Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A+ | 2 USERS: A+
Are You Gonna Drop The Bomb Or Not?

Betty gets home from riding and finds an envelope waiting for her, which Carla tells her is from Don. She opens it: "Dear Betty: I'm sitting in the Roosevelt, looking at the backs of Bobby and Sally's heads as they watch TV. I'm not letting them change the channel, because watching the news makes me sick, and they can see it. I think about you, and how I behaved, and my regret. I know it's my fault you are not here right now. I understand why you feel it's better to go on without me, and I know that you won't be alone for very long. But without you, I'll be alone forever. I love you. Don." The threat of the end of days bringing on confession and the hope of absolution -- Father Gill may have brought it up to Peggy, but she's not the only one who heard it. Betty's face looks like it's being pulled in several directions at once... we cross-fade to the meeting between the SC and PPL brass. Powell: "Now that we've done haggling over the dowry, it's time to slip into the tent and spend a night with the bride." Everyone giggles like that wasn't a suggestion that they immediately have an orgy on the conference table, and then Bertram asks what the new management structure is going to look like. Powell announces that, given their past working relationship and his familiarity with both companies, Duck will be President of SC. Now, I don't really blame Duck for making this happen for himself -- he put the deal together, at risk to himself, and there is a certain logic to what Powell said on top of that. The problem? You're just about to find out, because Powell asks Duck for his vision for the company, and I'm not sure clear vision was his strength even before he started hitting the sauce again. Duck overplays the idea that he's "unprepared" before saying that he'd like to bring the company into financial maturity, and looks Don's way as he says that while good Creative is important, it can't be running the show. He goes on that their business is about buying time and space, and that means television -- "the bigger we are, the cheaper we can get it." Bertram, frankly appalled, notes that he didn't hear the word "client" once, but Duck digs himself deeper by condescendingly replying that when the economy's good, people buy things, and when it's not, they don't. "There's no reason for us to be tied to Creative's fantasies of persuasion." This speech is a little confusing, frankly -- it almost sounds like he's saying advertising doesn't work. But he can't really be saying that, right? I mean, it's fine to think they can put more focus on what Harry does -- strategically consulting with companies and selling them time that both sides feel will best accomplish the company's goals -- but without pushing the clients on a strong Creative team to design those ads, wouldn't they go somewhere they can get everything done at once? In other words, where's the value added by SC? Is it merely on competitive pricing? Obviously, he still intends to have a Creative team, but it sounds like it's going to be so deemphasized that I wonder if it would be any kind of selling point for the clients. That's not a criticism of the writing, by the way -- I like that Duck comes off through this whole scene as cloudy-thinking at best and petulant and vindictive at worst, because it makes his longtime battle to stay sober much more poignant, and the loss of that battle tragic. It's easy to overlook Duck in this spectacular season, but I think Mark Moses has done some terrific work and I'll be sorry to see him go, if, as seems likely, Duck trades Sterling Cooper in for Skid Row next season. (Actually, even in the worst-case scenario I'd bet he gets to keep his finder's fee, close enough to a hundred grand, so I can't feel too sorry for him. That's a lot of Tanqueray.)

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Mad Men




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