Sunday, May 12, 2013

MAD MEN 6.7--"Man With A Plan"

A city built upon delusions: New York. There, many ad execs who believe that angst is power, fight battles that happen entirely in a one (and occasionally two) hour block every Sunday night for about 13 weeks at a time. They are the Advertising Sentai: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason Chaough and their story isn't over yet!

 Man, last week was pretty eventful, wasn't it? Fresh off burning Jaguar and alienating everyone then going after Chevrolet and merging his agency with Ted Chaough's just to get it. Of course, this is all in pursuit of advertising the Chevy Vega, so it's pretty much still a poisoned chalice, but as I said last week--Mad Men doesn't usually jump ahead like this until the end of the season, so let's see what the fallout is likely to be from last week!


 "It took 40 minutes to find out no one knows shit about margarine."

So in the wake of the SCDP/CGC merger, there are a lot of growing pains--even with two floors, moving two agencies together is causing no end of friction. Not that everyone's coming along for the ride--Bert Peterson gets fired yet again (and Roger takes a right sadistic pleasure in it--not the ONLY time I'll say this tonight) and everything's getting shuffled around.It's a troubled marriage already--cliques are being formed and new dynamics are causing some friction (Ted Chaough runs the creative side of things with a lighter touch than Don--getting them together to brainstorm about margarine, for God's sake.) Peggy's still not sure where she fits in--she doesn't seem to like the effect that Don's drunken brainstorming session has on Ted and there's a definite difference in approach between the two of them--Ted likes things rigorously systematized and Don likes for sudden bursts of innovation to happen.

 Their relationship--confounding and confusing, is a microcosm of what's going on as the merger keeps on--Ted feels like Don's sizing him up more than they're actually doing any work. It's not helped that Ted's tolerance for getting his drank is dwarfed by Don. Peggy gives Don shit for trying to turn Ted into another one of him and they fall into a not-encouraging, yet familiar pattern.

 On the plus side, Roger and Cutler are Accounts Bros now. They're getting along great.

 Oh, and Ted is a pilot. Given the title of the next episode, this is a worrying association.

 Meanwhile, Pete has discovered that it can always get worse. In the wake of losing Vicks thanks to being an utter dicknuts. This has the knock-on effect of marginalizing him at the office to the point where he can't even get a chair at a meeting. To add injury to insult, his mother's going senile and has apparently gone well down the path of getting into "crazy cat lady" territory. Pete handles this with the sensitivity you would think he would--he's an unbearable asshole to her and confounds her willingly. I suppose one could say it's an unpleasant reminder for him that his life is disconnecting around him and he no longer has any place within it, but I think it's more than he's a massive douche who is getting what he deserves. If you scorch the Earth in every direction it's a bit difficult to hang onto much of anything, seeing as how you've already burned it to the ground.

 Meanwhile Joan is sick, and it seems like it could be some serious shit--recurring pain, throwing up in her office. This led to some alarming speculation, but apparently it was just an ovarian cyst. The more important news was that Bob, the Phantom of Accounts, actually did something of import to the plot in ensuring she got to the hospital. Joan assumes it's because he was fretting over his job since the axe is swinging in all directions, but her mother's not so sure. In return for her yeoman work, Joan covertly saves Bob's job.

 Here's to new alliances, I guess.

 The Don and Sylvia thing also sees some motion this week in that she and Don embark on what could only be described as a continuing s/m relationship with Don laying down the law to her and holing her up in a hotel room. This isn't really news--hes been doing this kinda thing off and on as far back as Bobbie Barrett, but it's the first time he's been this overt about it. One wonders if this isn't an attempt to assume some control over some facet of his life given all the tumult with the merger.

 In any event, this doesn't work out all that well, as after a few days of being humiliated, Sylvia's Catholic guilt and shame reasserts itself and she breaks it off. Don looks astonished that this could be a thing that is happening to him ("why" is a question that strains the limits of human credibility) and puts up a brave front and tries to go back to Megan and pretend everything's great. He does somewhat less of a sterling job in that regard.

 And then Robert Kennedy gets shot and things get worse. So, the answer to the question I was pondering since last week is that the merger doesn't fix very much--it rattles some cages, causes the dynamic to wobble dramatically, and seems to lead to everyone simmering in their own resentments more than a bit. I wondered elsewhere if the notion of putting CGC and SCDP in the same boat was getting the ship righted or putting two sinking ships into a bigger sinking ship. It's not looking good so far.

  And that's it for this week! Join us next week when Harry Crane's sideburns take on a malevolent sentience, Pete tells the world that if he could have only one food the rest of his life it would be cherry-flavoured Pez, and Don develops a fetish for Belgian waffles. All this and so much more is absolutely guaranteed not to happen in the next thrilling episode of Mad Men, entitled, "The Crash."  With a title like that, it's sure to be the feel-good hit of the season!

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