Another stunning episode of Mad Men in which Don’s drinking spirals out of control, nasty Pete makes a welcome return and Peggy shows she has what it takes to be a woman in a man’s world. I particularly enjoyed the flashbacks, which showed howRoger met salesman Don while buying a fur coat for new girlfriend Joan. I believe this is the first time the show has had a flashback involving characters other than Don. By the end of the episode, we learn that after three seasons of Roger saying of Don that he “found that kid,” it was in fact Don who pursued Roger. The ingenious salesman tried earnestly to get his attention by calling him and sending his book with the little advertising work he had done. And when that didn’t work, Don presented the callous and dismissing Roger with an offer he couldn’t refuse for a drink at ten in the morning. After calling an inebriated Roger a cab, Don told him the next day that he’d been hired. “You said welcome aboard.” Roger couldn’t remember that he said that, but he couldn’t remember that he didn’t. It’s a pretty funny story, except that this was an episode highlighting the demons of the drink and showing our hero sliding into the abyss.
After Don’s innovate Glo-Coat ad is nominated for a Clio, Roger, Don, Pete and Joan make an appearance at the awards ceremony. But not before opening some bottles to get in the right mood. They frequent the bar in an attempt to make it through the lengthy ceremony, and are witnesses to a heckling by an off-the-wagon Duck Phillips. (“I miss working with that guy,” Roger says.) They are called back to the office when they learn their Life Cereal client, delayed from their earlier meeting by a flight, is awaiting a presentation. By the time they get together, everyone is smashed. Don makes the presentation, which the client doesn’t like, then drunkenly rattles off new tag lines accidentally stealing a bad idea from an interview with Roger’s wife’s cousin. Naturally, “the cure for the common breakfast” is the line everybody loves and the only one who realizes what has just happened is Peggy.
Peggy took some major hits this episode. If she were Pete, she’d have imploded long ago. After failing to get an invite to the Clio’s, even though she had a heavy hand in the Glo-Coat ad, she is forced to work with a rude and lazy new art director. When she complains to Don, she’s told she is the problem. Because the art director is older and has more experience, she must learn to work with him. The art director – Rizzo – worked for the firm that made the famous Johnson Daisy ad, but he was not responsible for that particular ad. He made another one featuring the Ku Klux Klan which didn’t air, which as Peggy explains to the twitterpated secretaries, makes it less impressive. Rizzo calls Peggy uptight, ugly and more boring than wallpaper, all while he looks at Playboy and awaits inspiration. After Rizzo tells Peggy she clearly is or should be ashamed of her body, she calls his bluff that nudity inspires him by getting naked and making him do the same. She then gets down to work and when he’s unable to come up with anything except, well, you know, he’s forced to admit defeat by calling her “the smuggest bitch in the world.”
Meanwhile, loose lips back at the Clio’s have informed Pete that old arch rival Ken Cosgrove may be joining the ranks of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and boy Pete is not happy about this. When Sterling Cooper was owned by the Brits, Ken was chosen over Pete for head of accounts and Pete has not gotten over the slight. Lane tells partner Pete that he expects pragmatism in the hiring of Mr. Cosgrove, as he will bring significant billings to the company. He also tells Pete, in my favorite line from the night, that, “I’ve invited Mr. Cosgrove to lunch on Monday. If you’re through with your tantrum, you’re welcome to join us.” (Or something like that.) But Pete cannot resist the urge to wave his partner status in front of Ken, and make it known who is in charge. Classic, slimy, guy-you-love-to-hate Pete.
After getting even drunker at the Clio after party and striking out with pretty, blonde, thick-New-York-accented SCDP consultant whose name I can’t remember, Don loses an entire day of his life. He goes to bed with a fellow Clio winner on Friday, and is awoken by an angry phone call from Betty on Sunday, a completely different woman in his bed. You’d think this would be a bit of a wake up call, but instead he pours himself another drink and falls asleep on the couch, awoken this time by Peggy’s angry pounding on his door. She tells him he needs to fix the situation with Life and the tag line he stole (which of course he does not remember. “Are you sure?” he asks.) And he does this by, of course, hiring Roger’s wife’s cousin! “Are you kidding?” Peggy exclaims, right in front of the agency’s newest addition.
In season 2, I really saw Duck as an older version of Pete. An emotional, petty and conniving piece of occasionally charming slime. Duck’s glorious self-destruction at the end of season 2 was certainly the path that Pete was headed down. But Pete has something many of his peers seem to lack, and that is self-control…over substance. He of course lacks self-control of his emotions, but the fact that he isn’t a drunk may help him from completely self-destructing. Or maybe it won’t. But it’s an interesting contrast between those who drink and those who don’t. Pete also doesn’t smoke, and one of the most hilarious scenes in Mad Men history has to be in season 3 when Lee Garner, Jr. forces Pete to smoke a cigarette, and then we hear him hacking off camera for about 20 minutes.
But perahps the most imporant lesson this week, kiddos, as Roger so eloquently put it, is, “Be careful what you wish for, you’ll get it. Then people get jealous and try to take it away from you.”
Maybe he was referring to the third straight year of a Best Drama Emmy win for the show?