MAD MEN Recap: “For Immediate Release”

     May 5, 2013


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.

mad-men-season-6-poster“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?

mad-men-for-immediate-release-2Don’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-

mad-men-for-immediate-releaseMusings and Miscellanea:

– 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.


  • Basil
    • Allison Keene

      BLESS. I love the internet.

  • Lance

    I also wouldn’t say that Don’s likable. I just wouldn’t describe him as irredeemably evil, and there are even glimmers now and then that he might be trying to become a real human being.

    I liked this episode. A few moments that stuck out for me:

    Megan’s mom _really_ hates being a mother and grandmother, doesn’t she? If that wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. She’s kind of the “negative outcome example” of what can happen to you if you don’t navigate that mid life crisis thing well, isn’t she?

    Hendricks’s acting during that scene where she tells Don she should have put up with that jerk from Jaguar was amazing. You just really felt that moment.

    Is Roger getting over his down in the dumps state? I noticed he basically got rid of his baggage — Sterling’s Gold — and that shoeshine box was open, when he rushed out of his office for his rendezvous with leering GM guy.

    An extremely rare moment of cheesiness for this show. Peggy’s fantasy about kissing Ted when she’s actually kissing her boyfriend. That was just goofy. I haven’t seen a moment like that on the show since Betty hallucinated about cocoons and butterflies while she was delivering a baby.

    Don’s pitch for the new car was superior, as always. Couldn’t believe he actually revealed it to Ted — was just waiting for the big reveal where it turned out Don had something even better up his sleeve.

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  • -

    Yeah, if Mad Men had a bit of a shaky start this season, it’s pretty clearly back at its best after these past two or three episodes. This was genuinely one of the best episodes of the whole show.
    And the Peggy imagining kissing Ted thing reminded me of Six Feet Under, so that can’t be a bad thing, surely.

    • Allison Keene

      The Six Feet Under feel was definitely there with Peggy/Ted! It was, as Lance pointed out, pretty goofy, but that connection in my mind made it a little better, hah.

  • Harry

    With the merger, Peggy’s right back where she started: Under the shadow of Draper fighting to establish some sort of significance to the firm. “That’s what the money’s for!!!”

  • junierizzle

    I’ve loved this entire season thus far. I don’t get the negativity.

    The funny thing about Peggy is she started out being anti-establishment and now she is loving being apart of it.

    Don’s appeal is easy, guys like him because he is cool and beds beautiful women. Women like him because he is the classic bad boy, sure they detest his actions but they’d be puddy in his hands

    • sloan

      Fuckin thank you!

  • Jen

    Some people are complaining about the fact that this happened 6 episodes in and that it should have happened sooner. I, however, think the writing was well-thought out. First losing Baked Beans, showing the strained relations between Jaguar but also Pete and his family – it was only a matter of time before they were about to go under. It seemed less like they “jumped the shark” because the writing was smart.

    Also, I really like Ted and Peggy. He’s a less creative Don but a better man. Does he even have extra-marital affairs?

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