they break them up. 
What did you think?

1 comment:

Bill Scurry said...

This episode was unbelievably strong, and I account that to being a side effect of no Sylvia. That storyline is headed nowhere fast in Maison Scurry.