Mad Men Recap: Can This Marriage Be Saved?
Jesus, but we’re approaching this week’s Mad Men with more than a bit of trepidation after the whole Michael Ginsberg thing last week, because that was rough, even for Mad Men.
Poor Peggy is pestering people in the parking lot of Burger Chef because market research. She basically has to bribe people to let them quiz her about their meal as they’re desperately trying to get out of there, having already consumed their presumably delicious meal. You’d think they could get a minion to do that, particularly since Peggy is the head of this project. The thought of Don Draper begging people to talk to him in a fast food parking lot is almost too much to bear.
Peter and his lady friend Bonnie are flying to New York, and lady friend really wants to meet his kid and gets in a jab about how the kid is probably pretty confused that her parents aren’t actually divorced. Yeah, Pete. What is up with that? Pete quizzes her on the fact that she said she never wanted to get married anyway, so she responds by stroking his dick and telling him to meet her in the restroom in 60 seconds so he can join the Mile High Club. Pete’s continued ability to get action befuddles us.
Don seems to be cleaning his apartment, which seems incomprehensible.
Lady friend Bonnie just stone cold walks into Don’s office, which has his secretary Meredith in such a tizzy.
Not sure how we feel about that outfit. Pete immediately swoops in to grab at Bonnie with a level of possessiveness that borders on pathetic. Pete’s punching way above his weight here, and he knows it.
Time for the big Burger Chef meeting. Pete makes Don go to the meeting, which causes sadness from both Peggy and Lou, but Pete is a Big Man now, so he gets to drag Don in. Peggy walks through her Burger Chef commercial and how it’s going to make errrebody buy Burger Chef once ladies feel like their husbands don’t mind if they go to Burger Chef. We think this is probably actually true in 1969, but its still depressing.
Roger is taking a sauna and is accosted by rival ad man Jim so that they can taunt each other about Burger Chef. That does not seem relaxing. When Jim mocks Roger’s firm for being small and new-ish, Roger tells him that when they grow up, they will kill Jim and marry his wife.
Jim also wants to figure out how SCP is going after Philip Morris while still housing Don and makes some sort of oblique offer to Roger about helping him, which Roger decides to take as Jim making sexytime advances in the sauna, just to irritate Jim further. We heart Roger so hard.
For fucking serious, Pete now wants Don to present to Burger Chef rather than Peggy, even though its her account. Lou backs Peggy, which gives us complex feels about Lou, because we hate Lou SO MUCH but we are on Team Peggy. You’ve made her do the work, SCP, so give her the reward of presenting. Pete tells her it is up to her to agree on Don presenting, but Pete just steamrolls her and explains how Don presents authority but Peggy can present mom-ness or lady-ness or something. Oh, special bonus for Peggy. Neither Lou nor Pete have told her that Ted’s on the phone listening in from California. Peggy has no choice but to fold and let Don present. We haven’t had much Pete to hate yet this season, but now we’re reminded why we dislike him so very much. Smarmy little man.
Oh hello, Bob Benson! We’d almost completely forgotten about you, but here you are, Chevy clients in tow, including one, Bill Hartley, that does everything but ask Joan if he could lick her.
Peggy comes to Don to tell him that he’s going to pitch Burger Chef. Don’s perplexed, since she did a great job this morning, but he’s Don, and he just can’t avoid pitching his own Burger Chef strategy to Peggy right there and then. Peggy tells him that they already have a strategy, duh, and gets out of there, and promptly runs into Megan, who does not look nearly California Dreamin’ enough right now.
Bob Benson gets a late-night phone call, which is never good. His client, Bill, tried to blow an undercover officer, and got arrested and, by the looks of things, pretty beat up. Awkward. Bill tells Bob that he called him because he knew Bob would keep it quiet, because of course he would. Oh, and also too he drops the bombshell that SCP is losing Chevy, but Buick is going to offer Bob a job.
Pete stops in to see his daughter, who shows no recognition of Pete whatsoever and hides behind the maid. Trudy’s not at home, and avoiding Pete seems like a sound choice as far as we’re concerned.
Don wakes up to find Megan making breakfast for him, and he is chock full of happy feels, but Megan seems distant, particularly when he tries to press her about how she must miss New York. Feels like bad times a’comin’ for Don and Megan.
We would give almost anything in the universe to find the shirt Peggy is wearing right here.
Peggy’s in the office on the weekend, because of course she is, because the show has removed all of Peggy’s external life. She calls Stan to pester him about Burger Chef, but Stan would like to get on with his Saturday, because Stan is not married to his job.
Pete drops his daughter off at home and Trudy is still dodging him, so he decides to call Bonnie the lady friend and tell her that he’s been unavoidably delayed and has to stay and watch his daughter, so Bonnie should run along to “Oh Calcutta” without him. Pete, you are straight up lying to your lady friend, because the maid is there to watch your kid.
Haha Peggy is never going to stop bothering everyone. Now she’s called Don at home to bug him about Burger Chef and to tell him that his strategy on Burger Chef sucks and he poisoned her by expressing his ideas. Man, this show has turned Peggy into the most bitter and shrewish person.
Trudy finally gets home to a belligerent and probably drunk Pete, and he wants to yell at his wife about how she can’t carry on with other men because she has a child because it is immoral and also too she must have picked this night for her date because she still cares about Pete. She reminds Pete they’re getting a divorce, so he slams his beer into the baked treats sitting on the kitchen table and walks out the door. Nice guy.
Bob has stopped by to see Joan and family and take Joan and child out for the day, but then we cut to another scene because this show is not going to give us enough Joan quite yet.
Megan’s rummaging through the closets back at Don’s place looking for a fondue pot, because that will get more use in California, land of fondue. It’s painfully obvious that Don wants her to stay, and equally obvious that Megan wants to flee. Don tells her he can bring things like fondue pots to California when he comes out next, but Megan dodges that and tells him she’d like to see him somewhere that is not California or New York. Ouch.
Bonnie tells Pete she doesn’t like him in New York, basically because he’s been a dick the whole time they’ve been there, alternating between being gone and being grumpy. He tries to make it up to her by starting to slide her dress off her shoulders, and she tells him that he can’t fuck his way out of this. We can’t imagine Pete fucking his way out of a paper bag, really.
Don stops in to see Peggy and she is still thinking Don is playing some sort of 11-dimensional chess where he secretly doesn’t love her idea and will instead pitch his idea and she liked her idea until Don explained he might have another idea. We can’t keep up. Peggy asks him to explain his work process. He tells her that first he abuses the people whose help he needs, and then he takes a nap, and we get to see the first genuine smile on Peggy’s face since we can’t remember when.
Then they get to work.
Oh Jesus Bob is proposing to Joan. Joan tells him, in the gentlest way possible, that he shouldn’t be with a woman. She asks him why he’s doing this now, and he tells her that he’s leaving and moving on to Buick, and they expect certain things from their executives, like wives. But Joan could stay in New York, he tells her, or he could come with him to Detroit and have a mansion. Oh and he just casually drops into marriage proposal time that SCP is losing Chevy, so this is a great time for Bob and Joan to comfort each other through an uncertain world.
There’s a certain lovely sadness to that, an acknowledgement that it’s all he could ever give her, but then he turns around and wrecks it all by saying that she should be with him because otherwise she’s a lonely woman close to 40 alone in a small apartment with her son and her mother, and Bob is offering her more than anyone else ever will. Joan handles this much more nicely than we would have, telling him that she’d rather die waiting for love than make an arrangement, and he should want that as well. Oh Joan, oh Bob. Everyone on the show is just so lonely.
Peggy and Don are brainstorming and drinking everything in sight and they’re realizing that the ideal nuclear family they’ve created for Burger Chef doesn’t even exist. Also, Peggy’s having an existential crisis because she just turned 30. Don tells her he worries about a lot of things, but he doesn’t worry about her. What does Don worry about, she asks? That he never did anything, and he doesn’t have anyone. Oh Don. Peggy tears up, and Don is gentle with her and we remember that they once sometimes sheltered and protected one another against the slings and arrows of the world in their own haphazard ways a few seasons back. And then they figure out what the ad should be.
Somewhere, a radio is playing Sinatra’s “My Way,” and Don offers her this dance, and it’s as tender and complex a moment as we’ve ever seen on this show.
With the song still playing, we see Megan and Bonnie both flying back to California, alone.
Jim comes in to announce to the partners that they’ve lost Chevy, but they’re now going to market themselves as the hot agency with the cool new computer and by the way Harry Crane should be a partner. Everyone’s in favor except Roger, who walks out before the vote, and Joan who stands and refuses to vote at all.
Don and Pete and Peggy are meeting at a Burger Chef, which is painfully bright. Peggy wants to shoot the ad in the restaurant itself with the tagline “every table here is the family table.” Pete hates it and tries to get Don to agree with him, and Don shoots him down and tells him Peggy’s doing it the way she wants to do it, and does Pete want it right or not?
We end watching Don, Peggy, and Pete through the window of the Burger Chef, a dysfunctional little group of sorts, lonely people tossed together, at the family table.