Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Joe R: A | 2 USERS: D+
The Winner of the Ham Battle is You

At SCDP, Harry pops into Joan's office (Joan's! Office!), and she welcomes him back from his trip to L.A. with the usual supportive enthusiasm. Harry's forehead, it should be noted, is sunburned to shit, because he can't even stand around in the sunshine without fucking it up. I used to really like Harry, but fucking over Joan the way he did kind of turned the tide on that one. Anyway, Joan smokes a cigarette and looks glamorous and says she would love to have a vacation. Harry gets defensive and is like, "Um, I was working very hard." He also asks if somebody's been using his office. Joan, unfazed by his shittiness: "Mr. Sterling doesn't have a television." HA! Excellent. He has Joan set up a meeting with the partners, which she dutifully marks down while Joey interrupts about something or another. Harry looks at Joan expectantly and asks if she wants to know what the meeting is for. Joan's disinterest could blast a hole in the Time Life building, but Harry tells her anyway: He sold the jai-alai special to ABC. He douchily tells Joan to fetch him a cup of coffee and a grapefruit juice and then doubled back to admonish her: "This is my news." Joan breezily assures him, "I won't even tell people after it's aired." Harry skips away, too dull to know how sharp that reply really was.

Don arrives, and Roger calls him over to speak. He dismisses Lane, who gives Don a "good morning" that is either icy or British, and I'm leaning towards the former. Roger hands Don the copy of Ad Age, and it's not good. The headline ("A Man From a Town With No Name") sounds John Wayne-ish enough, but Roger reads out the more damning excerpts: "'Donald Draper, or Don as he is known, perhaps in an attempt to appear humble, is a handsome cipher.'" Roger also notes that the article says he's married. "I didn't tell him that," Don grouses. "Didn't this guy check any facts?" "You didn't give him any facts," Roger retorts. "He had to make assumptions." Don contends that his job is to write ads, not go around bragging about himself. "Who knows who you are?" Roger asks, again giving us an existential wink. He says this was supposed to be a publicity grab for the agency. "This is a missed opportunity," he sums up. "You turned all the sizzle from Glo-Coat into a wet fart. Plus, you sound like a prick." You know, one of these days, the rest of the cast is going to go on strike until they all get lines as fun as John Slattery gets.

Don is eager to brush it off and forget about it, and even Roger moves on to joshing about ol' One-Leg. He also says Jane's friend liked him quite a bit, even if he was a bit grabby in the car. "Maybe you should've tried some of that on Peg-Leg Pete?" Don again brushes it off. "I thought you were being modest," Roger levels with him. "He didn't. I'm sorry, but after the year you've had, it's just not appropriate." Looks like Dick Whitman has left the era of disappearing into a life and entered the era of self-promotion.

In Pete's office, Peggy shows up to talk Sugarberry. "Is Joey coming?" Pete asks. "I'm here," Joey announces, then emerges from around the corner." I love that Joey's already found a niche. He's Guy Who Appears, As If From Nowhere. (He doubles as Guy Who Goes Away Just As Swiftly.) Anyway, Pete is in his glory as he recounts the Sugarberry exec's reaction to the (as far as he knows) spontaneous supermarket brawl. At first, they worried about a lawsuit, but then they called back. "He's sorry someone got hurt," Pete says, lapsing into impersonation, "but more people will taste their ham now ... and they'll love it!" Much like Pete and Trudy's Charleston exhibition last season, I find it inexplicably delightful when Pete is exhibiting this much glee. Joey wonders how they can put something like this in their book. "You can't," Peggy no-nonsenses. "You can't even charge for it." But! They can use this as impetus to get Sugarberry to increase their media buy. And then, as Peggy says, they use the publicity to their advantage. "The winner of the ham battle is you," Peggy spitballs, coining what could easily be my favorite unused tagline of all time.

Pete geeks out over Lane's reaction to an increased Sugarberry buy, but Peggy's still working something out: "Our hams are worth fighting for." She envisions a cartoon pilgrim scuffling with an Indian. Pete wonders where a great idea like that was weeks ago -- "it's good on its own." Peggy says a slogan's nothing compared to a good idea. Peggy sends Joey off to sketch up an idea, and he hops to it gladly (Just As Swiftly!). Pete calls to Clara to get the Sugarberry exec on the phone. He asks Peggy to stay for the call -- another sign of growth for Pete and progress for Peggy -- but first, Clara says she's got Horace Cook Jr. on the line. And if that name didn't ring a bell for you, Pete's gregarious phone greeting of "Ho-Ho! How was Tijuana" sure will. Pete waves Peggy off. She has gained level footing in the new firm, but Ho-Ho still represents Pete's boys' club.

In SCDP's table-less conference room, the partners (plus Harry, it being his meeting and all) discuss the pros and (mostly) cons of Don's Ad Age profile. Harry tries to bright-side that he wouldn't mind being described this way, but Lane's all over him: "You're a salesman. You don't want to be known as 'mysterious.'" Bert wants no further discussion, but Pete bursts in, followed by Joan. Ho-Ho's taking his jai-alai and going (ho-)home. Harry is particularly put out, as you might expect, having just sold jai-alai to ABC and all. Pete informs the group that Ho-Ho was angry that Don didn't mention them in the article. "I didn't mention anyone," Don says, leaping to his own defense. "That's the reporter's job." At which point everyone kind of groans and looks away. Even Harry's got his head on his hand. Let me repeat: Harry Crane can't believe how dumb what Don just said was. Look, I love Don Draper as much as anyone, but I have to admit, it's kind of awesome to see him hoisted by his own petard like this. "Spectacular," Bert spits. "What the hell is Ho-Ho doing reading Ad Age," asks Roger, once again getting the best line. Pete says Ho-Ho caught wind about how they all laugh at him behind his back (Harry: "I don't!"). "He hung up on me," Pete says. "I think he was crying." Don, holding on with both hands, tries to brush this one off too, saying there wasn't much juice left in Ho-Ho anyway. Lane says that may be so, but without jai-alai, it leaves Lucky Strike as 71% of their business. "It's an untenably insecure position." Leave it to the Brit to make imminent financial collapse sound classy. Don's out of ideas/excuses, so (prepare for world to flip upside down) Pete jumps in with a plan, telling Harry to schedule Ho-Ho for a meeting, pretending he's heard none of this. The idea being that word of the ABC deal will be enough to rope him back in. Harry: "I wish we really had a second floor so I could jump off it."

After Harry stomps off, Don kicks a chair in frustration. Bert informs him they're going to schedule him for a second interview, this time with the Wall Street Journal. Don is at a loss as to what he'll do differently. "I told him the truth," he says, halfway to pleading. "Who gives a crap what I say anyway? My work speaks for me." You guys, I think Don's real even on Oprah. Bert puts him in his place, as only he can do: "Turning creative success into business is your work. And you've failed." Last time, I promise, but really sit back and appreciate just how many characters have been re-energized by the move to the new firm. Bert's never been this animated about anything, and that includes Ayn Rand. Roger's got the skip in his step again. Pete's the ultimate team player. Peggy's more assured than ever. Joan's got her own office. They may be struggling to stay afloat, but I'd say being the "scrappy upstart" agrees with them. Well, not Don, obviously. And Lane honestly looks like he's got all the ulcers. But otherwise! Anyway, the partners leave Don to marinate in his failure. At least he's got Joan, who tells him sweetl

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