Because of and despite the events of last time, Timmy Ketchup is meeting seriously with SCDP, although they're having to do so in Pete's TP-less apartment for the moment. Timmy Ketchup proposes that Don do some spec work for him and guarantees that if he likes it, Raymond will fall in line; if not, he'll never have to know. Don's still full of misgivings, of course, to the point that the only other person he allows Pete to bring in is Stan. The pitch in a hotel room goes well enough -- but when the SCDP team exits, they run into Chaough and Peggy, there to take their turn. Don listens at the door to Peggy's presentation, and it seems like she nails it, but Chaough and Peggy catch up to the SCDP boys at the corner bar and inform them that Ketchup bought a bigger agency's pitch in the room. It gets worse when Ken storms in having gotten an earful from Raymond containing the words "You're fired," and much like with Mohawk and American Airlines back in Season Two, by going after the huge bird in the bush, they lost the one that was feeding their hand. Hey, I'm not the one who has to sell copy. Also, Stan magnificently flips Peggy off and although I don't want him to stay mad at her, that was richly deserved.
Dawn gets a storyline that involves her, essentially, having no life and not wanting to rock the boat at SCDP. Unfortunately, she also gets in trouble for aiding and abetting Scarlett sneaking out of work. After Joan figures this out, Dawn comes in to see her and apologizes, and Joan replies by giving her watch over the time cards and supply closet. She does so in a hard-as-nails fashion, but it seems to me like if Joan's going to bond with any other woman there, it's likely to be Dawn.
Joan's old friend Kate, who we haven't met before, takes Joan out for a night of proto-cougaring, and although Joan's slower to get into it than Kate, neither does she refuse to make a young man's… well, life. Kate then confesses she wishes she had what Joan had, business-wise, and although Joan protests about how the men at work treat her, Kate tells her the way she sees it, Joan has everything in front of her for the taking.
Ken complains about his Dow Chemical father-in-law Ray Wise, prompting Harry to suggest a meeting about their Napalm image problems. They pitch Ray Wise on sponsoring a Joe Namath music special ("Broadway Joe on Broadway"), and Ed eats it up. Meanwhile, as I mentioned, Scarlett enlists Dawn's help in ducking out of work for a stint, and it takes Joan all of five minutes to sniff this out and can Scarlett. Harry, however, intercedes effectively, and then barges into the partners' meeting and barks at everyone about not yet being a partner, dragging Joan's honor through the mud in a thinly veiled way in the process. Even though the partners give him a commission on the Dow special that exceeds his yearly salary, he keeps on about the other thing, and Roger and Bertram basically agree that they'd rather kill each other and/or themselves before they dilute their ownership.
Megan has to do a love scene on TV, and tells Don in advance on the advice of a more seasoned co-star. She and her husband -- the head writer on the show, also known as Ted McGinley -- then take Megan and Don out before inviting them back for some pot and, well, swinging, and Don and Megan almost climb over each other in getting the hell out of there. They laugh about it in the cab home, but less amusing is when Don chooses the day of Megan's initial love scene for his first set visit, which leads to a nasty fight that sends Don running straight over to Sylvia's. Sylvia tells Don she prays for him to find peace, but he symbolically nixes that idea, so sure, let's all feel sorry about yet another Don Draper existential crisis. With all the sex he has, I wonder from a blood-flow point of view how he can even think about such things -- especially with the anatomy we all know he has.
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Before I start, a reader pointed out to me that Trudy told Pete she won't be "a failure" in response to Pete asking her if she wanted a divorce, which he took to mean "no." I agree, but I wonder if, once tempers cool, she'll realize just how much work keeping up the necessary appearances will be. Of course, if she's only waiting until she's got something else going to dump her cheating husband, I doubt she'll have to wait long. Anyway, since Trudy's not even in this episode, let's forestall any further discussion...
...and get right into Pete, standing at the bar in his New York pad fixing a drink, as he asks an unknown presence if he or she hasn't yet told anyone "that you're looking to change your life." Maybe it's the hideous cheap stained translucent plastic in the foreground, but this initial camera push-in seems cheap, especially combined with the misleading dialogue. The place is tiny; there's no need to hide around corners for a reveal that's coming in two seconds anyway. It feels staged for a scenes-to-come appearance, which as everyone knows are the most irritating part of this show, and it makes me miss the often-thematic opening close-ups on which the show used to rely.
Anyway, Timmy Ketchup tells Pete and Don that he's looking for "an exploratory mission," but Pete brings up the issue of Raymond, although he does pretty much imply that Don's the only one who's concerned here, which is weird; as I mentioned in the recaplet, of course Don showed with Mohawk Air that he's more client-loyal than the rest of them (when he's not firing clients, that is), but it strikes me that losing Beans, a national account, would be a much bigger relative blow to SCDP than losing Mohawk was to the more established SC, so maybe Don's not the only one who should be treating this seriously. Timmy replies by talking about his account's monetary value and prestige, and after Pete, whose hairline actually seems to be receding by the episode, assures Timmy that Don knows all of that, Timmy assures Don that if he does "the work" (a spec pitch, it seems) and Timmy likes it, he guarantees that Raymond will fall in line. I'm sure Don doesn't buy that, but I suppose he can't very well take Timmy through the details of just how much Raymond despises him.
Timmy goes on that if he doesn't like the pitch, Raymond never needs to know, but Don isn't quite satisfied: "I don't know if that solves my problem." His delivery suggests that his "problem" may be linked to the fact that he likes Timmy almost as much as Raymond, but Timmy offers to keep things as clandestine as possible as he tells them they can even have the pitch at Pete's place. Pete, however, assures him that they'll get a hotel -- wouldn't want to interrupt the bimbo foot traffic now that he's somewhat officially off the chain -- and then Timmy excuses himself, saying he's supposed to be meeting someone, "and she likes me to wait for her." I might sense some mannered contempt there, but I'm going to have enough sexism to deal with in this episode without actively looking for it. Timmy tells them to take their time, adding that he doesn't need much of an excuse to come to Manhattan.