I did not tell you to start reading this; get back in those high thread-count luxury hotel linens! This episode was the equivalent of thinking there’s one more step when you walk up a stairs in the dark and finding the ground a few disorienting inches lower instead. Unaired was the episode in which a sweet, clean, humble Don dives in front of a rogue Chevy to save Peggy’s life before retreating home to kiss Megan on her Chicklet teeth. Instead we have an episode wherein Don confines Linda Cardellini to a hotel room airing less than a week after Amanda Berry is rescued in 2013 from her life as a boarded up sex slave. This is not for laughs, this is real-talk, and it’s as messed up as you think it is. Let’s dig in to this weird, weird hour.
Ted Chaough (CHAW!) and Co. walk awkwardly into their new step-dad’s house and smile to make their mom happy. Peggy waves emptily at her old cohorts and wears blue. The partners cram into the glass argument room and divvy up accounts between the Rogers and the Dons and the Cosgroves etc. of the now merged Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Chaough Olsen Cutler Campbell Crane Jolie-Pitt. A pretty lady takes the last seat and Pete’s empty oceanic eyes go black and burn hot in his skull. CHAW gives up his chair to the pretty lady and says the word ‘groovy,’ much to Don’s delight and then immediate chagrin. News breaks that CHAW can fly a plane, and the remaining male population in the room explains together that the cold temperature of the office is to blame for their small penises, rest assured, but TRUST that if the moment arose, they too could probably fly a plane. “FLY ME UPSTATE,” barks Don, and it is decided that the two men and also Pete will fly upstate to play footsie with Mohawk Airlines. Spoily alert: Pete doesn’t go because his mom loves gin and tonics. Also, John Slattery directed this episode and his true colors came out big time as far was which expression of Jon Hamm’s he likes best. “Yeah, now look at everyone in the room, yeah! Like that! Yeah, and now push your chin skin down against your starched collar so your handsomeness is depleted and your face melts and your chin gels with your shirt. BRENDA, RE-STARCH JONNY’S COLLAR! NOW I AM THE FAIREST IN THE LAND!” quoth John Slattery in a fit of silver foxxy rage with recklessly handsome abandon. Do I blame Mr. Slattery for how funky and sour this whole episode is, regardless of the obvious fast that its grossness is wholly from the writing and not the direction? Pssh, is Joan pregnant?!
Seriously, is Joan pregnant? Probably not, but raise your sweaty white American hand if you didn’t think it the second her graceful paw attended her vase of a torso. Bob “The Nice Murderer” Benson finds Joan puking up potpourri and rosé and asks if he can keep some. “Just kidding, but can I?” says Bob, joyous as he finally finds something to do. Bob takes Joany to the emergency room as she trembles like a pure bred chihuahua on Christmas morning. At the hospital she sits among mere mortals and befriends a pee bucket, and Bob realizes she ain’t foolin’ about this whole excruciating and urgent pain dealy. Bob brings Joan up to the counter. “I totally forgot to mention, my friend’s a real DOOFUS, a real LOOSEY GOOSEY” he explains, and the nurse rushes Joan into a room right away, for no goosey, regardless of how loosey, will stand idly by while this nurse is on the clock. Later in a partners meeting Joan saves Bobby B’s job, whatever the f it may be, and Pete punches a triumphant fist into the air and brings it down fast as if to symbolize some sort of sportial victory. This Joan/Bob thing is a teeny story arch that may return in some form as Joan’s mother thinks Bob is “adorable.” Will Bob become Joan’s new DAD? My sources say this will defffffinitely happen. Without a DOUBT. I can FEEL it. I’m also on SPEED.
Don takes the elevator up from hell and hears Linda Cardellini yelling at her kind heart surgeon husband and Don’s BFF. “Yuck, marriage!” says Don, and a laugh track roars avidly for about a minute, which I thought odd and inappropriate if I’m being honest. Don goes to work and LC calls him up. “I need you to be mean to me because my husband’s eyes are way too kind,” explains the petite mistress, a headscarf upon her and a hanky in her panky. “Hotel me,” replies Don, seconds before he throws his phone clear through the glass of his office window and polishes off a milk jug full o’ rye. Later, Don and Linda Cardellini roll and roll and roll until they’re spent. Don sits in a kingly chair in their hotel room and stares thick-chinned as LC complains about her son and husband like the adorable ghoul she is. Don tells her to crawl around and find his shoes. “Nah,” says Linda Cardellini, and Don makes it clear that she is his slave child and she ain’ goin’ no where, à la the delicious Randy Savage as Bonesaw in the Tobey Maguire Spiderman. Linda Cardellini plays nice for a little and lays nude in a fancy bed with a book like a good little weirdo. This shit is FUH K’DUP.
Don arrives back to his office and eats bread. CHAW explains that they’d been eating bread for forty minutes and it’s Don’s job to eat bread when they all eat bread. Don scoffs and brings a big unmarked bottle of rubbing alcohol into CHAW’s chawffice. They begin to drink and in about thirteen seconds, CHAW is alumni-week sloshed. Peggy is disappointed and, in my favorite moment of the episode, Peggy tells Don that she had hoped that Ted would wear off on Don and not the opposite. I know this is simple and one-dimensional on the surface, but is there a part of Peggy that is subconsciously hoping that Don would become more Ted-like because a respectful and good-natured Don Draper would only be the greatest thing to happen to Peggy and womankind itself? Ted kissed Peggy, and here Peggy is expressing how ideally Don would be more like Ted, the man who kissed her. This was an interesting moment, as Peggy has moved on so distinctly from the Don-portion of her life and still finds herself right back where she literally started. Obviously she’s frustrated, and also did you hear her say that she and Abe “bought” a building?! As a New Yorker, I understand that buying real estate in NYC, no matter how many shits are taken on the stairs by how many junkies, is a big fat deal and a few big fat dollar sign adorned bags of cash. Way to go, Peggy! Now, go break up CHAW’s marriage and launch Chaough and Olsen’s Deluxe Advertising Agency of Champions as half of the power couple you were born to be! And did I say half? I mean 80%! Move it, CHAW. Go fly your plane in your absolutely covetable aviators.
Pete’s mother is insane because her son is Pete. Perhaps it’s Alzheimer’s, but perhaps it’s that, again, her son is Pete. This offers a very very telling glance at Pete’s chemical make-up. His brother Bud, fresh off the set of Kill Bill, married a woman name Judy, which probably burns Pete right up, like how I get anxious when I hear of any pregnant woman with a due date near my exact birthday. That’s my day and I DON’T SHARE! Pete’s (ex-)wife’s name ends in -udy!! Pete’s mom is adorable in that old stray dog kind of way, and Pete calls his mother’s drink order a “G&T,” a sure sign that she probably has had about four a day since 1912 and that they’ve most likely always been served up by one of her two globe-headed boys. Seriously, where is Pete’s hair? Is Stan’s beard the collected departed hairs of Pete Campbell’s scalp? Help! Pete is tending to his mother when CHAW and Don fly to deal with Mohawk Airlines which is rather shitty when you remember that Pete’s a partner on the supposedly equal standing as Don and definitely with CHAW. Do I feel bad? Yeah, a little. But gosh, do I love to hate that Q-Tip of a man. Watching Pete unravel is like watching the ashes from fireworks fall! Someone’s gotta clean it up in the morning and sure, a few squirrels will probably eat some empty plastic caps and die but gee! The sparkles! Did I mention the SPEED?
Don bosses Linda Cardellini around all day via phone calls and three-word demands and long-distance brooding of the highest potency. He orders her a Saks dress that is, no joke, to die for (note that, Mad Men writers, a death reference up for grabs!). She zips it up her itty bitty frame and then immediately slinks right out of it per her awkward orders. Finally, when Don takes away her only source of entertainment (besides her own human body, come on), Linda Cardellini is like, uh, I’m a surgeon’s wife with a grown-ass son, enough of this crap. When Don returns, LC tells Don that she had a dream in which Don died during his flight and she and Megan and Don’s BFF and BeelziBetty and Don’s whole family did a celebratory square dance and then went out for Chinese food and everyone got good fortune cookies, none of this “You will enjoy good food. :)” crap. Don is sad because his friend finally realized that she’s a senior and he’s a freshman and she can do way better, and definitely WAY cooler. Don’s sadness is so strong and so pathetic that a presidential candidate dies. Megan cries at this news because Megan is still human, dammit, and Don does not give a shit that Bobby Kennedy is gone because Bobby Kennedy is not Don. Don is Don, and God knows, life as Don is worse than death. Say it again, now!
Misc.: Roger’s hammock chair and his revival firing of Bert Peterson was magnifique! This is great because Bert is just a mean old man pent up with unpleasantness. Bye-bye, Bert! Moira the strong-headed secretary is interesting as is all the talk of Ken Cosgrove without a single sighting of the man. Joan’s cyst was like a big old shrug of the shoulders, unless it comes back as a misdiagnosis and she’s way sicker than she thinks, etc., why was that even a thing, other than to make Bob seem decent? CHAW getting hammered at Don’s demand is a nice mirror image; as Don is currently demanding a woman not answer the phone from miles away, while right in his office he’s demanding a grown man drink till he can’t talk or walk or think or spitball margarine talk. Ted’s initial round table jam about margarine was the coolest; I was charmed by how successful that approach seemed on principal and how gung-ho Ted was to kick things off so openly. If the world is just a bigger version of Don’s life (and, really, isn’t it?), the employees at SCDP (or whatever it is now) are Don’s children, and Ted Chaough is Henry Francis— not the company’s bio-dad, but definitely more accepting and accommodating and just healthier to be around than Don. This episode was funky and acidic and overall pretty grimy (again, John Slattery’s fault!) but a few slimeballs like this one per season is nothing new for Mad Men. All I need is another cute Draper family moment or some Marie Calvet XXX raunch and I’ll be as happy as Bob Benson doing anything at all in no time.
Krista writes weekly recaps. Follow her on Twitter @potatoemporium.
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