17 June 2013

Mad Men Recap: "The Quality Of Mercy" [Or, Secret Lover Sunday]

Last night's Mad Men focused on three sets of secret loves, and somehow, for once, none of them included Don Draper. These affairs run the gamut of aware involvement, from Bob's declarative willingness to Teggy's infuriating reluctance to call anything anything. And something tells me Sally planned her entire evening without even informing herself of her plans. Free love this is not.

It may seem like we've finally figured out what Bob's deal is, but I think we've barely scratched the surface. Last week we saw him drop a very heavy (yet not quite explicit) hint that he's interested in starting something with Pete. I questioned whether it was a ruse at the time, but as of this week, Bob has admitted it was a profession of "admiration." This phrasing STILL leaves his meaning a little cloudy (does he admire him sexually or does he admire him as an accounts man?), but I think we're all supposed to assume that he's got a little crush on Pete. Either way, the partners want Bob and Pete to work closely on Ken's abandoned Chevy account (BECAUSE THEY TRIED TO KILL HIM AGAIN), and neither Pete nor Bob is particularly happy about it.

So Pete screams at Headhunter Duck to find Bob a new job at the same time as Bob screams at Manolo to, I don't know, let off steam? Hold Pete's mother hostage? When Duck uncovers the complete nothingness that is Bob's resume, Pete realizes he's back in season one, fighting against yet another pastless advertising machine. I can only assume it's Pete's new love of doobage that keeps him mellow this time - he tells Bob he'll work with him, past or no, but that he's "off limits." For what, getting murdered?

Mark my words, Bob Benson's murky past is not the same as Don Draper's, if only because I've never seen any of it. Don Draper may be a cowardly womanizer, but at least we know what his deal is. Bob Benson's deepest secret can't just be that he spent three years as a CEO's cabana boy. Someone's gonna get it. And for once, it will matter that SC&P has a zero-person HR department. Plus, can it possibly be a coincidence that Manny wants to take Pete's mother on an international cruise when we just found out that Bob spent three years on one?

While Bob's intentions are still a huge question mark, Ted and Peggy's are incredibly obvious. I'm not sure what that brush-off was a few weeks ago after Peggy harpooned Abe, but Ted seems as enamored as ever. He and Peggy are going to movies together, touching each other's waists, and googly-eyeing so much that it makes Don uncomfortable. They're so obsessed with each other, they've whipped themselves up in a casting frenzy, positive that the additional 17 roles will be well worth the money. Here's what's worth the money: Don going "Wah wah wah" like a baby!

from nymag.com
In the end, Don comes this close to outing their relationship to CLIENTS for God's sake, so Ted freaks out and retreats to his two-son household, where the women are loyal and they stay out of his face. Peggy accuses Don of "killing" Ted, the ad, and everything else. This is foreshadowing because SOMEONE WILL BE MURDERED, MARK MY WORDS, BUT WHO WILL IT BE??!?!?!?!?!

So if one extreme is admitting to your secret affair (even though your intentions are murky) and the other extreme is basically having sex in front of everyone (but refusing to put a name on it), where in the secret-love-spectrum does Sally fall? She has a flirtation with Glen, but in their adolescent condition, neither is really allowed to admit to it. But in this non-labeling, Sally nearly loses Glen to her annoying boarding school host. His stupid friend Rollo ("I'm Rollo, by the way. Nice digs" is an exact inverted echo of Glen's "Nice digs. I'm Glen, by the way" entrance line) gloms onto Sally, either because that's just how the pairings shake out or because Glen truly thinks of Sally as his sister. It's yet another let-down in Sally's miserable list.

I'm just happy that this boarding school adventure ends in Sally and Glen parting on good terms, rather than Sally trying to emulate her father's pale-thigh sex in some gross, exploratory exercise with Rollo. Would I have been happy with Sally doing that with Glen? Yeah, I wouldn't have minded. Look, she's old enough to smoke a cigarette with Betty, she's old enough to do it with Glen. But not with Rollo. That would be disgusting.

from nymag.com
The episode ends on yet another shot of Don in fetal position, underscoring his desire to baby up as everyone around him gets very adult with each other. Even Roger had to hold Lee Garner, Jr's balls. Sally was right when she told Glen New York was "dirty," and maybe Don just can't see it until everyone else gives him a run for his money. Maybe that will finally effect change in him. Or maybe this whole series is just the story of how Don Draper became a nun.

gifs courtesy nymag.com
photos courtesy amctv.com (theoretically)

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