15 April 2013

Mad Men Recap: Collaborators (i.e. Prostitutes)

Just as I started to get this recap together, I heard the news about the Boston Marathon, where 2 bombs have just gone off at the finish line. News is still unfolding but I've seen a few pictures so far. I can't believe that I'd write something so stupid when things like this are happening. But when are things like this ever not happening? I can't believe this is the world we live in. I have no ideas about how you could effectively stop the repeated surprise tragedies I keep hearing about at work. I know that distraction from grief can help, and I will write the recap so that the few people who read this blog can have something to take their minds off things, but I can't believe this. My thoughts are in Boston.

Pete and Trudy Campbell are throwing a dinner party for their new neighbors, and it looks like they may become swingers soon. The husbands love Trudy and the wives love Pete, and it's only a matter of time before the Campbells buy a special goldfish bowl just for key chains.

Don Draper flashes back to his childhood in a whorehouse as he continues his affair with Sylvia Rosen (Linda Cardellini, the love of my life). It seems that he and his stepmother moved in with her sister after his father (and remaining biological parent) was kicked to death by a drunk horse or whatever. A man named Uncle Mac runs the place, and he's the rooster there, as he explains to young Don. Young Don does not try to rock the boat. In fact, young Don seems like he might be a deaf/mute.

Over at the Chaeousugh Agency, Peggy tries to be more pleasant to her staff. Her "just because the work needs work doesn't mean you aren't good people" schtick isn't quite enough to make her underlings like working for her. In fact, one enterprising copywriter puts a bottle of feminine itch powder and a fake job folder for it on her desk, citing "overcritical bacteria" and "other Olsens." She takes it pretty well.

Pete takes one of the wives from the dinner party to his Manhattan apartment. She says no to food, alcohol, and music. If only she'd say no to Pete, too. Afterwards, she wants to come up with cute little ways to signal each other in the neighborhood. "CAN WE MOVE IT ALONG," says Pete.

SCDP's clients are as persnickety as ever: Heinz Baked Beans doesn't want to have to work alongside the flashier Heinz Ketchup, and Jaguar wants the agency to "come up with" the idea to squeeze local radio ads into their budget. Clients, am I right??? The same guy who made Joan prostitute herself is still in charge of Jaguar, and it's painful to see them in such close proximity. The Baked Beans guy swears that he would "rather retire than watch that guy screw [his] girlfriend." Both clients give SCDP money to do their bidding, and both could take it away at any time. Thus, SCDP does whatever they want.

You've obviously noticed by now that there's a whooooole lot of prostitute imagery in this episode. Don gives Sylvia cash after their morning tryst, Joan has to face her first (and hopefully last) john, Don remembers his childhood in a whorehouse, and, as I mentioned above, SCDP is the ultimate gestating prostitute - "you pay us money, and we'll birth the advertising plan for your product as soon as possible to your exact specifications PLUS WE WILL DO ANYTHING ELSE IN THE MEANTIME."

Megan runs into Sylvia in the laundry room just as she's firing her maid. It looks like Megan's had a rough week, seeing as she miscarried two days ago. Sylvia seems very guilty and looks like she wants to tell Megan the truth, but unlike Pete's blonde mistress, she keeps her mouth shut. She does remind Megan that neither of them believe in abortion, though.

Pete's clueless mistress tells everyone she knows about her affair and winds up running for safety at the Campbells' with a black eye and a busted nose. She's jumping the gun on this whole affair thing, and she's the only one who has no idea how to pace one of these things. Trudy offers to drive her to a hotel to spend the night, and when she gets back, she doesn't say a word to Pete. He actually thinks he's off the hook.

The next morning, of course, Trudy tells him how things are going to go from now on. Since his utter lack of discretion with the New York apartment has blown up in their faces, he's going to be living there from now on. They won't be divorcing, but if he so much as pees within 50 miles of the house without her express invitation, she's going to [kill him?]. I never heard exactly what she threatened him with, but it sounds pretty serious. Do not mess with Trudy Campbell. Just don't do it.

Over at Chaouwh, Ted overhears one of Peggy's phone calls with Stan about Heinz. Ted wants to use that information to go after Ketchup, but for some reason Peggy's reluctant. Peggy, look at your new boss. Look at your new office. You basically work at Cage & Fish in 1999. Live it up!!

Don spends the evening having dinner with the Rosens without Megan, who's "ill," and wouldn't you know it, Dr. Rosen gets called away. Why wasn't Don always dating doctors' wives? Their husbands are never around. Sylvia asks Don if he's sure he doesn't just want his young, beautiful wife Megan, and he assures her that he wants the Roman Catholic, herself. It's a very Don Draper pitch in that he sounds confident in his words, but if you really listen to them, they don't make much sense.

Later that night (once Don's finished having sex with Sylvia again), Megan tells him about her miscarriage. He tells her he wants kids when and if she does, and although it sounds very supportive, it's again a string of words that convey literally nothing. "When do you want kids? "Uh, up to you."

The whole thing culminates at the meeting with Jaguar, where SCDP is supposed to be suggesting this great radio ad idea. Don oversells it to the point of "Jersey wives can go pick up a Jag, it'll be great!" and the idea fails, just as he wants. Pete, who finally really has nothing, is exasperated that all of his ass-kissing is in vain. Roger (OH HI ROGER, WHERE YA BEEN?) reminds him about how much they gave up in Munich, and Pete has no idea what that is a reference to. For all the lapsed history students, the Munich Agreement was an effort to appease Nazi Germany by giving it a portion of Czechoslovakia called Sudetenland. It didn't work for very long.

We get one last flashback before the end of the episode, and it's Don spying on his pregnant stepmother getting screwed by Uncle Mac. In the 60s, Don collapses in before his apartment front door, unable to go in momentarily. How much has he let this happen to himself and his company? How long before, like Trudy, he finally puts his foot down?

If this week's Game of Thrones focused on mothers doing their jobs poorly, Mad Men was about how those mothers got themselves into motherhood in the first place. What must pregnancy and delivery (even figuratively) be like for a mother who is doing it for financial stability? Do we do the things we do in life for gain, or do we do them for love and happiness? And don't love and happiness count as "gain?" And if not for money, what would there be for SCDP to get in return?

photos courtesy amctv.com

No comments:

Post a Comment