Mad Men 6-6

One week after a cataclysmic social American event rocked Mad Men, the aftershocks hit a little closer to Madison Avenue on this week’s episode, “For Immediate Release”. Then again, a rejuvenated Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is often a temblor waiting to happen all by himself.

Certainly Don seemed to be back on the good foot. It was a much more confident Draper than we’ve seen for much of this season … which was bad news for everyone else. With a rediscovered cocksureness, he set about humiliating the overbearing and off-putting Herb Rennert, liberating Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce of the car account it had so desperately dreamed of a little more than a year ago.

Were it only that Don wrecked the day of one blowhard car salesman. Indeed rare has been the day when Don’s rising tide raises all of the boats in his vicinity.

Similar to his declaration that he was quitting tobacco, Don has left his company in the lurch. Granted, Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) hadn’t told the rest of the partners about the plans to take the company public, but Don’s smug joy at firing a client he’d never seen eye-to-eye with softened the blow of potentially wrecking a financial windfall for the firm, if only in Don’s own mind.

Were it only that Don wrecked the fortunes of the increasingly frantic Pete. After all, the company’s resident chief sycophant deserves much of the blame for his own problems. What else can you say about a man who encounters his father-in-law at a brothel while in the midst of trying to paper over marital strife?

Still, Don Draper is a knife that cuts deep. His impulse only served as a reminder that Joan (Christina Hendricks) sacrificed past dignity to land the account and could sacrifice future earnings with its loss.

Of course, Draper returns that which he takes away. And how. The Jaguar horse might have snorted and stomped its way out of the barn, but it’s replaced by a horse of a much more prestigious color – Chevrolet and its new mystery machine. But that’s not all. It comes with a merger with Cutler Gleason and Chaough, creating a new superagency. In the process, Don throws the biggest haymaker of all, dropping Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) back down the corporate ladder a rung or three.

Hurricanes don’t ask permission to blow. Earthquakes don’t send out warnings before striking. Wildfires don’t take opinion polls before escalating. Don Draper, too, is a force of nature. Like those other events, when he touches down, there is usually collateral damage. And like a natural disaster, Draper rarely looks back.

But sometimes it behooves you to take a look back over your shoulder. All the better to see who could be coming behind you. Don gets to play the hero after leading the charge to land the Chevy account – though Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) deserve a hat tip as well. But there are only so many times you can blow someone’s house down before they start to build elsewhere. With so many hurt feelings walking around, it’s time to wonder if that day isn’t on the horizon.

Mad Minutes

  • Pete is a man on the edge. His father-in-law pulled the Vicks account, taking away one more reason to justify his existence as a partner in SCDP. The small strides he was making in his reconciliation with Trudy have been blown up and the firm’s public offering (and Pete’s windfall) is uncertain. This has the makings of a major meltdown. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
  • Joan’s blow-up on Don can’t be understated. They have always had a mutual respect for each other, likely because of their numerous sexual indiscretions. They have each been ports in the others’ emotional storms. For Don to damage that alliance could have long-lasting consequences.
  • After a few weeks of building the sexual tension in the CGC office, we get a payoff with Ted impetuously kissing Peggy. Combine that with Peggy daydreaming of Ted while trying to tolerate Abe’s wish to live in a more “integrated” neighborhood. We’re sowing more seeds of infidelity!
  • Speaking of infidelity … Marie Calvet (Julia Ormond) was in town to spend time with Megan for Mother’s Day. More importantly, she hoped to spark things up with Roger once again. The tryst was foiled by Sterling chasing a whale to Detroit, but you’re kidding yourself if you think the silver-tongued silver fox will let this opportunity pass him by.