After the last two high-concept, low-quality episodes, we thankfully get an offering involving a lot of romantic relationships in crisis where the director allows the story to unfold. Here's what happens:
Peggy is feeling pressure to pick -- ad-concept-wise -- between Don and Ted; this leads to tension between Ted and Peggy in the wake of The Kiss, and Ted confesses he's in love with her but doesn't want to do anything about it. Later, Abe gets stabbed in the neighborhood, prompting Peggy to express her desire to sell the new apartment. When someone throws a rock through their window, Abe agrees to sell the place, but an on-alert Peggy ends up stabbing Abe (I'll explain in the full recap), and that's enough of a catalyst to break them up. Peggy then tells Ted about it and he's like, that's too badâ€¦ let's get to work! Rude, Ted. Rude.
Pete meets with Duck, who's now a headhunter, and Duck counsels him to get his family life together in order to be more marketable. Pete goes to Joan for advice, and Joan bonds with him over mother issues. Benson and some shorts of very questionable sexuality go to the beach with Joan, and when she mentions Pete's issues, Benson comes to Pete and offers him the name of a nurse for his mother. He doesn't model the shorts for Pete yet, but we've got a few episodes to go.
Megan is playing two roles on her show now, and she gets crap about not drawing enough distinction between the two characters. Under the guise of giving her advice, Arlene comes by and tries a kiss. Although Megan rebuffs her, it doesn't become A Thing. However, Megan ends up telling Don that he's never around for her, and she doesn't know what to do about it but she's tired of pretending things are okay. Who isn't?
Betty has pretty much lost ALL the weight, but as a result, she's getting propositioned by political jerks and kind of enjoying it. Henry gets super-jealous, but also pretty turned on about it. Don then runs into Betty at a gas station, as they're both going to visit Bobby at camp, and with Henry not coming up until the next day, he and Betty end up sharing some easy reminiscing about when they were in love, and just like that -- in an out-of-town setting -- they have a physical encounter. However, even though they both enjoy it, Betty tells him how she knows she can't hold his attention forever. Don confesses that sex doesn't create a real bond for him, and Betty in turn tells him she's learned that loving Don isn't the way to get his attention. The dialogue is a bit on-the-nose, and God knows there's no reason to think Don will learn anything from this, but it's a character moment that rings true, so we'll see if it hopefully means something.
In the conference room, Don and Ted are arguing about the best strategic points to emphasize in regard to Fleischmann's, with Ted wanting to focus on its premiere status among margarines and Don being of the opinion that they have to fight the notion that even good margarine is high-quality shit compared to butter. Pete chimes in that even if Fleischmann's is the most expensive margarine, the price difference -- while significant on a percentage basis -- is still only pennies. But the low price does mean that margarine has a seventy percent market share over butter. He wraps up by saying that "seeing as I have the ear of the client," his recommendation is to emphasize taste. When Don calls to a passing Peggy, Pete wants to make sure that Don doesn't miss the fact that he just agreed with him, but Don's not satisfied with that; he has to call Peggy in to try to get someone whose opinion Ted cares about to take Don's side. Being presented with a hypothetical (?) margarine-purchase scenario, she unwittingly blows up Ted's spot by saying she'd buy the cheaper one, but when he's like, so you don't think the one that's more expensive might taste better, she backs off and tells them both their approaches sound good.
Neither Ted nor Don will let that stand, but it seems likely to me that she's holding back her opinion because she agrees with Don, so Ted eventually backs down and says they'll go with Don's approach. Don, however, isn't going to be content with "I'll let you have this one" when he wants to hear "I was wrong" or "You're a genius," not to mention the fact that he wanted Peggy to openly agree with him, so he offhandedly says no, he's not even going to be at the meeting, so Ted should do "whatever you're most comfortable with." I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that Peggy is about as enamored of this ongoing pissing match between her two bosses as she is of her new neighborhood. As they leave the room, she and Don exchange a disgusted look before heading in opposite directions. Ted -- no fan of how that went either -- follows them out, whereupon Pete berates Harry for only having said about two words so far this scene. Harry replies that he's not dumb enough to get caught in the middle of whatever that just was. "You suddenly dumber than Peggy?" Hee. Pete condescendingly snits that Harry is content in silence, but Harry tells him that to the outside world, the merged company is like the Yankees in their Murderers' Row years, and if Pete wants an ego boost, he should check in with a headhunter. Pete wonders if Harry's leaving, but Harry tells him no -- it's just nice to know he's in demand. A few weeks ago, I was involved in a Twitter discussion in which the participants imagined Mad Men set to cartoon sound effects, and my buddy Daniel offered, "Pizzicato violins every time weaselly Pete is up to something." If only that were a reality, because once Harry leaves, Pete's face is practically begging for it.