This season of Mad Men has been a little divided, much like last season (which people keep forgetting — “Zou Bisou Bisou” almost shut down Twitter). Though many of you have mentioned how harsh I’ve been on Don this year, I felt vindicated when the cast visited Katie Couric this past week. Jon Hamm said of Don, “I wouldn’t say he’s likable … he’s watchable.” He also said “if you don’t like Pete, you should really not like Don.” Vincent Kartheiser piped up later that the reason we all give Don a pass is because he’s suave and handsome and charming, and Pete is not. But at their core, they are the same. But “For Immediate Release” showed that, while both are complete cads, Don does have moments of redemption that don’t absolve his sins, but do make them more palatable overall. Hit the jump for more on why you should consider putting “brain in a jar” on your tombstone.
“For Immediate Release” felt like an old Mad Men episode, not only because the show actually repeated itself, but also because characters seemed to revert to old ways, too. SCDP is on the brink of something big financially with it going public, but just as it is, bad news: Don has cut the cord with Jaguar, which has always been a bad talisman for SCDP (Lane Pryce, as you may recall, had a few unfortunate connections with the account and the brand). For Joan this is incredible — if Jaguar was so disposable, why did she sell her body for the account? What did it mean now? Luckily for Don, Roger has been doing some extra curricular work and pulled in the possibility of Chevrolet. Just as this good news is piped in, the even worse news that one of SCDP’s cornerstone clients, Vick’s is taking their business elsewhere.
The whole thing about SCDP losing a big client just to pick up a new one (like when Roger lost Lucky Strike as the new company picked up Jaguar), has been done a few times on the show, and the chance to get in the door with a huge advertiser (like Heinz) has been a constant refrain through most of the series. Yet it’s one that the show has muted this season — so few scenes this year have even taken place in or near the office, the ones that have have been refreshing. When Don and the creative team started to buzz over the new account, it felt like old times. Except the form was subverted when Don was confronted by Ted Chaough in Detroit with the hard truth: they work for small companies, and companies like Chevy and GM want bodies. So Don has a very Don moment and suggests a merger. Why not?
Don’s meeting with Herb at dinner with his poor, insufferable wife and a bored Megan and Marie was reminiscent of many Betty and Don dinner scenes with clients from the past. Megan took her mother’s advice and has been igniting Don’s libido as the way back into his heart, down playing her own self and success to make him happy, which again feels like a season or two ago (and I can’t imagine will last). Most unfortunately, Peggy has returned somewhat to where she was before — in Don’s shadow. Her discouraged expression at seeing him and being part of the merger (with the office she kinda screwed over — I can’t imagine Stan will ever let her forget that) is disheartening. And what about this move to Detroit? Did the life she just tried to set up for herself in Manhattan just get turned on its head?
Don advises Arnold to make his own opportunities, something Don takes to heart later with Chaough. I can’t imagine their union being a happy one, though. Don only likes the beginning of things, remember. While Done flourishes though (for the moment), Pete is stuck in a mire. Ken’s advice that Pete and his father-in-law will have to both stay mum to protect the other was overturned as soon as Vick’s pulled their business, and Pete’s “reveal” of his father-in-law’s proclivities to Trudy at that point only sounded like sour grapes, further alienating him from the family he seems to want to sincerely get back.
This season has confused a lot of us, and with it halfway over, are we ready for another revolution? Or have we been overdue? “For Immediate Release” felt like old times, for better rather than worse, even though this time around it wasn’t quite as new and shiny. Perhaps we should take a piece of wisdom from Sterling’s Gold, which got a short appearance in tonight’s episode: “Remember, when God closes a door, he opens a dress.” I’m ready.
Episode Rating: A-
— Roger has suddenly been imbued with enthusiasm for work (and is rolling around in the sack with a very helpful friend indeed), and also wants to be praised for it. His constant need for approval, especially from Don, is always interesting to see.
— Even though this was kind of a building block episode, and I said I wouldn’t give Game of Thrones A’s for those kinds of eps (I can’t give everything an A!), I’ve giving this to Mad Men for making Don faaaaar less insufferable this week.
— So happy Joan called Don out for only ever thinking of himself. But Don will do the right thing with it comes down to it — Jaguar did need to be cut, and the way he did it was fantastic. Pete still alludes to Joan’s sexuality in her getting ahead, proving once again why we prefer Don.
— I need a GIF of Pete falling down the stairs NOW.
— I could not help but stare at Christina Hendrick‘s bust though every time she was on screen. Hardly anything else fits in the frame!
— I like how everyone exchanged a look over the idea of Herb ever skipping a lunch.
— Bob’s eagerness to do anything for anyone and try and hand out his second coffee continues to amuse me.
— I knew the Peggy / Ted kiss was coming, but her reaction was interesting. I have felt for awhile she hasn’t been that attracted to Abe, despite her desire to want to be in a comfortable relationship with him. Her imagining kissing Abe as Ted though … danger zone!
— Did Peggy buy the worst apt in New York? There are people literally shitting on her steps.
— “I’m against this unless it works” – Roger’s clone, played by Harry Hamlin.