Well, as things wind down, things can be said to have heated up, yes? Welcome one and all to Witless Prattle's dubious yet strangely popular coverage of Mad Men. Last week, some major shit went down as Sally actually saw Don banging Sylvia (because we will never be done with that plotline until someone dies, it seems) and Don seemed to weather the storm well enough. But given the title of this episode and the implications of same, will he continue to get away scot free? Let's find out!
"THE QUALITY OF MERCY"
"He just disappeared one day with an electric pencil sharpener and the company Christmas card list.."
So, uh, Cosgrove got his eye shot out.
Then the episode got weird.
Don has reacted to the whole fallout of the Sally thing in his usual style--acting hurt, drinking a lot, and generally retreating into himself. Sally's elected not to visit him anymore and is considering going to boarding school (Don eagerly offers to pay for all of it, because he's never averse to situations that involve him pushing people away with money in a way that seems to him like he's doing them a favour) and he's been telling everyone he's got a horrible cold.
To cheer him up in the midst of all this grinding angst, Megan takes him to see Rosemary's baby, which is a method of coping with things, I hadn't realised was a thing. While they're, they see Ted and Peggy chilling out in the same theatre, which Megan immediately twigs as something salacious going on (though given what Peggy gets up to in movie theatres, it's not an unfair assumption) and Don, perhaps reminded of his own infidelity, gets annoyed when Megan won't drop it.
Meanwhile, Pete, who is always the guy you go to for expressions of profound humanity, inveigles into Ken's spot after he finally decides he's had enough of Chevy and their crazy-ass bullshit. This seems for a moment to be a return to grace for him--after being marginalised for so long, here he is at the head of the firm's biggest account.
The he discovers he has to work with Bob, and it seems much less like a triumph, especially when Ted nails him to the floor by telling him that he knows Pete's trying to get rid of him because he made a pass at him. Ted tell him he misunderstood, then advises him that he better be careful what he says to people with the quiet gentility Patrick Bateman expressed right before he hacked up someone with an ax.
What follows is a game of chess, and if I'm honest, Bob kinda kicks Pete's ass around the woodpile. Pete tries to use Duck to get him a better job elsewhere, Bob uses Pete's mother's relationship with Manolo to get at him. Pete fumes and acts like a jackass because that's his default response to stimuli.
This little thread takes a hard right turn into crazy-town when Duck reveals that Bob Benson . . .is not at all who he claims to be. Yes, SC & P has fallen yet again for another man without a past (even Duck is pretty flabbergasted they didn't bother to check him out) Pete's able to use this to bring Bob to heel in a way he was never able to with Don.
Meanwhile, during Sally's boarding-school overnight, she calls up Glen (because of course she does) so she can impress the students. This leads to Glen being her white knight, which she actually liked, and yeah, I'm calling bullshit on that and moving on.
Meanwhile, Peggy and Ted are rapidly approaching power couple status, as he's constantly putting her on the vanguard of new accounts and runs with her idea for a commercial for children's aspirin based on Rosemary's Baby (thank God they didn't go see Night of the Living Dead) Don is pretty troubled by this, though whether it's because Peggy's a stranger to him more than ever or because Ted can fuck around and get away with it and he's jealous.
It's probably the latter, because it finally comes out that after torpedoing Ocean Spray (which Peggy was working on) and the aspirin ad (in the ugliest, most vicious way possible) and lambastes Ted for being indiscreet with Peggy (under the guise of doing him a favour, because Don LOVES punishing others for crimes he's committed) Peggy sees through it, of course, and rips Don a new asshole, calling him a "monster." And because Don's coping skills are like Pete's, he immediately curls up into a ball and goes all woe is me while the fucking Monkees play us out.
This was one of those episodes where you kinda hate everyone on this show as they're all doing really hideous shit to each other and clothing themselves in the vestments of self-righteousness. I'm with Peggy--Don's completed his molt into full monsterhood and he's finally managed to piss away the last bit of potential that this merger offered him personally and professionally. It's a good episode, but holy shit, its heart is as black as midnight in a coal mine. If the season finale goes all Red Wedding . . .it wouldn't be like they didn't have it coming.
And that's it for this week. Join us next week for the season finale, when Peggy finds her dragons and frees the slaves, Roger violates the rules of hospitality and stabs everyone, and Bert gets his junk cut off again. All of these things happened on another show, but surely won't happen on this one, when we meet in seven days for a little chunk of finality they're calling "In Care Of." Who will survive?