Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-6: For Immediate Release

Recap: Tempted by the idea of making themselves and the other partners rich and expanding the company, Pete, Bert, and Joan meet with a banker to discuss the possibility of SCDP going public. They wonder about how to get Don and Roger onboard when the deal is certain, agree that it won’t be a problem, and make plans to announce their news to the office the following day. Before that happens, the company loses two major clients and their hopes are crushed.

Roger is having an affair with Daisy, a flight attendant who works in the first-class airport lounge. Not only do they have fun in bed, but Roger has convinced her to tip him off to prospective clients at the airport and do other airline-related favors for him, which she seems to equally enjoy. Through Daisy, Roger manages to land a new account with “Mikey” and get an opportunity to present an ad campaign in Detroit for a new model of Chevrolet. Roger returns to SCDP and announces his new business just as things are falling apart due to lost accounts, and Don calls in his creative team with great excitement to develop the Chevy ad campaign. Roger feels he’s redeemed himself through his new account successes, and Don later gives him a nod for his accomplishments.

At CGC, the three principals meet for a creative discussion and Frank Gleason informs Ted that he has cancer, which in those days was a death sentence. Frank explains that Ted and Jim Cutler will have to buy him out, and that the company may go under now that they’ve dropped Alpha Romeo as a client, unless they can get the Chevy account. Later we see Ted in his office, trying to get his television to work so he can watch the sit-com Hazel when Peggy walks in to see what’s going on. Ted tells Peggy about Frank’s cancer, and Peggy responds to Ted’s worries about losing Frank’s “paint brush and his negativity” by telling him he’s strong. Ted kisses her, but then apologizes: “I’m sorry, I’m just grateful. Goodnight, Peggy.” Peggy seems to like Ted’s attention and his kiss, and later fantasizes about it when kissing Abe.

Peggy and Abe are now living in a home they bought in a changing neighborhood. While Abe tries to fix something electrical and shocks himself in the process, Peggy complains of a neighbor who’s a junkie and has pooped on the stairs. She later has a scarf wrapped around her nose and mouth and complains about paint fumes, noisy neighbors, and loud music. Abe explains that these inconveniences are all part of being in a changing neighborhood, but Peggy says she doesn’t like change. Abe replies: “I don’t think you understand, babe. Everything’s changing.” They then kiss, and that’s when Peggy fantasizes about kissing Ted.

Now at home with Trudy on a trial basis, Pete receives credit from Trudy for his good behavior but she isn’t yet ready to consummate their love again. Pete gets angry about the sexual rejection, threatens divorce, and hints that he’s going to be much more successful soon. She notes his statements but is resolute. Later, Pete and Bob Bensen visit a whorehouse and, standing in the hallway together, Bob offers to pay for Pete’s session. Suddenly Pete sees his father-in-law, Tom, exiting a bedroom with an African American prostitute, and they’re both stunned. Tom and Pete say hello to each other awkwardly. At the office, Pete asks Ken for advice on how to handle a hypothetical situation such as he had. Ken says it would be mutually destructive for either he or Tom to mention it, so he thinks Pete is safe.

Just then, Ken receives an urgent call from Jaguar, and Pete wonders why Ken is getting the call. They learn that Jaguar has been lost following a meeting between Don and Herb that Pete was excluded from. Pete storms out of Ken’s office and confronts Don with blame and bitterness. He says, “Do you know we had a public offering on the way?” Of course Don doesn’t know, since he was excluded from that interaction. Joan resents Don for not putting up with Herb, since she had to sleep with him just to get the account, and she tells him off (even though Don was the one executive who had advised her not to sleep with Herb). Everyone else appears angry with Don, but just then Roger steps in and announces that he has good news and bad news. The others cut him off and inform him that Jaguar is lost. Roger replies that, in that case, he has only good news: a new account and a shot at representing Chevrolet.

Later Pete goes to Tom’s office and tries to make amends, but Tom condemns Pete, saying: “My daughter is a princess,” and announces that Vicks will drop SCDP. To retaliate against Tom, Pete goes home to see Trudy and tells her bluntly that he saw her father at a mid-town whorehouse with “a 200-lb. negro prostitute,” which to Trudy’s ears sounds not just immoral but also freakish, given American society’s racial segregation and pervasive jokes about fat people in that era. Trudy tells Pete to get his things and go, but she’s unnerved by learning about this side of her father, whom she idealizes as much as he idealizes her.

Marie is at Don and Megan’s for a Mother’s Day visit. As the three of them chat around the kitchen bar, Arnold drops by and mentions that their son, Mitchell, is visiting them for Mother’s Day. Marie gets Arnold in her gaze and behaves seductively, and Arnold takes notice. Don asks: “How long is she staying?” but doesn’t get a firm response. Later, Megan and Marie enter an elevator where two young women recognize Megan and ask for her autograph, which irritates Marie. At work, Don hears from Pete that the dinner meeting with Herb is cancelled, but shortly thereafter Roger tells him that the meeting is on, without Pete – but with wives, to “limit the explosion.” Back at home, Megan confesses to Marie that she’s worried about Don because he’s so distant, and Marie advises that it’s very hard to stand next to someone giving an autograph. “He thinks you belong more to the public than to him.” She also advises Megan to dress hot so that Don will want to have sex, and Megan does exactly that.

Don, Megan, and Marie attend the dinner that Roger arranged with Herb and his wife, a ditzy blonde who chats about mundane experiences as if they were fascinating. Bored silly, the others want to leave, but they wait for Roger (who was to be paired with Marie). Roger never shows up, and eventually, the ladies all go to the ladies’ room and leave Herb and Don to talk business. Herb tells Don that he has a “kid” whom he wants to supervise Don’s creative process, and Don hands Herb the business card of another SCDP person who, he says, will be in charge of the Jaguar account from now on. This leads to a huge stand-off, and Don dumps Jaguar. When the ladies return to their table, the Draper party files out of the restaurant, leaving Herb and wife to dine alone together.

Back at home, Marie sits in the living room while Don and Megan have sex in the bedroom. The phone rings, Marie picks it up, and it’s Roger. Marie is offended that Roger didn’t show up for the dinner, and despite his attempts to salvage the relationship, she tells him to forget her name.

Later, Don meets Arnold in the elevator of their building, and Arnold, looking wasted, asks Don to come out and celebrate with him because he just quit his job. Arnold says he lost a heart patient and the opportunity to perform the first heart transplant was granted to another hospital. Filled with self-pity, Arnold says, “Fate hasn’t chosen me.” Replying: “I don’t believe in fate. You make your own opportunities,” Don refuses the pity-party invitation, saying he has too much work to do. When Don gets home, Megan approaches him seductively, calls him “fearless” in a way that Don feels awkward about, and performs unrequested sexual favors.

The next day, Don and Roger are at the airport lounge where Daisy works. Sitting nearby are a number of people from a competing agency, all traveling to Detroit on the same flight, and they needle Roger and Don for losing Vicks, which is a surprise to them. They immediately call the office to find out what happened to the Vicks account, and Daisy promises to “lose” the other agency’s luggage. Once Don and Roger arrive in Detroit, Don finds himself unable to sleep in his hotel room and goes to the bar, where Ted Chaough shows up and says: “Damn it” to him. Although Don feels harassed, he eventually listens to Ted’s insights and realizes that CGC and SCDP are in the same position: two small agencies with great creative ideas that will be stolen by the big agencies, one of which will get the business. Don gets the idea of combining their agencies to become one big agency, and the two of them spend the night working on a joint campaign that wins the business. When they return home, Ted calls Peggy into his office. Anticipating an possible encounter with Ted, she’s surprised to walk in and see Don sitting there. She learns that the two agencies are merging, although the other partners may not know it yet, and she’s poised to become the copy chief of one of the 25 largest ad agencies in the country. They then tell her to write a press release announcing this merger, and to invent a suitable name for their new agency, “the agency you want to work for.”


A primary theme of this episode is Abe’s statement that everything’s changing. Specifically, SCDP is changing for the better by building strong new relationships or alliances and dropping weak ones, often explosively. Although much of the episode involves building the business via new alliances, the same process takes place in some personal relationships. Some of the strongest alliances and biggest explosions involve relationships that combine the personal and the professional realms.

·         Pete, Bert, and Joan form a temporary alliance to try to expand the business by taking it public. Their idea proves to be built on a weak assumption that all their current business is secure, and their plan explodes when they learn that Jaguar is lost.

·         Roger forms a relationship/business alliance with Daisy that proves strong in enabling him to secure new business contacts that yield big results. Meanwhile, Roger drops his interest in Marie, since he had previously asked Marie for a more meaningful relationship than just sex (he wanted to do LSD with her) and she rejected the notion. In this episode Roger tries to salvage his relationship with Marie, but she hangs up on him with explosive anger when she realizes her sexual wiles don’t really fascinate him as much as she imagined. With Daisy, he has good sex and a deeper relationship, one where they both mix business with pleasure and where Roger feels he’s in charge and getting what he asks for from her.  

·         The alliance of Cutler, Gleason and Chaough seems to be in jeopardy due to Frank’s cancer diagnosis. Amazingly, Ted manages to reverse this fate by forging a new alliance with Don Draper and, presumably, expand the business dramatically, although we will have to wait and see whether this comes to pass.

·         Ted forms a personal relationship with Peggy on very shaky grounds by kissing her at work. This does nothing for the company’s business, and we’ll have to wait and see if this intimacy goes further. Generally though, Ted has contributed significantly to Peggy’s career growth, and in this episode we see Peggy try to boost his morale (professionally) by telling him he’s strong. Their mutual growth orientation at work creates a solid foundation for their professional relationship, which helps each of their careers as well as CGC.

·         Peggy and Abe’s relationship hits a rough patch, and it remains to be seen whether it will survive. Abe has always been the leader in driving Peggy’s personal growth (while encouraging her professional growth too), but Peggy has to want to continue stretching and growing on a personal level for the relationship to endure.

·         Early in the episode, Pete and Trudy try to strengthen their marriage, and Trudy has allowed him to return home on a probationary status. Later, the marriage explodes because it was built on a foundation of Pete’s lies that are exposed during this episode, and a foundation of inequality – with Trudy having enormous personal power (strong self-knowledge, strong boundaries, strong principles) and Pete unable to match her. 

·         Pete and Bob Bensen now have a new alliance that spans business and personal life. No longer on the outside socially, Bob has managed to position himself as more of a friend to Pete, and is currently trying to position himself as a benefactor by offering to pay for Pete’s prostitution session. Regardless of whether this will serve SCDP in expanding their business, Bob is clearly focused on using this alliance for his own advancement in the company.

·         Pete’s relationship with Tom has always been based on their mutual love of Trudy. Now that Tom realizes Pete has cheated on Trudy, Tom “explodes” his relationship with Pete by telling him he will have his company drop SCDP, and he should get out of his office or be physically pushed out. It’s fitting that the SCDP-Vicks alliance should be dropped, though, as it was built on the arguably weak foundation of personal favors owed between in-laws. Since Pete is losing Trudy, he wants Tom to lose her, too, so he tells Trudy about seeing Tom at the whorehouse –  despite the fact that this encounter destroys his chances of reconciling his marriage. This revelation not only causes Trudy to explode with anger at Pete, but it causes her whole belief system about her father to begin to fall apart, undermining her core beliefs about men and marriage.

·         Pete and Joan both explode with anger at Don when they learn that he has jettisoned the Jaguar account. Others are equally angry until Roger pops in and brings his good news of new business around the corner. Since Pete’s anger towards Don is almost comical (considering that Pete lost the Vicks account), and since Joan’s anger towards Don is misplaced (considering that Don was against the idea of asking her to sleep with Herb), their anger is based on confusion at best. 

·         Don and Herb end their business relationship with an explosive meeting. Although Don doesn’t know it at the time, this helps to move the company forward, since Don would have to drop Jaguar anyway in order to be able to compete for the Chevy business.  

·         Arnold ends his career as a heart surgeon, at least at his current hospital, by quitting his job after he loses a patient and the opportunity to perform the first-ever heart transplant. This is devastating to Arnold, whose ego seems to have exploded when he says “Fate hasn’t chosen me.” Don also feels the blow, as he now has to face the prospect of not knowing if or when Sylvia will be available to him again or whether the Rosens might even move out of NYC.

·         Megan tries to be a knock-out sexually, and she manages to get Don’s attention and create some sexual explosions. However, their relationship, which originally started out with Megan offering Don “no strings attached” sex, has reached a deeper level and then devolved back to being based more on hot sex than mutual growth. By the time they got married, Megan was driving Don’s growth both personally and professionally, while Don was driving Megan’s professional growth at SCDP. This made the relationship outstandingly passionate for Don, but a little less so for Megan because she felt no career fulfillment at SCDP. The marriage lost quite a bit of its excitement for Don when Megan left the company and went into acting, because she was no longer part of his business life and therefore no longer inspiring his career growth, although she continues to challenge him to grow personally. Unfortunately for Megan, her insights into Don cannot match the insights that Sylvia offers, as Sylvia sees more deeply into Don and is now driving his most critical points of growth (by identifying his need for inner peace), which he finds deeply exciting.

Another theme is the emotional rollercoaster of contradictory events, including several plot twists and personal reversals.  

·         Bert, Joan, and Pete have great excitement and high hopes about plans to take SCDP public. These hopes are crushed early in the episode, bringing anger and disappointment.

·         Ted and his partners at CGC are brought down emotionally when Ted learns about Frank’s cancer diagnosis, although he tries to lift Frank’s dark mood. The executives also discuss the possible folding of their company, which brings feelings of worry and concern. After Ted shares this information with Peggy and his concern about losing Frank, she tells him he’s strong, which causes him to feel excited enough to kiss her, giving them both a temporary thrill. Next, Ted feels bad and apologizes to her.

·         Peggy rides an emotional roller coaster on a personal level, between her relationship with Abe that provides too many annoyances, her feelings of disgust about the social environment surrounding her home, and her relationship with Ted that secretly sparks her sense of feeling appreciated and loved. Not knowing what will happen next with Ted spurs her fantasies and imagination, which at the end of the episode are suddenly interrupted and brought down to earth when she sees Don in Ted’s office and realizes Ted is not going to seduce her at the moment. However, she is then asked to imagine being the copy chief at the company of her dreams, bringing her emotional roller coaster back up to the top of the next hill.

·         Arnold rides an emotional roller coaster by imagining himself to be the first heart surgeon in the world to perform a heart transplant, then losing his patient, and then quitting his job because he realizes his dream will never come true. He thus rides from the heights of egotism to the depths of tremendous self-pity.

·         Megan’s emotional rollercoaster has to do with worrying about Don being so distant (which she knows is a threat to the foundation of their marriage), and then trying hard to please and excite him sexually, but still knowing that she hasn’t really reached him.  She also experiences the usual emotional ups and downs around her mother.

·         The dinner with Don, Megan, Marie, and Herb and his wife involve pleasantries, excitement on the part of Herb’s wife who was excited about every little thing, boredom on the part of the others, worry about why Roger wasn’t there yet, explosiveness between Don and Herb, and then confusion among the women who were led by Don to leave before dinner started.

·         When several people at SCDP learn about losing Jaguar, emotions of anger and fear sweep the office, only to be reversed to a new wave of high hopes when Roger announces his new account through Mikey and a meeting with the “big guys” – Chevy. Don rides the wave of excitement while developing a great ad campaign, only to have his hopes dashed by Ted when Ted explains to him that the small size of their agencies will exclude them from winning the business. Ted and Don’s anger and depression then give birth to new high hopes when they realize they have a chance at the business through merging their companies, and this strategy brings success and emotional elation for everyone concerned within their two agencies, spreading to Peggy at the end of the episode.  

·         Trudy’s emotional rollercoaster begins with hopes that her marriage may succeed after all, if Pete continues his good behavior, and ends with her explosive anger at Pete as well as her feelings of shock, disgust, and disorientation when she learns about her father’s whorehouse activity.

·         Pete’s emotional rollercoaster involves hopefulness, anger, shock, and retaliation with Trudy; sexual desire towards his hooker; friendship towards Bob; shock, worry, anger, hope of reconciliation, and revenge in his relationship with Tom; self-righteous anger and feelings of betraying towards Don; hopes of getting rich and crushing anger at having those plans undermined; an uneasy alliance with Ken; and great bitterness overall.

·         Don’s emotional rollercoaster begins on a down note when he hears that Arnold and Sylvia’s son is visiting, which to him means she won’t be available to him for an undetermined length of time. This problem is later exacerbated when Don learns that Arnold has quit his job, which to Don means that Arnold may be at home too, making Sylvia even less available to him. At work Don is faced with a meeting with Herb, a man he dislikes, but the meeting enables him to tell Herb off and dump his business, which Don ultimately finds refreshing and helps him feel better. However, the office turns against Don, which must not have felt good, until Roger walks in and brings Don’s mood up again with his news of the Chevy meeting to come. At the airport, Don and Roger face harassment by a competing agency, and in Detroit Don feels restless and goes to the bar where he is met by Ted, who he feels is harassing him. Through their conversation, Don begins to realize that Ted is not his enemy and in fact could become an ally. This sends Don into a new cycle of excitement that is sustained when Don and Ted win the business and decide to merge agencies. Don also experiences up and down emotions around Megan, including probably guilt, sexual interest, and awkwardness when Megan comes on to him at a time when he isn’t really in the mood.

Finally, a couple of fun hypocrisies are Pete blaming Don for losing Jaguar, when he loses Vicks, and Tom condemning Pete for cheating on his wife with a whore while he’s cheating on his own wife at the same whorehouse. All in all, another great episode.

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