I don’t know how to start this week’s recap, so I’ll just remind you that every week, I write a Mad Men recap, while Chris Piascik draws one.
-“It’s an idiom. Did you know that?” Don and Peggy are barely able to conceal their disdain in the interview with Roger’s wife’s cousin who wants a job. His book is all one idea and then ads he’s pulled out of magazines for inspiration. “Don’t you ever tear things out of magazines?” We’ve seen Don tear things out of magazines at least once. That fact foreshadows the theme of the episode. Nice to see the Lemon VW ad make another appearance.
-“It’s a relief to see someone worse than me.” Peggy has never been happy for long. She has a chip on her shoulder about her status in the firm and did at Sterling Cooper, as well. This is probably what drives her, huh?
-They’re hitting the Roger not doing anything pretty hard this episode. In 2 scenes he’s rambling about Howdie Doodie and chocolate ice cream respectively. I guess he’s writing a book now? Also, are Roger and Don friends again? They seemed pretty jovial today, even before the award.
-Flashing back to Don selling furs and the story of how it all started. We’d seen a flashback to that time in Don’s life before, but it hadn’t been fleshed out. Roger looked younger, and they changed up the wardrobe. I hadn’t really thought of this before, but it seems that Don made his way to the top of Sterling Cooper in about 6-8 years, and probably less. Mad Men Season 1 started around March, 1960, and the Korean War ended in 1953. Even if Don was among the first wave of soldiers in Korea, there would have had to be some time for convalescence, time to get found by Anne Draper selling used cars, time to work all that out with her, to move to NYC, etc, etc.
-Don was super eager to get a job and included a book of his work in the fur coat to Joan. So I guess she’s been there for a while.
-“Make it simple, but significant.” Indeed.
-I liked Roger ripping on Ted Chaough (“Isn’t that a lot of extra letters” and “Chagagag”). Not really sure why Ted is so uppity.
-“Don’t talk to me right now.” Don is so mean to Pete Campbell. I think everyone loves it!
-Oh, hello, Duck Phillips. Did someone over-serve you?
-“Who claps for themselves?” The addition of an Art Director character was a bit jarring. Sal played such a big role in the firm (and in several episodes) that it seems like we should have heard from this character before tonight. In any case, I like how Peggy puts him in his place stripping for him and forcing him to concede the point. “Win the prize for the smuggest bitch in the world.”
-You all saw that after both Don and Roger were holding Joan’s hand under the table, Don kissed Joan on the lips before going up to the stage, right? She was definitely surprised. It was more than just a celebratory kiss. The victory kicked off something of a bender. During the Life cereal pitch, Don was super-eager and pretty full of himself. He wanted to prove he could close a pitch while drunk (which I’m actually surprised hasn’t been shown before), and kept rattling off lines until he used one he had heard earlier in the day during the terrible interview. Oops.
-“If everyone set?” “That’s my word for it.” Oh, Lane.
-More Mrs. Blankenship comic relief. She wears a wig and was surly. Why hasn’t she been replaced? She’s the Jar Jar Binks of Mad Men.
-“Award or no award you’re still Don Draper.” “Whatever that means.” I thought we might get through one episode without a question of identity. I guess not.
-“You’ve crossed the border from lubricated to morose.” Ladies and gentlemen, your designated moral compass, Joan!
-Good to have Ken Cosgrove back and Pete Campbell feeling threatened. Cosgrove good naturedly dealing with it. Campbell obviously feels threatened, and always has. Would he be Ken’s boss?
-“Then he sucks on Vick’s.” Real subtle, guys.
-Another subtle moment in the episode was Don badgering Roger into letting him buy him a drink. Probably reading too much into this, but Roger didn’t seem totally comfortable with drinking with Don so early in the day. Maybe he was playing it up, but wouldn’t it be an interesting wrinkle if Don was the bad influence all these years? This idea was reinforced a bit with the scene between Don and Doris. He’s obviously been overdoing it for a long time, even before getting to Sterling Cooper. Though Doris called him Dick at during the scene. When could that have been? I thought he ran away from home and went straight into the army. He was Don Draper when he came home. Someone help me with this one.
-Roger > Don > Peggy > Danny. This progression was pretty clear through the episode and is, I think, the main theme from tonight. Everybody comes from somewhere, gets their start somewhere. Roger didn’t remember hiring Don because he was drunk. Don was drunk and used Danny’s line forcing his hire. Roger told Don he forgot to tell Roger he couldn’t have done it without him. According to Peggy, Don wouldn’t have been able to do it without her because it was her idea. And he wouldn’t have been able to seal Life Cereal without Danny’s line. Danny is really, really short.
-Don is still out of control, but on the evil scale, he didn’t really move backwards at all, and you have to consider that a positive. He did forget to pick up his kids, but as long as he’s not hitting on the nieces of dear friends, or sleeping with his secretary, he’s winning, right?
Update: The first 2 comments below bring up an interesting point that I had considered, but decided to interpret differently. Basically they suggest that at 2 points in the episode, characters got into situations where they blacked out. Roger either agreed to hire Don during a blackout, or Don convinced him that he had. Also, Don blacked out and picked up a waitress as Dick Whitman. I don’t really want to believe that Mad Men would resort to blackouts as a plot device, which is why I interpreted it differently. I read the Dick Whitman waitress pick up as a flashback to some time in the past. On the other hand, there’s too much to imply if we’re to believe Don made up the story about Roger hiring him, hoping that Roger would forget. Lots to speculate on this week.
On having occasion to watch the episode again, I’m thinking that it is the same weekend and Don was so wasted, he did tell Doris his name was Dick… Also, I didn’t realize this before, but the Life Cereal pitch had notes of the Kodak Carousel pitch. Nostalgia. It was funny to hear the Kodak Carousel pitch drunken and rushed.