This is the most underwhelmed I've felt on first viewing in quite some time, I have to admit. Okay. Harry drags Pete to a lunch with Ken, and when Harry gets an important phone call, Ken and Pete get to chat and fight and then bond, and it's pretty cute how much they obviously miss each other. Meanwhile, Pond's has a wild hair about Clearasil being a conflict for them, and since Pond's is bigger, Clearasil has to go, despite the toll Pete says it will have on his personal relationship with his father-in-law. When Pete takes his father-in-law out to tell him what's up, however, he's the one that gets some surprising news -- Trudy is finally pregnant, and what's just as surprising is that he's actually pretty happy about it. When Trudy's parents come over the next night to celebrate, though, Pete tries to get her dad's big business -- Vicks Chemical -- and succeeds, kicking Clearasil over to Ken in the process. Also, the news of Trudy's pregnancy causes Peggy literally to bang her head against her desk, and also to give Pete long cinematic stares of desire. One of those I could have done without.
Also on the subject of Pond's, SCDP conducts a focus group for the product, led by Dr. Miller and in view of Don, Freddy and Peggy. It devolves into a sob-fest about the girls' esteem issues when it comes to men, and when Allison completely bails from the session, Peggy goes to talk to her and learns the truth about her hookup with Don; unfortunately, Allison assumes that she and Peggy have a shared experience on that front, to which Peggy takes predictable umbrage. Later, Allison gets Don alone and tells him off for not acknowledging what happened between them and then quits, freaking out on him most deservedly in the process, and I will miss her but this was overdue. Joan, seemingly wise to the issue, gets Don a new secretary who's older than Methuselah, and if that doesn't solve the problem, he's maybe beyond help. Some other stuff happened, but frankly, it was pretty uninspired, so let's just save it for the full recap.
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I see John Slattery directed this episode, and it was his first time behind the camera. Interesting.
Don and Roger, with Allison listening in, are on a conference call with Lee Garner (Jr., I assume, although it isn't specifically stated), and Garner is apparently rather worried about some new restrictions on their advertising. Don's doing what he can to mollify the client by chain-smoking, but this is the sort of thing that would be more effective in person. He then puts the receiver down to get a drink, and when he sees the bottle he wants is empty, he asks Allison why that is. Allison: "Because you drank it all." Ordinarily, I'd consider that a bit out of line for a secretary, but since she probably put that bottle out like, yesterday, I'm going to allow it. He goes for something else, leaving Roger to take up the Client Whispering for a bit, and then Dr. Miller and Peggy enter to discuss an upcoming focus group for Pond's. Before Dr. Miller can get more than a few words out, though, Allison informs Don that Garner said his name, so he tries to soothe Garner again before covering the mouthpiece and distractedly telling Peggy to write up an idea she had as a hypothesis for the focus group, that being, as she tells us, that women go through the ritual of applying Pond's and look in the mirror for 20 minutes feeling good and not vain. So, vanity is in the eye of the beholder, then. Don gives the idea a literal thumbs-up and Dr. Miller compliments it as well, and after Dr. Miller gets Don's permission to grab some of the 18-to-25 girls from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for the focus group, he dismisses them. But Pete and Pryce show up at that moment, and also, Don opens an envelope to find an old Polaroid of him and Anna with a note from her (dated February 19th) that reads "Stephanie doesn't think we look old." Well, glad to know she's still alive, but would she really send this to the office? Seems a little contrived and only serving to make a fairly redundant point with Allison.
Anyway, noting what's going on, Pete asks why he wasn't told about the Lucky Strike call, and Roger says he should thank him: "I saved you an ass-ache." Despite the setup, I think I've made enough jokes about Lee Garner, Jr., so I'll opt to keep moving here. Roger steps out of the office to break some news to Pete -- Cal Rutledge, the somewhat-reformed boozehound from Chesebrough-Ponds, has an issue -- he feels Clearasil is too close to Pond's for comfort, and as such wants them to drop the former. Pete points out that "pimple cream and cold cream" are fairly far apart, but Roger tells him their view doesn't matter, and Pryce chimes in that Pond's is worth a significant amount more to them. Somewhat desperately, Pete appeals to Roger, saying Pryce as a bean counter won't understand, but he had to go to great lengths just to get his father-in-law to bring Clearasil along to SCDP. Roger, however, is of the opinion that Pete's been good to them, sales-wise, so there won't be any cause for resentment. "Throw yourself on the grenade. Protect the agency -- you're a partner now." He slaps Pete on the arm for emphasis, and then Pryce, after asking Pete to do it that evening if he can, hilariously slaps Pete on his other arm. Pete just stares into space, no doubt thinking, "Didn't I just hear something about being saved from an ass-ache?"