Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-3: The Collaborators

Recap: In their home, Pete and Trudy say goodbye to two couples who were dinner guests. As Pete flirts with the ladies and Trudy with the men, it’s clear that each of the couples is either cheating on spouses or considering it. At Pete’s Manhattan apartment, he seduces Brenda, a neighbor of Pete and Trudy. Later in the show, Brenda screams outside Pete and Trudy’s house, and when they let her in she has blood on her face and has been beaten by her husband. Trudy realizes Brenda and Pete have been together and Trudy lays down her terms with Pete: “You will be here when I say.”

At his home, Don overhears Arnold and Sylvia Rosen arguing about money, joins Arnold in the down-elevator, pretends he forgot his cigarettes, and returns upstairs to have sex with Sylvia. Later, Don, Megan, Arnold and Sylvia are supposed to go out to a restaurant for dinner, but Megan feels too uncomfortable to attend due to her recent miscarriage, and Arnold gets a call from his answering service for some medical emergency so rushes off. Don and Sylvia are left to dine together, and after they argue for awhile, they go upstairs and have sex. Don claims he only wants Sylvia, despite his statement the previous week that he wants to end his relationship with her. After Don returns home to Megan, she confesses that she had a miscarriage and Don assures her that he would want whatever she wants (pregnancy or abortion). At the end of the show, Don is once more knocking on the back door of Sylvia and Arnold’s apartment. She tells him Arnold is home, and that he can’t knock on her door like that. Don makes up a story for her to tell him, and they arrange to meet again the following morning. Don heads home but stops at his front door and sits in the hallway to think.
At work, Don and Ken meet in Don’s office with Raymond (Heinz baked beans) and Raymond’s associate Timmy from the ketchup division. After a confusing meeting, Raymond tells Don privately that he doesn’t want Don doing business with Timmy, making Don and Ken angry. Don thinks back to his teenage years at his Uncle Mack’s whorehouse. Meanwhile, Megan is in the building’s laundry room and fires her maid just as Sylvia enters the room to do her laundry. Megan and Sylvia talk, and then go upstairs to Megan’s apartment to continue their conversation. Megan reveals that she had a miscarriage, and Don walks in and sees them talking.

On the Jaguar account, Pete, Don and others try to accommodate Herb when he tells them he wants to change the SCDP-Jaguar ad campaign to bring in more sales at his shop – but he needs the SCDP people to make it seem as though it’s their idea. Pete, Don and Bob Bensen play along as Herb tries to persuade his own bosses, but Don’s cooperation in the scheme is unconvincing and the bosses say no. After the Jaguar meeting, Pete and Roger yell at Don in Don’s office, and Don argues that Herb’s request wasn’t worth their energy. Don says “You know what this is? This is Munich!” (Collaborate with Hitler and he only demands more.) Roger says “You choose dishonor over war. You still might get war.” Pete tells Don: “So he’s demanding and unreasonable. How does that make him different from the others?”

At Peggy’s workplace, Peggy listens to her assistant, who tells her that she should be more encouraging toward her writers. The next time Peggy calls her writers into her office, she tries to be encouraging but handles it awkwardly. Later, Peggy returns to her desk and sees a product sitting there called Quest, a feminine hygiene powder. She takes it to Ted and tells him she didn’t get the memo on it, and Ted looks at the materials and realizes she was punked by someone in the office. Peggy spends time on the phone with Stan at SCDP during her late night work schedule, and Stan tells Peggy about the beans/ketchup meeting. They laugh, and Stan says the funniest part is that Ken spent the prior two weeks telling everyone he was getting the ketchup account. Then Ted walks into Peggy’s office and sees her on the phone on a personal call. Peggy cuts the call short, but Ted tells her it’s perfectly okay for her to make personal calls, and is very encouraging to her. Later on, Ted gives Peggy a file on Heinz ketchup and proposes that she work on it. She refuses, explaining that she had insider information and it wouldn’t be fair to Stan for her to act on it. Ted explains that Stan made a mistake by mentioning it, and that Peggy should use it to her advantage.

Intertwined themes in this episode are disloyalty and betrayal and being an accomplice (collaborator) to the bad behavior of others. This involves not only love relationships but also friendships and even international relations.

·        Pete and Trudy say goodbye to two couples who came over to their house for dinner. Pete talks to the two ladies and they say they would like the tickets to the Broadway musical Hair that he has to offer, but not to let their husbands know. This suggests that they might want to attend the show with someone other than their husbands. Pete collaborates (in spirit) by agreeing to their request. Meanwhile, the two men flirt with Trudy in a way that suggests they have a sexual interest in her, although Trudy doesn’t signal to them that she’s willing to go along.

·        We hear news about the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The U.S. and South Vietnamese had agreed with North Vietnam to a two-day cease-fire in honor of the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations. However, the North Vietnamese conducted surprise attacks during that time, betraying their agreement. The collaboration is among the North Vietnamese governmental and military people involved.

·       We also hear news about the Pueblo incident. The Pueblo was a U.S. Navy intelligence ship that was captured by North Korea. The Americans claimed the ship was in international waters but eventually negotiated for the release of the U.S. hostages by signing a confession of espionage. U.S. negotiations directly with North Korea made the South Koreans feel left out and betrayed by the U.S. because they had agreed to collaborate, supposedly being on the same side. After the hostages were released, the U.S. reversed their rhetoric and denied their guilt, betraying their signed confession. The collaboration here is among the U.S. military intelligence and governmental personnel involved.

·        Don witnesses Dr. Rosen and Sylvia arguing about money, and Rosen accuses Sylvia of giving his money to her kid (apparently betraying her agreement not to). Don acts friendly to Dr. Rosen in the elevator, and then sneaks back upstairs and has sex with Sylvia (betraying his friendship and his marriage to Megan). The collaboration happens because Sylvia and Don presumably have agreed to keep their affair a secret.

·        Later in the episode, Don and Megan are supposed to meet the Rosens for dinner at a restaurant. Megan, feeling bad due to her miscarriage, decides not to go, and Dr. Rosen gets a phone call at the restaurant and has to leave immediately. Don and Sylvia dine together, per their agreements with their spouses, but then they sneak off for sex in betrayal of their spouses and their friendship as couples. It’s as though events collaborate or conspire to bring them together out in the open.

·        Pete has an affair with his neighbor Brenda in his Manhattan apartment, betraying their respective marriage vows. After they get dressed again, his mood changes from admiration and presumably other love-related feelings to cold dismissal, revealing his genuine lack of regard for her, an emotional betrayal. The collaboration here is Pete and Brenda conspiring to cheat their respective spouses.

·        Raymond, head of the Heinz baked beans account, makes an appointment to bring his associate Timmy, head of Heinz ketchup, to meet with Don and Ken in Don’s office for a friendly visit, setting up Don and Ken to expect a chance at new business. Then Timmy leaves the room and Raymond betrays Timmy by telling Don and Ken never to do business with Timmy, and slandering his character. Raymond acts like he’s a friend to Don and Ken, but he ends up betraying their expectations and business needs while demanding that they collaborate with him to undercut Timmy.

·        In the laundry room of their building, Megan feels betrayed by her maid for all the mistakes she’s made and fires her. Then Sylvia comes down to do laundry and acts like a trusted friend to her. Sylvia and Megan talk on a personal level and continue their conversation upstairs in Megan’s kitchen. Then Don comes home, sees the two women together, and wonders if Sylvia has betrayed him by revealing their affair. However, Sylvia has continued to collaborate on their secret.

·        Herb, the salesman at Jaguar, talks the SCDP team into collaborating with him on changing the SCDP ad campaign to steer business to his shop. Pete, Don, and Bob Bensen agree to attend a meeting with Jaguar executives to collaborate with Herb by making his proposal for him, but in the process, Don’s half-heartedness betrays their efforts and the Jaguar executives are unmoved to change the ad campaign.

·        Before the meeting at Jaguar, Don balks to Pete about Herb’s request. Feeling that Don is betraying SCDP, Pete quips: “So he’s demanding and unreasonable. How does that make him different from the others?”

·        After the meeting at Jaguar, Roger and Pete enter Don’s office and yell at Don for his lack of full cooperation and loyalty to the team effort. Don yells: “You know what this is? It’s Munich!” (like going along with Hitler when Hitler betrayed his agreement and attacked Europe – as if helping Herb would only enable him to demand more from SCDP for no extra money). Roger scolds: “You chose dishonor over war. You still might get war” – a paraphrasing of a Churchill quote that Roger attributes to his mother. Here, it appears that Roger and Pete both feel betrayed by Don. 

·        Next door to Pete and Trudy, Brenda’s husband discovers Brenda’s infidelity with Pete and betrays his wedding vows to love and to cherish by beating her physically, seriously cutting her face. When Brenda rushes to Pete’s house, Brenda’s husband yells something about Pete that informs Trudy that Pete had been with Brenda.

·        When Pete leaves Trudy and Brenda together in the kitchen while he goes to the other room to get bandages, he worries that Brenda will betray him by telling Trudy about their affair. When Trudy steps out of the room, Pete challenges Brenda’s loyalty to him by asking about her relationship with her husband: “What did you tell him?”

·        The next morning Pete kisses Trudy as he’s ready to leave for work, and Trudy confronts him about his infidelity and lays down new terms for their marriage. She points out that she has already collaborated with Pete’s affairs by allowing him to get an apartment in the city and pretending she thought it was for business reasons, but she draws a line and refuses to collaborate when the affair is paraded in front of her.

·        Ted Chaough walks into Peggy’s office, where she’s been having a personal conversation with Stan. Peggy feels awkward, like she’s been caught betraying company policy, and so she pretends it was a business call and ends the call abruptly. Stan collaborates with Peggy’s pretense by hanging up too, realizing what had happened.

·        Ted gives Peggy the assignment of developing an ad for Heinz ketchup. Peggy refuses because she don’t want to betray her friendship with Stan, who has just tipped her off that Heinz ketchup was looking for a new ad agency by recounting to Peggy the beans/ketchup meeting fiasco in Don’s office. Ted explains that in business terms, Stan made a mistake, and it was her job to capitalize on that mistake, so Peggy collaborates with Ted and thus betrays Stan as a friend.

·        Peggy’s writers apparently collaborate to punk Peggy by leaving her “Quest” – a feminine hygiene product. From a business standpoint, this shows that the writers feel some disloyalty to their boss.

·        At the end of the program, Don knocks at the back door of Sylvia and Arnold’s apartment. She answers the door but says, “You can’t knock like that, he’s home.” She’s frightened that Don is betraying their agreement of secrecy, but he comes up with a story for her to tell, and they agree to meet the following morning, a continuation of their marital betrayals.

·        Interspersed throughout the episode are Don’s flashbacks of his teenage years growing up in his Uncle Mack’s whorehouse. At that time he saw so many people having sexual affairs, and knowing that his mother was a prostitute too, he must have considered marriage and fidelity and decided it was okay for men to have affairs. However, his mother-figure “aunt” told him that what people did at the whorehouse was not nice, and somehow this may have helped him adopt the double standard he holds for himself vs. his wives (Betty, Megan). He apparently doesn’t see his own marital infidelity (or the infidelity of the married women he sleeps with) as a betrayal, although if Megan cheated on him, he would probably hold her to the “nice girl” standard and feel totally betrayed, just as he did with Betty.

·        The whorehouse represents a social institution where men and women collaborate to promote the sexual infidelity of men for the profit of other men (like Uncle Mack).

No comments:

Post a Comment