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. 

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