Friday, June 28, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-13: In Care Of...

Recap: Stan approaches Don at the agency and, anticipating that Don will decide which individual to send to California to handle the Sunkist account, volunteers for the position. Don tells him it would be a demotion, says “It’s like Detroit with palm trees,” and listens to Stan paint a picture of an exciting opportunity to “set up a homestead” and turn it into a little agency. Don rejects Stan’s proposal, but privately considers the role for himself and eventually decides to take it. First he convinces an incredulous Megan, who is seduced by his promise that they were happy in California and would be happy there again. Then he presents the idea to an even more skeptical SC&P executive board. Hearing of this, Stan confronts Don disdainfully for stealing his idea, and later Ted begs Don privately to let him go to California instead. Whether touched by Ted’s reason for wanting to go to California (to escape the temptations of Peggy and stay true to his marriage and family) or due more to his memories of being uncared-for as a boy and his subsequent decision to be a better father to his children by remaining in New York to be closer to them, Don changes his mind and tells Ted he can have the job.

Meanwhile, Ken and Jim present Don with an RFP from Hershey’s Chocolate. Don says it’s pointless because Hershey doesn’t advertise, but admits that he loves the candy bar. He asks what Ted thinks of it, and Jim says: “His plate is full and yours isn’t. If you take the lead on this, I think he’ll follow.” Don goes to work on it, and by the end of the episode he presents his ad campaign to the client in front of Jim, Ted, Bert, and others. The artwork he displays is a simple Hershey bar wrapper, and he explains that it’s the best billboard for the candy because everyone has their own memorable childhood experience of it. Don weaves a tale about mowing the lawn as a boy and being rewarded by his loving father with the opportunity to choose any item at the store – and he always chose a Hershey bar. After the executives comment warmly on the idea of childhood memories for this ad campaign, Don suddenly confesses that he wishes Hershey wouldn’t advertise, and that he grew up in a whorehouse and received Hershey bars as a reward for picking the pockets of Johns. Instead of feeling loved, eating a Hershey bar made him feel like a normal kid, whereas he usually did not. The executives are dumbfounded.

At home, Megan works hard to take care of Don by influencing him to limit his drinking and eat more meals. Don goes along with her suggestions to a point, but continues drinking behind her back.  She also tries to help Don manage Sally, who receives a letter in care of Don subpoenaing her to testify about the burglar who entered their apartment when Sally was babysitting a few weeks earlier. Don explains to Sally on the phone that she’s required by law to testify, but Sally says, “My calendar’s full” and “You know what? Why don’t you just tell them what I saw?” (referring to both the burglar and Don’s tryst with Sylvia). Later, Betty phones Don late at night, and Megan wakes up to hear Don discussing with Betty Sally’s latest trouble: getting suspended from school for using a phony ID to buy beer and get herself and other girls drunk. Don is sympathetic and reassuring towards Betty. Feeling like a third wheel, Megan asks if there’s any way she can help, and Don settles back to sleep without answering or even acknowledging her question.

During the following workday, Don goes to a bar and gets into an argument with a Christian minister who’s there to proselytize the clientele. Meanwhile, back at the office the clients from the Sheraton Royal Hawaiian arrive to see Don, and Jim and Ted can’t locate him so have to handle the account for him. At the bar, Don ends up punching the minister and lands in jail overnight. During his night in jail, Don remembers a time during his boyhood in the whorehouse when a preacher told his Uncle Mack and the ladies they were sinners. Uncle Mack threw the man out, but young Don walked outside to observe the preacher, who turned around and yelled: “The only unpardonable sin is to believe God cannot forgive you.”

When Megan sees Don the following morning, he’s still inebriated. She demands to know where he was. Don claims that while in jail, he realized how far out of control he’s gotten. Megan tries to be sympathetic. However, when Don informs Megan that they’re not going to California after all, Megan explodes because she’s already given notice at work. She says the marriage isn’t worth fighting for since they don’t have kids together, and since he just wants to be alone with his liquor, his ex-wife, and his screwed-up kids. Megan gets her coat and leaves, saying, “I can’t do this; I can’t be here right now,” and slams the door.

On Thanksgiving morning, Don goes to the office for a 9:00 executive meeting. There he’s confronted by Bert, Roger, Joan, and Jim and told that “the verdict is reached”: he’s being placed on indefinite leave. As Don waits for the down-elevator, the door opens and out walk Duck and Lou Avery, apparently Don’s replacement. Don says, “You’re early,” and Duck replies, “Sorry about that, old chum.”

That same day, Don drives Sally, Bobby, and Gene to see an old, dilapidated house in a poor neighborhood somewhere in Pennsylvania. A young African-American boy stands on the porch steps eating a popsicle. Don and the kids gaze upwards and across the street to study the house after Don says, “This is where I grew up.” We then hear the final music for the episode, the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now.

Roger’s story starts when daughter Margaret and son-in-law Brooks visit him at the agency. Roger and Brooks emerge from a private discussion, with Roger advising, “I always thought you learn more from disappointment than from success,” suggesting that he just turned Brooks down on some request. Roger smiles at the drawing Margaret shows him, made by her son, but when she invites him to lunch, Brooks says, “We’ve taken enough of his time.” Roger says, “It’s not personal,” but Margaret says it is personal and adds, “What do I have to do to be on the list of girls who get your money?” She tells him not to bother coming over for Thanksgiving because their table will be empty.

Roger’s next encounter is a brief chat with Pete, where Roger asks, “How’s Motor City?” Pete says the airport is like Calcutta, but Roger encourages him with: “It’s a hell-of-an account.” Soon we see Roger speaking to Joan and Bob, who are standing together because Bob has presented Joan with the gift of a toy car for Kevin. Roger is less than friendly, and Bob lets him know that Chevy has already given him a real car. When Roger reaches his office, he asks his secretary to summon Bob, and Bob reports to his office almost immediately. Under the pretext of giving Bob a performance review, Roger tells Bob to stay away from Joan and not toy with her emotions. Bob assures Roger that they’re just buddies. With each of Roger’s quips, Bob has a response that’s both professional and seemingly respectful.

Later in the episode, Roger’s secretary talks to Joan and reveals that she’s worried about Roger, saying he’s forlorn. “For one thing, Margaret and the son-in-law are bleeding him dry…I’d invite him to my place for Thanksgiving but...[my family] would be too much for him.” Joan listens with interest and ends up inviting Roger to Thanksgiving dinner to spend time with Kevin. However, when Roger shows up, he is irritated to see Bob Benson carving the turkey. Ultimately, Roger has fun feeding Kevin while Joan presumably turns her attention to Bob.

At work, Roger is stunned by Don’s Hershey presentation, and afterwards asks him if any of his story about being an orphan is true. Later, at the executive meeting on the morning of Thanksgiving, Roger is the one who very calmly delivers the verdict: “We think it’s best for you and the firm if you take some time and regroup.”  

Pete’s story revolves around his relationship losses. We first see Clara, his secretary, reading him a telegram informing him that his mother has fallen off the cruise ship. Clara is upset but Pete displays anger, commanding Clara to get Bud on the phone, which she does. We then hear Pete yelling over the phone: “They got married?! Tell the Panamanian criminals they should put him under house arrest…” Then he commands Clara, “Give me Bob Benson this minute!” She replies, “He’s been waiting for you. You’re late for your flight to Detroit.” Meeting Bob in the elevator, Pete accuses him of being an accessory to murder, although Bob denies having any knowledge of what happened to Pete’s mother. Pete declares that he will never let this issue go.

Once they arrive together in Detroit, Bob and Pete meet several Chevy executives in a large GM lobby where a couple of sports cars are on display. Knowing Pete’s a bad driver, Bob challenges him to drive one of them, and Pete tries to get out of it but can’t. After successfully starting the car, he accidentally backs it into a large corporate sign that falls down, endangering some women. As if to challenge his manhood, one of the Chevy executives excoriates him with: “Jesus, you can’t drive a stick?!” Bob responds smoothly: “We’ll pay for that.” Embarrassed, Pete loses his role in Detroit and returns to New York.

When Pete arrives back at the agency, he tells Clara to find him a place to live, since a tenant has already moved into his apartment. She tells him that Bud has been trying to reach him.  Pete and Bud then have a conference call with “Alvin,” a contact from the ship who informs them about what happened to their mother. During the Roaring 20’s dinner dance, she fell off the Promenade deck. The ship was off the coast of Martinique in shark-infested waters. Alvin explains that the ship has conducted its investigation and neither they nor the nearby countries are motivated to investigate further. However, Alvin says he has a private investigator prepared to board the ship and locate Manolo Cologne, alias Marcus Constantine. “We will investigate, no stone unturned and no expense spared, until we find out what happened.” Bud and Pete become uneasy about the costs involved and decide to let go of the idea of an investigation. Bud says, “When you think about it, it won’t bring her back. She’s in the water, with Father.” Pete adds, “She loved the sea.”

We next see Pete visiting his old house, where Trudy and Tammy still live and where Pete is storing some of his mother’s furniture. Trudy tells him, “I don’t want your mother’s things, Peter” and Pete replies, “Well, Bud’s not getting everything.” He and Trudy exchange a few words, and Pete goes to Tammy’s bedroom to sit with her and caress her head while she sleeps. Trudy watches him from the doorway, apparently moved by the scene of fatherly affection.

As for Ted, we first see him listening to Jim complain that representatives from the Sheraton Royal Hawaiian, Don’s client, have arrived at the office but Draper can’t be found. Ted says, “Again?” Later, Ted walks through the office past Peggy with his dressed-up wife and two young boys on their way to the theater. When the boys run to the candy machine, Ted shouts, “Absolutely not! We’ll have candy at the theater.” Nan says “hello” and “goodnight” to Peggy as she walks by, communicating nonverbally: “He’s mine and you can’t have him.” Ted looks back at Peggy apologetically.

Don informs the executive board that he wants the position in California with Sunkist. Bert tells him it was intended to be a junior position, but Ted comments: “I think we could spare you.” However, as soon as Don leaves the room, Ted worries, “What if we need him?” and complains that everybody’s decisions are subject to 10 opinions except Don’s.

Later on, Ted sits around a table at work with Jim and Harry when Peggy stops in, all dressed up in her fancy black and pink dress, to tell them she’s leaving early because she has plans – clearly mirroring Ted and Nan’s promenade through the office in their fancy clothes prior to attending the theater. Ted appears at Peggy’s apartment building later that night, saying he doesn’t want anyone else to have her. They exchange quips and Ted makes his way into her apartment to tell her he loves her. They kiss and have sex, and Ted fantasizes about the two of them travelling to Hawaii together over the Christmas holidays. Ted says he plans to leave his wife, and Peggy tells him she’s not “that girl.” Peggy is convinced that Don “terrified” Ted into ignoring her. She keeps encouraging Ted to go home, and eventually he does. When he arrives home, Nan wakes up and greets him sweetly in bed, saying he works too hard. She snuggles up to him, and Ted looks confused and conflicted.

Ted’s conflict becomes more apparent when he later goes to Don’s office and tells him he wants to have the Sunkist job in California. “I need you to help me put 3,000 miles between me and [Peggy] or my life is over.” Even though Don says he can’t help, Ted advises Don to have a drink before the Hershey meeting, and Don does so.  At the Hershey presentation, Ted is shocked by Don’s confused and all-too-personal revelations about his childhood as an orphan.  After the meeting, when Don tells Ted he can have the Sunkist position, Ted thanks him honestly. Next, Ted goes to Peggy’s office and announces his decision to move to California. “You can stay here and have your life and your career, and let this be the past.” Peggy’s response is: “I can’t believe Don did this. I knew he wasn’t going…it’s Siberia…” Ted explains that he made this decision because, although he wants her, he has a family and needs to hold onto them or “get lost in the chaos.” Peggy yells, “Get out!” and Ted replies, “Someday you’ll be glad I made this decision.” Peggy’s reply is: “Well aren’t you lucky to have decisions?” On Thanksgiving morning when Don is placed on indefinite leave, Ted is absent. Presumably he’s with his family that day. However, Peggy and Stan are both at work. Stan walks by Don’s office and sees Peggy in Don’s chair. We view her from the back of her slightly tilted head, similar to a “Draper” pose but without the cigarette in hand. She tells Stan she’s there because “it’s where everything is,” and Stan laughs at her trying to take Don’s place. We hear the song Moon River as she gazes out of Don’s office window.

The final song, Both Sides Now, suggests the theme of seeing life from both sides. Probably the most prominent activity supporting this theme is reversals.

·         Stan proposes to work on Sunkist in California, and Don talks about how bad it is out there, but then reverses his position and thinks it would be a great opportunity – for himself.

·         When Don first proposes to his fellow executives that he take the Sunkist position in California, Ted tells Don, “I think we could spare you.”Yet as soon as Don leaves the room, Ted asks Jim, “What if we need him?”

·         After Don proposes to work on Sunkist in California, Ted privately tries to get Don to reverse his position and send him instead. Don says no but later agrees to do it.

·         Ted sees Don as the only person at the agency who can make final decisions without going through multiple approvals, but at the end of the show the entire executive board decides to put Don on leave, and he has no choice.

·         When Don waits at the elevator after being let go at his company, Duck arrives with Don’s replacement, Lou Avery. This is a reversal because, in the past, the agency let Duck go for the same reasons: alcoholism and inappropriate behavior.

·         Don learns about Sally being suspended from school for inappropriate drinking behavior and tries to play the responsible adult in his relationship with her; yet Don gets to see what it’s like on the other side when he’s “suspended” at work for his out-of-control drinking and related bad behavior.

·         Don at first doesn’t want to submit an ad campaign to Hershey because he says they don’t advertise. By the end of the conversation he says, “I love Hershey” and accepts the assignment. When he later presents his ad idea to Hershey, he starts with a fake childhood story, then reverses himself and says: “If I had my way, you wouldn’t advertise” and starts talking about his real childhood experience, which is linked with Hershey but not with advertising.

·         In Don’s flashback from childhood, he recalls the minister passing harsh judgment on Uncle Mack and the women by calling them all sinners. However, after the man leaves, he says, “The only unpardonable sin is to believe God cannot forgive you,” which seems like the opposite message.

·         When Megan sees Don the morning after he spent the night in jail, she first confronts him and then tries to be sympathetic. Later, when Don reverses his decision to move to California, Megan reverses her commitment to him and walks out.

·         When Megan is telling Don off, she first says rather cruelly that his children are screwed up, but then she says she loves them dearly.

·         Pete tries to sideline Bob when they meet the Chevy executives in their corporate lobby by saying that Bob isn’t feeling well. Bob immediately turns the situation around by cleverly forcing Pete to drive a stick shift car, sidelining Pete.

·         We see Roger denying Margaret and Brooks some sort of financial help, but later Joan hears from Roger’s secretary that Margaret and Brooks are “bleeding Roger dry” – a reversal of the audience’s perception of the young couple.

·         When Joan hears about Roger’s woes, she reverses her decision to block Roger from her life altogether and allows him into Kevin’s life – although not back into hers.

·         Pete is adamant about finding out the truth about his mother’s death on the cruise ship and tells Bob he’ll never let it go. However, once Pete and Bud learn about the expense involved in a private investigation, they change their tune, saying that “She’s with Father” and “She loved the water.”

·         Bobby and Sally Draper notice that they’re not in a good neighborhood when Don takes them to the place where he grew up. However, once he points out the house and says he grew up there, they begin to gaze on it with a more sympathetic and inquisitive attitude.

·         Roger asks Pete how things are going in Motor City. Pete says the airport is like Calcutta, but when Roger says it’s a great account, Pete agrees with him. This isn’t a reversal of Pete’s perception, but a reversal of attitude.

·         Ted secretly meets with Peggy and tells her he doesn’t want to sneak around.

·         In seeing Peggy at her apartment, Ted tells her he will get a divorce; however, when he gets back home to Nan, he reverses his decision and decides to leave Peggy.

·         In the course of the episode, Peggy goes from fantasizing about a life with Ted to fantasizing that she’s the new Don at the office.

·         Peggy gets to feel the excitement of being Ted’s first choice of women; later she gets to feel what it’s like on the other side, when Nan becomes Ted’s first choice and she’s the loser.

A major theme in this episode is stepping up to fatherhood. This is suggested by the title, In Care Of, because a major challenge of fatherhood is to be present to take care of others, to lay down boundaries so that children don’t go down the wrong path, and generally to make decisions in the interests of the family, not just oneself.

·         After his childhood memories of being uncared-for, Don steps up to try to become a better father. His decision to remain in New York represents a decision to place the needs of his children above his own urge to run away and start over.

·         Pete makes an effort to spend some time with Tammy. Because he isn’t often with her, those few moments are precious to him.

·         Roger is a failure as a father to Margaret, at least in her eyes and probably in his own. However, he’s happy to have a second chance at fatherhood by forming a relationship with baby Kevin.

·         Roger also plays an almost fatherly role with Pete when he asks him about Motor City and then gives him some words of encouragement.

·         Ted plays a fatherly role with his sons when we see the family together at the agency before they’re off to the theater. He sets a strong boundary in not allowing his sons to have candy until they get to the theater.

·         Ted struggles with his feelings for Peggy vs. his feelings for Nan and the boys. His desire to be a good father helps him decide to stick with Nan.

·         Ted takes an almost fatherly approach towards Don when he tells him, “I know there’s a good person inside” and when he advises Don not to try to quit alcohol all at once, briefly alluding to his father’s alcoholism.

·         As the executive board, Bert, Roger, Jim, Ted, and Joan act “fatherly” towards the agency, ensuring its continued success by eliminating Don, at least for a while. They are also somewhat caring towards Don, as they don’t fire him rudely, but instead encourage him to pull himself together, as a father might encourage his wayward teen.

A parallel caretaker theme is women who watch out for others.  This is not necessarily the same as motherhood, unless you consider that typical mothers in 1960s America were expected to serve men and children and watch out for them despite getting few rewards in return. Many of these women could be called “invisible” characters because they’re “just” secretaries whose names we may not recall; the wives are more “visible” but nevertheless dwell in the background of their husband’s life. These women generally experience financial dependence on their man, while their man feels absolutely entitled to their caretaking.

·         Beyond her own career, Megan tries hard to manage Don’s drinking and erratic behavior, Sally’s problems, and the boys’ daily needs. Like a lot of women in the 1960s, her caretaking work is taken for granted and hardly acknowledged by Don.

·         Pete’s secretary, Clara, watches out for Pete both professionally and (to some extent) personally, as most secretaries were expected to do. Yet she is a background character, often yelled at and little appreciated.

·         Roger’s secretary pours her care and concern into Roger’s emotional life, although he simply expects it. She even fears that her family Thanksgiving dinner might not be good for poor Roger.

·         For all her inadequacy as a mother, Betty works hard to manage Sally and admits that she can’t do it by herself.

·         We see Nan getting rewarded when she gets to go out with Ted to the theater, and especially when she gets to rub it in Peggy’s face. However, Ted is more sympathetic and appreciative to Peggy than to Nan in that instance. At another time, we see Nan being patient and caring when Ted comes home late after cheating on her.

Finally, there’s the theme of “turning the page”: leaving the past behind and moving on. The song, Moon River, somehow reflects this sentiment, with each character wending his/her way through life and chasing his/her own “rainbow’s end.”

·         Even before being placed on leave by SC&P, Don turns the page in his life when he decides to become more honest about his childhood during his Hershey presentation. Later, he reveals more about his past to his children, another move towards honesty. What looks like a breakdown in his personality that makes him lose his job is caused not only by alcohol, but also by a personal decision to become more authentic. His transition to greater authenticity is actually facilitated when he’s placed on indefinite leave at work.

·         Don also turns the page in his life by deciding to become a better father.

·         Megan turns the page in her life by walking out on Don. We don’t know if she’ll leave him permanently, but she’s put up a stronger boundary than before, signaling that something will have to change significantly before she would return to that marriage.

·         Roger turns the page in his life when he says no to being a money-machine for Margaret and Brooks, and finds a way to bond with his new son, Kevin, in an appropriate, fatherly way. He also seems to accept Joan’s decision to exclude him from her personal life, although we don’t know for sure if he’s really given up on her.

·         Pete turns a page in his life when he says goodbye to Trudy and Tammy, to his deceased mother, and to his brief term in Detroit. He even says goodbye to his apartment, which now has a tenant. About the only things left for him are his job and his relationship with Clara, although in the next chapter of his life Pete will no doubt encounter lots of new people through work.

·         Ted turns a page in his life by deciding to drop Peggy and to focus his attention on his family. In addition, he and his family will be moving to California. If this move occurs as planned, it will help to make the next chapter of his life new and different.

·         The SC&P executive board turns the page for their company by dropping Don and hiring Lou or someone else to replace Don.

·         Peggy turns the page in her life by abandoning the dream of a life with Ted and returning to her old professional dream: being a corporate executive just like Don.

Will Don be rehired at SC&P in the next season? It’s hard to imagine that all of the wonderful characters at the agency would suddenly be out of the show for an entire season. Maybe he’ll be hired at a competing agency the way Peggy was in a previous season…but we hope he’ll be back at SC&P soon so we can continue to enjoy the fabulous cast of characters at the agency!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-12: The Quality of Mercy

Recap: At the start of the episode, Megan wakes up in the morning and discovers Don sleeping curled up in what appears to be Gene’s bedroom. He looks wasted and Megan advises him to “pull back the throttle.” While she’s helpfully making eggs for his breakfast and advising him to take the day off to recover, he’s slipping booze into his morning orange juice. Megan leaves for work and Don heaves a deep sigh.

During the day, Don hangs out at home watching TV. First we hear him listen to a political ad for Richard Nixon that attempts to scare the public about crime and promises a future of law and order, marking the start of a conservative era in America. Next, Don watches Megan’s soap opera, and sees Megan play a character who accuses her man of cheating on her. The character confronts her man with: “I’m talking to you. Don’t you dare ignore me.” After Don changes channels and turns off the TV, Betty calls Don to discuss Sally. Thinking Sally may have told Betty about his affair with Sylvia, Don braces for a confrontation, but Betty says Sally’s not coming this weekend, and she wants to attend boarding school. Relieved, Don offers to pay for it. Don half-heartedly tells Betty to tell Sally that Megan and he will miss her. After hanging up the phone, Don exhales with a deep sigh.

Meanwhile at SC&P, Peggy and Ted work on the Ocean Spray account with Michael and another creative guy. Peggy and Ted giggle and flirt as they refer to a tour they just took of the Ocean Spray plant, and they imitate their tour guide, a man who Ted dubbed “Rose Kennedy” for his accent. Michael objects that “Cran-Prune” sounds like a diarrhea drink, but he’s overruled, whereas everything Peggy suggests is considered golden, much to Michael’s frustration.

When Megan arrives home that day, she tells Don he looks better. The phone rings, and it’s Harry from California to talk to Don. Harry delivers the news that even though he told Sunkist SC&P couldn’t work with them, Sunkist now wants to work with the agency at 2-1/2 times the budget (because it’s TV rather than print). Don tells Harry the agency can’t do it, and treats Harry dismissively. Feeling sorry for Don because he had to take a work-related call on his day off, Megan then suggests that they get out of the apartment. They go to a movie, Rosemary’s Baby. At the end of the movie, which they thought was disturbing and scary, Megan spots Ted and Peggy walking up the theater aisle and says hello. They talk awkwardly, Ted makes excuses for why he and Peggy were there together, and Don looks at Ted and Peggy suspiciously. Ted returns the animosity with: “So, I see you’re feeling better” since Don was supposedly taking a sick day. Megan invites them out for a bite to eat, but they both decline. Megan later gossips to Don about Ted and Peggy, but Don shrugs it off and excuses himself to make a phone call, presumably to Harry in California. After he leaves the room, Megan sighs and says, “Okay.”

At work the next day, Don and Roger meet with Ted and Jim. Roger announces the $8M business opportunity with Sunkist per Harry, and Jim says, “Great Caesar’s ghost!” Ted rants that, since they’ve been working with Ocean Spray for about six weeks, it will be like a knife in their back, and the agency’s other customers will worry about getting the same treatment. He laments that “giving their word” doesn’t mean anything anymore, and points out that the agency looks bad because “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” Despite all of Ted’s observations, Jim realizes the greater business opportunity with Sunkist, and Ocean Spray is dropped. They all agree to improve their internal communications in the future, and Don apologizes for his “surprises.” Ted then requests that Peggy should be on the Sunkist account, since “she has juice experience,” and Don concurs.

Later, Don walks past the glass-enclosed board room and sees Ted, Peggy, and Joan laughing and looking at head shots. He steps up to Moira and asks what’s going on, and she gives a cynical look. Don enters the meeting room and sees Ted and Peggy acting like they’re in love. Ted and Peggy direct the others to act out the ad for St. Joseph’s Aspirin that Peggy has developed, based on Rosemary’s Baby. The ad involves several actors surrounding the baby, behaving like members of a coven who offer remedies for the baby’s illness. “You need to feel the conspiracy” Peggy explains. The final line of the ad is: “You don’t need anyone’s help but St. Joseph’s.” Don’s initial feedback is supportive, but he also brings up the issue of the number of people that will need to be hired. Joan advises Peggy and Ted to rush over to casting, and Don and Joan then discuss the budget overrun. Don learns that St. Joseph’s hasn’t even seen the budget yet, and he walks out of the room with a stern look on his face.

A little later, Don and Ted see each other as they’re both ready to leave work, and they stop to discuss the St. Joseph’s ad. Don had sent the budget to St. Joseph’s while Ted and Peggy were at casting, and St. Joseph’s had called Ted to stop production because the budget was exceeded. Ted says he didn’t tell Peggy, since he knew Peggy wanted to get a Clio award for it and has her heart set on it. Angrily, Ted tells Don: “Now I have to turn a no into a yes,” but Don replies, “You would have had to do that anyway.” However, Don agrees to back Ted up with the client. Ted rushes off to review the budget. Looking over his shoulder, Don watches Ted leave the room and looks deeply sad.

That night we see Don again sitting in front of the living room television, now looking depressed. The TV show features a dark topic, with a man mentioning homicide, robbery, and murder. Megan steps out of their bedroom in her robe and says, “You can do that in bed you know.” Don either doesn’t hear her or chooses to ignore her, and she walks out again, unnoticed and undoubtedly frustrated. This is interesting because it’s the opposite of her television scene, where her character yells at the man, “Don’t you dare ignore me!”

The next day at work, Don waits for the meeting with Byron from St. Joseph’s. Peggy enters the room and Don explains that he’s there to give the team more fire power, and that the problem involves residuals. Byron, Ted, Joan, and Jim enter the room and the meeting begins. Ted explains that the budget expanded from $15,000 as a result of expanding their ad concept, but that the cost of the ad will be offset by the sales it will bring. Byron asks for a reason, and Ted doesn’t seem to understand what he means. Byron says he took a lot of abuse in his company and is entitled to a reason. Don chimes in and claims the reason is very personal. Ted and Peggy begin to fear that their relationship is about to be exposed, and Ted starts to look pale. After prodding Ted to tell Byron the personal reason, Don says, “You don’t want to say anything? Fine, I’ll tell them. It was Frank Gleason’s last idea.”  Ted and Peggy are visibly relieved. Ted and Jim see this as a good story to build on, and Byron accepts the story and offers to increase the budget to $25,000 max. Ted agrees to it, and Jim, Byron, and Joan leave the room. Ted, Peggy, and Don remain, and tension mounts as Peggy says, “Don, was that necessary?” Ted tells Peggy, “Leave us alone,” and Peggy leaves the room. Ted says to Don: “What was that?” and Don replies, “That was the best I could do.” Don then confronts Ted about being in love with Peggy, says everybody in the office can see it, and says that Ted isn’t “thinking with his head.” Ted is stunned as Don sternly exits the room. 

Soon thereafter, Peggy walks over to Ted’s office and Moira tells her Ted’s gone home. Peggy asks when he left, and Moira says, “Right after I told him you needed to see him.” Peggy immediately storms into Don’s office to confront him with, “I know what you did, I just don’t know why you did it.” Don says he saved both of them and that he’s just looking out for the agency.” Peggy calls him a monster and walks out of his office. Don lies down on the sofa and curls up in a fetal position, deep in thought.

Another thread of the story begins in the woods near Detroit, with Ken and two executives from Chevy hunting for game birds. One executive commands Ken to shoot his rifle, and suggests he pretend that a nearby tree is Ralph Nader. Ken says, “Whatever you want,” but doesn’t shoot. The two Chevy men lift their rifles to aim at a bird overhead and then turn as the bird flies by. They shoot simultaneously in the direction of Ken and Ken falls to the ground. As it turns out, he was shot in the right eye and has to wear a patch over it. He returns to SC&P and talks to Pete about quitting the Chevy account. He explains to Pete that he told the Chevy guys his wife Cynthia was pregnant and they took him out hunting to celebrate. He then confides, “Chevy’s killing me…I hate Detroit, I hate cars, I hate guns…I’m going to be a father soon…” and he cries. Pete tells him to pull himself together and advises him not to give up the account because he’ll be laughed out of advertising, but Ken is set on transitioning out of Detroit. Pete then offers to take his place and asks Ken to back him up. Pete leaves Ken and heads to his office. He takes out his rifle, holding it up as if to shoot when his secretary enters the room and asks, “What are you doing?” She informs him that his gun is only good for squirrels and that Cooper wants to see him. Pete asks her, “Would you ever leave New York, Annie Oakley?” She smiles and straightens his tie but doesn’t take his question seriously.

In Cooper’s office, Bert, Roger, Jim, Pete, Ken and Bob meet to discuss Ken’s withdrawal from the Chevy account. At first some of them try to convince Ken not to let go of it. Ken says he’s not resigning Chevy because he’ll stay on the business in New York. Pete accepts the new role of account man on the ground in Detroit. Then Bert and Roger say that Bob will stay on the account to provide continuity, and Jim agrees. Pete argues for starting with a new team, but he’s overruled. Bob graciously offers to step out of the room to allow them to discuss the problem, but when he leaves, Jim tells Pete there’s nothing to discuss. They all like Bob so much that they’re willing to keep Bob and dump Pete from the account, so Pete changes his tune and thanks all of them for trusting him with it. After Pete exits Cooper’s office he encounters Bob, who asks: “Is there a problem?” Pete accuses him of being sick, and Bob asks, “Why would you say that?” Pete challenges him: “Did you not profess your love to me?” Bob replies: “Only my admiration, which is waning quickly…This is not about my own interests; I care about Chevy…You’d better watch what you say to people.”  Then Bob shakes Pete’s hand and says loudly enough so that others can hear him, “Congratulations…Can you believe this guy?” Pete walks away disgruntled and closes the door to his office.

Pete calls up Duck and asks him to find a new position for “a young account man whom we love but Draper doesn’t like…named Bob Benson.” Duck agrees to do so for a fee. Later, Duck calls Pete back and informs him that Bob Benson’s personal background record “might as well have been written in steam.” Duck says that many of Bob’s claims aren’t true, but that the Brown Brothers Harriman folks remember him as Bobby from West Virginia, whose parents were brother and sister or something, and that he was a manservant to a Senior Vice President who took him on a cruise to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth. Duck tells Pete he’s never seen anything like this before, but Pete says, “I have,” clearly in reference to Don, alias Dick Whitman.

Meanwhile, we see Bob in his office speaking Spanish on the phone, apparently to Manolo. Bob describes Pete as an S-O-B. Then he listens to Manolo and says, “I don’t care how nice she is. He’s a snotty bastard and he’s screwing with my future.”

Later, Pete’s mother, Dorothy, shows up at his office to his surprise and asks him for her passport. She says, “I’m planning a voyage and I spoke to Manolo.” This sets Pete off, and he forbids her to see “that Spanish fly” or to help her with her passport. Dorothy also tells Pete that Manolo is upset about the way he treats Bob Benson. Pete’s response is more anger plus threats to Dorothy’s new nurse, and he storms back into his office and shuts the door.

The next day, Pete goes to Bob’s office and politely says, “Good morning Bob,” before launching into his next invective. Pete confronts Bob with his knowledge of Bob’s work as a manservant, and Bob asks, “What do you want?” Pete says he wants Bob to stop smiling. Then Bob confronts Pete with, “You don’t respond well to gratitude.” Pete spews more venom but then says, “Where you are and who you are is not my concern…I surrender. I want you to graciously accept my apologies. Work with me but not too closely…and please can you find a way to get your friend out of my mother’s life?” Bob emphasizes that Manolo doesn’t like women. Pete walks out the door and sighs deeply after exiting Bob’s office.

A third thread of the tale begins when Betty drives Sally to her interview at an exclusive boarding school. Betty is excited for Sally but Sally doesn’t say much. When Betty tries to guess why Sally wants to attend boarding school, Sally responds: “If I say yes will you stop asking?” Sally comes back with the conversation-ending line: “I want to be grown up but I know how important my education is.” Then she gazes out the passenger window and sighs.

At the interview, Betty speaks of her own dilemma as the mother of a young woman. The lady conducting the interview seems impressed with Betty and tells her when to pick up Sally the following day. Sally is sent to one of the students’ bedrooms to talk with a couple of girls, Mellicent and Andi. The two girls greet Sally nicely but then create a hazing situation, in which Sally is told she’s not allowed to speak, and that she’s there to look after them: “You didn’t bring a bottle. Call your mother and tell her that you’re useless.” Sally’s response is: “I can get you anything you want.” Ultimately, Sally calls Glen, and Glen shows up with a pal named Rollo and some drugs and alcohol. Glen flirts with Andi and they pair off and go to Andi’s bedroom, leaving Sally alone with Rollo. Rollo moves in on Sally but Sally doesn’t like it and moves away from him. Eventually Sally calls Glen, and Glen fights Rollo off, saying that Sally is like a sister to him. Rollo says to Glen: “Are you suicidal? I’m your ride home” and he walks out. Glen soon follows, explaining that he doesn’t want to hitch. Andi then says to Sally: “You like trouble, don’t you?” and Sally smiles slyly but looks a bit uncomfortable.

When Betty drives Sally home the following day, Sally is again uncommunicative. Betty confronts her with, “So you’ve got what you wanted and now you think you can be rude.” Then Betty says she’s not going to tell Sally what the interview lady said when they were saying goodbye. Sally shows interest, and Betty reveals that Sally got glowing reports from all concerned: they thought Sally was curious and bright and they hoped she would choose their school. Sally appears happy to hear this, and Betty rewards her by allowing her to smoke one of her cigarettes. “You want one, don’t you?” she asks Sally. “Go ahead. I’d rather have you do it in front of me than behind my back. I’m sure your father’s given you a beer.” Sally responds, “My father’s never given me anything.” Hearing this, Betty frowns, takes a long cigarette drag, and looks worried.

A pervasive theme of this episode is the interplay of helpfulness and abusiveness. This includes bad treatment under the guise of being helpful and truly helpful behavior that garners abuse or lack of appreciation in return – as well as helpfulness to those who are not nice, despite their bad attitudes.

·         Megan’s helpful attitude towards Don, in her advice and her actions, is met with a complete lack of emotional response.

·         Ted’s helpfulness and supportiveness to Peggy by encouraging her work results in making them both look like fools to those in the office, thus garnering abuse from others.

·         Michael’s helpful comments about the “Cran-Prune” name are rejected rather than appreciated.

·         Harry calls Don to tell him about a huge, $8M commitment from Sunkist and Don at first blows him off like he’s a pest.

·         Don tries to help Ted by complimenting Peggy’s “coven” ad idea for St. Joseph’s, but also watching out for the budget. In doing so, Don undermines Ted and Peggy’s enthusiasm and throws a wrench in the process, which they fail to appreciate. Ultimately, Don “helps” Ted by embarrassing him and Peggy in the process of coming up with a reason why they went over budget for the ad, which feels to them like abuse. Finally, Don tries to help Ted wake up and realize how foolish he and Peggy look to the rest of the office, and to help him start thinking more clearly again. His advice to Ted leaves Peggy feeling totally abused. When Don tells her he saved both of them, she calls him a monster.

·         Don and Betty both help Sally get into a boarding school. Don helps by promising to foot the bill, and Betty helps her by taking her there, saying all the right things, and trying to relate to Sally through conversation. Sally fails to appreciate that her father has ever helped her with anything, and also doesn’t appreciate her mother’s efforts to understand her and converse with her.

·         Sally tries to “help” the girls she meets at the boarding school by giving them whatever they ask for, despite the girls’ mean hazing treatment.   

·         The mean girls give Sally a glowing report, thus helping her gain acceptance at the school.

·         Rollo helps Glen by giving him a ride to the girls’ boarding school, and in return, Glen beats him up, then seeks a ride back with him.

·         The St. Joseph’s ad is an interesting mixture of scary coven members offering weird remedies to help the baby, and one beautiful, radiant mother offering the pills.

·         The Chevy executives try to be supportive to Ken, only to shoot him by accident. Then on the way to the hospital, they consider whether they should stop for lunch.

·         When Pete hears Ken start to cry after talking about how much he hates Chevy, Pete tries to be helpful by yelling at him “Pull yourself together” and by telling him not to quit the account because he’ll be laughed at. Pete was trying to be helpful, but Ken may have felt abused by this treatment.

·         Pete helps Ken by taking over the Chevy account, and Ken appreciates it. However, when Pete hears that Bob will stay on the account with him, Pete brings up so many objections that Bob has to know he’s unwanted. Nevertheless, Bob remains excessively polite towards Pete. On the other hand, Bob may be plotting behind the scenes to get even with Pete in a most abusive and criminal way (see comments at the end of this essay).

·         When the SC&P executives tell Pete that they’d rather have Bob on the Chevy account than him, Pete probably feels angry and unappreciated, but he responds to them with extra politeness, thanking them for their trust in him.

·         Dorothy asks Pete for help finding her passport, and is met with verbal abuse. In return she is demanding as a mother but attempts to remain polite.

·         Pete says “Good morning Bob” very politely before confronting him, calling him sick, and then asking him to work with him “but not too closely.”

·         Betty is mean to Sally when she accuses her, “So you’ve got what you wanted and now you think you can be rude.” Then Betty joyfully tells Sally the good news about being accepted to the school.

·         Don has paid for Sally’s life, and offers to pay for her boarding school, and in return Sally tells Betty, “My father’s never given me anything.”


The episode’s title, The Quality of Mercy, is a quote from a Shakespearean play, The Merchant of Venice, in which the gentleness of mercy is contrasted to the harshness of justice, by which none of us would achieve salvation if it were applied to us. In this episode, justice-seeking on the national front (as articulated in Nixon’s law-and-order, anti-crime ad on TV) creates a high level of fear throughout society that is reflected in this episode.

·         Almost every scene ends on a sour note or a point of deep frustration or other negative feeling for one or more of the characters.

·         The Chevy executives advise Ken to pretend a tree is Ralph Nader, and to shoot at it. The implication is that they feel no mercy towards Nader, the man who caused Detroit to spend money on things like mandatory seatbelts and other safety measures that cost them money.

·         Megan appears to apply mercy to Don when she goes out of her way to care for him, but it looks to me more like she’s experiencing fear that something’s wrong and frustration that she can’t fix it, rather than mercy.

·         Pete has no real mercy for Bob, just an awareness that he can’t get rid of Bob because everyone else likes him better. He experiences fear for his job plus anger and hostility on a daily basis.

·         Bob shows a thick veneer of politeness to Pete, but it’s hard to tell whether he is secretly plotting against him, especially when he seems to threaten Pete by telling to be careful about what he says to others.

·         When Pete yells at Josephine, she looks frightened for her job.

·         Don sees Ted acting as foolishly just as he himself has done in the past, and he fears for the company because of Ted’s impaired judgment.

·         Hearing Sally say that her Dad hasn’t ever helped her, Betty fears that something is deeply wrong that she hasn’t been aware of before.

·         Ted constantly fears that his relationship with Peggy will turn into something it shouldn’t or that it will be discovered, and yet he also fears losing his marriage and family life with Nan.

·         The fearfulness of the times is also reflected in the scary, disturbing movie hit of the time, Rosemary’s Baby.


Finally, a subtle suggestion of intrigue appears in the Bob Benson story. First, Duck tells Pete about the Senior Vice President whom Bob served as a companion during a cruise to Europe. Apparently Duck wasn't able to locate this man to interview him. Second, Bob’s conversation with Manolo suggests that Bob is asking Manolo to take Dorothy on a cruise. Could he be planning to get even with Pete by asking Manolo to harm or kill Dorothy?  Why else would Manolo apparently protest, “But she’s a nice lady”? We also hear Bob use a threatening tone with Pete when he says, “You’d better watch what you say to people,” suggesting that Bob himself may intend to provide some sort of negative consequence.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-11: Favors

Recap: In the opening scene, Peggy is dressed up and ready to leave her apartment. She sees a rodent, screams, and quickly leaves. The next day at work, she runs into Pete Campbell’s mother, Dorothy, and her male nurse, Manolo, who are there to visit Pete’s office. Pete steps out of his office to invite Manolo in, and asks Peggy to keep his mother company. The two women sit down to talk, and Dorothy says she’s relieved to see Peggy back together with Pete again, “for the good of the child you have together.” Peggy is startled, since she and Pete secretly had a child together, but then she hears that Dorothy thinks she is Trudy. Peggy emphasizes to the old woman that she and Pete are not together that way. Dorothy also describes her great love for Manolo.  

In the evening, Peggy is at a restaurant for dinner with Pete and Ted. Pete is quite drunk and Peggy is drinking too. Ted is a little surprised by Pete’s intense drinking and tries to stop him, and later Peggy, from drinking too much. They joke and laugh and have a good, informal conversation. Ted excuses himself to call home, and while he’s gone, Pete tells Peggy he can see that she and Ted are in love. Peggy first denies, then admits the situation but says nothing can happen. Pete also says, “At least one of us ended up important.” Then she tells Pete about the weird conversation she had with his mother at the office. Peggy informs him that Dorothy thinks she’s making love with Manolo, and Pete asks what she said. Peggy tells more, and Pete jokes that he’s going to be sick. Ted returns to the table, sees Pete and Peggy giggling together, and suspects they are more than friends.

At home late at night, Peggy uses her flashlight to investigate the tiny, bloody footprints on her living room floor and the squeaking sounds of the likely trapped rodent. She phones Stan and says, “Did I wake you? …There’s a rat in my apartment.” Stan says he told her to get traps, and she carries on about how she did, and how it’s in the trap. “Did you call an ambulance?” he quips. She wants Stan to come over, but he says, “I’m not your boyfriend.” Peggy then offers him sexual favors if he’ll come over, but he declines and lets her know he’s got someone in bed with him. At the end of the episode, we see Peggy sitting alone on her couch at home late at night, watching TV, smoking a cigarette, and looking bored. There’s a cat nearby on the couch, reminding us that not only do cats catch mice, but that her mother once told her if she’s lonely she should get a cat.

Pete’s story begins when his mother and Manolo visit his office. Pete invites Manolo into his office and compliments him for doing a good job with his mother. He offers Manolo a cash tip to take care of himself, which Manolo at first declines, but then accepts.

When Pete sits with Peggy and Ted at the restaurant that night, he is exceptionally drunk and giggles a lot. Although Pete accuses Peggy of being in love with Ted, Peggy accuses Pete of being in love with him too. Pete doesn’t take this personally, but admits he enjoys getting new business with Ted.

Next we see Pete speaking with Don in Don’s office. Don asks Pete for a favor involving his friend from the Department of Defense, but Pete says he’s moved on to Union Carbide. Don wants to know how kids pull strings to get out of the military, and Pete suggests that they go to college, divinity school, etc. Then Don and Pete walk to the hallway where Roger, Ted, and the other executives (except Joan) are congregating to have their executive update. Pete boasts about going after Ocean Spray, and Roger brings up Sunkist, which he’s been pursuing. This creates a conflict for the company since they compete.

Later at home, Pete answers his door and is surprised to see Dorothy and Manolo. Pete reminds them he said he’d meet them at the restaurant, but Dorothy insists on coming into his apartment so he lets them in. Pete dismisses Manolo to be alone with his mother. Manolo leaves after kissing her hand and saying, “Goodnight, my sweet.” Pete comments on how well he looks after her, but he tries to tell her that Manolo is just her nurse, not a boyfriend. Dorothy describes how loved and how good he makes her feel. However, Pete believes Manolo is taking advantage of her, and he insists on letting him go. That’s when Dorothy calls Pete “sour” and says he’s always been unlovable. She says she’s going to leave, and Pete says she’ll never find her way home. She insists that she has car fare and a piece of paper with her address, written in Manolo’s “elegant handwriting.” She starts to walk out without her purse, and after handing it to her, Pete lets her venture out by herself, knowing she probably will not make it.

Back at the agency, Pete calls Bob Benson into his office, saying, “Get in here and close the door. You said you had a nurse and you sent a rapist!” Surprised, Bob asks, “Manolo?” Bob tells Pete to sit down, pours him a drink, and discusses the situation. Bob says, “I assume she told you this story. That should be your answer…I don’t think Manolo’s interests turn that way.” Pete replies, “Great, so he’s a pervert.” They both have a stiff drink, and Bob says that when someone takes care of another and dedicates himself to the other person’s happiness, the other person might fall in love. With this, Bob presses his knee against Pete’s, which surprises Pete. Pete moves his knee away and says, “Tell him I’ll give him a month’s pay, and tell him it’s disgusting. Bob forces a broad smile, says “Of course,” and walks out of Pete’s office.

That night at home, Pete pours the last of the cereal out of the Raisin Bran box, gets angry, and throws the empty box across the kitchen in frustration.

Ted’s story begins at the restaurant where he dines with Pete and Peggy. After it’s over, he goes home to his wife, Nan, and finds her lying in bed watching television.  Ted asks, “What are you watching?” and Nan replies, “I don’t know.” She then complains that he was supposed to have dinner with the family and that their boys were disappointed. She goes on to complain about the fact that he works too much, he enjoys work more than his family, and she knows he’s disappointed with his family life compared to his work life. Ted responds that the amount of time he’s working at the office is temporary, but she challenges that notion. She says, “Even when you do come home, you’re not here.” Ted says, “How was your day?” Her response: “I just wish you liked being here more.” Ted gives this serious thought.

At the agency, Ted expresses frustration with Roger and others for not reading his memos. Ted has been writing memos about his plans to do business with Ocean Spray. Jim talks privately to Ted and warns him that the more memos he writes, the less they’ll be read.  Ted tells him he feels like he’s Ginger Rogers jumping through the air, and instead of catching her, Fred Astaire punches her in the face. Ted admits that he feels competitive towards Don, but he feels that Don’s attitude is the problem.

At the dinner meeting with three Chevy men, Ted, Pete, Don, and Roger make conversation, allowing the Chevy men to do much of the talking. Ted is congenial, and after Don brings up the subject of the Vietnam war, Ted tries to smooth things over, as does Roger. The following day at work, Ted storms into Don’s office and asks what the hell Don was up to at the dinner. Ted yells, “You didn’t want to work on the account until 1970, so stay the hell out of it. Stop trying to poison my relationship [with Chevy].” Don replies, “Last time I checked, it was our relationship.” Ted scolds Don for creating a negative experience for the client, and then realizes that Don may have brought up the subject of draft dodging because he had a son who might be drafted. Don says no, it’s the son of a friend. Ted then offers to make a phone call to the Brigadier General who taught him how to fly a plane, to see if he can pull strings for Don’s friend’s boy and get him lined up to become a pilot. In exchange, Ted demands that Don “stop the war” against him and start playing on the same team.

At night when Ted returns home, he walks into his bedroom and finds his two sons watching TV while Nan snoozes. He smiles at them and lets the smaller boy ride on his back, while the bigger boy follows behind him as he presumably takes them to bed to tuck them in.

Don’s story begins when he arrives at his office and learns from Dawn that Roger is waiting inside. Don is surprised not only to discover Roger on his knees, reaching under the bar, but to see that Roger can juggle three Sunkist oranges. Roger says, “See, not all surprises are bad.”Don stops in at home and is surprised to see Megan sitting on the couch talking to the neighbor boy, Mitchell Rosen. Megan is surprised to see Don, and after Mitchell leaves, Megan tells Don about Mitchell’s 1-A draft status, and how Mitchell wants to find a way out. Megan thinks of helping him get to Canada, but Don advises her to leave it alone. Megan says, “You don’t want him to go to Vietnam” and Don replies (ironically): “He can’t spend the rest of his life on the run” and says it’s not their problem. Later that night, Don is surprised to hear the doorbell and asks Megan, “Honey, who’s that going to be?” It’s Arnold, who apologizes for Mitchell’s afternoon visit and then tells Don how upset Sylvia is. Don and Arnold go out to a local restaurant and Arnold talks of how Sylvia’s been lying about little things, and how he knows something’s been wrong all year. When Don tries to offer advice on how to deal with Mitchell’s situation, Arnold becomes sarcastic: “Everybody’s an expert.” Then Arnold asks Don, “I don’t know what to do. What would you do?” They talk about their own military experience and Arnold says, “We were lucky enough to live in this country, and service is part of that bargain.” Don states that the war is wrong. Arnold agrees with Don that Mitchell is a good kid, but says he’s soft, choking back his own “soft” feelings as he says this.

The following day when Don arrives at the office, Dawn informs him that he’s due immediately in a status meeting and that he has a dinner with Chevy people that night – both of which surprise him. After Don asks Pete for help pulling strings for Mitchell, Don and Pete step out to have the status meeting in the hallway where they learn about the Ocean Spray vs. Sunkist problem. Don mediates: “It might not be a conflict – we don’t have either of them yet.” Then he leaves the others to fight it out.

That night at the Chevy dinner, Don listens to conversations about fishing and the grandson of Ross, a Chevy exec. Don then talks about the son of a friend of his, and says he’s 1-A. “Can you imagine?” His comments are met with silence, but Don persists, as he thinks someone there might be able to help him pull strings for Mitchell. When nobody at the table is sympathetic, Roger, Jim, and Ted bring the conversation back around to more genial subjects. The following day at work, Ted reams Don for his inappropriate conversation at the client meeting. Their conversation pivots, and Ted offers to do Don a favor by contacting his old piloting instructor. Don is quite surprised at Ted’s helpful attitude. Next, Don places a phone call to Arnold to tell him the news, but he reaches Sylvia instead. Sylvia is surprised that Don would try to help Mitchell, and she’s overcome with emotions. She also expresses surprise that Don told someone about Mitchell’s situation. Regarding their breakup, Sylvia says, “I hope you know that I was just frustrated.” Don says, “I do now.” They reconnect emotionally as Sylvia, in her emotional confusion, says, “You were good to me, better than I was to you.” Later on, Don visits Sylvia’s apartment and they make love until they realize that Sally is standing in the kitchen watching them.

Finally, Sally’s story begins at Betty’s house, when Betty expresses surprise that Julie’s mother told her they were the only two girls on the trip planned for the weekend. Sally says, “So? Miss O’Shea’s going to be there.” When Betty continues complaining, Sally accuses her, “You hate that daddy supports my dreams.” Betty complains that Sally thinks Don is such a hero. Sally and Julie end up staying at Don’s place for the weekend instead. When they arrive at Don’s building, Mitchell Rosen is there waiting for his mother and holds the door for them. The building guard introduces Mitchell and Sally, and Julie introduces herself. Both girls have a crush on him, but he doesn’t seem to reciprocate.

At night the girls are supposed to be sleeping but they stay up to talk. They write a list of things they each like about Mitchell, and Julie tells Sally, “You should sneak down and kiss him.” In the morning, Julie and Sally sit at the Draper’s breakfast bar. Julie is dressed and Sally is still in her night clothes. Megan tells Sally to hurry up and get dressed, and Julie tells Megan that she’d love to visit Megan’s studio. When Megan says she needs to make a phone call, Julie guesses, “To your agent?” Surprised, Megan says yes. Julie then offers to take out the garbage for her, and while she’s back there she sneaks over to Mitchell’s back door and slips the letter to him under the door.

In the cab on the way to school, Sally tries to prepare for class but Julie doesn’t care about it. Sally tells her all the boys will think she’s dumb, but Julie says, “Don’t tell me how to get boys.” Julie wonders what Sally’s going to do when Mitchell wants to go all the way with her, but Sally says, “Mitchell doesn’t even know I’m alive.” Julie then tells Sally that she signed Sally’s name to their list of things they liked about Mitchell and slid it under his door. Sally punches Julie in the upper arm. Next we see that Sally has returned to her building and asks the guard to let her borrow the keys. She uses the keys to go to Mitchell’s back door and sneak into their kitchen, where she spots the envelope Julie slid under the door. Sally walks over to retrieve the envelope with the letter in it when she hears Sylvia moaning. She looks up and clearly sees Don making love to Sylvia in the bedroom. Sally drops the keys, and Don and Sylvia both look up and see Sally standing there. Sally runs out the back door. Panicked, Don gets up, pulls on his clothes and yells Sally’s name as he tries to catch her, but Sally gets into a cab before Don can reach the first floor. Meanwhile, Sylvia also panics and pounds on the bed in anguish and frustration.

That night, Don sits by himself at a bar and gets blasted before returning home. When he arrives, Megan smells his breath and is surprised at how drunk he is. She insists that he eat some food. Sally and Julie are at the table, and Sally looks down. The doorbell rings, and it’s Arnold and Mitchell. Arnold cues Mitchell and Mitchell thanks Don for his help. Megan is surprised to learn that Don has found a way to help Mitchell, and she kisses him and calls him sweet. Sally gets up and yells, “You make me sick!” and runs to her room. Megan wonders what happened, and Julie says, “She has a crush on Mitchell.” Don knocks on Sally’s bedroom door but she refuses to let him in, so he talks to her through the door. He tells her, “I know you think you saw something. I was comforting Mrs. Rosen. She was very upset. It’s very complicated.” Sally says, “Okay” and Don walks down the hallway to his bedroom with his shoes squeaking comically. He gazes back towards Sally’s room with a deeply troubled look on his face.

The title of the episode points to the central theme of favors requested, whether granted or rejected. These favors or requests for favors often have unintended consequences involving frustration.

·         Pete asks Peggy for the favor of keeping Dorothy company while he speaks privately in his office with Manolo. Peggy complies, but the consequence is that Peggy hears things that surprise her and passes these stories on to Pete (presumably as a favor to him), ultimately ending Manolo’s employment, Dorothy’s happiness, and Pete’s already difficult relationship with his mother.

·         Peggy calls Stan at night and asks him to come over and take care of her bloody rodent problem. Stan refuses, and due to the ensuing conversation her request may alter his opinion of Peggy or vice versa in unforeseen ways.  

·         Don asks Pete for the favor of calling on his Department of Defense contact in order to help Mitchell get out of his 1-A draft status. Pete is unable since the contact has moved on, but suggests that Don use his own connections. This leads Don to think about the Chevy men as possible resources for his plan to win back Sylvia by helping Mitchell.

·         Bob Benson has already tried to do Pete a favor by recommending Manolo to be Pete’s mother’s nurse. Now Pete blames Bob for sending him a “rapist.”

·         Ted offers to do a favor for Don by contacting the man who taught him how to fly, a Brigadier General. Don passes on this information without stopping to think that the Brigadier General might be unable or unwilling to help Ted help Don help Mitchell. The consequences to Ted for offering Don this favor remain to be seen.

·         The biggest favor of the episode is Don’s attempt to pull strings for Mitchell as a favor to Sylvia, with the expectation that Sylvia will at least appreciate him in return. The ultimate consequence of this favor, however, is that their secret love affair is revealed.

·         When Mitchell does Sally and Julie a favor by holding the door for them, the consequences are that Julie strikes up a conversation and begins flirting, leading to a dramatic, negative chain of events that neither Mitchell nor Sally could foresee.

·         The building guard does favors for Sally by letting her borrow his keys. This leads to Sally seeing her father in bed with Sylvia.

Another prominent theme of this episode is: life is full of surprises. While most Mad Men episodes contain entertaining surprises for the audience, just about every scene in this episode includes at least one surprise for one or more of the characters.

·         When Don arrives at work, he is surprised to learn that Roger is waiting for him in his office, surprised to see Roger bending down under the bar, surprised to learn about Roger’s efforts to get Sunkist, and surprised to see that Roger can juggle. Roger points out that “not all surprises are bad” but unfortunately, most of them turn out that way in this episode.

·         Peggy is surprised to see a rodent in her living room; later she’s surprised to see its bloody footprints on the floor.

·         When Peggy propositions Stan on the phone while asking him to come over and take care of the rodent, Stan is surprised; then Peggy is surprised to learn that he has someone in bed with him.

·         When Peggy keeps Dorothy company at the office, she is surprised by Dorothy’s comments – about being together with Pete for “the good of the child,” about Dorothy thinking she was Trudy, and about Dorothy’s relationship with Manolo.

·         When Peggy repeats this story to Pete at their dinner with Ted, Pete is surprised and alarmed.

·         During that same dinner, Peggy is surprised that Pete notices she’s in love with Ted and that it’s returned; then Pete is surprised when Peggy accuses him of being in love with Ted, too.

·         At the executive update meeting, Don and Roger are surprised to hear that Ted is pursuing the Ocean Spray account, and Ted and Jim are equally surprised to hear that Roger is pursuing Sunkist.

·         When Pete is in his apartment getting ready to meet his mother and Manolo at a restaurant in the evening, he is surprised to see the two of them at his door.  After Manolo departs, Pete is surprised to hear his mother’s “adult conversation.”

·         When Bob comes to Pete’s office to go to lunch together, he is surprised by Pete’s command that he enter his office and close the door. He’s even more surprised to hear that Manolo has taken advantage of Dorothy, since he knows that Manolo isn’t interested in women.

·         When Pete gets home and tries to pour himself a bowl of Raisin Bran, he is surprised to discover that the box is empty.

·         When Jim warns Ted about writing too many memos, Ted surprises Jim and the audience with his bizarre and comical description of his feelings: Like Ginger Rogers jumping through the air and being punched by Fred Astaire.

·         When Ted tells Don to end the war, Don is surprised since he thinks Ted is talking about Vietnam; Ted explains that it’s the war between them that he wants Don to end – surprising and confusing Don with his manner of speaking.

·         When Ted goes home at night, his two sons are surprised to see him there and receive his attention.

·         At the Chevy dinner meeting, everyone is surprised by Don’s comments about the war and his transparent effort to get a favor from a client he hardly knows. Don, however, is surprised by the silence he is met with when he first brings up the subject.

·         When Don arrives home in the afternoon, he’s surprised to see Mitchell and Megan sitting on their couch having a conversation. Megan is equally surprised to see Don.

·         Megan is surprised to hear about Mitchell’s 1-A status and to hear Don advise her not to try to help out.

·         Don is surprised when the doorbell rings that night and it’s Arnold.

·         Don must have been surprised when he tries to give Arnold advice about how to help Mitchell and receives Arnold’s sarcasm: “Everybody’s an expert,” only to be begged a moment later for advice on what he would or should do.

·         At work, Dawn informs Don of the imminent status meeting and the Chevy dinner that night, and he’s surprised to hear about both of these events.

·         Sally and Julie are surprised when Mitchell holds the door for them as they enter the lobby of Sally’s building.

·         Megan is surprised when Julie asks her whether she’s calling her agent, and when Julie offers to take out the garbage for her.

·         Sally is surprised when Julie explains that she calls Megan “Mrs. Draper” because she knows Megan doesn’t like it.

·         Sally is surprised when Julie tells her she’s slid their letter, bearing Sally’s signature, under Mitchell’s door.

·         Sally is surprised when she tiptoes across the Rosen’s kitchen floor and suddenly hears Mrs. Rosen moaning; she’s even more surprised when she looks up and sees her dad having sex with Sylvia.

·         Don and Sylvia are surprised when they hear the keys drop on the kitchen floor, and even more surprised when they look up and see Sally looking straight at them.

·         At the end of the show, Megan is surprised to see how drunk Don is, but happily surprised to see Don at home and to learn that Don has apparently pulled some strings to help out Mitchell.

·         Everyone is surprised when Sally stands up and yells, “You make me sick!” and runs out of the dining room.

Another important theme is toxic relationships.

·         Peggy poisons Pete’s perceptions of Manolo when she passes on to Pete Dorothy’s addled story about the love she and Manolo share.

·         Peggy may have poisoned her relationship with Stan by trying to turn it into a sexual relationship, although we don’t yet know how Stan will react to her in the future.

·         Dorothy poisons her relationship with Pete by calling him sour and saying he’s always been unlovable. With that, Pete refuses to help her find her way home, knowing she’ll probably not make it, although he does hand her her purse.

·         After Don uses the Chevy dinner meeting to fish for a favor to help Mitchell, Ted yells at Don not to poison his relationship with Chevy.

·         Don poisons his relationship with Sally, and knows other relationships including his marriage will be poisoned as well if Sally talks.

·         Julie may have poisoned her relationship with Sally by slipping their “letter” with Sally’s signature under Mitchell’s door; however, if Mitchell never sees the letter, it’s hard to know whether Sally and Julie will remain friends.

·         Ted already has a toxic marriage, and in this episode he tries to reverse the negativity by showing up at home, listening to his wife’s grievances, and taking care of his boys a little more.

·         Betty has long had a toxic relationship with Sally, and we see another instance of it when Betty accuses Sally of strategizing to make out with boys all weekend – something that Betty might have done at her age.

·         Bob Benson probably poisons his relationship with Pete by making a sexual advance that Pete finds disgusting, although we don’t really know how Pete will react to him in the future. Likewise, you could say that Pete poisons his relationship with Bob Benson by expressing intolerance of gay men.

·         Sylvia has poisoned her relationship to Arnold by cheating on him; although Arnold doesn’t yet know this, he realizes that something is wrong because Sylvia’s been telling little lies all year. However, we also learn that Arnold tells a lie at work, claiming to be at home when he wasn’t, so for all we know he may be cheating on her, too.

·         Don drinks so much in this episode that he is unconsciously poisoning his body.