Mad Men

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Couch Baron: A- | 3 USERS: A-
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There's That Past, Informing the Present Again
s bearing a bouquet of chrysanthemums and cultural instructions, namely that they shouldn't criticize the Japanese or give them advice. Wow, that is some bizarre, inaccessible stuff there, Pete. Don is more interested in how CGC is involved and how Pete didn't know that, but Pete tells him it's just them, JWT, and CGC before going to get rid of the flowers. "Apparently they symbolize death." He moans about all the conflicting information he's getting, as if the episode title wasn't a clue to expect it and all.

Cut to Bertram and the elder statesman of the Japanese contingent ("Ichiro Kamura") bowing to each other as Don, Pete, and two Honda underlings stand at attention. Don then takes them on a tour, with the youngest of the Japanese men ("Takahashi") acting as translator. When they reach what looks like the break room to me but what Don calls the "Creative lounge," Pete dorkily tells them that he can't tell them how "it" happens, "but it does happen here." The interpreter, understandably enough, doesn't know how to turn that bullshit into Japanese, so when Pete orders him to tell them something, he offers, "I don't know what this room is for." Heh. Joan then appears and, after being introduced, says she hopes no one has taken them to Benihana, and the elder statesman doesn't wait for the translation: "David. Ogilvy." Ha! I guess his book didn't cover everything. Joan assures them she has a good list of steakhouses, but the middle-in-age man ("Saito") is focused on something else: "How does she not fall over?" Misogynistic, yes, but in his defense I will say she's looking extremely rackalicious today, even for her. Joan says they're not very subtle, and Takahashi, looking straight at the way her bazooms are accentuated by her jewelry and sweater, agrees: "No. They are not." HA!

Later, the group is in the conference room, and Kamura is giving his broken English a try in saying that they're looking forward to SCDP's presentation, and they definitely are interested in more drivers for their motorcycles. Bertram then directs Pete to give out some gifts to their guests, and Pete gives the protocol the old college try but still manages to make something of a mess of it. Still, everything has gone well enough until Roger enters in a cloud of righteous anger, both at the meeting having happened and at the attempted deception -- Pete sent him on a long lunch with a client that apparently was not quite long enough. Roger references the H-bomb attacks of World War II, which is an awfully quick way to go too far, but the two elder guys seem not to get it, and the interpreter stays wisely silent, instead saying the meeting's not quite done, as they have yet to present their rules. Roger: "So now you're dictating terms." Wow. John Slattery is really acting the hell out of this episode, showing us the depths of the usually uncomplicated Roger in stark relief, but it is difficult to watch, and the horrified look on Bertram's face agrees with me. The language barrier still seems to be working in SCDP's favor, though, as Don warily introduces Roger; the elder statesman then explains that all the firms will be given three thousand dollars for a "competitive presentation," and the interpreter then informs them there will be conditions of contest. Roger, however, pipes up that they want it to be "unconditional," and despite Bertram's efforts to shut him up, he goes off, telling them that they don't want any of their "Jap crap" before bidding them sayonara and stalking out. Bertram tries to apologize, and Pete phonies up an excuse for Roger's behavior, but the damage is clearly done even as the Saito instructs Takahashi to inform their hosts that they look forward to SCDP's presentation. They stand for a round of awkward bows, and then we get a close-up on war veteran Don's rather conflicted-looking face...

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