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Scallop Eyes
Oct 15, 2021

Pete is the funniest character in the show, and this episode is probably his best showing.

On regards to Don, it was almost becoming a tradition of him escaping a hopeless work situation every seaon finale (Duck trying to muscle him out; the SCDP heist-creation; the whole Chevy thing),while his personal life got worse and worse. So this being an inversion of that , with the only bright spot in his life is him triyng to be more open with his kids , feels preety nice.

RIP Robert Morse The review of that episode is gonna hit a little harder this time


Jun 19, 2012

sebmojo posted:

i've never seen season 7 so this is exciting :D

yeah there's a lot of really cool stuff in season 7. otherworld, the world tournament, plus we get our first glimpse of Majin Buu. the saiyaman stuff is pretty campy though

Mar 16, 2001

Jerusalem posted:

I had never heard of this and just watched it. It's.... magnificent :stwoon:

It was so surreal when it first aired. There was zero explanation of what it was in any of the advertisements.

The other three weren't quite the same because it didn't have the surprise factor build into it. Although the second one has a great line about how the first was not, in fact, the greatest event in television history.

Not even loving close.

Jul 30, 2005

Jerusalem posted:

I had never heard of this and just watched it. It's.... magnificent :stwoon:

This was hilarious and absolutely surreal. I watched every episode of Simon & Simon because my mom was in love with AJ, so I've got the intro burned into my brain. Seeing it shot-for-shot with different actors felt like a drat out of body experience.

RIP Jon Hamm.

Brendan Rodgers
Jun 11, 2014

Scallop Eyes posted:

On regards to Don, it was almost becoming a tradition of him escaping a hopeless work situation every seaon finale (Duck trying to muscle him out; the SCDP heist-creation; the whole Chevy thing),while his personal life got worse and worse. So this being an inversion of that , with the only bright spot in his life is him triyng to be more open with his kids , feels preety nice.

It's a homage to the end of season 6 of Trailer Park Boys where the boys manage to not go to jail at the end and Mr Lahey starts to confront his alcoholism, which sets up the final season.

Brendan Rodgers fucked around with this message at 08:03 on Apr 22, 2022

ram dass in hell
Dec 29, 2019

Wow, cool! ... what ??

Brendan Rodgers posted:

It's a homage to the end of season 6 of Trailer Park Boys where the boys manage to not go to jail at the end and Mr Lahey starts to confront his alcoholism, which sets up the final season.

Speaking of, Jerusalem, any plans for a Trailer Park Boys watchthrough thread? Another one of the all time greats.

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

ram dass in hell posted:

Speaking of, Jerusalem, any plans for a Trailer Park Boys watchthrough thread? Another one of the all time greats.

I heard they made a pretty bad movie, but I saw the one with the planned bank heist and it all culminating in them showing up at the bank in the security guard disguises they'd painstakingly built from material and objects around the park with Julian still carrying around his rum and coke absolutely killed me :allears:

Slightly more on-topic, Jon Hamm made another appearance in the third episode of The GreatestAn Event in Television History and it was great, I'm so glad to have been told about that ridiculous show.

Admiral Bosch
Apr 19, 2007
Who is Admiral Aken Bosch, and what is that old scoundrel up to?

I just burned through this thread for want of better things to do at work(like, working) and I'd just like to add my praise for your writeups and analytical ability. It's great fun to essentially watch the show again through someone else's eyes for the first time. Glad I got here in time to 'live watch' season 7!

Lady Radia
Jul 13, 2021

Despite everything, it's still you.

i miss abe so god drat much

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

Lady Radia posted:

i miss abe

Peggy didn't!

Lady Radia
Jul 13, 2021

Despite everything, it's still you.

Jerusalem posted:

Peggy didn't!

Jun 30, 2008

Goodness no, now that wouldn't do at all!

Jerusalem posted:

Peggy didn't!


Nov 7, 2012

Scallop Eyes posted:

Pete is the funniest character in the show, and this episode is probably his best showing.

On regards to Don, it was almost becoming a tradition of him escaping a hopeless work situation every seaon finale (Duck trying to muscle him out; the SCDP heist-creation; the whole Chevy thing),while his personal life got worse and worse. So this being an inversion of that , with the only bright spot in his life is him triyng to be more open with his kids , feels preety nice.

RIP Robert Morse The review of that episode is gonna hit a little harder this time

I think there was some thinkpiece article about how Pete is sort of the anti-Don during the entire show, like the opposing force that tries so hard to be like Draper, constantly fails, but shows growth and progress where Don doesn't.

Blood Nightmaster
Sep 6, 2011


Peggy accidentally stabbing her live-in boyfriend and the ensuing ambulance breakup conversation is definitely up there in the Top Ten Absurd Mad Men Moments™. Number one might be the lawnmower incident IMO

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

Season 6 Retrospective

Of all the seasons of Mad Men so far, this is the one I struggled the most with. Which is not to say it is a bad season, quite the opposite, it is exceptionally good even if it never hits the high watermark of Season 5, which was arguably the best season so far. No, the quality of Mad Men remained at its now expected exceptional high baseline, but some conscious and very important character choices made some episodes difficult to watch in parts. They were present to serve an overall narrative, and they succeeded in that, but even so it was at times frustrating to see characters - well, to be fair, ONE character in particular - acting in even more self-destructive, petty, selfish and thoughtless ways than ever before.

I'm talking, of course, about Don Draper.

As is traditional with these season retrospectives, I'm going to talk about a general theme I identified for the season, discuss how this is realized through various characters, and then end with the focus on Don who is of course the central character of this show even with the large and very talented ensemble cast. But as always, everything that is written will in some way reflect back or be connected in some way to Don who, just as he has from the first episode of the first season, remains the sun that all the other characters revolve around. But where season 6 differentiates from previous seasons is that for the first time outside of a few individual characters doing so as a result of their own journeys, this is becoming less and less of an accepted thing. Why? Because in my opinion the major theme of season 6 is that...

(Almost) everybody is moving on.

Change has been a constant theme of the last few seasons, particularly against the backdrop of 1960s America which itself was undergoing at times tumultuous change. In the past we saw people either embrace or resist that change, get buried by it or ride it to new or enhanced success etc. We saw people rankle under the change not being fast enough, or not extreme enough. We saw people discovering, often to their misery, that even once change had arrived things weren't just automatically better or hadn't brought them the satisfaction they wanted.

Now, in season 6, what we largely see is the tail end of a chaotic decade where the characters of the show who have survived to this point have ridden it out and are now happy or even expectant of moving on in this new environment. Things are NOT like they were in 1960, but nor are they like they were in 63 or 65 or 67. Change is a natural and evolving process, and they are all moving with that, and if anything appear frustrated or ultimately done with those who think they can also ride that wave without actually changing or evolving themselves in the process.

I'm talking, of course, about Don Draper.

But before Don himself, let's talk about the journeys the other character's face. I largely can't separate Don from that, nor should I, because more than any other season Don looms large in almost everybody's lives. He is an outsized presence, but while I have likened him to the sun he is no longer the source of warmth, the lifegiver, the center of the universe that nobody can do without. Now he is blinding, burning, a dangerous, unthinking object who is no longer worshiped as a God.

Let's start with Peggy Olson, often identified as the next biggest star/focus of Mad Men beside Jon Hamm's Don Draper. At the end of season 5, she'd left SCDP and joined CGC where she'd obviously found great success. This continues through much of the first half of season 6, where she brings not just her creative energy but her ability to command and to keep her head about her in a crisis. She handles clients, and there is none of the pushback from the old fashioned types like Raymond Geiger. Now they look to her with admiration, with an at times almost pathetic hope that here is the person who can save them.

Ted Chaough appears at first the exact opposite of Don Draper as a boss, and Peggy excels professionally and personally under him as her Creative Director. In that sense, the connection to Don would appear only to be in contrast, except of course what Peggy discovers to her great unease and later great dismay is that Don Draper's gravity appears (initially) inescapable. The midpoint of the season marks a shocking change to the status quo, when she finds Don in Ted's office and is informed that SCDP & CGC are merging. Don, who finally seemed accepting that he had to let her go at the end of season 5, is not only back in her life but already slipping back into his paternalistic "I will give you your dreams" mode.

He promises her, with great sincerity in the moment, that THIS TIME he's going to get it right. SC&P (as it will eventually be called) will be what he told her SCDP will be, the kind of Agency that SHE wants to work for. Peggy goes and writes the press release as requested, and she returns to SCDP hoping for the best and enjoying a warm reception from old rival but now peer Joan Harris, but this feels like a backslide to her. She left this place to move on, now she's back? It only gets worse from there, as she sees Don bring out the worst in Ted, Don returning quickly to old habits, and she - now jammed into Pete and later Harry's lovely old office - caught in the middle and in danger of having her worst fear realized once more: that she will be taken for granted.

No, Peggy is ready to move on into the 1970s, and Don Draper is an anchor holding her back. Not EVERYTHING revolves around Don of course, and there is plenty more going on with her, particularly in regards to her relationship with Abe and the doomed affair with Ted. This is part of what I mean about moving on though. Don played an enormous part in getting her to where she is currently, but she's there now and he is largely - if not entirely - becoming extraneous. Her friends and work colleagues remained so even after she left SCDP, and welcomed her back with open arms. She is respected by her peers, she is valued by clients, her boss, has the status to openly question or argue with Partners, she even has not just the respect but the admiration of Pete Campbell who FINALLY seems able to set aside his confusing feelings of lust/hate/fear towards her and just be happy for her.

This is a woman who - for better or worse - owns her own (small!) apartment building. She is long past the timid young secretary who had "mad money" to maybe buy a drink or a nicer lunch every week or so. She is a confident, successful, financially well-off (not rich) young woman with a bright career ahead of her. She has essentially won at life, and the setbacks she does face are ones that offer her new opportunities, once again for better or worse. She and Abe have a spectacular break-up insofar as it starts with her stabbing him! Abe lambasting her as an affront to his beliefs and values comes at an emotionally charged moment for him, and it is devastating seeing a couple who brought out the best in each other breaking up over philosophical differences around poverty-driven crime. But it is also a moment she had seemingly been half-hoping for, as her infatuation with Ted Chaough grew greater and greater, especially after learning it reciprocated.

The (very short) affair with Ted in some ways represents a backslide into the past for Peggy. She's sleeping with her boss, a married man, and it bears some similarities with her doomed 2-night stand with Pete Campbell. Pete and Ted are like apples and oranges of course, but both affairs were similarly doomed. Peggy tries to treat it in a "mature" and "adult" way by assuring Ted she doesn't mind waiting, he doesn't have to bullshit around with "I'm going to leave my wife!", but in many ways this is the same "understanding" she seemed willing to consider as a young, naive secretary in season 1.

Where this differs is that when Ted has a change-of-heart (conveniently only AFTER having sex with her), Peggy doesn't wallow in grief or let him get away with his bullshit. Her first thought is to blame Don, but once she figures out Ted is solely to blame, she kicks him out of her office, she is furious at him, she isn't buying his bullshit for a second... and then she moves on. She's lost Abe, she's lost Ted (and never really had him), and so what does she do? She moves on. This isn't the woman who lamented "Now I have to start over" after breaking up with Mark. This isn't the woman who can't even explain to herself why she had an affair with Duck Phillips. Because she HAS changed, she is not where she once was.

Earlier in the season, she realized a cat could perform the same function as a man in her household in terms of killing a rat. At the end of the season, she sees Ted off, discovers Don is also gone... and just smoothly injects herself into the hole in the Agency. Both these things showcase the same thing: Peggy has realized she doesn't NEED anybody else. Society, Catholic guilt and especially her mother have told her she needs a man, she needs to be married, to she needs kids, she has to have somebody to do things for her and look after her. Why? She's the moneymaker. She's the one whose skills are in demand. Don Draper is gone? She already proved she could succeed without him. Ted turned out to have feet of clay? That's fine, she'll chalk it up to a bad (but learning) experience and continue on being a success. As 1968 draws to a close, Peggy knows exactly who and what she is, and as we've largely seen at the end of most seasons of Mad Men, that's somebody she is proud to be.

Pete Campbell's journey largely mirrors Don Draper's own, albeit in a warped way given Pete's background as a privileged elite against Don's penniless orphan bastard-child. This is pretty clearly seen in his final shot of this season, which mirrors the final shot of Don from the first episode of season 1. Pete at the start of season 6 is arguably where Don was in season 4: his marriage is over, his personal life is a wreck, but he has poured himself into his work and is enjoying the benefits and plaudits that come with that... for the moment.

In Season 5 he was the workhorse who carried SCDP through a dangerous period of instability, which of course he let go to his head as he reveled in rubbing the noses of his "enemies" into the dirt and getting a pathetic and petty "revenge" on them. In Season 5, despite semi-successful moves by Roger to become a more active player in Accounts again, it is still Pete who is seen as the Accounting Engine who works in parallel with Don Draper's Creativity to make the Agency a success. He is lauded by Cooper for his part in building the Agency to the point they are prepared to go public, a move that will make them all rich (richER in the case of Cooper, Roger and to a lesser extent Don) including Joan. Then it all falls apart, ruined by the selfish actions of one thoughtless man who decided to take matters into his own hand.

I'm talking, of course, about Don Draper.

This marks the start of a downward spiral for Pete. They'd already lost Heinz, then they lose Jaguar, then HE loses Vick when his love of indulging in prostitutes is exposed to his father-in-law (who sees zero hypocrisy in the fact he was ALSO enjoying prostitutes when he caught Pete), then Roger shows up to announce HE has gotten them a chance at Chevy, then the SCDP/CGC merger happens, Cutler arrives on the scene, the Partners are all of doing their own thing and loving up Pete's work, and he is the only one who seems to be smart enough (or paranoid enough) to spot that Cutler and Chaough are gently and diplomatically crowding Cooper, Roger and Don out.

It all stems for him from that selfish act by Don to fire Jaguar, regardless of his own actions loving things up further. So it's perfectly in keeping that of course when Pete realizes that he can't rely on Don or Roger to work in a united front against the CGC newcomers, he goes from muted hostility to unctuous adoration towards Ted in particular. Suddenly Pete isn't the workhorse superstar of the Agency anymore, he's a barely acknowledged Junior Partner who fears he's about to be discarded: after all, even worse than Don does, Pete has a strange mixture of self-belief and self-loathing, so OF COURSE he thinks he'd be thrown in the trash, after all it's simultaneously what he deserves AND a deeply unfair betrayal!

Throw in the calamity that is his personal life, having his mentally declining mother foisted into his life, the suspicion of abuse of her by her nurse Manolo, and then the discovery that Bob Benson is not only gay but also a con-man... it's no wonder that Pete ends the season contemplating the same kind of escape Don Draper has often (including in this season!) longed for. He declares as if it was set in stone that he is going to take the Los Angeles role, Trudy telling him not without love alongside the pity that he is finally free of the suffocating family and business ties to New York he has been restricted by his whole life.

That is what Pete wants: freedom. He just doesn't know what that is: freedom from family? The freedom to commit infidelity? The freedom that money and power brings alongside his good name? Again, much like Don, what he really wants is freedom from himself. From the crippling insecurity and fear and panic that he is living with almost constantly, in pursuit of an external realization to quell the internal void. But it is something he also on some level believes he can never have, that somehow he - the privileged child of an old New York Society family - will always be unfairly held back.

It's part of why he, with a mixture of bitterness and relief, decides to ignore his discovery of Bob's reality. He sees in Bob just another, younger, less sophisticated and (seemingly) self-assured Don Draper. In Season 1 he confronted Cooper with the truth of Dick Whitman and got a "who cares?" reaction, as far as he is concerned Bob - who Cutler and the other Partners already gave their endorsement to despite Pete's objections regarding Chevy - is likely to get the same treatment. Why? Because life is unfair, people don't follow the "rules" like he (thinks he) does, and Pete somehow has come to the conclusion that his privileged life is one injustice heaped on another.

Yes, Pete is ready to move on. To leave his family, to leave the last tenuous link to family in his brother Bud, to even leave his beloved New York. He wants a fresh start, a chance to be somewhere new and enjoy the sun and the water and to have guilt free sex and build up yet again a strong portfolio of Accounts in a place where ONLY he can get the plaudits because there is nobody else there. He's a warped reflection of Don Draper, pursuing the same extreme escape fantasy, longing to finally be free of Don, Bob, Roger, Ted, Cutler and anybody else he thinks are holding him back or stealing his thunder. He will of course never be happy even there, because just like Don keeps discovering.... wherever you go, there you are.

A similar deep dive could be done on every character, but then this post would be enormous. So let's briefly look at each in turn and the journeys they take, the positions they're in, and to some degree how Don Draper exerts pull on them either directly or indirectly.

There's Betty, finally free of her weight gain but still apparently feeling lost/disconnected at the start of the season. She tries to "save" a young friend of Sally's, she continues to be bitter and aggressive towards Don for any slight (to be fair, the burglary/hostage situation was pretty crazy!), and she despairs over Sally's teenage moodiness, blaming it on Sally coming from a "broken" home which betrays a little of her own residual guilt on the divorce even after all this time and how clear it was that it was absolutely the right decision for her to make.

But while Betty will always have Don in her life in some respect due to their children, I think this season marks a final excising/draining of the wound of her leftover feelings/desire for Don. In previous seasons we've seen her obsess over the fact he was dating, be jealous of Megan, envious of Don's initial devotion to her etc. Here in Season 6, after we see her and Henry's passion ignited over another man hitting on her, Betty indulges in a one-night stand with Don.

It should be a disaster, and it is... for Don. Because for Betty she is practicing exactly what Don claims HE preaches: the sex is just sex, and nothing more. They travel to see Bobby at his summer camp, they share a couple of drinks, Betty "invites" Don into her cabin, they have sex, she seems amused at his protests that he'd be happy just to hold the woman he's with, and then she... just moves on. The next morning sees her happily eating breakfast with Henry, she's cordial towards Don but obviously isn't interested in him beyond a simple greeting before returning her attention to her husband... and Henry himself is completely unbothered by Don's presence. This isn't the man who obviously felt emasculated in some weird respect by Don's continued presence in Betty's life, now he is completely self-assured that he and Betty's marriage is secure.

It doesn't matter that Betty slept with Don, it wasn't a precursor to anything further or a reigniting of old passions. It was "one more for the road" and nothing else. While Betty still calls Don and opens herself up to him emotionally at times (positively and negatively), it is always in regards to their children. Don as a romantic or even sexual partner? No, she is done with that, or at least appears to be, she's moved on. For Don that is an eye-opening moment, as he finds himself for once on the other side of the equation, the person a spouse sleeps with and then returns to their actual partner as if nothing happened. That it is Betty doing this to him showcases perhaps more than anything else how different the world is in 1968 than it was in 1960. Betty Draper in season 1 could barely fathom the existence of a divorced woman. In 1968, she's divorced and remarried and is very much in love (and lust) with her new man, and the man who she was once utterly devoted to and obsessed with? Now he's simply the kids' dad, and their sexual encounter was just her demonstrating her own ability to detach her present self from her past. She has well and truly moved on.

It isn't so easy for Sally. Still a child, her father has disappointed her at times but is still the preferable option of her two parents for much of season 6, as part of her still bitterly blames her mother for destroying the childhood security and happiness she believes was shared by the whole family. Always a daddy's girl, she longed to spend more time at her father's, at one point wanting to live with him and essentially play house, cooking and cleaning for him and looking after the boys when they came to stay. As she has gotten older, her interest has been more in gaining some freedom away from her mother, and sometimes getting to hang out with Megan as she grasps that Don will often try to avoid even these limited family outings.

But late in season 6, she sees something that evaporates any childish mindset that her father isn't a deeply flawed human being who clearly played a much stronger part in her parents' divorce than she ever wanted to believe. Don, seemingly so in love with the perfect Megan, is having an affair with the neighbor who lives one floor below. She catches him red-handed and when she finally sees him again, he's not only clearly a drunken mess but immediately gets lauded - almost worshiped - by Dr. Rosen, Mitchell (who she has a childish crush on), and worst of all Megan herself.

The unfairness of it all is too much for her to stand, and Don's despicable, pathetic attempt at gaslighting - telling her she only THINKS she saw him having sex with Sylvia, he was actually just "comforting" her - just makes his flaws glare all the brighter. So what does Sally do? At first she avoids him, but then she seeks an escape from both him and her mother, who she might understand a little better now but still rankles living under. So she aims for the comparative freedom of Boarding School, a chance to get away and remove as many obligations to see either of them as possible.

The tragedy for Sally is that she's too young to be allowed to move on. Her parents remain her parents, and of course her unsophisticated understanding of the divorce means she's taking an extreme (but understandable) reaction in her effort to be free of them long before that will be possible. She's not to blame for that, she may be getting older but she's still a kid, and Don at least recognizes he is to blame for destroying one of the few positive female relationships in his life. When the burglar broke into the apartment, she was able to keep Sally off-guard because she knew nothing about her father's past. Don makes the first tentative steps to rectifying that at the end of season 6, when he takes her and the boys to see the former brothel he was raised in. How will Sally react to that? Can the relationship be repaired? Unlike almost every other character in the show, it will be years if at all before Sally can truly move on from her father, and unclear if that will be at all healthy for her even if he is an appalling role model and a terrible, often absent father.

There's Ted Chaough, who since he was first introduced into the show has been trying to be (or more accurately, be better than) Don Draper. Lamenting that creativity, passion and innovation are second to size in the Advertising world, he increasingly sees the game as rigged: first with Heinz, later with Chevy. The difference being that the chance late night encounter in a bar with Don creates an opportunity to remove that barrier, as they join their two mid-sized Agencies to make one large (and thus more desirable to clients) one.

But Ted continues down a slow (and then rapid!) descent as he achieves everything he ever wanted and ends up, of course, wanting more. The subtext is literally text in Ted's case, as Peggy likens he and Don to each other but sees Ted as a "better" version of Don, warning that Don will be a bad influence on him. It is only late in the season that she grasps that Ted is more than capable of loving things up without Don's assistance. He gets to have his cake and eat it too, he gets the big Agency but in the end despite an obvious work ethic removes himself from the greater day-to-day responsibility by taking the California role to service Sunkist. More than though he sleeps with Peggy and ONLY then decides he wants to save his marriage and uses California as an opportunity to get away.

For much of Ted's time on the show, he seemed like kind of a dick who appeared to buy into his own hype as a Creative Visionary. Only in the last part of season 5 and through most of season 6 do we see he's got more substance than that, and that he's actually a pretty great boss: encouraging, supportive, a hard worker who leads by example, somebody who reaches out to people for diplomatic solutions. Which makes him reverting to form make a horrible kind of sense, because it's clear he thinks of himself as a good guy and always tries to find a way to make himself feel like the adult in the room. His self-aggrandizing little speech to Peggy about how he's doing the right thing FOR HER by sleeping with her them immediately grabbing his family and running thousands of miles away straight afterwards is astonishing in how self-serving it is while also being clear that he absolutely 100% believes in it himself.

Ted is a kinder, more modern Don Draper, but he has many of the same faults that Don has. He ends this season (and possibly the entire show?) by LITERALLY moving on. He is off to California (unless somehow Pete DID get in there instead of him) with his family, succeeding in doing what Don has considered multiple times and was in the process of finally doing for real at the end of this season. He leaves behind the wreckage of his actions, but that's fine because in his own mind he's doing the right thing that is in the best interests of everybody else too (but really himself). In that respect, he's moved on from nothing, he's just been a more successful Don Draper.

There's Joan Harris, who slowly comes to realize over the first half of the season just what she has actually accomplished... and it's a lot! It's takes external validation, but she realizes she is a role model, a hero and an inspiration to her friends and family. A divorced (or divorcing) single mother who made Partner at a high profile advertising agency, who is meticulous in her financial record-keeping (the Underwriter isn't blowing smoke up her rear end on that) and juggles motherhood with essentially keeping the day-to-day operations of one of the 25 biggest Advertising Agencies in America running smoothly

Harry Crane's abuse towards her in the wake of Scarlet's aborted firing was a verbalization of her worst fears: that her Partnership was a token gesture she forced on the others when she agreed to their appalling request to sleep with a Client representative to secure Jaguar. Harry - who himself has fallen a long way from the man who wept in disgust at his initial infidelity in season 1 - insists that HE is more deserving of Partnership status, a belief he continues to hold even as events move on without him, mistaking the lack of visibility of Joan's hard work as a lack of any work at all.

Joan's reaction to that, apart from being internally torn up, as well as her revolt at Don Draper deciding for himself to ditch Jaguar because HE feels gross about how they go it, is what leads her to attempt a more successful shot at what Lane Pryce himself once attempted: to win an Account. One of those admiring friends of hers gets her a connection to Avon, and though we don't see if they succeed in landing the Account, Joan - after some setbacks including being overlooked by men (of course) and getting combative with Peggy - establishes at that point that there is no reason she can't end up being the Account "man" for a client.

Because as seen in the image near the start of this retrospective, Joan is more than ready to move on from allowing men to dictate what she can and can't do, or making decisions on her behalf, or swooping in to pick up the glory after she puts in the hard work. Harry bemoaned that his (genuinely impressive!) selling of a sponsorship to Dow Chemical wasn't being lauded, but Joan puts in the hard work day in and day out and it generally remains invisible. We learned way back during the Sterling Cooper heist that this lack of understanding of the underlying work that goes into actually RUNNING an Agency is a massive hole in all these professional men's abilities, and that Joan is the key to making it work. She knows that too, but she's tired of being underappreciated or overlooked too, and she has a stronger case than Harry for wanting more from her professional life.

This extends to her personal life too, where she seems to set aside initial doubts that her age, marital status and motherhood has robbed her of her sex appeal. She seems at least willing to consider Gail's adamant belief that Bob is interested in her (I'm still unsure exactly what the nature of their relationship is, or if she knows Bob is gay), and also makes the decision to allow Roger at last to have some involvement in his secret son Kevin's life. That last accommodation shows a significant shift in the power dynamic between the two, because part of that decision comes from Joan feeling sorry for Roger.

The man who once tone-deafly gave her a bird in a cage because it reminded him of her, who has always held the real power in their relationship... now she handles him, she dictates terms, and he meekly agrees. After all, what choice does he have? His mother is gone, he's continually straining an already strained relationship with his daughter, and he's realized too late that buying everybody's love for all these years means that yes, the people he wants to now love him unconditionally see money as part and parcel of that equation, and now he feels bad about it after using it for so long to bypass criticism and get what he wanted. The one exception has always been Joan, even if he largely held the balance of power, and now she's who he retreats too when his own actions have cut everybody else: Jane, Margaret, Marie. Roger's professional life might be back on track, but aside from an enjoyable quid-pro-quo relationship with a airline hostess his personal life appears to be a total mess.

Joan, always a formidable woman even back in season 1, has only grown more confident, more valuable, more impressive, as time has gone on. She once saw the ultimate goal of any woman was to catch a successful man, get married, have kids, and spend the rest of her life in the suburbs. She couldn't have ended up any further from that aim, and she clearly is all the better off for it. Life isn't perfect, but at the tail end of 1968 she is in a far stronger position than she was in 1960.

Jerusalem fucked around with this message at 08:31 on Apr 25, 2022

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

I could go on forever. I haven't touched Ken, who finally got one of those BIG accounts he dreamed of and blew up in his face... literally! He was forever torn between his personal and professional lives, caring more about the former than the latter but knowing the latter was necessary, and fatherhood has clearly changed him in a way it didn't Don or Pete or Harry (who arguably did change, but for the worse, and much later).

There's Cooper of course, largely restricted to the background as he has been for most of the last few seasons but still stepping to the fore as and when needed. He missed the implications of Ted and Cutler "capitulating" and giving he and Roger star billing on the new Agency name, as did everybody else but the paranoid Pete Campbell. But when the big climactic moment came to confront Don and move the Agency on from him, it was Cooper who was the face and the voice, lending an authority to the proclamation that could not be denied.

What about Cutler? A new and fascinating addition to the cast played by Harry Hamlin, who once ruled the airwaves as Michael Kuzak in L.A. Law in the late 80s and early 90s. His immediate rapport with Roger, his rather seedy connection to a doctor who gives out free shots of speed or the fact he was happily spying on the daughter of his late friend and partner having sex (and invited Betty over to watch too!) makes his very intriguing. He's also so new that he lacks any real connection to Don, beyond appreciating having his strong reputation to sell to clients. He clearly enjoys power, his effort to mastermind a quiet coup of SC&P demonstrates that, and perhaps part of why he was willing to lose Don wasn't just down to Draper's erratic behavior but because with Ted going to California, he needed Don out of the picture too and a hand in selecting a replacement (if they don't stick with Peggy, who he probably considers to be on CGC's side) in order to retain his influence.

Ginsberg had a quiet season, outside of his clashes with Cutler or his frustration at being ignored in favor of Peggy. Stan has become such a well-rounded, interesting and better written addition to the cast since his first season, and seeing his contempt for Don come to the fore after being on the receiving end of one of his unthinking exploitation of Stan's idea as well as his great joy at Don's comeuppance and pride in Peggy's ascension feels (thankfully) 1000 miles away from where he started.

I could write an entire post on Bob, and have already dedicated significant chunks to him in previous write-ups. What a weird, fascinating, frustrating and compelling character. I am not going to remotely suggest I have a handle on who he is, because every time I think I do, he changes up everything we know, and there are still so many unanswered questions.

Duck's back! It was lovely seeing that he had recovered from his desperate humiliating exit (even if it was after a physical "triumph" over Don) and though a touch of that desperation returned when he saw a chance to get back in at SC&P, for the most part he has clearly largely moved on from the bitter drunken mess who was convinced he was the main character of a very different show. That his final encounter with Don in the last episode of this season has him very specifically and deliberately NOT crow over Don's humiliation and Duck's own "victory" demonstrates a man who has grown a great deal since we saw him last.

You can't ignore the historical backdrop of the show either. It's been mentioned before that the 60s were a tumultuous time for America, and 1968 was very, very different from 1960. It's interesting to see the parallels, this time Nixon won the Presidential Election (Don bitterly remarked everything was as "Jesus" wanted it at last) but now the war in the largely unknown (South)East Asian country is incredibly unpopular. Black people are now allowed to have jobs beyond simply elevator operators, cooks, and waiters... though the choices are still miserably limited. Divorce is more prevalent and acceptable, there are more women working, more gaining positions of (some) authority. 1968 was the year of the protest, and America saw that a long accepted way of life was getting more and more push-back.

The Civil Rights movement saw the beginning of a shift in the make-up of the Republican and Democrat Parties in America. Henry Francis had served as a political consultant to Democrats for years, but in the wake of Martin Luther King's death and Mayor Lindsay's efforts to calm down potential rioting we see that shift happening right there in Henry himself. He tells Betty that Lindsay preserving peace came at too great a cost (actually talking to black people instead of beating them up and throwing them in jail?) and he wants to run for office so he can do things "right". Lindsay himself would shift to the Democrats in 1971, but it appears that Henry was ready to be at the forefront of a hard shift of the Republican Party as the "Dixiecrats" swarmed to join the party.

But all of this, ALL OF IT, is secondary to the major focus of this season, the one thing that everything else comes back to, that everybody revolves around, that nobody can see to escape.

I'm talking, of course, about Don Draper.

There were times in this season that I utterly loathed Don Draper. I'm sure that was a very deliberate writing choice, if a bold one. We are seeing Don at his worst, and his worst is very bad indeed. Season 5 ended with the implication that Don was going to finally cheat on his beloved new wife Megan, but for much of the first episode of Season 6 we're not given a clear answer if he has, or he did and then ended it, or if he stayed faithful. They're on holiday together in Hawaii, Don smokes weed with her, admires her body in her bikini as she bakes in the sun, watches with pleasure as she taken up on stage to dance and everybody appreciates her beauty and grace.

But he also doesn't say a word to her (that we hear) on the entire trip, and after returning to New York and the 2-part episode which is kind of adorable for the fact it seems to be about 40+ year-old Don Draper finally making a new friend it ends with the revelation that not only is he cheating on Megan, but he's doing so with the wife of that new friend... and that she lives only one floor below them in the same building.

The affair with Sylvia is disgusting if only for the utter contempt it demonstrates for his wife. It's not the only time he demonstrates a complete disdain for her though, and it is part of what makes the season so difficult at times. Like last season, you kind of have to wrap up discussion of Megan with Don, and what we see here is a desperately unhappy woman who has everything she wants and yet understands on some primal level that something is wrong. That communication that marked such a strength of their marriage for the first part of season 5 is absent, but not from a lack of trying on Megan's behalf.

We see her act and react in much the same way she did in Season 5, attempting to get the same reactions back from him: she'll confront him, or challenge him, or goad him, or press him, or just TALK to him and what she gets back is either accusations, a pretended confusion/indifference, or pretending everything is absolutely fine and saying all the right things even though it is clear something is wrong. When Megan gets a sex scene in her soap (it's literally the other actor just kissing her and laying her down on the bed before the director yells "CUT!") Don makes all the right noises about not being happy but knowing it is just acting and that he understands this is part of her job.... but then comes to watch KNOWING that it will make him mad. Megan knows that too, accusing him of choosing NOW to visit the set for the first time, of looking for a fight or something to be upset by. That Don is enraged by this utterly chaste SIMULATED lovemaking while at the same time actively and eagerly engaging into a torrid affair with his downstairs neighbor just makes him all the more hate-able.

There's passion with Sylvia, of course, but as the affair progresses Don becomes even more dis-likeable, exploiting a furious argument she has with Arnie (Don's FRIEND, remember!) to turn her into his juvenile fantasy of a mindless sex receptacle who obeys his orders and has no will of her own, no life, no pesky thoughts or questions or challenges to his status as the big powerful man who is all knowing (go to therapy, Don!).

He torpedoes Jaguar because he hates that Herb got his way over Don's protests. He tries to make out like he did it on behalf of Joan, an idea she throws back in his face with the contempt it deserves. He pushes for the merger with CGC again without really any consultation beyond catching up Roger on the plan the morning of the pitch. They win Chevy and when the reality of servicing a gigantic client like General Motors finally hits home, he declares he's just going to.... not work on it until they're closer to beginning production of the car itself, several years hence!

When Sylvia ends the relationship, he refuses to accept it, wanting it if only because now he can't have it, utterly convinced - especially thanks to being high on amphetamines! - that if he can just get into a room with her, he can convince her because that's what he does. He finally seems to break himself of that obsession, and even appears to make a brief effort to make his marriage with Megan work again, only to turn an admirable effort to help Arnie and Sylvia's son Mitchell escape the war into an excuse to kickstart their affair again. He gets caught by Sally and makes an awful effort to gaslight her, claiming she didn't actually see what she thought she saw.

Yes, Don Draper is a man used to getting his own way, of being able to talk anybody into anything, and also to be able to GET away with anything. Why not? For close to 18 years now he has been successful. He escaped Korea, he escaped Pennsylvania, he escaped the Whitman name and became somebody new. He escaped Duck's power-play with PPL, he escaped Sterling Cooper, he escaped the exposure of (t)his affair... hell, he even got to bang his ex-wife who often claimed to hate him!

But it wouldn't be very compelling television if it was just about a rich rear end in a top hat who keeps getting things his own way (well, maybe.... Succession seems to be doing pretty well!). Part of what what this season, difficult as it is in parts to watch, work is that we get given fascinating insights into WHY Don Draper is the way he is. They come at exactly the right time, just as we might have had enough of Don or are rolling our eyes at him being a piece of poo poo yet again. We discover that as a young boy Don was raped, though he probably wouldn't call it that, taken advantage of by a young woman who has plenty of issues of her own.

That maternal affection she showed him - the first he'd experienced in his life - followed by his first sexual experience has clearly done a number on him, creating a heady mix of desire and fear for women, of lust and longing. Being raised in a brothel didn't help matters by making sex seem like a commodity, or that infidelity was absolutely the norm.

The second key moment comes towards the end of the last episode. During a pitch reminiscent in some regards to the remarkable Carousel pitch from season 1, Don weaves a spell with his words as he sells a story to Hershey's chocolate... and then throws that all out the window to take the only opportunity he is ever likely to get to tell Hershey's their true significance to his story. He talks then about normality, and the lack of it in his life, of the horrifying story about the closest thing to being "normal" was eating one of their chocolate bars alone in his room after stealing money from a John's pockets while they were having sex with a prostitute.

None of these things excuse Don's actions, but they explain them, or at least give us valuable context. Don has significant trauma in his past even beyond the horror he saw in Korea, and by not addressing it (therapy, Don! Even Roger is doing it now!) or even acknowledging it to himself he is dooming himself to repeat the same terrible mistakes he keeps making. Which leads to the final (finally!) point I want to make regarding the theme of (Almost) everybody wanting to move on.

Don Draper is a man whose time has passed.

Beyond his obvious creative talent, it would be foolish not to acknowledge that Don Draper is an extremely handsome, well-built, tall man who looks great in a suit and has a fantastic speaking voice. That formidable combination has given him a great deal of freedom that even others with a better pedigree, experience or connections have envied. But something has happened over the last six seasons and the 8 years of show time, something that is finally cracking the facade of the "perfect" man.

Even on just the surface level it is obvious. Look at the fashion on display, the hair-styles, the growing choice of colors omnipresent in the advertising world and the executive level on which these Ad Men operate. In 1960, Don Draper was a brick wall of a man with face seemingly chiseled from marble by an ancient Renaissance master. His suits were immaculate, he turned heads when he walked into a room. He was a man that other men wanted to be and that women wanted to be with.

The handsomeness is still there, the height, the voice etc.... but what's changed is what HASN'T changed. Don still has the same haircut. He still largely wears the same kind of suit. He largely works with grays and blacks, the defining colors of the late 50s and early 60s. He's now north of 40 rather than in the prime of his early to mid-30s. He by his own admission doesn't get pop culture or popular music. His ideas, even when delivered with that smooth voice, are expressions of what are becoming old-fashioned concepts. The father/son dynamic, loving mothers, children playing, young lovers meeting and bonding over <brand name, product name> etc.

Look around him. Beards, floppy hair, brighter colors, less formal-wear etc. Marijuana is smoked in the open area of the Creative Lounge, when once Paul Kinsey spoke in hushed terms of the ONE Agency he knew where that was tolerated, and when once Peggy, Kinsey and Smitty barricaded themselves into an office to sneak a quick smoke. Now Pete loving Campbell of all people takes a toke in the middle of the day!

Even Roger Sterling has let his hair grow somewhat out, a nod to the fact that fashions are changing, that times are changing, that things are moving on. But not so Don Draper. His suits might not be quite the same heavy material as season 1, but the look and the cut remain largely the same, as does he himself. Time is moving on and Don Draper isn't, and even those good looks and that voice and his legitimate Creative Talent can't fight that forever.

It isn't just restricted to the surface though. Because Don is also a man who is repeating again and again the same mistakes. He's out of tricks, everything he does now is just a regurgitation of an old idea, the repeat of a former mistake, the return to form of old habits. His affairs, his attitude towards women, even his arguments with Megan, ESPECIALLY his suggested solutions... they're all just doing again what he's done over the last six seasons.

This isn't an indictment of the writing, but a celebration of it. What we're seeing is HOW somebody on top of the world can get left behind when he refuses to learn, to change, to evolve, to adapt. Don has good reason to continually repeat himself, because those things he is repeating have always worked. Or if they were a mistake, they were one he was able to somehow get out of, and he seemed to think this would continue forever. Hell, it almost did in this season. After the affair with Sylvia ended, she put it best when she said she thought he'd be pleased he got away with it. Indeed he did, only to then restart it and immediately get caught by Sally. But even that resulted in yet another experience of being able to prevent it coming out in the open, even if that "victory" came at the expense of his relationship with Sally.

When Don feels everything closing in, what is his suggested solution? A repeat of one that goes all the way back to Season 1: he wants to flee to California. He suggests it to Megan as a chance for them to start fresh, causing her to break down into tears as she finally fully acknowledges just how miserable she has been living with him knowing something was wrong but not how to fix it. But he made the same offer to Rachel (and a variation of the same to Midge), and just like with Rachel when Megan asks what about the kids it looks for all the world like Don hadn't even considered them until he was reminded they (other than Sally in the latter case) existed.

Megan accepts, sets things in motion and Don then destroys it all by changing his mind, sending her into a justified rage that her thoughts and feelings remain secondary to him if he considers them at all. But even then Don must feel on same level that it'll work out, just like he and Betty got back together during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Or maybe he's already considering the "freedom" that having just her in California (if she goes) might have since it will allow them to schedule time together and leave him free to do whatever in the meantime.

Don returns to work the next morning looking for all the world like he's yet again avoided another crisis. Duck's powerplay failed. He escaped Sterling Cooper when PPL was selling. They survived the loss of Lucky Strike. He got Faye out of his life and replaced her with Megan. Sally's pissed off but she hasn't exposed him. Betty and he seem to at least be on speaking terms. Ted is about to be out of his hair even if it came at the cost of his California dream etc. Instead, he finds out that enough is enough, and the other Partners don't just want to move on... they've moved on already.

Why wouldn't they? Forgetting even the Hershey's debacle, Don has become a liability. His expensive Hawaii trip lead to an enthusiastic pitch for an ad that appeared to be about suicide. He cost them Jaguar. He helped win Chevy and then dumped all the work on Ted Chaough. He ignored memos to bring them Clients that put them into conflict with other Clients. He went back on his word multiple times. He disappears for long stretches of time unexplained, often when he has Client meetings lined up. He was the one who kickstarted the rush for what was intended to be a Junior role in California to one multiple partners including himself wanted to take on.

SC&P has become one of the biggest Agencies in America, and a large part of that was thanks to Don... but also DESPITE Don. Now they are in a position where they can survive without him, they're no longer a smaller boutique Agency relying on Don's high creative reputation to attract clients... they ARE the attraction. They'd like to keep Don if he was actually doing the work he is supposed to be doing, but if he's not... then what exactly is the point of him? To show up late to meetings, complain and walk out when he hears something he doesn't like, then go ahead and do things on their behalf without telling them anyway?

So it is that Season 6 ends with Don Draper facing the most unexpected of situations: his work DOESN'T want him. That has always been his rock, the knowledge that he was wanted and needed. Now he is neither, replaced by people who are more than capable of doing what once ONLY he could do. His old tricks don't work anymore, time has passed on and people have moved on. So what does he do? In the inverse of the end of Season 1, for once he actually does engage with his family and open himself up to them instead of coming to passionate understanding of his love for them... in the abstract.

He takes his children to Pennsylvania and shows them the horror home that he grew up in. It is the first tentative step towards sharing part of himself with the people he should love more than anything. Where will it go? How will it develop? Much like I do at the end of each season, I have absolutely no idea and that excites the hell out of me. There is one season left, one last batch of episodes to spend with characters I have come to adore and cherish. And yes, that includes Pete Campbell, and in spite of the miserable things he did this season, that still includes Don Draper.

Season Six: The Doorway Part 1 & Part 2 | The Collaborators | To Have and to Hold | The Flood | For Immediate Release | Man With a Plan | The Crash | The Better Half | A Tale of Two Cities | Favors | The Quality of Mercy | In Care Of | Season 6 Retrospective

Paper Lion
Dec 13, 2009

i still think a big part of your read on don is wrong, and part of it comes through in the language you use in his relationship to megan. its not a matter of disdain for her that he acts the way he does, because that's an active verb, something he'd have to consciously feel. hes "just" inconsiderate, because hes a traumatized alcoholic that constantly goes back to the same wells of sex/NRE and booze to try and self medicate his way through life. its not like he loathes megan, or particularly resents her (though i think a fair argument is that he may have had an offscreen phase of that in the wake of her in his mind abandoning him for her acting career that he's mostly worked through and you rarely see some flashes of it return), she's just pure collateral that never mentally comes up until he's trying to hold his home life together in the aftermath of his bad choices.

and re: get therapy which comes up a lot, the fact is that its still heavily stigmatized even leading into the 70s (and doesnt really get a good image rehab until the mid 80s when businessmen start going partly as a fad/keeping up with the jonses and only continue to go when it turns out the good therapists are actually helpful) and the state of therapy in the 60s/70s was what we saw of bettys therapist in season 1. active dialogue was discouraged, if don even tried to go it would just be one brick wall waiting for the other to say something and providing no response or stimulation.

EDIT: also season 7 was 2 production runs, so youll have to do one of these catchall posts after the episode waterloo

Paper Lion fucked around with this message at 09:17 on Apr 25, 2022

Jan 2, 2005

I am still wondering what would be of the Jaguar situation if the firm didn’t actively refuse to let a named partner(!) in on the plans to go public. I’m not saying he wouldn’t find another way to gently caress something – or it – up out of his own selfishness, but that seemed like a weird choice from the other partners.

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

Paper Lion posted:

i still think a big part of your read on don is wrong, and part of it comes through in the language you use in his relationship to megan. its not a matter of disdain for her that he acts the way he does, because that's an active verb, something he'd have to consciously feel. hes "just" inconsiderate, because hes a traumatized alcoholic that constantly goes back to the same wells of sex/NRE and booze to try and self medicate his way through life. its not like he loathes megan, or particularly resents her (though i think a fair argument is that he may have had an offscreen phase of that in the wake of her in his mind abandoning him for her acting career that he's mostly worked through and you rarely see some flashes of it return), she's just pure collateral that never mentally comes up until he's trying to hold his home life together in the aftermath of his bad choices.

Yeah disdain was the wrong word. At times he can be shockingly thoughtless, and it's worse in some ways that Megan (and others at various times) simply don't occur to him at all.

There's a couple of times during the season when he arrives home and pauses at the door or sinks to the ground like he just can't stand the idea of going inside, and I wonder how much if any blame he apportions to himself in those moments, and how much is resentment or exhaustion as the thought occurs to him,"Oh right, now I gotta do this whole thing."?

ulvir posted:

I am still wondering what would be of the Jaguar situation if the firm didn’t actively refuse to let a named partner(!) in on the plans to go public. I’m not saying he wouldn’t find another way to gently caress something – or it – up out of his own selfishness, but that seemed like a weird choice from the other partners.

I assumed (pure speculation) that at first they just wanted to see how much they might be worth. Cooper from memory says something in regards to the Underwriter's first figure like,"I can't take this to my Partners" so it seems like they weren't going to bother letting the others know in case they got a figure they weren't happy with, and to avoid people getting their expectations up.

But also if that is the case, it's kind of lovely that Roger and Don - two guys who would like the money but don't really need it - are left out but Joan and Pete who both are hungry and eager for it to happen have their hopes dashed at the last second.

A million dollars in 1968, Joan would have been set and Kevin's future secured. No wonder she was so furious at Don.

Jun 19, 2012


There's Cooper of course, largely restricted to the background as he has been for most of the last few seasons but still stepping to the fore as and when needed. He missed the implications of Ted and Cutler "capitulating" and giving he and Roger star billing on the new Agency name, as did everybody else but the paranoid Pete Campbell. But when the big climactic moment came to confront Don and move the Agency on from him, it was Cooper who was the face and the voice, lending an authority to the proclamation that could not be denied.

Forgot to mention this in the discussion of the season finale, but I love the framing of Cooper in the scene where the partners fire Don, sitting on his chair like a throne and flanked by his left- and right-hand men Sterling and Cutler. Morse's tone and body language are appropriately regal; a menacing inversion of the image he held with respect to Don on the earlier seasons. The "de-facto mentor" position he fancied towards Don in the beginning of the series slowly eroded over time: Cooper implicitly likens Don to Rand's Galt in season 1, then Cooper declares after Don's letter that he "never" thought Don had the stomach to start his own agency in season 4, then finally calls him a "pain in the rear end" in the season 6 finale. Morse's Cooper takes great pleasure in snipping the errant weed that Don has become, and it's just so juicy and delicious.

gently caress now I'm sad again that Robert Morse is gone :(

Nov 25, 2002

Showdown in the Galaxy Era.

Paper Lion posted:

i still think a big part of your read on don is wrong, and part of it comes through in the language you use in his relationship to megan. its not a matter of disdain for her that he acts the way he does, because that's an active verb, something he'd have to consciously feel.

I actually do think he has a level of disdain for Megan, relating to her S5 arc. Don's entire honeymoon phase with Megan seems built on this utterly impossible idealized perception of her. She's beautiful and vivacious, but mature and maternal in ways Betty never was, and uncomplicated and awe-struck by him in ways Faye never could be. She's a brilliant copywriter who loves the work just like he does, a ray of light who never despairs like he's prone to, a dutiful partner who'll always support him the way almost no one in his life actually has.

I think Megan's existential crisis over SCDP and nepotistic request to be in the Butler ad shattered many of Don's illusions. Almost overnight, she went from this beatific center of his universe to just another woman, some secretary he married with delusions of fame. She was perfect for him until she wasn't, and with that went his reverence and his respect. Or, at least, the belief that this relationship was special. Hence the S5 closer: "are you alone?" Yes. He feels alone once again, because the woman he thought Megan was, wasn't. And the woman she *actually* is looks, perhaps, like some kind of a betrayal.

So, I think it's fair to read Don's utterly callous and cruel treatment of Megan in S6 as fueled by disrespect or spite, or even disdain.

Paper Lion posted:

...the state of therapy in the 60s/70s was what we saw of bettys therapist in season 1. active dialogue was discouraged, if don even tried to go it would just be one brick wall waiting for the other to say something and providing no response or stimulation.

I had this same question for my partner, who works in psychology. Apparently the 60's was a significant turning point for how therapy looked in the US, where the very classical style of psychoanalysis Betty experienced in S1 was on the way out. It still existed by the late 60's, to be sure, but apparently the (more familiar) style of talk therapy Dr. Edna does would've been considered modern but not cutting edge or unusual.

People like Betty's psychiatrist would've been considered more medically legitimate, especially for something like a severe mental illness or neurological disorder, but someone like Don (a wealthy, more or less functional adult with poo poo to unpack) would likely have found a talk therapist. Assuming he'd go at all, which he clearly wouldn't.

Paper Lion
Dec 13, 2009

Xealot posted:

I actually do think he has a level of disdain for Megan, relating to her S5 arc. Don's entire honeymoon phase with Megan seems built on this utterly impossible idealized perception of her. She's beautiful and vivacious, but mature and maternal in ways Betty never was, and uncomplicated and awe-struck by him in ways Faye never could be. She's a brilliant copywriter who loves the work just like he does, a ray of light who never despairs like he's prone to, a dutiful partner who'll always support him the way almost no one in his life actually has.

I think Megan's existential crisis over SCDP and nepotistic request to be in the Butler ad shattered many of Don's illusions. Almost overnight, she went from this beatific center of his universe to just another woman, some secretary he married with delusions of fame. She was perfect for him until she wasn't, and with that went his reverence and his respect. Or, at least, the belief that this relationship was special. Hence the S5 closer: "are you alone?" Yes. He feels alone once again, because the woman he thought Megan was, wasn't. And the woman she *actually* is looks, perhaps, like some kind of a betrayal.

So, I think it's fair to read Don's utterly callous and cruel treatment of Megan in S6 as fueled by disrespect or spite, or even disdain.

like i said in my post, i dont think he didnt have a phase of that, but that he's on the other side of it now after the break between seasons. partly in that i view don helping megan with the nepotism as a true act of love. he absolutely could have declined, given her some obfuscated brick wall excuse the way he has about numerous things to numerous women throughout his life. but he knew it would make her happy, and he loves her, and knowing that it would cost him her continued presence and, yes, to some extent his illusions of the perfect wifemother that we now know he longed for after the events of the crash, he went and did it anyways. he said he was alone in that bar because he knew getting her that job would make him no longer the center of her world, and that isnt enough for don. he has to be the complete focus, and when hes not he falls apart and starts looking for someone else that can give him that, because in his mind he will always be a dead end whores son that doesnt deserve his station in life and shouldnt be here. weve seen that impostor syndrome creep up repeatedly (even outside of the obvious, literal impostor situation happening), very notably in season 2 episode 7 when cooper has to spell out that hes being invited to the level of society where the real movers and shakers are, and his face is barely hiding his bewilderment. as i said in a previous post, i dont think he blames her for wanting more, he just hates himself for not being enough, he had hopes that things would stay the way they were forever (preposterous thinking, but still) and blames himself and his percieved inadequacies for it. most of dons behaviour can easily be explained and traced back to self loathing, and his womanizing is a big part of it. back in season 1, when hes delivering the fake adam whitman corpse to his family and hes on the train, theres that brief pause as hes not sure if abandoning them is the right choice, but the woman touches his hand, makes advances on him, and he realizes that if he leaves, someone out there might care about him. that, to me, is the real point where sex/pursuit of the wifemother/validation that hes good enough first intersect for him.

sorry, scattered 6 am thoughts and talking around a few points to keep the post spoiler free so its a little confusing but hopefully my side comes through ok.

Xealot posted:

I had this same question for my partner, who works in psychology. Apparently the 60's was a significant turning point for how therapy looked in the US, where the very classical style of psychoanalysis Betty experienced in S1 was on the way out. It still existed by the late 60's, to be sure, but apparently the (more familiar) style of talk therapy Dr. Edna does would've been considered modern but not cutting edge or unusual.

People like Betty's psychiatrist would've been considered more medically legitimate, especially for something like a severe mental illness or neurological disorder, but someone like Don (a wealthy, more or less functional adult with poo poo to unpack) would likely have found a talk therapist. Assuming he'd go at all, which he clearly wouldn't.

yeah, to clarify the quality of care does get better by the end of the decade, but the stigma and many assumptions (my aunt went and nothing happened! the guy doesnt even talk to you!!!) persisted past that point for a long time. even into the 90s talk therapy is depicted in media as somewhat novel(fraisers willingness to actually talk to his clients and provide interpretations of things they were telling him in cheers/fraiser, for instance), and the older style still depicted with some frequency. its been interesting seeing media of the last 20 years not only catch up but actually start informing people of new breakthroughs before they would otherwise find out about it clinically. i know multiple people that learned about EMDR from things they were watching/reading, rather than being referred by any doctors, and its helped them enormously

R. Guyovich
Dec 25, 1991

surprised this hasn't come up yet

Jan 2, 2005

probably because it's so obvious

R. Guyovich
Dec 25, 1991

it's extremely obvious but still warrants a mention

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

Yeah sorry I was going to mention it because it's such a clear visual callback, but I forgot! :shobon:

Jun 19, 2012

lol yeah it's extremely obvious. I definitely picked that up before it was mentioned itt. haha

Nov 7, 2012

R. Guyovich posted:

surprised this hasn't come up yet

At the time of the last season live airing, people were going insane trying to divine references from the intro as to what would happen in the end, and not just accepting everyone else going "no, Don is not going to jump out of his office window (that doesn't even open)" and a lot of jokes about the famous LA Law elevator death.

R. Guyovich
Dec 25, 1991

i remember that as well as the manson stuff. did lost poison the brains of an entire generation of tv watchers, or was this kind of thing around even before that?

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

R. Guyovich posted:

i remember that as well as the manson stuff. did lost poison the brains of an entire generation of tv watchers, or was this kind of thing around even before that?

everyone's got a watercooler by the couch as they watch, and they all talk to each other

Jun 19, 2012

it's poor form to be discussing what does or doesn't happen at the end, even if it seems obvious in hindsight that Don's not gonna throw himself out the window of a skyscraper

Nov 25, 2002

Showdown in the Galaxy Era.

R. Guyovich posted:

i remember that as well as the manson stuff. did lost poison the brains of an entire generation of tv watchers, or was this kind of thing around even before that?

I think it did. Though I guess Twin Peaks did something similar to people in a pre-online media discussion landscape.

But for sure, I remember the Lost mystery box poo poo ruining a lot of conversations about shows circa 2010. People assuming showrunners were constantly trying to pull the rug out or litter small details that precipitate major twists into their stories even if that's not ever what the show was interested in doing. I remember some insane person (not here, I don't think) arguing that Bob Benson was Don's son via Aimee, or something about Adam not actually being dead, and yeah tons of poo poo about Megan getting murdered by the Manson Family.

And no. Adam died. Bob is just some guy. Megan doesn't get murdered. What would've been the point if any of those things had happened?

kalel posted:

it's poor form to be discussing what does or doesn't happen at the end, even if it seems obvious in hindsight that Don's not gonna throw himself out the window of a skyscraper

I guess, but some fan theories were so absurd, I don't think anyone needs to be precious about discounting them. Here are a handful of absurd things that don't happen; an infinite number of more realistic possibilities may still occur, though.

Xealot fucked around with this message at 22:32 on Apr 28, 2022

Nov 16, 2007

Yeah, but some shows like Lost leaned heavily on the speculation about what would happen next, even if the writers didn't know. I mean, Who killed JR? was a huge deal decades before Mad Men. But Mad Men was more about people talking with significant' glances.

I remember a niece really wanting to watch it because she was like 10 at the time, and she heard there was a lot of sex going on, and Mad Men was kind of scandalous. And it was a show for grown ups. Then when she snuck up late to watch it, she was really bored. Like that was it?

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

Season 7, Episode 1 - Time Zones
Written by Matthew Weiner, Directed by Scott Hornbacher

Don Draper posted:

I really thought I could do it this time.

A man speaks. He's an Ad Man. He talks wistfully, smoothly, confidently. He paints a picture with his words. The story of a man wearing a watch, and how it captures the imagination, how it brings color into a black & white world, how it evokes more than time. It's not a timepiece. It's a conversation piece.

Peggy Olson listens, awed, utterly enthralled by the magic spell this old hand at advertising has weaved for her. And why not? He is after all somebody she respects. A mentor. A man who saw her own potential and encouraged it, and who has been there for some of the most pivotal moments of her career in advertising. A man who was there when she arrived at Sterling Cooper. Whose philosophy clashed with hers in the early days at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce before they were able to settle their differences. Who saw her potential to be something more. Who respects her work ethic and her creative acumen and knew she would continue to thrive at Sterling Cooper & Partners in spite of upheaval at the top level.

I'm talking, of course, about Freddy Rumsen.

He's pitching an idea for Accutron Watches, and has outlined a full ad that has wowed Peggy, selling the benefits of the watch while also expertly targeting a very specific audience demographic. She admits this isn't what she was expecting, and wryly he points out that there is a NICE way to say something like that... and then there's the way SHE said it. She pushes past that though, still in awe at how good the work he just brought her was, though she notes the client will probably resist the black & white idea... after all, it's 1969, black and white is out and color is in.

But Freddy insists this is the point of difference, he isn't aware of anybody else who is doing this, it will make them stand out. Peggy, being Peggy, can't help but want to rework the tagline, throwing,"It's time for a conversation" out there, arguing that it is more elegant when Freddy points out the flaws.

A knock at the door interrupts them, her secretary Shirley has popped in to remind her there are five minutes till the Status Meeting. That marks the end of the meeting with Freddy, though apparently this isn't a one-off, he's operating as a freelance copywriter at the moment, and has a standing meeting with her each week to pitch ideas. He points out he plans to grab some more coffee before he goes, and she chuckles that he puts the free in freelancer. He just shrugs, obviously to Freddy being freelance means you take what you can, when you can, because who the hell knows when the next free meal is coming from.

In a dark room littered with snacks, discarded cigarettes and copious amounts of booze, a phone rings. A naked woman is woken and tiredly passes the phone to an equally naked Roger Sterling, who quickly sits up and tries to gather himself when he realizes it is his daughter on the line. Placing the phone on his crotch, he manages to mumble out a response to her cheerful greeting, while in the background we see there are multiple naked people in the bedroom, both women and men. Roger, it seems, has moved into the orgy portion of his mid(?)life crisis of being a rich white divorced male.

Margaret wants to arrange brunch with him on Sunday, laughing at his "joke" he'll bring vodka so they can have Bloody Marys. No, she wants to meet at a restaurant, not at her home (or his), and agrees to his offer of the Plaza ("they have vodka there" he offers helpfully), explaining it will just be her there. That raises his guard slightly, assuming - perhaps not unjustifiably - if she is prepping him to try and pump him for money. They say their goodbyes, and he simply sits in the quiet of the post-orgy morning, not responding to the young naked woman's blissful insistence that they "really got somewhere" last night.

At SC&P, Peggy joins Stan, Ginsberg, Mathis and Ed who are waiting outside the Creative Director's office. It seems Dawn managed to survive, still working at her desk, and seeing Peggy has arrived she informs the Director, who tells her to send them in. Standing, she opens the door and we see that Duck Phillips worked his magic successfully: Lou Avery has taken over Don Draper's role as Creative Director of one of the 25 largest Advertising Agencies in America.

Ginsberg quietly asks Dawn how long the meeting will take and she simply sweetly tells him that depends on HIM, an excellent secretary who doesn't tell anybody anything they don't need to know. But while she has kept her job, it seems things aren't all sunshine and roses, as Lou's "joke" of asking if he's been joined by Gladys Knight and the Pips freezes her in place for a moment before she forces a smile and moves on. "That's very hip, Lou," notes Ginsberg, completely aware of how uncomfortable that comment was even if it wasn't maliciously intended.

Dawn closes the door after first checking with Lou that's what he wants, and she remains in the office to take notes on the Status Meeting. This is our first look at Avery in a professional "creative" environment. Last season we saw him breaking balls with Roger and Don at the airport, and his arrival to interview as Don's replacement at the end of the season. In both cases he had an air of smugness about him, here in this office he appears to be trying to present a grandfatherly, casual approah - he wears an old man open sweater over his dress shirt and tie, he sits "casually" on the big screen (a whopping 12 inches perhaps!) television and he opens with a friendly,"How is everybody today?" question and cracks jokes about being a doctor giving them their routine checkup, which they all dutifully laugh at.

While Lou is downstairs being everybody's cheerful, relaxed, racist grandpa, Joan Harris heads up to the Account Floor where she finds Ken Cosgrove being everybody's hardass, bitter dad roaring at them to do their goddamn jobs. He's in Pete Campbell's office, with Clara sitting at the desk outside, but it has his name on it now - where is Pete? Did he go to California? And if so, what happened to Ted Chaough?

The Account Men rush quickly out of the office after he's done chewing on their asses, Ken stepping and out and breathlessly asking Clara to please fetch him a buttered roll from the lobby. He still has the eyepatch, either his eye still hasn't fully healed or it never will, but at least his face isn't scarred up anymore.

Clara leaves and Joan follows Ken into the office, where he sighs as he notices she is holding folders and that he has MORE work to do. She reminds him that HE wanted to see her, so she brought up the files on Avon assuming that is what it was about. Yes, it seems Joan realized her dream, they DID land Avon as a client and she is their Account "man", which puts her in the unusual position of being a Partner who answers to one of her own employees, as Ken appears to be the current Head of Accounts.

Ken admits that he barely has time to get ahead of all the work he has before Bob calls from Detroit at noon and then Pete from LA at 2pm (so he DID go to LA!), and he can't rely on Torkelson to delegate important work to because he's "Cutler's man".... also he thinks he's banging Clara! But that's not important, what he called her up for is to ask her to meet with Butler Footwear's new head of marketing... because if HE does then it makes him look less important in the eyes of Charles Butler Junior, he's not the Head of Accounts at one of the top 25 advertising agencies in America, he's on the same level of a footwear company's head of marketing.

So why not Roger or Cutler? This flusters him even further, snapping that he needs to establish a hierarchy and sending one of the two top men at the Agency makes him look less important as much as failing to produce an underling would. So he's chosen Joan, somebody who knows how to handle clients but also won't be looked at as above him in the pecking order. Joan, who is a goddamn PARTNER, takes the proffered folder on Butler Footwear, and it's a testament to how exhausted Ken is that he doesn't notice the tightly controlled anger and offense in her voice when she forces out a smile and a,"Thank you for having confidence in me," reply.

Clara buzzes in to let him know she has his roll.... and Bob Benson on the line for her. With a sigh he motions to the phone, exclaiming that the doesn't even have the time to take a crap, and Joan leaves having just effectively having her Account work doubled on top of everything else she already does for the firm.

This was an amusing scene, if somewhat aggravating. But it was also efficient. We learned a lot from these brief couple of minutes. Pete ended up in LA to do the Sunkist role after all. Bob is still running the Chevy Account in Detroit. Ken, who gave up Detroit because it was making him miserable, has ended up the workhorse that Pete Campbell actually thrived being until the merger left him feeling extraneous. Joan got Avon, but despite her continued accomplishments and the fact she is a Partner in the firm is still at times treated like an underling herself. The Agency has continued to succeed, but those running it are apparently struggling to enjoy that success.

Downstairs the Status Meeting is drawing to a close, as they catch up on what is going on with Chevy. Mathis and Ed seem to be the most closely involved with this, they're meant to go to press on Monday but they haven't had their copy approved by Chevy yet, or even have a name to work with, though they've been told money is no object and that this is "the Chevy way of doing things". Lou reminds them to get that bit about money in writing, and that wraps up the meeting, everything accomplished.

Well, except he hasn't chosen the angle for Accutron yet, as Peggy reminds him. But Lou insists he did, asking Dawn to remind him what it was. She flips back through her notes and gives the tagline that Lou decided on, the one that marks exactly what kind of creative genius this experienced, senior Advertising man can bring with his decades of history to fall back on.

"Just in time to be on time."

That.... sucks.

Peggy quickly reminds him that this wasn't actually one of the taglines on offer, he just mentioned it in passing while they were discussing the options. No problem though, Lou is an experienced Creative Director, he can come up with something better on the fly right now.

"Accutron is Accurate."

Oh my God.

He's convinced that was one of the taglines on offer (it wasn't), and so Peggy hits him with the magical tagline that Freddy wowed her with. Or rather, she should. Instead she offers her own digression on what she was presented, proudly declaring,"It's time for a conversation" and that she thinks it is more "finished".... and Lou doesn't care for it, and doesn't mind saying so, simply and with a clear amount of satisfaction explaining that she has "put" him in the position of "having" to say that he doesn't care what she thinks.

Peggy has to bite her tongue when he again takes great pleasure in pointing out that she gave him two ideas when only one was good (Accutron is Accurate is good!?!) and questions why she would do that. Forcing a smile, Peggy reminds him she brought him THIRTY taglines last week and he demanded she cut it down to two. "That's the way we do it," he smirks, standing up from his seat and marking the meeting well and truly done. Peggy holds her forced smile, internally screaming and wanting to beat his smug Fred Gwynne looking rear end.

Finally, 8 minutes into the episode we FINALLY see Don Draper. Shaving, applying aftershave and making himself presentable in an airport toilet, he's as ever meticulously put together even if his style is increasingly old fashioned. He makes his way out of the airport into the hot California sun, where he finds his beautiful wife Megan waiting for him in a cute little sports car. Moving in slow motion to the sounds of the Spencer Davis Group, she joins him and they kiss, full of smiles and love... until reality sets in as she sighs that because his flight was late they'll have to quickly attend one dinner she couldn't get out of before they get the rest of the weekend to themselves.

But Don is genuinely happy to see her, and more than fine with doing what needs doing. But still, the signs that things aren't quite what he was expecting are there. He opens the passenger door for her but she moves past it and around, clearly intending to drive HER car, simply stating that she can't move the seat back to give him the room he'd need to drive it. So he hopes in, setting his bag in the "back" of a car clearly not really intended for moving much more than 2 people at most.

A clever transition from the overcast sky of Los Angeles to a lamp being turned off in New York brings us back to SC&P and the conference room (the clear windows replaced by frosted glass and proper doors), where Peggy is leading a meeting of the Creative Team only to be distracted by the sound from outside of Moira's happy greeting.... Ted Chaough has returned.

She stares at the man who so bitterly disappointed her, then pulls shut the curtains to get back to business. Meanwhile, Ted enters his office and is joined by a pleased Cutler, whose first question is why Ted isn't brown yet. With a grin, Ted reminds him it's January in California too (and now we know it's January of 1969, and that Ted is ALSO in LA along with Pete) and asks Moira to remind him to get two dozen bagels before he returns to LA. Cutler jumps on that, does Ted's wife miss New York already? No, the bagels are for Pete, Nan loves California and is clearly as happy as could be by Ted's sudden decision to uproot the family and shift to the opposite coast to live.

Cutler is clearly missing him though, admitting he sometimes pops down hoping for fun. "Lou is... great..." Cutler offers diplomatically when asked if he can't have fun with him, and suggests he push back his St. Josephine's meeting by a day to give them time to hang out... they can go to the Inauguration together instead of Cutler taking Roger as originally planned.

Hanging out with Richard Nixon, can't imagine why Ted wouldn't jump at the chance.

But Ted is all business, asking a returning Moira to start him off catching up on Chevy, though he does throw Cutler one bone, telling her to pencil Jim in for some time tomorrow as well.

In LA, Megan leads Don to the table where her agent Alan Silver is taking a call. He hangs up when he sees she has arrived, amused that she is one of the few actresses to apologize for being EARLY. She introduces him to Don and Alan is immediately impressed, noting that "the husband is a matinee idol" as he appreciatively takes in Don's height, build and of course striking good looks.

Still, he insists that he wants to get one thing out of the way first, something very important to him... he wants Don to know that the man who is spending all this time with HIS wife... is purely in it for greed. Megan gives a quiet chuckle, Alan beams out his "charm", and Don... simply smiles broadly at this seedy, mildly campy little man with his lovely mustache and states confidently,"I am completely at ease."

But with that out of the way, Alan has good news, explaining that many of the girls his New York partners send him are "dogs" but Megan is something special... which is why she has a callback audition for Bracken's World. Megan gasps, and Don's smile is utterly genuine now as he congratulates her. She admits she thought the guy she auditioned for hated her, and Silver doesn't disagree, simply pointing out that that guy's boss LOVED her, and notes to Don that Megan is an actress who evokes strong feelings in people.

There is however another brief moment of unease among the happiness, as Alan points out calmly that they can delay getting her teeth fixed now since he obviously jumped the gum. Megan simply nods, her lips tightening unconsciously to hide the teeth we have periodically seen she is self-conscious off, and Don frowns at both the casual way Silver says this but also the fact that he'd gone ahead and arranged dental surgery for her and Don had no idea. But still, he tries to keep the tone celebratory, though there is another uncomfortable moment when Silver loudly snaps his fingers and bellows,"YOUNG MAN!" to a waiter who looks like he is in his early 40s, summoning him to fetch them champagne. Don asks what network the show will be on and is impressed to learn it is NBC (replacing failed tv series Star Trek, which is sure to fade away into obscurity unlike Bracken's World). He kisses her foreheard and Silver, whose entire persona screams,"FAKE!" sighs that they're his favorite couple.

In New York, a fresh-faced young man enters a hotel restaurant and starts to move past the bar, until Joan calls out to him by name - Wayne Barnes - and introduces herself as Joan Harris from SC&P. She asks if he'd like to go to the table now, and he points out they should probably wait for Ken, so with a smile she has him join her at the bar and asks what he's drinking. He asks for a coke, which makes sense since he looks like he's 13-years-old, so she orders one too, and then explains that Ken was called away on an emergency, but she came because Ken didn't want to waste the time of somebody so important.

It's a nice way to stroke his ego, and Wayne in a clumsy near-adolescent way tries to be charming by admitting that he feels kind of foolish for being disappointed by meeting her instead of Ken... but what he has to say is for Ken's ears only. Rather than pull rank and point out she is a Partner at the Agency and that she EMPLOYS Ken (after all, Ken's whole point was that he needed to look MORE important), she simply turns on the charm herself in a far more sophisticated and experienced way, asking him to tell her about his own important job as Head of Marketing, which isn't just a new role for him but for Butler Footwear too.

Of course he can't resist talking about himself and everything he knows, explaining he's paid to think about the Four Ps - Price, Product, Place & Promotion. He admits with pride that he has a Business Degree, with phony self-deprecation saying it isn't a science but "we" try to make it one. He thinks advertising is only a small part of their marketing and would be better if it was more integrated into their own business, which Joan initially mistakes for thinking they want one of SC&P's advertising executives to be in-house at Butler. That would be good news, it would mean more billings and tie the two companies closer together... but no, Barnes has a far more radical notion in mind.

They'll just do their own advertising.

The ramifications immediately set in for Joan, who takes a moment to consider before admitting this meeting IS starting to feel like it should be bigger than just the two of them. With a smile, Barnes points out that she has somebody above her and below her, as does he, and everybody is buying everybody else dinner... it'll be cheaper and faster if Mr. Butler can just walk down the corridor of his own building to ask a question and get an answer on their advertising.

Of course, his "bold" way of thinking is nothing new. Plenty of smaller firms have done their own in-house advertising, hell Don Draper got his start by producing the advertising for the fur store he worked at. But you do that till you're big enough to pay somebody to do it for you, people whose ENTIRE job is to do that for you, so you can do what you do best. But Joan, who was expecting a standard client dinner making the new Head of Marketing feel like a big man, is at a loss how to proceed.

When Wayne apologizes but says he wants to delight his wife by being home in time to tuck the kids into bed, and starts to excuse himself from the table, she asks him to give them a few days before he makes his recommendation to Mr. Butler. That way he can at least get the dinner with Ken he thought he was getting tonight. Seeing no harm in agreeing to this, he does, and they part ways. Joan remains behind, face falling flat as she ponders not only losing a client, but that the client would have been lost on HER watch... and asks the bartender to add a splash of whiskey to the coke she only ordered to please Wayne in the first place.

In California, Megan brings Don back home, though it is his first time seeing the place. They're a little tipsy and both in very good moods, especially Megan who is both excited by the Bracken's Place news and the chance to show off the place and the view to Don. She tells him to take a quick look because she is going to turn off the lights, which enables him to see the view out to the city and all the lights. He admires the view, while she admits she loves the place but "my" next house will have a pool. She quickly corrects that, saying "our" next house, but that slip of the tongue says it all really, as does the car and the fact she drove: she's living her own life out here, succeeding in her own way, and Don right now - though his money has probably paid for most of this - is a visitor to HER home and HER life more than he is a part of either.

Hearing the sound of coyotes howling, Don asks if she wouldn't rather live closer to the city instead of being in "Dracula's castle" (that's ridiculous, she's not living at Betty and Henry's house!), but she promises that the coyotes only sound close because that's how sounds travel here in the canyon. Don jokes that he's scared but doesn't want to turn the lights on, and moves in to kiss her... but she suddenly pulls away and mumbles that she is dizzy and needs to walk a bit. He's half amused, half put out, but when she stumbles he realizes she is more tipsy than he thought, so he helps lead her to the bed.

She promises to make this up to him tomorrow, but as he moves to leave her to fall asleep, she calls out to ask him not to flick cigarette butts off the balcony, because she's been told they can work out where the fires start. He frowns and leaves, not liking the sound of coyotes and the reveal of common fires, but liking even less how much of a stranger he feels here, how he is being told how to act, that this place seems so alien.

So he settles down on the couch and turns on her little TV, watching grainy black and white television while his wife sleeps in the bedroom, feeling as distant from her as he did 2700 miles away in New York. For Don Draper so far in this show, California has been a refuge for him. It's been where he goes when he needs to get away and feel more like himself. Not so this time, though. Anna Draper is gone. The little place by the beach is gone. Megan has her own life now, she has chosen where to live, she likes the canyon, she feels at home here. For Don, this is just another place where he doesn't feel like he belongs.

He's woken the net morning by Megan calling his name, because or course he ended up sleeping on the couch. She's dressed up and happily wearing a scarf around her head, his gift to her which she loves. He points out that with a convertible he figured she'd need a few, and she asks if he'd like her to drop him off at the office since she's about to leave for her class. He mumbles that he'll just take a cab, and she gives him a loving kiss and gently admonishes him not to work all day, before tossing him a magazine (a Playboy, this was the period where for awhile it was successfully normalized as just another magazine, albeit one with nude women in it) and warning him not to rip all the ads out.

In New York, Peggy arrives to work and calls out to Stan to ask if he wants coffee. She heads into the break-room and is alarmed to discover Ted Chaough standing in there. He gives her a little smile and a hello, and what she gives back is a far harsher than she probably intended,"What are you doing here?"

He explains he just came in to catch up on work, noting it looks good and starting to praise Lou until she cuts him off to hurriedly agree and then bellow out to Stan again to ask if he wants coffee. "yes" comes back Stan's reply, and she calls out loud to ask him what, and when Ted tries to tell her Stan said yes, she just screams out louder for Stan to come here please. He strides in, pissed off until he spots Ted, pulling up short and offering a surprised greeting... and Peggy GLARES at Ted's back the moment it is turned.

Similarly to Cutler, Stan points out he expected Ted to be more tan, but Peggy simply mutters that there's no difference between being in an office there and an office here. Finally it's all too much, and Ted grabs his toast and declares he's decided to just collect his work and take it home with him, saying it was nice to see them before gratefully getting the gently caress out of there. Once he's gone, Stan quietly points out this seems like more than just her wanting to ask him about coffee, and offers a sincere and genuine,"Buck up, Chief," to her. "It's fine, I'm fine," Peggy insists, trying to act like it's silly to think she is upset about anything. But after she leaves, Stan watches her go, so far removed from his initial characterization you wouldn't think he was the same person, sad to see his friend and colleague feeling like poo poo, especially knowing how well her and Ted got on even before the implied romance he and everybody else in the office assumed was happening between them.

But if Ted's return from LA has just reopened old wounds, somebody else is clearly feeling better than ever. Because Pete Campbell finally makes his first appearance, walking into an LA diner looking decidedly tanned (though more red than brown) and extremely in his element as he greets his once great nemesis Don Draper like an old, beloved friend.

Don stands to greet him and offers a handshake, and is surprised to instead receive a great big hug. Pete settles into the booth and asks the waitress for an Iced Tea, and Don looks around at the place and wryly points out that Pete has really "branched out". Because of course, it's not just ANY LA diner, it's Canter's Deli, which started as a New Jersey deli but quickly moved to Los Angeles. Pete admits he found it during a bout of homesickness, after returning to New York for a week over Christmas and New Year's with his in-laws and then his brother. When he returned to LA, he popped into this diner and immediately felt at home, as evidenced by the Brooklyn Avenue sandwich he orders.

He explains Brooklyn Avenue is actually a street in Los Angeles itself, further proof that the New Yorkers here brought "as much as we need" of New York with them. Pete was a born and bred New Yorker, he couldn't fathom living anywhere else... but what he's discovered in Los Angeles is that same freedom that Don used to relish with Anna, only with just enough touches of what he knew and loved of New York to keep him satisfied. Of all people, it seems like Pete Campbell has found balance.

Well, apart form the bagels being terrible! (Ted will temporarily solve that for him with the two dozen bagels)

His apartment is by the Tar Pits, only one bedroom but two stories, though he admits the city is flat and ugly and the sky is brown... but he loves the vibrations. Don chuckles, pointing out he looks and SOUNDS like a hippy now, and finally talk turns to work. He claims to be keeping busy, and asks Pete if he has signed anything. Looking confused, Pete reminds him he signed H. Salt Fish and Chips in his first week there, didn't Roger make an announcement?

A little testily, Don reminds HIM that he wouldn't know if Roger did or didn't, and belatedly Pete remembers that Don has been put on leave. He insists that if it was up to him, Don would be back already, but the fact is that Don probably - for once - hasn't been on Pete's mind at all. His life is going great, he's happy personally and professionally, why would be care if Don is back or not? He is intrigued though when Don asks how Ted is doing, pointing out that he noticed Don timed his visit for when Ted was away. Don rolls his eyes and insists that he's just here to see his wife, which Pete clearly doesn't fully believe. He admits that Ted has been sour and he can't understand why, hell only recently they went out to the Sunkist orange groves and Pete was in awe that in the middle of winter he could still pick a fresh orange off the branch... but Ted just sat in the car with the door open scribbling notes on paper.

In spite of himself, Don DOES find that interesting. Ted came out here for a fresh start, and Don basically burned a lot of bridges to let that happen instead of taking the chance for himself. Is he hoping for Ted to succeed in his bid for a new life? Or hoping he will fail? And how would either state in any way help anything other than reinforcing whatever weird beliefs Don has about whether trying a fresh start could ever possibly work without abandoning everybody else in your life.

Next Pete takes him to the SC&P Los Angeles office, explaining that Beverly Hills isn't the show-business mecca everybody thinks it is, most of the businesses there are accountants and dentists. He points out that you can walk to lunch but that HE doesn't, his lifetime of not driving in New York replaced by an LA pride in taking his car everywhere. The offices are large, bright and expensive looking, both Ted and Pete's offices looking far nicer than even the large offices at SC&P in New York, helped in part by the fact they don't have several dozen other employees jammed into two floors.

A knock at the door gets their attention, Pete smirking and dramatically pondering who that could be as he opens the door and lets in a pretty blonde woman. Thankfully he hasn't done something desperately slimy and ordered an escort out of some deranged bonding scheme, he just wanted to show her off to Don. Her name is Bonnie Whiteside, a real estate agent, though it's clear there's something more going on between the two of them and he is clearly keen to show that off to Don as well.

Don of course effortlessly turns on the charm the moment a pretty lady is nearby, joking that he can't believe Pete would want to leave the tar pits. He explains that he wanted a place near the beach but his wife rented a home in the hills, though it has a great view. Pete is quick to ask if the view is of the valley or the city, casting a quick look Bonnie's way hoping she is impressed that he has picked up on this real estate lingo. Don simply admits that he honestly has no idea, and when Bonnie offers him her card and tells him to call her when he is looking for something new, Pete chuckles that he shouldn't get the right idea because she turns on the charm for everyone.

They all chuckle at this, but Pete also puts an arm around her waist and doesn't quite break his stare at Don... because for all that Pete is obviously happy and content and loving life, he's still an awkward little man who is scared that somebody bigger and stronger and handsomer is going to come along and he'll be quickly abandoned.

It's cold, wet and gray in New York, snow on the ground as Joan carefully makes her way over wet concrete past staring young men, trying not to slip on the ice. She's gone to school, or more accurately to University, having made an appointment with a Professor Podolsky, who agreed to meet in his office on a Saturday. He shakes her hand and moves books from a nearby chair so she can take a seat. His initial comment about "the company" being interesting turned out not to be a clumsy come-on towards her but a genuine reference to interest in her request for assistance for her Advertising Agency's dealings with a shoe company.

She explains the issue, their client is in women's shoes and the new head of marketing is looking to cut costs. He takes a seat, admitting that given many young people are still in sandals despite the cold weather, a shoe company would obviously seeing lowering overhead as a reasonable idea. He's intrigued when she asks if that is where HE would start, considering the 4 Ps, asking if she has an MBA herself. No, she admits, but THEIR new Head of Marketing does, and he immediately understands.

With a sigh he complains - as every old person eventually will - that these young people aren't as smart as they think they are. Rockefeller didn't think about the 4 Ps, though she points out she'll need a more technical argument than that to convince them. His argument speaks more to the line of thinking of people his own age (and, though he doesn't know the exact company, probably Charles' Butler's too): they should diversify, open foreign offices, expand and spend money to generate enough cash to survive the initial hurt and make bigger money down the track.

That of course is music to Joan's ears, because an expansion would mean more money for SC&P.... but how much would it cost for her to get a written analysis like that she could use to argue her case to their Head of Marketing? When Podolsky leans forward and grins, noting it depends what she has to trade, she goes icier than the ground outside, asking him if money doesn't work in a business school? His face falls, offended, not by her rejection but by her misunderstanding. Softening a little as he proceeds and perhaps realizes it was a not entirely unreasonable assumption she made, he explains that he is doing an Advertising Research study and was hoping to get a sense of what percentage of her clients work on fees versus commission.

She takes a moment, amused and of course relieved at her mistake. She admits that when she started, pausing as she realizes she has been working for SC&P in one form or another for 16 years now, everybody was on commission, but roughly 3 years ago they started to consider a fees based model and now they sit at roughly 50% for each. He takes notes, then pauses to note that he isn't sure if she can answer his next question, or even understand it... but what is the difference between commissions and fees?

Choosing not to be offended by his presumption, she assures him she can answer him. 3 years ago she was as in the dark as everybody, only Lane Pryce knew the difference between the two (and Cooper's interest in finding out more lead indirectly to Lane's suicide) though he spoke about it with great gusto. But with him gone, she became the sole lead on keeping the Agency's books, managing their clients payments, handling commissions and fees alike. "You're going to need another pad," she tells him, and now all his own offense at her misunderstanding is gone, as he takes great relish in getting an explanation of commissions and fees from an Advertising Agency's viewpoint.

Don returns to Megan's home (let's be frank, it ain't his) where he finds her cooking Coq Au Vin, and she informs him she's made bread pudding with blueberries for dessert. More exciting for Don is that she bought him a bottle of wine to have with the meal, and after a greeting kiss he heads over to open it, just as the doorbell rings.

She moves to answer it, surprised to find two men outside with an enormous television. She starts to tell them they have the wrong address, but Don calls them in, telling them to put it over by the wall. She watches, shocked and appalled as they move the oversized television (by modern standards the screen is small, but it's part of a unit that is both long and fat and extraordinarily heavy. The place it as close to the wall as they can get, the fixtures preventing it from being any closer, taking up even more floor-space than it would if flush against the wall. Don pays the movers and signs the form, and then they're out the door, a miserable Megan asking Don why he would do this, asking how it will look to her neighbors - many of whom are "starving" - that she has this decadently huge television set now.

Don though insists it's great, now she can watch herself "in living color", which just upsets her more because now he's jinxed her chances at the callback. Don stops her, talking calmly and sweetly but not accepting blame as he points out he didn't know she would be upset at getting an expensive gift from him. But she hits him with the best comeback possible, simply stating he isn't going to here long enough so she doesn't want to ruin it with a fight, and simply walks away to continue making what was supposed to be a loving, celebratory dinner for two.

Megan's not the only one getting an unwelcome surprise on her doorstep though. Peggy is still living in the building she initially bought to build a life with Abe, and when she answers the door to her apartment she finds the young son of her upstairs tenant standing there. She asks why he is up so late, and he tells her that his mama wanted him to tell her the toilet is clogged.

With a sigh, she tells him to tell his mother that the toilet only gets clogged because she flushes.... things.... down it, explaining his mother will know what she means. Presumably drugs, if this is the same tenant who Peggy insisted poo poo on the stairs. But whether the little boy knows what those "things" are or not, he's obviously been coached, because he complains that his mother isn't going to just "threw them out the window" like some others do, so Peggy has to fix the toilet.

As an aside, it was mentioned further downthread that I was overthinking this, and that it's probably a (relatively) new tenant, and that she's flushing her tampons.

Exhausted, she explains that she can't deal with this tonight because she just got home from work, which baffles him... it's Saturday, why does she have to work? That's a very good question, and one Peggy should ask herself more often, but when the boy - Julio - starts demanding that she fix it and she tells him to try being nice, he explains his mother TOLD him to yell at her, because she never listens!

So it is that Peggy Olson, intelligent young woman who has pioneered a career as a copy chief, made enough money to buy a building, and earned the respect of two highly lauded Creative Visionaries... finds herself angrily yelling and arguing on her doorstep with a prepubescent boy, until she finally snaps and fetches her plunger, shoving it into his hands as a "gift" and closing the door in his face.

Things are clearly going great!

Jerusalem fucked around with this message at 23:55 on May 11, 2022

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

In LA, Megan has fallen asleep curled up next to Don on the couch as they watch the enormous television. Lost Horizon is on, and Don finds himself perhaps not too surprisingly moved by the opening titles speaking of man's eternal search for peace and security. Megan stirs and wakes, asking what they're watching, and instead of answering he just says they should go to bed.

They head into the bedroom but he stops her as she she moves towards the bathroom, reminding her they haven't celebrated his visit yet. Hesitantly, she points out she wasn't sure if he wanted to, an idea that seems to amuse him as he explains that yes he does. She asks for a chance to brush her teeth first, and he strips down in the meantime. She steps out of the bathroom in only her panties and an open shirt, and they climb into bed together.

But as he begins to kiss her, she pauses to roll over and turn off the light, and as they return to their embrace the look on her fact signifies anything but lust. Don senses it too, in the feel of her body, the obvious tension. He asks her what is wrong, and with a sad little smile she admits that she can't understand why she's so nervous. "About this?" he asks, but she admits she's nervous about EVERYTHING. "Don't," is his less than helpful answer, even if it's said with love and care, and this time when he kisses her she reciprocates.

The next morning he wakes to find her already awake, lying naked in his arms, their first sexual encounter in weeks (technically months) behind them. She looks thoughtful and a little pensive, but when he wakes she immediately puts on a smile, and asks him how long they have to enjoy this last day of his trip. He'll be on the Red-eye flight later tonight, and she sighs and admits she hates this. It's taken them two days to seemingly get back into sync, and now he's already set to go back. He reminds her they have the rest of the day to enjoy together at least, but there's nothing else he can do, after all... he has to get back to work.


In New York, Roger briskly hops into the Plaza restaurant, running late for his brunch with his daughter. Margaret is already waiting, all smiles as he gives her a kiss, telling him it's okay when he starts to make excuses about how he was slowed down by construction. He admits he is a little nervous by being summoned like this, but she promises him there are no ulterior motives, everything is fine... in fact everybody is wonderful.

They're delivered Bloody Marys, presumably ordered by Margaret to be brought over when her father arrived, a nod to his "joke" about wanting vodka for brunch. They toast and drink, Roger's guard still up, asking what she's up to. But she insists she just wanted to see him, because it's been too long... and well, she forgives him.

Roger smiles, admitting that this is beautiful to hear, and decides to reciprocate, letting her know that he forgives her too. Still holding her smile but obviously frustrated by this response, Margaret repeats herself, no, she isn't asking for his forgiveness, she is offering him her own.

He still doesn't get it.

"And I forgive you," he repeats, not trying to upset her, simply offering back his own empty platitude to what he thinks is her own. So Margaret lays it all out, his transgressions, abandoning her mother, making her ask him for money, his "quote... state of affairs", his intermittent interest in being part of Ellery's life, hell even the fact he showed up here stinking of incense (weed?). She doesn't care about any of it anymore, she simply... forgives him.

Grasping at last the vague direction this is going, he asks her if she wants him to say he is sorry? Because he doesn't agree with her take on things (and to be fair, her asking him for money wasn't some one-sided affair instigated by him even if he made her associate love with giving money in the first place). But she just smiles and explains she has been searching, and she has come to realize that love vanquishes anger.

Alarmed now, Roger asks if she's been going to Church, but she just laughs and says not in any way he's understand. Now he's at a complete loss. She hasn't asked him here to ambush him with a request for money. She hasn't asked him here to scream at him for ruining her life or destroying their family. She hasn't asked him here for any ulterior motive pasting forcing her forgiveness on him? So what do they do now? Simply eat brunch? Like... a normal father and his adult daughter in a functional relationship!?!?

"I would love that," she smiles when he asks if they're just gonna eat Eggs Benedict now. So, completely off-balance for once, Roger does just that. He simply has brunch with his daughter, with nothing on the line and no games being played. And he finds it desperately weird and creepy and strange.

Later than evening, Don boards his Red-eye, taking the window seat and pleasantly surprised when an attractive middle-aged woman - Neve Campbell! - takes the seat beside him. She offers him a sleeping pill and he gracefully declines, and they both laugh when she admits she isn't going to take one either, admitting that she doesn't like flying and asking if he does. "I fly a lot," he admits, which isn't really an answer, but admits that he always hoped to sit next to somebody like her. At first it seems like an incredibly cheap and unsubtle come-on hardly worthy of him, but then he follows it up with gold, saying he always hoped for that because what he normally gets is a man with a hairpiece eating a banana!

That gives her a laugh, and they settle in for what they hope will be a more enjoyable flying experience than either of their normal ones... helped immensely by being in first class and drinking champagne, probably.

Roger also returns home late, drunk but upright, moving into his dark bedroom to the bed where the girl who felt they "got somewhere" has presumably been lying most of the day, asking where he's been. He grunts that he thought they were avoiding all things domestic, confusing her, and he explains that when a man comes home from obviously having tied one on (he kept drinking long after brunch was over) and his woman asks where he has been... well that's "Establishment"!

He starts to climb into bed, telling her to move over and then sighing as he grasps another man is also in the bed, and tells her to move him over too. The woman is just amused by his bad mood though, reminding him she doesn't care if he was with someone, because "anyone's welcome in this bed". That might have been exciting and stimulating to him on any other day, but right now he just wants some sleep. So he lays down in the bed, and for a moment it's just the three of them lying there. Then she rolls over and curls up against the other man, and suddenly Roger is the third wheel in his own bed, his dreams of sexual freedom and freedom from inhibition feeling decidedly empty and, well to be frank, quite pathetic.

Most of the passengers on Don's flight have fallen asleep, and Don's non-hairpieced, non-banana-eating companion admits she would like to put on her eye-mask to get some sleep herself but vanity is keeping her from doing so. Amused, Don asks if he should put on his own so he can't see, making her laugh again before she admits it will be nice not to sleep alone for once. Casting a glance down, Don asks about the man who put the ring on her finger, and she explains he passed away a year ago... and in fact that is why she was in LA, she was trying to scatter his ashes at Pebble Beach.

Don is intrigued by this, asking how it went, but she admits she failed as it turns out it is a very popular location for such last wishes, and they don't want "another sand-trap". So she went with his second choice, intriguing Don even more when she explains his ashes ended up at Disneyland. She asks if he has been and he says he has, not mentioning it is where he basically fell in love with his current wife, and is amused to discover she laid her late husband's ashes to rest... on Tom Sawyer Island.

They were vigilant but she got it done, impressing Don who in spite of himself can't help but ask how old he was, perhaps thinking of his own potential mortality. He was an older man than Don though, 50, and when he comments this made him much older than her, she offers back a wry,"He worked fast too," observation on Don's line.

But when he asks how he passed, things get more serious. She explains he was "thirsty" and died "of thirst", a nice and diplomatic way of saying he was an alcoholic. His company sent him to a hospital and she was sent along to be a part of "the cure", though she admits mostly all she did or could do was observe. She thought he was getting better until the doctors told her he would be dead within a year. "They all would be" she adds quietly, presumably referring to the other patients. This wasn't a place you got sent if you drank a little too much, it was the kind of place you sent people who would have looked at Freddy Rumsen at the height of his drinking and said,"What a lightweight."

Obviously overcome by the memories, tears form in her eyes, and gently Don strokes her cheek, close enough to kiss her if he wanted (and clearly some part of him wants to) but also out of a genuine sympathy and a wish to comfort her. "I'm going to close my eyes now," she tells him, and does so. Don turns back around, letting her sleep, any thoughts of a tryst gone for the moment, for once actually "just being there" is enough for him like he told Betty it would be.

Hours pass and the sound of the pilot speaking wakes her from her sleep, as he explains they're still waiting on other air traffic but will be beginning their descent in about 15 minutes. She was curled up with her head on his chest, having unconsciously scooted over again him in the night as they both slept. Don wakes too and apologizes for dozing off, but he offers her his shoulder again for the few more minutes they have. She takes the offer, but points out that if she was his wife, she'd hate this.

"She knows I'm a terrible husband," is his simple and sadly all-too-accurate reply.

She asks how long he has been married and he admits not long enough, meaning of course that things shouldn't have reached this point of separation (physical yes, but more-so emotionally) so soon. With a sigh he says more to himself that he really thought he could do it this time, but explains when asked that she hasn't kicked him out. "She doesn't know that much... but she knows," he admits.

Her advice is that if she doesn't know he should keep it that way, and when he ponders if he has "broken a vessel" she offers a somewhat fatalistic response: if he has, then there is nothing he can do about it because what's done is done. Instead, she suggests that she could make him feel better, and he agrees that she could. But when she offers to give him a lift in her waiting car, the invitation clear as could be, he surprises her and perhaps himself when he declines, stating that he has to get back to work.

The spell is broken. She sits back up in her seat, and he opens the shade on the window, literally seeing the light thought probably still not figuratively, and lets it warm his face.

Peggy arrives to work, Shirley telling her that her tenant Miss Rodriguez called and she thinks she said she was going to call the Alderman. With a sigh, Peggy asks her to call her sister Anita to ask her to send Gerry and his plumber friend around to fix the toilet. Shirley is confused, why not call Gerry directly? No insists Peggy, navigating the careful waters of family favors, explaining that Anita can ask Gerry to do that but Peggy can't ask him directly.

Lou arrives, greeting them both pleasantly enough and happily telling them he cut up some firewood when Peggy asks how his weekend went. As he walks on beaming at the memory of that physical task though, Peggy chases after him, seeing an opportunity to correct what she feels is a mistake: she screwed up changing Freddy's tagline, and she wants to give Lou the best possible version to use for Accutron: It's not a thinkpiece, it's a conversation piece.

But Lou isn't interested. Not because he is judging it on any merits, but because as he tells her he already made his decision. So that's that, as far as he is concerned the tagline is set and that is what they'll be running with, the creative genius that is "Accutron is Accurate."

Peggy just can't let it go though, chasing after him as he reaches Dawn's desk and passes her his coat. She tells him that Freddy's idea is big and she wants to sell him on it, and Lou offers back that she's making things harder than they need to be. She doesn't need to ambush him in corridors or try to do a sell-job, she just has to walk into his office and tell him an idea, and he'll reject it or accept it and then that's it, the process is over and everybody moves on to something else.

For Peggy of course this is NOT the way she learned advertising. Not under Don. Not under Ted. Not when she was running everything herself either in their absence or when their presence was utterly irrelevant. The best idea is the one you can sell the best, and if it fails you rework it till it works... or at least until you reach the point where you have no choice to give it up. She knows his tagline is dogshit though she can't tell him that, a mindset he clearly doesn't share as he has no problem making GBS threads on her ideas. When she insists she wants to make sure he is making the most informed decision with the best sell-job she can give him, his response is devastating. He reduces everything she says and does from a carefully thought about and laid out plan to simple charm, with just enough of an undercurrent of sexism to stab at her soul:

"I guess I'm immune to your charms."

And with that he walks into his office asking Dawn for coffee, door shut behind him, and Peggy is left completely out in the cold.

Upstairs, Joan asks Clara if Ken is in but is informed he's still on his plane on the way back to New York. She explains she needs to talk to him as soon as he lands about Butler, and a happy Clara - glad to see Joan is doing more Account work - tells her,"Good for you!" before adding that Mr. Butler has been scheduled to come in later this week for a meeting.

Shocked, a furious Joan startles her by immediately demanding she get Wayne Barnes on the line, then heads straight into Ken's office like she owns the place (I mean, technically speaking, she kinda does). She pours herself a drink, knocks it back, then removes an earring and picks up the phone after Clara buzzes in to let her know Mr. Barnes is on line 3.

She waits a moment then pushes the button, asking if he already set a meeting, ignoring his pleasant,"Good morning!" to point out that she took him seriously but he obviously didn't do the same. After all, all she asked for was a few days so they could offer him a counter-argument to his desire to go in-house, which he agreed to, only to ignore her and just go ahead and force the issue. Barnes of course, who seemingly has no idea that she is NOT one of Ken's underlings (technically she is, but only in the sense Roger or Cutler would supposedly be beneath Ken as Head of Accounts too) tells her not to get emotional even if she is fighting for her job.

But the thing about Joan is, when she gets emotional it either comes out as red-hot fury or, far more dangerously, as ice-cold controlled disdain. He gets the latter, as she mockingly breaks down all the flaws in his "clever" little plan to create an in-house advertising agency: does he thinks his checkbook alone will get him the advertising space in a newspaper or magazine that SC&P are capable of getting? SC&P who represents MULTIPLE companies? Who have a working relationship with all the major media outlets because it makes them all money? Barnes is setting up Butler so it won't be competing with just rival shoe companies, it will be competing against rival ADVERTISING agencies. Big ones. Ones with clout and power. But especially with Sterling Cooper & Partners.

And of course, what happens when shoe sales decline, as they BOTH know is likely to continue to happen for the near future given current fashion trends? He can fire them once as an excuse, but what then? Who does he blames when the sales continue to decline but now the advertising is being produced in-house? When that in-house advertising was HIS idea?

All of the casual smugness and self-belief has drained out of the confident young man now. "What am I supposed to do?" he demands, pointing out he already set the meeting, and Joan simply replies to cancel it. But he explains he wasn't asking rhetorically, he actually meant it. He's asking HER now in the capacity as Butler Footwear's Account Man.... what does he do to get out of this mess he put himself into?

She takes her seat, ponders for a second, and then tells him to explain that SC&P were the ones who canceled, because they need more time to present a revised Media Strategy. Relief washes over Barnes, that approach puts the onus on SC&P and preserves him, and they both know Joan is suggesting it because Barnes will in turn protect and support them... and this time she can rely on him to keep his word, because now he owes her AND has been given a lesson his MBA and his 4 Ps didn't prepare him for.

Still, he tries to take control of the meeting and some scraps of dignity by declaring he still wants that meeting with Ken, and when she breezily tells him she'll follow up on that today, he grunts,"You better," and hangs up, knowing that this pathetic display doesn't change anything: she schooled him, and in humiliating fashion. In Ken's office, she hangs up calmly then allows a sigh, half relief and half concern. She just took a gamble and it paid off, and it just might be that she is going to end up with another Account to go with Avon and her increasingly responsibilities in the Agency.

Downstairs, Stan burns into Peggy's office with Ed in tow, demanding to know if she told him to prepare more boards for Accutron. "Do you want to do it?" she asks him, and a startled Ed insists that he wants to do it, fearful that somehow he has pissed somebody of somehow. Stan tells him to get out, then demands to know why she is telling Ed to make more artboards when Lou has already approved the ones they've made?

That's the problem of course, Peggy knows Accutron is Accurate is awful, but she's convinced herself if Lou sees the new boards for "It's a Conversation Piece" he'll see the error of his ways... or at least allow them to show the clients both. She must know that's not going to happen, Don might have appreciated the work of others but he also - exploitatively at times, ask Ginsberg - didn't like showing clients more than one pitch at a time.

Stan can see the problem that she must clearly see too: she's essentially trying to tell her boss to his face that he's stupid. She lashes out at that, complaining that everybody knows Lou's Accutron tagline sucks but they're all happy to go along and produce poo poo because they're hacks. So be it, she will be the lone person standing up fighting to make things better, because she's tired of trying to produce quality being a fight but it's not a fight she's willing to give up.

Smiling to hide his own anger at this insult, knowing that she's making a terrible mistake but that he isn't going to get through to her - and they'll probably both say things they regret if they say - he simply turns and leaves the room, unwilling to fight this losing battle any longer. Which is, of course, the exact opposite of her own situation.

It's Monday, but not just any Monday. It's January the 20th, 1969, and Richard Nixon is being inaugurated as President, the culmination of a dream that he thought was guaranteed in 1960 but didn't come true till almost a decade later... and would come crashing down to an ignominious end 5 years later after winning a massive reelection only to forced to resign to escape impeachment and forcible removal from Office.

But for now he's in his ascendancy, addressing the nation through television and radio, and it's on at Don Draper's house: the luxurious 17th story apartment that seemed to glamorous when it was he and Megan's honeymoon home and now just seems kind of sad and empty. Don is only really half-watching as he shines his shoes, and when the doorbell rings he calls for the person to come in. Who is joining him? One of his kids? Did he change his mind and ask the lady from the plane (she's credited as Lee Cabot but did we ever learn her name?) to join him after all? Is it a prostitute come to slap him around?

No. It's Freddy Rumsen.

He admits he's breaking a self-imposed rule as he carried in food, buying a type of sausage he hasn't eaten since he quit drinking, so he'll blame Don if he dreams of beer tonight. He refuses Don's offer of cash to cover the meal, pointing out he should be paying him, then asks if he really wants the balcony door open considering it's freezing outside. Don apparently hadn't noticed the cold at all, and moves over to close the doors, finding to his frustration that they're stuck still a space open.

What did Freddy mean by saying he owed Don the money? Because, of course, that beautiful and inspiring Accutron pitch? It was Don's. And not just that, Don has been coming up with pitches and giving them to Freddy to take around town, freelancing ideas and gaining a reputation as a renewed creative talent after all these years. In fact, he got called in to J. Walter Thompson and he assumed it was a problem with the 7-Up pitch they sold, but it turns out it was so good that now they're looking for help coming up with something for Oscar Mayer.

Don has given up on closing the doors, asking Freddy if he wants a sweater, who declines. So he joins him at the table, pointing out that any Oscar Mayer pitch needs to involve moms and kids. Freddy though points out that if he wanted to, he could end the "Cyrano act" and march into any Agency in the city and get them BOTH jobs.

When Don insists he has a job already, Freddy - no stranger to self-deception - reminds him it has been two months and SC&P haven't called him, even if he's still being paid (and he wasn't on a low salary). They got through Christmas. The Superbowl is coming up. Then Easter. If they get through those things without him, then they'll know they don't need him, and then he's damaged goods and it becomes a buyer's market... if there is any interest in him at all.

Don just shrugs and they continue to eat, Freddy also knowing from experience when to push and when to step back and wait.

at SC&P, Joan is running through the monthly schedule in her office when Ken knocks and enters. She starts to explain that she tried to get ahold of him but he stops her, explaining he spoke to Clara and he came down here to thank her for solving a problem. She still seems unsure though, she bailed them out but she's worried - second-guessing after the fact - that it's only a matter of time before they lose Butler.

"Every Account Man who has ever come into my house has said that to me," he notes, before pointing out that none of them have ever left behind an earring before. He lifts up the one she removed before taking the phone call, and she realizes too late she never collected it. "Stay out of my office," Ken warns her, but with more of the old cheer and personality that he used to have. Then, in an absolutely beautiful moment, he tries to throw it to her, but of course his depth perception is for poo poo and it goes nowhere near her. With a weary sigh he turns and leaves, and she can't help but give a quiet laugh of relief.

Part of it is because she's gotten external reassurance that she did the right thing, and even his warning was clearly not meant in anger, which is more than those other poor bastards he chased out the other day can say. But I think, whether consciously or not, a large part of it is because of what Ken called her.

An Account Man.

He didn't qualify it. He didn't add an amendments or adjustments or corrections. He called her exactly what she was, an Account Man. That acceptance, that acknowledgement of her skills and talents, her ability and yes even her experience, it means a lot, and is something she has encountered very little of in her life.

But while Joan is going from strength to strength and gaining acceptance, it's a different story for who has frequently been one of the most self-assured characters in the show: Peggy Olson. She returns home and finds her brother-in-law Gerry asleep on her couch. He sits up and apologizes for dozing off, and she explains Jimmy - the plumber - needed to leave to get a part and would be back in the morning. Realizing the time, he jumps up startled and says he needs to get home, and when she says it's silly for him to go all the way out to Brooklyn only to return tomorrow morning he says it won't take long. Suddenly alarmed, she asks if he is really sure, and he explains he doesn't like Anita being left alone in the house at night.

"Of course," she says quietly, and then puts on a smile when he says he'll see her in the morning. He makes his exit, and Peggy checks the locks on the door, then turns around to look at her empty apartment, thinking of the brother-in-law who just left because he wants to be there to protect his wife... and she collapses to the floor on her hands and knees, sobbing openly. It's all gone wrong. She lost Abe but she had Ted. Then Ted proved to have feet of clay and destroyed her fantasy of him.

Then she had the satisfaction of taking Don's place when he was shoved out the door... only for that to last only as long as it took for another old white man to get the spot instead. Then she had the responsibility of Copy Chief to curate the best of the ideas from staff and freelancers alike... only to see her ideas rejected in favor of utterly banal, entry-level puns and alliteration approved because they came from the so called "Creative" Director whose job she should have had.

Now here she is, alone at home, alone at work, satisfied in neither place, with nothing and nobody. Many times a season has ended with Peggy either alone or content with somebody, but most importantly happy in herself. This season begins with her at her lowest and most miserable since her cryptic pregnancy all the way back in season late season 1. For a moment she stares to the ceiling, almost as if she was about to pray, and then she just cries and lowers her head again. Even the scattershot religious observance she has shown offers her no comfort now.

But no stranger to misery is Don Draper. That evening in his apartment he sits up drinking and watching television, with nothing else to do and nowhere to go the next day. Standing, he approaches the balcony and tries briefly to close the doors again. When that fails, he instead opens them wide, and walks out onto the balcony. In only boxers, a shirt and a robe, he sits down on the balcony in the freezing cold, shivering and miserable as You Keep Me Hangin' On plays over the top. It's a song that speaks of not being needed or wanted but being kept around, wishing for freedom, wanting to escape, of having your heart ripped out when you're just trying to make a new start.

Boo loving hoo for Don Draper.

Season 7 of Mad Men begins by exploring Don's reaction to events from the end of Season 6, and what do we see? That he has apparently learned nothing. Finally put in a position where his business simply couldn't tolerate him anymore and kicked him out, we saw him (be forced to) take a tentative step towards at least opening up to his children. Where are we 2 months later?


All throughout this episode we saw Don lamenting that things weren't working. Megan had her own life, her own place, her own way of doing things. He managed not to sleep with an interesting woman he met (Lord help me, this is an accomplishment for Don Draper) but he was all but sobbing how unfair it was that his marriage wasn't going to work and how he had basically already given up on it ("I really thought I could do it this time."). We saw him for one of the first times in his life envious of Pete Campbell, who had managed the fresh start he always insisted he wanted. We saw him intrigued by Ted Chaough's state of mind, perhaps because he wanted to see if the sacrifice he made was ultimately worth it.

All these things are entirely problems of his own making.

WHY is he in New York? What the hell is he doing? HE DOESN'T NEED TO BE THERE! He kept telling Megan he had work, she admonished him not to work all day, he told Freddy Rumsen he already has a job. It's all bullshit. I believe though it wasn't explicitly said that Megan has NO IDEA that he got kicked out on "Long Term Leave" ala Freddy Rumsen and isn't actually doing anything all day. Or rather, he is, but he's making pitches by proxy through Freddy Rumsen to... what? To prove to himself he still has it? To somehow prove to SC&P that they still want his work? That other Agencies want his work? To what end? So he can tell them to gently caress off if they come crawling back? Or to cement his ability to do what he wants when he wants even if he does come back?

He was absolutely enthralled with the idea of taking Megan and going to California to have an opportunity at a second chance at their marriage, and then he gave it up in favor of Ted... and then he got all but outright fired. So he could have just gone with her. It's not like he NEEDS the money, he's already rich though not to the extent of say Roger Sterling or Bertram Cooper, and he could just as easily not work in LA as he in New York. He could find other work. In advertising maybe, but just as easily in anything else. He could sell hot rods like he once dreamed when staying with Anna. He could just be a happy house husband to a successful actress, the good looking spouse that hangs on the arm of the celebrity. He could have the kids come stay for Summers, they could get that place on the beach he wanted.

He could be happy. THEY could be happy.

But no, he sits in his empty apartment, he comes up with pitches for Freddy, and he laments how unfair life is. He puts himself through bullshit little flagellations like sitting outside in the cold to suffer, and what is he punishing himself for? For something that he chose to do and CONTINUES to choose doing! He worries about how Silver is pushing Megan to get dental surgery. He doesn't like where she chose to live. He laments their marriage isn't working when HE is the one who is absent, who is lying to her, who is staying away from her.

This is it. It's the final season. This is Don Draper's last chance to grow. Not just because we're nearing the end of the show's run, but because Don is in his 40s and this poo poo is just starting to get sad. He's on track to be like Roger Sterling - rich and successful and utterly alone, seeking hedonistic pleasure (like Don once insisted to Rachel was what he wanted) because he's wrecked, ruined or abandoned the truly loving relationships he actually had. With wives, with children, in many cases with friends. Pursuing pleasure, and getting nothing out of it but the briefest fleeting satisfaction before the emptiness returns.

So with 13 more episode to go, let's see where Don Draper ends up.

Episode Index

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

Things have been (and will continue to be) very busy for me at the moment but I finally got the chance to sit down and start Season 7, thanks for your patience :shobon:

Jun 19, 2012

Jerusalem posted:

Things have been (and will continue to be) very busy for me at the moment but I finally got the chance to sit down and start Season 7, thanks for your patience :shobon:


Jan 23, 2004

We're normal now.
We love your family.

Finally, we can talk about Lou Avery. In a series with no shortage of assholes, I think he may be the worst of them all - because he's a boring rear end in a top hat. "Accutron is Accurate" is a terrific bit of (terrible) writing. With a single tagline you know exactly who Lou is and how he operates.

Jerusalem posted:

Don chuckles, pointing out he looks and SOUNDS like a hippy now, and finally talk turns to work.

Only Don Draper could peg Ralph Lauren here as a "hippy." (Also, remember that Pete has been in LA for...what, like 6 weeks at this point?)

May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?

He's not wearing a tie, he might as well be dancing naked around a fire!

Then again, Don did listen to September in the Rain and assumed it was The Beatles!

JethroMcB posted:

Finally, we can talk about Lou Avery. In a series with no shortage of assholes, I think he may be the worst of them all - because he's a boring rear end in a top hat.

I couldn't believe it when they asked how his weekend was and he said,"Great. I chopped some firewood!"

Jerusalem fucked around with this message at 14:13 on May 11, 2022


Oct 10, 2007

Can you see that I am serious?

Fun Shoe

I believe when Peggy's telling the kid that his mom's flushing "things" she's referring to tampons, not drugs. Presumably these are new tenants.

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