Mad Men started off awkward and ended on just the wrong note this week, thankfully everything was pretty great in-between.
The opening act was a lot of set up that proved more than necessary, for the most part, in the end. When Sally calls creepy Glen at his boarding school, the phone cord accidentally trips her step-Grandmother, injuring her ankle. This forces Don to pick up the kids and take them back to his place for the week where he and Megan are entertaining her parents. We see the tension between the Calvets (Megan's parents) and a semi-awkward dinner with everyone and the results were underwhelming. I was seriously wondering to myself why any of this stuff was important, but I should have had faith.
The dinner in the opening sets up the best scene of the night when Ken, Don, the Heinz rep Raymond, and the wives are all out to dinner and Megan prematurely discovers that SCDP is about to be fired from the account. Megan informs Don and holds his hand into laying out the pitch she and Don came up with that afternoon, inspired by that first act dinner. We get to see the Don Draper we all know and love; and haven't seen in quite some time. The moment in the cab after they save the account between Don and Megan was a great one as well, I didn't know advertising could get two people so turned on.
Don got a wakeup call from Cooper last week and he seems to have his game face on again. It's not just in the pitch, but as he works with Megan on the pitch she brings to him, it's a winner, he knows it and gives her due credit. Everyone does, in fact, and Megan is lavished with praise at every turn in the office. She is modest in the face of the congratulations, but she doesn't seem quite comfortable to receive them. Jessica Pare is great throughout the episode and not just with the tension of Megan's success, but she wonderfully navigates her parents as well. Pare even gets more great stuff to play off of as her father tells her he is ultimately disappointed in her, even if he is warming up to Don a bit, and Megan is left with even more to chew on. Great stuff from Pare who gets stronger, like Megan, every week.
Speaking of Megan, has a any other show as somewhat as acclaimed as Mad Men been able to drop in a character in the middle of its run and have them work as tremendously well? Megan is one of my favorite characters now and all I wanted was Faye to stick around at the end of last season. Ben Linus on Lost is the only more successful option I can think of, but Pare and Weiner are working some real magic with the character.
Elsewhere this week, Don is receiving an award for his ad standing up to Big Tobacco, but the real star of the scene is Roger Sterling. Fresh off his LSD trip and free of Jane, Roger is in rare form as he schmooze’s the room for clients and Mrs. Calvet in the process. John Slatterly is just phenomenal, as he has been all season, and he finds another character I want to see more of him with in Sally Draper. Sally becomes his defacto date and the two are hilarious and sweet as they assess the ballroom, Kiernan Shipka able to keep up with Slatterly every step of the way. The show did tip its hand though with that sexual disclaimer as the instant Roger met Mrs. Calvet we knew they were going to hook up.
Sally's special night was soiled by the sight of an unknowing Roger getting orally pleasured by Don's French Canadian house guest. Don's joy is rained on as well as Ken's father-in-law, Ed, tells Don that clients don't like Don anymore after "The Letter." They still like his work, but not the man. "Can't trust," him Ed says. It will be interesting to see what Don does with the news. The scene was a wonderful showcase for both Sally and Roger and a brilliant final shot of the event as everyone has at the table is just a bit off and it is a shame they decided to bookend the episode with Sally and creepy Glen discussing next to nothing. If Sally sleeps with that kid, ugh.
Away from the Calvets was Peggy dealing with her boyfriend Abe, and the two seemed to be on thin ice last week. Abe is flustered when he meets her for dinner at the office, joined by Stan and Ginsberg, and seems to be forcing his hand when he ropes Sally in to dinner plans, on a weekday. Peggy thinks break-up, Joan thinks engagement, but Abe thinks "Let’s move in together." Seeing Peggy get caught up in Joan's prediction was telling in that Peggy does have a bit of that soft side still in her, but even more telling was her acceptance and happiness of agreeing to, "live in sin," with Abe. At least, that is what Peggy's mom thinks when they break the news to her over dinner and we get reminded that religious prejudice was still rather strong back then; not that it is that much better today. Peggy is hurt by her mother's lashing of words, but getting to see Peggy stand up to her and try to do the "adult" thing makes me think that she will be better off without her mother who I don't see Peggy want coming around after this week; not that her mom wants anything to do with her anymore between dating a "Jew" and living in sin.
If you take away Glen and smoothed out the opening act just a bit, this week’s episode would be challenging Pete and Lane's battle for the episode of the season. As it stands, Sally and Roger have rarely been more compelling and Megan continues to grow by leaps and bounds with each passing episode. We got a little bit of plot this week, Heinz finally saying yes, but the season continues to be far more interested in character study this year and that is fine by me.
-Grandma is hurting, got to watch out for that tripwire.
-Megan's mom is giving Don the "fuck me" eyes.
-Roger is taking this LSD trip to heart.
-Very judgmental those Calvet's.
-Sally is lying.
-Don is very proud of Sally.
-Very Godfather score there with Megan's mom.
-Goodnight and a handshake.
-Don only needs five minutes? I expected more.
-Megan is going to break Heinz?
-Now they are a creative team!
-I love that Stan is pissed, but still knows the idea is better.
-What is up with Joan and Peggy?
-Some weird tension going on here.
-“Someone dumped you?” Ha. “I’m just like everybody else.”
-“Especially if its no.”
-“Oh, you two were actually working.”
-“I’m going to bring a pick and crack me something off my wall.”
-“Lots of people know that without taking LSD, Roger.”
-That face by Abe doesn’t bode well.
-“How would we ever do that?” Peggy is so coy.
-Be a modern woman Peggy.
-What was that face Peggy?
-Oh shit, Heinz is bailing, with the wives there?
-Do it Don!
-Oh, she evens let Don steal the thunder.
-That’s all he needed, Don, smiling and pitching.
-And Don throws some credit right back at her.
-Megan has shaped up as a dinner date.
-Brilliant that they are both turned on by the victory.
-Joan is getting far less traditional as well after Greg.
-“You weren’t even there!” Oh, Harry Crane, such a douchebag.
-“We have baseball.”
-Some good mentoring there by Peggy.
-He got some ink on his carpet!
-Abe and Peggy are so cute.
-Roger Sterling the babysitter; that is a show I would watch.
-I think that sexual disclaimer was a tip off too Roger and Miss. Calvet?
-“Spread her legs and fly away.” Of course that slays Roger.
-“Here’s your handsome prince. Nah!”
-“Beautiful dishes, glassware, napalm.
-Roger and Sally are quite the couple.
-“That, Emilie, is what I do every day.”
-“Shit, I got to beat the entrée.”
-Sally tried to like that fish.
-It’s sad that this stereotype still lives on today.
-“I thought you would be relieved I wasn’t ‘marrying the Jew.’”
-That was harsh.
-“You’re a mean drunk, you know that.
-Don makes those people giving him that award look twenty years older.
-“A beautiful young lady who will one day be wearing makeup, just not today.” That was a sweet moment.
-“I’d buy you a drink, but I think they are still free.”
-“I hate that you gave up.” Megan is getting a lot of mixed messages about her success. Jessica Pare is playing the confusion wonderfully.
-Well, Roger seemed to be enjoying himself.
-Quite the final shot at dinner. That should have been the last shot.