Mad Men Recap: The Winter Of Our Discontent
We’d point you to our recaps of last season’s Mad Men but haha we did not exist then. Go read Television Without Pity’s Season 6 recaps, pour one out for TWOP, and come back here and we’ll get started.
We open with an Accutron watch pitch and it makes us feel tense because Freddy the ad man is staring at us. Please do not break the fourth wall to sell us Accutron. Do they still make Accutron watches?
Peggy is impressed, but is befuddled by the fact that she is impressed by Freddy. We are befuddled as well, as Freddy is not generally impressive. You know what is impressive? Peggy’s outfit.
Roger Sterling also looks fabulous, even though he is wearing nothing. Literally nothing. Only the phone covers his privates, and he’s in a room full of people in various states of undress. Roger is the best. In a show full of debauchery, he is the most delightfully debauched of all.
Hello Joan. You look amazing as always. Ken Cosgrove, you, not so much. The eyepatch becomes no one, regrettably. Ken is tense because not enough people work for him. He wants more underlings so that people will think he is important. Don’t we all. He’s going to send Joan to a meeting in his stead so that he can look too busy to attend.
Status meeting! Only in teevee land is it exciting to watch people in meetings. This meeting is led by Lou, who is the anti-Don, basically.
He’s fussy and confused and a bully and we hate him but we don’t care because here is Don Draper in an airport, looking better and sterner than you look anywhere ever.
Background music for Don’s entrance: Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man.” We’ll forgive the fact that the song is from 1967 because it fits so perfectly here anyway. He steps into the bright sunlight to kiss Megan, who appears to be wearing negligee and is driving a convertible. Don has bounced back nicely since Season 6’s grim “here is the whorehouse I grew up in” ending, apparently.
Ted is back from California for a bit so that Peggy can stare at him angrily through the office window. We are on Team Peggy For Life on this one.
Don and Megan are dining with Alan Silver, who we have not met before. Alan is the type of gentleman that takes his phone calls at the table, which used to be a Big Fucking Important Deal before there were cell phones, because the restaurant had to drag the goddamn landline over to your table. Silver positively swishes and actually snaps his fingers to get a waiter. We hope he is in every episode ever from now on. He’s gotten Megan a shot at a job, so yay for everyone.
Joan is trying to take a meeting with the guy from Butler Footwear, Wayne Barnes, that Ken was too important to talk to, but it isn’t going well, because Wayne thinks he is too important to talk to Joan. Dude, no one is too important to talk to Joan. It’s JOAN. He has a business degree and he throws around a lot of business words and we doze off for a second but the gist of it is that he wants to bring advertising in house and say bye bye to Sterling Cooper. Mr. Barnes, that would mean saying bye bye to Joan. You are a foolish man.
Don and Megan are in the canyons or hills or some part of California that is probably very expensive these days and has howling animals. Their new home has much in the way of a view, and much in the way of plywood paneling on the walls.
Megan is drunk, Don passes out on the couch, and turns down a ride to the office in the morning.
Back in New York, Peggy is first to the office in the morning and runs into Ted and it isn’t awkward AT ALL. Ted tries to chipper his way through the whole thing but Peggy is not having it. Ted is such a Nice Guy. Ted, you were a dick to Peggy and she gets to be mad at you. Go back to California.
Speaking of California, here’s Pete in California! California kind of agrees with Pete!
Pete hugs Don hello. It’s the single most awkward thing we’ve ever seen. Don tells him he dresses and talks like a hippy. Don, Pete is wearing madras and a sweater knotted around his neck. That is not how hippies look. Pete’s been doing well in signing accounts, and is whiny that Don doesn’t seem to know about his big successes. Don reminds him that there is no way he’d know. Hmmm…looks like Don is still persona non grata at SCP, which seems a little weird because he told Megan he was going to the office. Are we dealing with another layer of Don Draper’s Secret Life where he’s lying about his life or does he get to just hang about the California office if he’s lonely even though he’s not allowed to work?
Pete has a sexy real estate lady friend who wants to sell Don a house and maybe something more.
We hop from that little sun-drenched moment back to the doom and gloom that is January in New York City, as Joan steps her way through ice and dead leaves to go see a business professor to chat about ways to keep Butler footwear from fleeing Sterling Cooper. She’d like him to put a business case about it in writing, and he agrees, as long as she’s got something to trade. “This is a business school. Doesn’t money work?” snaps Joan in the most Joan way. Except he actually isn’t trying to quid pro quo with Joan’s body, like every man at her agency. He just wants to know if he can get info about her clients for an advertising survey he’s doing. Joan is appropriately chastened, but then they go on to have impressive friendly business chatter about fee-based models.
We are back in California again with Don and Megan. We are getting whiplash from being so bi-coastal. Don comes home to Megan, who is dressed like a pirate.
She’s a sexy pirate, but a pirate nonetheless. The first thing Don has done upon his arrival is buy an enormous new television that doesn’t go with the decor and upsets Megan because of the cost because her other cool new California friends are all poor.
Peggy’s returned home from being at the office all day Saturday, only to be accosted by an angry young child demanding that Peggy fix the toilet in his apartment. We forgot that she was a landlord owner type person. She shoves a plunger at him and slams the door.
Megan has fallen asleep in bed while Don watches Frank Capra’s 1937 film, Lost Horizon. He looks impossibly sad. They head to bed and have some sex but only after Megan insists on turning out the light. Also, they both get in bed mostly clothed. Aren’t we in the swinging 1960s or free love 1970s or something? Also, we’re still awfully confused about whether Don is lying to his wife about his job status.
Roger is dining with his very buttoned-down daughter in a fancy restaurant. He’s understandably nervous about it, but she’s there to tell him she forgives him. He breezily tells her that he forgives her too. She just keeps telling him that she forgives him all his sins — and then proceeds to lay out all his sins. She tells him that her anger is vanquished by love and stares intently. He asks her if she’s going to church, and she tells him not in any way he’d understand. Did Roger’s daughter join a cult?? Roger returns home to his sex pad where a lady and a gentleman are already in his bed but Roger does not want to have sex with them. Roger just wants to sleep.
Don’s flying back to New York and of course there’s an impossibly attractive and put together woman seated next to him.
Don is, of course, congenitally unable to flirt with her. She’s a widow, and her husband drank himself to death. With that revelation, the mood turns more somber than flirty, and she goes to sleep on Don’s shoulder. When she awakes, they’re circling New York, and she tells Don that his wife probably wouldn’t be happy she’s dozing against him. He tells her that his wife already knows he’s a terrible husband. He doesn’t say it in a snappy way. He’s weary, worn down by his own fucking up. This has been another episode of Don Draper Can Only Reveal Himself To Strangers. Mystery widow lady offers him a ride and a ride, if you know what we mean, and he turns her down because he has to go to work. Don, do you have a job or not??
Peggy’s trying to talk to Lou, the anti-Don. He refuses to listen to her pitch and tells her he is immune to her charms and walks away. He also tells people his weekend was “peachy.” We really hope Don gets to come back and force Lou out at gunpoint.
Joan is on the phone with slithery round-faced smarm machine Wayne Barnes. She drops the hammer on his face hard and explains that if he takes all his advertising in-house, good luck getting the same access to teevee and print placement that SCP has and also too they’d be competing with the might of SCP and also also the shoe business will decline some day and it will be Wayne Barnes’s fault. YOU TELL ‘EM, JOAN. Barnes agrees to let SCP pitch a new strategy. Joan wins. Don’t fight Joan, little man.
Peggy is still trying to get Lou to come around to her way of thinking on Accutron and wants new art to present to him with the slogan he hates. Stan, who is getting more hirsute by the minute, points out that picking fights with your boss is not usually a great strategy. Peggy insults him and calls him a hack. Way to make friends and influence people, Peggy.
Don’s hanging out at home shining his shoes and watching Nixon on teevee. So, living the dream, really. He turned down sexy mystery widow for this?? Freddy has brought soda and sausages over and ohhhhh now we get it. Freddy is freelance pitching Don’s ideas. Accutron is Don’s idea! But no one is letting Don work. Don is getting paid, but he doesn’t get to come back. Freddy helpfully reminds him that he’s now missed Christmas and the Super Bowl and soon he will miss Easter and then he is damaged goods. Ray of goddamn sunshine, that Freddy.
Peggy gets home and crumples to the floor crying. Goddammit Lou-who-is-not-Don, you are making Peggy cry. Meanwhile, Don goes to sit outside on the balcony in the freezing cold as Vanilla Fudge’s sludged-out slowed-down version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” plays him off. Damn. This season is going to be bleak, even by Mad Men standards.