This week, SDCP and CGC assemble to nab that Chevy account that both are vying for. Separate, their agencies are too small and Don fears that Chevy will rip off their creative output and go with a larger agency instead. So, Don and Ted decide last minute (over drinks, of course) to present to Chevy together and worry about all the merger stuff later – our creative leaders swap out Old Fashioneds for shwarma, no doubt. This is all pretty exciting, but perhaps feels a bit contrived. Nevertheless, this week’s Mad Men, entitled “For Immediate Release” (written by Matthew Weiner and directed by Jennifer Getzinger) successfully deals with the blurring together of personal feelings with business politics and how that gray area comes with mostly negative results.
The merger, as we learn by the end of the episode, pretty much destroys a lucrative opportunity headed up by Bert, Pete, and Joan – they brought in a banker to evaluate the company for an IPO, and he deemed the company to be worth $11 per share, meaning that the partners stand to be filthy rich (Joan’s portion alone would be worth over $1 million). Don, however, was never alerted about the IPO possibility, so he’s indignant about not being in the loop, while Pete is indignant that Don is so blasé about firing the worst guy ever (Herb from Jaguar, clearly) in an explosive dinner. Don’s move obviously lowers the price of their potential stock and poses the question: what exactly did Joan sacrifice so much for? This spurred a brilliant exchange between Don and Joan, which served as a particularly great moment for Christina Hendricks:
Don: Don’t you feel 300 pounds lighter?
Joan: I don’t. Honestly, Don, if I could deal with him, you could deal with him. And what, now? I went through all of that for nothing?
Don: Joan, don’t worry, I will win this!
Joan: Just once, I would like to hear you use the word “we.” Because we’re all rooting for you from the sidelines. Hoping you’ll decide whatever you think is right for our life.”
Yes, Herb is a terrible human being. But for Don to act on his own here and with complete disregard to anyone else’s feelings is indeed selfish. Joan worked very hard in preparation for the IPO presentation, too, and now her chance of coming out of this a millionaire is seriously in danger and she will still have the stigma of what she did with Herb hanging over her head. Don probably thought he was doing Joan a kindness here, in addition to acting on his feelings of anger and resentment toward Herb, but he didn’t take the time out to look at the whole picture.
Pete also makes the company lose out on another important client – his father-in-law Tom Vogel’s (Joe O’Connor) Vicks account – because, well, he insists on keeping the company of prostitutes. Tom is being a hypocrite, of course, since he knew Pete was in the brothel because he was there too, though it’s different since Pete is married to his “little girl.” Pete doesn’t score points in telling Trudie that her father was at the brothel, either. Pete is really turning into a sad case, because he seems like he wants to make amends with his family – he comes home and starts cozying up with Trudie – but instantly retreats to the comforts of a prostitute when he is rebuffed on the homefront. Clearly, that’s not a good idea. Pete is shocked and enraged that Tom ratted on him – he also is poised to look like a major fool, since he was the one who made such a federal case about Don letting Jaguar go.
At least Roger is having fun this week, right? That’s what most important, after all. He is having a breezy affair with young flight attendant Daisy (Danielle Panabaker), who has an affinity for wearing cute little panties. Daisy is also Roger’s personal spy, as she is integral in getting him the proper intel for a run-in with the Chevy honcho. Isn’t it delightful to watch Roger be fully engaged in the company, rather than just a figurehead? It’s so much fun to watch John Slattery in this episode as he makes stealthy deals and playfully beds Daisy – he is like the ad man version of James Bond, and in doing so, Slattery is at the height of his powers. The witty barbs! His water with the onion! He is the best. Needless to say, Roger is pretty unfazed by Don’s Jaguar situation, since he got SCDP a meeting with Chevy.
Peggy is having second thoughts about her living situation with Abe, given the overall grossness of their new apartment. There is even human feces on the stairs, which is likely solid reasoning for breaking any sort of real estate deal. She is especially second guessing things after making out with Ted in the office – she only has sex with Abe later after fantasizing that he is Ted, after all. Perhaps this is a stretch, but if you think about it, Ted is CGC’s Don equivalent, so when Peggy lusts after him, it’s almost like she is lusting after Don by proxy. Peggy is perturbed about the apartment situation because she tells Abe, “I don’t like change.” Well, Peggy, even before this whole merger thing happened, change was gonna come, since the third partner at CGC, Gleason, is suffering from cancer and would need to be bought out…
…though that problem is certainly solved by the merger! If I have one issue with this, it’s that it seems like a plot device to get Peggy better-integrated on the show. It is also destined for major obstacles. For one, Ted was always Don’s nemesis, so to speak, because he about equaled his creative talents and was his major adversary for accounts. So the two of them working together will likely only foster even more competition, since Don is accustomed to always being the alpha dog. Though, heck, this also means more Shalimar-lovin’ silver fox Harry Hamlin, so it can’t be all bad.
What will the new firm be called? Will the episodes skip ahead to post-merger? How pissed off will Pete be? I anticipate all these questions getting answered next week as we embark upon a new Mad Men chapter. As Nick Fury once said, “There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could.” Let that battle be Chevy, or, goddamn it, that elusive Heinz account. I’m sure Don, Ted, and Peggy could figure out something.
The Upside: Particularly great moments from Christina Hendricks and John Slattery and the new potential developments involved in the super-agency.
The Downside: The whole merger thing seems a bit plot device-y. But it’s something new and it’s exciting, so I won’t gripe too much.
On the Side: If guest star Joe O’Connor looks familiar to all you children of the ’90s, that’s because he played Clarissa’s dad on Clarissa Explains It All.