Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Our Biggest Challenge Is To Not Get Syphilis

So, I spent most of this episode waiting for Pete Campbell to either go ballistic in the office of SCDPEDBSBSXQJ or jump out a window. 

Not a whole lot happened in this episode OMGZ-wise like last week (like, seriously, WTF), but it was the first full-fledged Joan episode this season, so I was happy that the writing started focusing on Joan being a more active business partner, even though That's Not How Things Work Around Here. I love how Joan is one of the few decent people in a sea of morally bankrupt human beings. She's so decent that it doesn't even bother me when she starts acting like some of the more douchey characters on the show, because she's learned that if you want to play with the big boys, you've got to get your hands a little dirty.

I grew some balls to complement my amazing tatas.

So, in the wake of the Bobby Kennedy assassination, Don is watching the Democratic National Convention. Megan thinks no one will vote for Hubert Humphrey, and Don is skeptical that Nixon will win. Wrong horse, Don. Don's heading out to Cali and invites Megan along, but she can't go. Don and Megan seem a little closer in this episode, but we know it won't be long before he's led astray yet once more.

Back at the office, Ken Cosgrove's been let into double secret offices at GM. There's one GM exec who's giving them a hard time and tabling all their ideas due to a lack of ass kissing. Roger doesn't know his name. Jack Something. All the execs are named Jack. Pete offers to go to Detroit, but Ted says he'll go (and presumably fly himself). Don strolls in late and this commences a  spectacular convo about SCDPCGC being a bit of a mouthful for the clients. The clients don't know the official name of the firm, and neither does the firm itself, so they're all swimming in a sea of letters.

No one has observed the memo that requested specifically that all seven letters be used when answering the phone. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason and Shaw. Roger suggests that they all lose a letter, and Don thinks the abbreviation sounds like a stutter. Bert Cooper says he'll  take his name off the list, along with all of the deceased partners. Oh, Bert. We see you there. You're adorably grumpy. Don suggests they just get a bigger front door.

Cutler: Of course you like it. You're at the front. I'm at the end.

Ted: I'm at the end!

That's what she said!

And it's off to LA for Roger and Don to meet with Carnation, leaving Harry Hamlin to meet with Manischewitz. 

On the plane, Roger's annoyed with Don because Don's working on the Carnation Instant Breakfast account. They're execs, says Roger. They're working with rednecks and hayseeds and said rednecks and hayseeds will trust two gentlemen from the big city. Big New York Ad Men. 

Hey, there! Georgie Girl!

Over in creative's freeflowing workspace, Ginsberg and Stan are listening to a news report about Vietnam. Ginsberg is mad because Humphrey doesn't have a peace plan for the war. Cutler wants to know what work they've actually got done on the Manischewitz account and the answer to that question is zero. Zilch. Exactly. Nada. Ginsberg accuses Cutler of being glib about the lack of a peace plan because he's for the war, and Cutler points out that he served in the Air Force. Ginsberg gets ticked off and tells Cutler that Cutler disgusts him and then it devolves into yet another in-office shouting match, in which Ginsberg calls Cutler a fascist and a Nazi (not sure how that works), and Cutler burns Ginsberg by pointing out that Ginsberg is a hippie who cashes checks from Dow Chem. Ouch. it a bird? Is it a plane! It'''s OUR HERO, Troutshorts (nee Bob Benson). Troutshorts wants to know what this ruckus is about, and Cutler yells at Troutshorts. Poor Troutshorts. Cutler later approaches Troutshorts and asks him to accompany him on the presentation for Manischewitz. One small step for Troutshorts. One giant step for earnest possibly evil account men.

My biography, Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor, is available at fine booksellers nationwide.

In Ted's office, Cutler tells Ted he wants to fire some of the SCDP staff, namely Ginsberg. He thinks they should fire the the SCDP people while Draper and Sterling are in LA. Yeah. Because that will go over well. Ted tells Cutler that they can't fire Ginsberg; he's too good. Then Cutler storms out.

Remember Joan's friend Kate? The one who works for Avon? Well, Kate set Joan up on a date. Joan goes to lunch with Andy, an ostensibly divorced man who keeps talking about his wife. He's also the head of marketing for Avon. Andy asks Joan what he should look for in an agency, then it dawns on Joan that this is also a business lunch and she makes her move. Joan sells SCDP. She sells it hard. Andy asks Joan what her job is, and since she can't tell him it's head secretary, she tells him she's in charge of giving people what they want before they even ask for it. Then she pays for lunch. Sold!

Joan comes back from lunch and talks to Peggy. Peggy urges Joan to set a meeting, even though Don and Roger are out of town. Peggy's stoked. Peggy suggests that they take it to Ted, and Joan's concerned about getting kicked off the account. But Peggy urges Joan to ask to be the account man, and Joan sees her opportunity. 

Peggy approaches Ted and tells him the news, and Ted brings in Pete Campbell (and also makes him head of new business, which Pissy Pete doesn't want because, like, OMG he's twelve). Ted instructs Pete to set a meeting for the next day with Peggy, and unwittingly excludes Joan. Joan insists on coming to the lunch, and Pete insists that, under no uncertain circumstances, that this is how things are done. Joan's offended and walks away insulted. Pete, however, assures Joan that she'll get all the credit. Yeah. Right.

Don, Roger and Harry Crane pull up at their hotel in swinging 60s style. Don's grumpy because Roger kept talking on the plane, and Roger's grumpy that Don doesn't want to par-tay. Don's a Responsible Husband and Father now, Roger. Harry Crane, however, has been invited to a party in the Hollywood Hills with some movie and TV execs. I'm sure there's no way that could possibly end badly.

You folks want to see me give Slattery a wedgie? Hold on. This cracks him up when I do this.

On the teevee news,  protesters are being arrested and clubbed for demonstrating outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which was held at the Chicago Hilton. Megan on the phone with Don and expresses that she's upset, and Don tactfully reminds her that she can't vote. 

Peggy shows up the the lunch and Joan walks in, sans Pete, and tells Peggy that she didn't invite Pete. Joan tells Peggy that she can leave, but before she can, Andy arrives and Joan introduces them and sells Andy on Peggy.  Peggy starts babbling about her Avon lady and Joan takes charge of the meeting. Andy expresses his frustration with nagging sales, what with these working females and these darn hippies who don't wear make-up. Peggy asks Andy if he thinks that maybe his ad campaign might be intentionally old-fashioned,
and suggests that they have the Avon lady come to the office. Joan even comes up with a tag line, "There's no doorbell in an office." Peggy smiles politely, but sister knows she's been upstaged. 

Meanwhile at Carnation, Harry, Roger and Don are meeting with Mitt Romney's Zombie. Mitt Romney's Zombie is gleefully expressing his opinion that the Democrats are dead. Maybe not even just for now. MAYBE FOREVER. BWAHAHA.


In walks Jack, the head honcho at Carnation.Remember when Roger said they're all named Jack? THEY'RE ALL NAMED JACK. 

Jack is mad that they were laughing about the riots and how said riots handed the election to Nixon. Jack is offended and thought last night was disgusting. Because the protests lacked eight essential vitamins and minerals and were a delicious way to start your day? Because police were beating people who were exercising their constitutionally protected right to protest? No! Because of Those Damn Long-Haired Hippies! They shamed this country. Can Nixon fix that? Nixon's an opportunist. You know who's a patriot? Dutch. Reagan. That's who. Now let's talk about how our nasty ass processed chalky instant food product is part of this complete breakfast.

Peggy is PISSED at Joan. She tells Joan that, on no uncertain terms, Joan threw away her access to the Avon account. Joan feels like Peggy doesn't respect her, and Joan feels like Avon is hers. Joan and Peggy hash it out, with Peggy reminding Joan that she used to ridicule her when Peggy first started writing copy. Joan insults Peggy by insinuating that Peggy rode Don's coattails and didn't work hard enough on her own, and Peggy retorts that she never slept with Don. Joan takes that comment personally, and reminds Peggy that the only thing that matters now is who has a personal relationship with the client and that's Joan. 

Benson's in his office, honest to shit listening to a vinyl recording on how to be a good salesman, when Stan beckons him into his office. Ginsberg is having a full on panic attack and wants to bow out of the Manischewitz meeting. Troutshorts goes all motivational speaker on Ginsberg, but Ginsberg's convinced that he's part of the Dark Side. Troutshorts tries to convince Ginsberg that Manischewitz isn't a bad company; they're YOUR PEOPLE.  Then Ginsberg asks TS if TS is a homo. Yes, it's a great day for political correctness.

Roger is all dressed up in the latest Aristotle Onassis fashions. Our slick, cool cats, Don and Roger, are heading to the Hollywood Hills party. No, you're not hallucinating. They are, in fact, playing Harper Valley PTA. Things go pretty well until Roger runs into Jane's cousin,  Danny. Remember Danny? Danny worked for SCDP for a hot minute while Roger was married to Jane. He wasn't very good at advertising, but he's become a Hollywood director/producer in the mean time. Roger opens with his usual round of 12-year-old boy charm, and tells a string of short jokes that aren't even worthy of Cartman. Roger, you are a total square.

Don's talking to some hipster guy out near the pool who does jingles, and he's distracted by ladies in bikinis. He excuses himself and wanders into an ashram, where there are several stoned people worshiping at the ganja altar. This Bettyish blonde offers Don "a nipple" (not that kind of nipple, you pervs) and Don sits down and tokes up. 

Again, I want to remind people that there is no way that this could possibly go wrong.

Roger starts hitting on Danny's old lady, Lois, who is, of course, tripping on acid. Danny approaches and tells Lois it's time to leave, and Roger starts in with the smack talk, which ultimately ends in Danny punching Roger directly in the nutsack. See, it helps to be short.

Inside the party, Don's cornered the Bettyish blonde in a corner and he's baked. Yes, here we go again with Don cheating. Then Megan shows up. And she tells him she's totally okay with all this free love. At this point, we know Don's hallucinating because Megan would cut off his balls if she caught him with another woman. THC Delusion Megan leads Don through the party, where she reveals she is pregnant. WHAT? Then she morphs into the Vietnam soldier from the season premiere. Remember him? The one who got married on the beach. Anyway, he's real dead now. Then Don thinks he fell into the pool and drowned, but it turns out he just fell in the pool. And he is high. He is really, really high.

Make the most of the hemp seed! And sow it everywhere!

On the up side, Ted has great news! He kissed the right asses and things are a go and troublesome Jack is off the account. Troutshorts comes in and tells them that Manischewitz has put them in review because they haven't been happy with their work. Cutler was supposed to go to the presentation for Manischewitz, but he let Bob and Ginsberg take it. Cutler puts Troutshorts on the Chevy account without first consulting Ted, and Ted feels like Cutler is trying to split the firm in half. (Spoiler alert: he is). Cutler is nonplussed. 

Don's hung over and dying of TB on the flight back to New York. Roger gives Don some uncharacteristically sage advice, gleaned from his shrink. According to Roger's shrink, it's the business of our lives to know ourselves and love who we are. Will Don take his advice to heart or lapse back into a downward spiral of self-loathing? The voyeur in me hopes it is the latter.

MEANWHILE, Pete is royally pissed at Joan. He calls Joan into the conference room and rips into her. Pete's riled up because Avon sent over a box of samples to the girls and Andy left a note on the box about a "productive breakfast." 

I sent you to the store to get cake! 

Pete throws a temper tantrum (because he's a tween girl), and Joan tries to explain it away as confusion. This is such BS on Pete's part because you know he'd be the first to throw someone else under the bus and steal their client. Peggy bursts in and Joan has it out with Pete, with Pete accusing Joan of sleeping with Avon (literally) to gain an upper hand with the client and Joan says, "Because it's better than being screwed by you."

Pete storms out and brings in Ted, hoping that Ted will back him up. Ted comes in and scolds Joan and Pete kicks Peggy out of the meeting. Fortunately for Peggy, there's a one-sided window in Joan's office (with audio), so Peggy listens in on the convo. Pete continues to throw a fit, and tells Joan that she breached the fundamental rules of how the business works. Peggy hastily scribbles a note and sends Meredith in to deliver it in the conference room. Meredith reads out the fake message, which reads that Andrew Hayes from Avon is on the phone for her. Ted angrily orders Joan to go take the call and Pete continues to be pissy. Ted tells Pete he needs to suck it up. Joanie thanks Peggy for saving her ass, and Peggy tells Joan to hope that Andy really calls.

Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites.

Pete's waiting for Don and Roger when they arrive, and then the partners meet in Don's office. Roger's nonplussed about the Manischewitz account because he's been expecting it, so he effectively asked Cutler to cover an account he was already pretty certain they were going to lose. On a happier note, they've decided on a name, and they're dropping all the partners except Roger and Bert from the firm's name. Heretofore, they will be known as Sterling, Cooper & Partners. Pete tries to warn Don that there's all kinds of mutiny and shenanigans a-happening, and Don tells Pete that if he doesn't like it, then he should get out of the business. 

Pete wanders aimlessly into creative. One thinks he's going to go all Lane Pryce on us all, but Pete may be too ineffectual to actually kill himself. He instead just steals a joint from Stan. 

Only three more episodes this season. 


Maggie Cats said...

First, I love all the old ads that you find for your recaps. Awesome.

Second, Peggy and Joan's relationship is one of the most fascinating on the show. Joan used to be so derisive and cutting of Peggy, but now they have a kind of friendship that lets them do some serious truth telling. Especially since there are some similarities to their current positions, but also big differences as to how they arrived.

I find the women on Mad Men so much more interesting than the men. Just saying.

Clovis said...

Completely agreed about the female characters being more interesting than the male ones. It's just so much more interesting to watch the characters that are struggling than the ones who are generally resting on the laurels of their gender and The Way Things Are. And I say that as a dude.

One thing that I really liked about this episode (and that I sort of disagree with Arsenic Pie on) was the way Joan handled the Avon account. Because the thing is, Pete's kinda right, he's just such an insufferable dick about it. Joan doesn't really have the experience to handle an account, as evidenced by her shutting down Peggy's well-practice emotional pitch to the client and even not being able to stick up for her actions in front of the other partners. She could have MASSIVELY bungled a major account for the company, but the thing is she's so ballsy and competent generally that she recognized that this was probably the only shot she was ever going to get at being more than the glorified secretary and so she took it, even without all the tools that she probably should have had. That kind of tension is what makes her story so good.

Also, total sidebar, Danny Strong is my favorite little person actor who is not actually a Little Person. Dude is seriously short and is always playing variations on the wubbie character, so I kind of love it when he gets to be badass. Also, Danny Strong in life is laughing all the way to the bank with his multiple Oscars for screenwriting. Good on you, little guy!

Arsenic Pie said...

Right, Squeaky Pete has a point, but you know he'd be the first in line to throw someone under the bus to get a client. Joan knows how things work around there well enough to know that if she wanted to have the lead on this account, she'd have to do something underhanded to make that happen. She knows they would not ever let her be the lead contact person on a client with the status of Avon. I feel like she knew she could rely on her own charm and chutzpah to reel him in. Pete's usually the one cutting people out of deals and it's nice to see the tables turned on him.

I felt like Peggy was more bewildered by what was going on than necessarily being shut down by Joan. Joan just took that and ran with it, and you know she's got something to prove to Peggy because she thinks Peggy doesn't respect her. Peggy moved up and Joan stayed in essentially the same spot.

So many layers. So much intrigue. I want MOAR.

Glad you like the vintage ads, Maggie. I think they're adorable, too. I also agree the female characters are more interesting than the male ones. I do still wish, though, that we could get more Betty and less Megan.

Maggie Cats said...

It seems to me Pete is the only person from the original crew who has a sense that the new guys might be up to something. Unfortunately, as the end of this episode indicated, he's kind of given up.

I knew Harry Hamlin was up to no good. Haven't these people ever seen Veronica Mars???

Oh, wait.