Mad Men
The Quality Of Mercy

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A- | 7 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
…Is Sometimes Strained

...which later prompts Benson, presumably sometime later, to complain to "Manolo" via the telephone how Pete is an "hijo de puta." When "Manolo" seemingly and predictably sticks up for Dot, Benson tells him Pete is screwing with his future and maybe it's the subject matter, but so far all evidence points to Benson losing that goony smile when he slips into Spanish.

Don returns from the rest room to see Ted's secretary Moira watching what's going on in the conference room with obvious concern, as Ted and Peggy are once again acting like they're on a photo shoot for the cover of Puppy Love magazine as Joan observes with a deliciously bored look on her face. Don asks Moira what's going on, and Moira replies without amusement, "Someone's having a good time." Since Ted was so kind as to bring up things that look bad earlier, it's hard to blame Don for heading toward the problem, so he enters, but not before we get a shot of Joan finding the whole thing even more tiresome. I know I sometimes make fun of principal actors getting paid for like one page of work, but if this is all we get of Joan this episode I'd still be fully satisfied. Turns out Peggy and Ted are giggling over headshots of possible people for the ad. Peggy tries to explain what they're finding so funny, which as a general rule is only going to bore the onlookers who aren't in love with each other even more. Don, carefully holding himself in check (although he and Joan do exchange a fractional eyebrow-raise, which is a good sign for them), asks them to take him through the ad and Peggy starts to explain it, but Ted is like, no, let's show him! Generally, I love the scenes involving the team acting out commercials, but I'd be wary of this one if Ted didn't pull Joan into it.

The ad is supposed to be shot from the baby's POV, which is the spot occupied by Don and Ted explains that the baby's supposed to be all "Wah! Wah!" and tells Don to do that. Don, without any change to his typical look of skepticism and disdain: "WAH! WAH! WAH!" Even Joan cracks up at that one. Ted goes through the pitch: it's basically a bunch of crazy people offering home remedies to the sick baby (although Joan's delivery of "How about a bowl a chicken soup" as a "Jewish lady" is pretty great) until one of them takes a picture. The white flash then dissolves to a radiant young mother -- Ted touches Peggy's waist to gently push her forward, which is lost on Don not at all -- and she holds out the aspirin with the VO line, "You don't need anyone's help but St. Joseph's." Don tells them that usually an ad like this depends on knowledge of the movie, but he thinks this stands on its own and it's not that I don't agree, but I am suspicious of him already planning his angle based on how determinedly he's not outwardly acknowledging the dynamic between Ted and Peggy. Don does note that the ad calls for a lot of people, but Peggy thinks they're necessary for the viewer to feel the sense of conspiracy, so Don asks if he should come to casting. Ted tells him sure, but even he is not going to watch, as it was all Peggy's idea. He looks lovingly her way and she smiles beatifically in response, and I think even Don doesn't know what to say to that, so it's good that Joan pipes up that they'll be late if they don't go.

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