Technically Mad Men is such a complex show that it can't possibly be understood without seeing and analyzing every single episode. But sometimes it can all be summed up in a few seconds of Jon Hamm making a ridiculous face. This is one of those times:
This Vine, of course, comes from the moment in the board room when Ted and Peggy convince Don to help them play act their big, Rosemary's Baby-inspired commercial idea-- and, kind of shockingly, Don Draper plays along. Of course, this isn't the last time that Don will act like a baby in that very room. Later on, when they're meeting with the St. Joseph's rep, Don manages to talk the client into paying more for the ad, but only after making Ted and Peggy squirm horribly, imagining he'll reveal to the client all the heavy-duty flirting the two have been doing. The moment is set up to be a classic Draper miracle, the hard sell that convinces the client once and for all. Then for a moment we think he's completely lost it, suggesting Peggy and Ted's romantic relationship (for all he knows, they've actually had more than one awkward kiss) only to blow the whole thing up. When he saves them and himself with the Frank Gleason lie, he's technically done them all a favor, but he's also acted out like a baby who's concerned mom and dad are paying more attention to each other than to him.
Need one more bit of proof that the baby Vine really does tie the whole episode together? How about the final shot of the episode-- Don curled up on his office couch in the fetal position.
For more on last night's fascinating Mad Men you can also check out our full recap. But before you go, indulge me on some Bob Benson speculation (which seems to be the Internet's favorite activity). We learned last night that Bob is essentially Don Draper redux, a poor kid who's fabricated a blue blood background and who does everything in his power to cover up his tracks, including skipping town the moment someone sniffs out the lies. But he's also not as good at all these lies as Don, who at least had a real resume under his assumed name. Bob's story is easily unraveled by Duck (oh, Duck, I still can't believe you're back), and Bob also takes the insane risk of making a move on Pete, something that careful, emotionless Don would never do if he were gay.
Then, last night, we get two different shots in Bob's office, with a prominently displayed map of Michigan on the wall. After Duck uncovered that Bob was in fact from West Virginia, possibly even the child of two siblings, the Michigan map seemed just like another piece of the Bob Benson facade. But why the hell would Bob actively try to get the Chevy job-- which involved moving to Detroit!-- when that would put so much of his cover story at risk? Sterling Cooper and Partners-- yup, that's the new name-- would think they were sending a Michigan man to schmooze the Chevy client, only to wind up with a guy who wouldn't know Sault St. Marie from Ypsilanti.
I had a hard time swallowing the idea that Bob really did have it bad for Pete, but it's hard to imagine any other reason that a careful social-climber would campaign for such a risky job. He wanted to get closer to Pete-- and, OK, get a major promotion in the process. And because Pete has proven in the past that he's a pretty lousy blackmailer, Bob's going to get it. This probably won't be the last time he complains in Spanish (presumably to Manolo) over the phone.
OK, that's all my wild Mad Men theorizing for now. But yours, as always, is welcome in the comments-- along with any other amazing Vines.