Don’s desire to change his life’s downward trajectory stalls in this week’s Mad Men – or maybe it just gets tired of waiting for him to stop shtupping his neighbor. Meanwhile, Peggy gets a nudge toward becoming a true Mad Woman and Pete has never known the all-encompassing wrath of a suburban housewife scorned… but he’s about to. Let’s review the major developmets that take place in the Jon Hamm-directed “The Collaborators.”
CARRY ON | At the beginning of the episode, Don has a morning rendezvous with Sylvia Rosen just after her husband leaves for work. As he approaches her doorway, Draper flashes back to what I’m assuming is his first glimpse of a hooker, a tawdry blonde who was sitting in the living room when he and his pregnant stepmother arrived at the whorehouse where his aunt lives. His aunt introduces them to Mack, who lasciviously eyes Don’s stepmom and tells them he’s the “rooster” in the hen house they’lll be calling home. “You keep your eyes down and mind your own business,” Abigail Whitman warns the teen. Back in the present, a post-coital Don and Sylvia smoke in bed. She wonders how they’re going to get through a double dinner date with their significant others later that week. “I don’t think about it,” he replies, seeming very untroubled about the whole thing. “They’re both good company.”
But Sylvia’s agitation continues to grow when she and Megan run into each other in the laundry room and Don’s upset wife confesses that she recently miscarried – and he doesn’t know. (The Awkward Moment of the Evening Award goes to when Megan announces what happened and Sylvia thinks she’s still describing her character’s plot on the soap. Eep.) Adding to Megan’s guilt is the fact that she’d been considering an abortion – though she never actually says the word – and she was relieved when she realized she didn’t have to make that decision. Citing the Catholic upbringing they both share, Sylvia says she’d never be able to consider such a thing. Just then, Don comes home and is perplexed to see his crying wife and his mistress hanging out. Sylvia leaves abruptly.
TABLE FOR FOUR TWO | When Megan doesn’t feel well and Rosen gets a medical call during dinner with Draper, Don and Sylvia are left to dine alone. She’s very snippy to him at first, saying she “doesn’t know what we’re doing” and wondering how he can “enjoy how foolish they both look.” But this isn’t Don’s first trip to the freaked-out-cheating-wife rodeo, and he lassoes this bull like a pro. “Now I understand,” he says calmly but with purpose, as if she’s an account he knows he’s going to land. “You want to feel sh—y right up to the point I take your dress off… because I’m going to do that.” (So wrong, yet so hot.) Shots of them getting it on after the meal are intercut with his speech, making it literally a foregone conclusion that she’s going to get over whatever’s bugging her. For now.
Megan later confesses to Don that she’d lost the pregnancy at six weeks. They have an oblique conversation about what she wants and whether it’s the right time; though he says she should have told him, he doesn’t seem terribly broken up about what’s transpired. And later, we see him making a plan to visit Dr. Rosen’s wife again in the morning – but when he gets to his own door, he flashes back to spying on “Uncle” Mack bedding Abigail – and sits heavily on the hallway floor.
‘BOUT TIME | Pete flirts with Brenda, one of his and Trudy’s new neighbors, and it’s not long before the blonde is visiting him at his New York apartment. He uses his best lines on her – asking her whether the temperature suits her, then remarking “It’s been known to get hot” (Side note: Ugh. Seriously, how does this guy get so much action?) – and pretty soon she’s putting her stockings back on and remarking that the place could use “a woman’s touch.” Uh-oh, Pete, better douse yourself in Downy, because you’ve found yourself a real clinger.
That state of affairs becomes more evident when Brenda frantically knocks on the Campbells’ door late one night. The blonde’s husband, who hit her in the face, calls out that she’s Pete’s problem now as the Campbells take her inside. Trudy sends Pete to get some medical supplies from another room, and he’s slow to move. What he says: “I’ll be right back.” What he means: “For the love of my receding hairline, please don’t confess our illicit meeting to my wife while I’m out of the room.” Don’t worry, Pete –your chippy saves that bomb until Trudy’s driving her to a hotel.
The next morning, Trudy is waiting for her husband in the kitchen. (Didn’t you just know this was coming from the way she looked at him when she got home the night before?) “Somehow, I thought that there was some dignity in being discreet. She lives on our block!” she growls – she’s known about his infidelity all along, it appears; what really cheeses her off is that he brought it home. She bans him from the house unless he has her explicit consent to be there. “I’m drawing a 50-mile radius around this house, and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you,” she informs him. Good God, Alison Brie is on fire in this scene.
KETCHUP KERFUFFLE | Raymond from Heinz beans brings his colleague Timmy, who deals with the company’s ketchup division, to meet the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce gang. But Timmy makes it clear that it’s not an official visit, and even more puzzling, Raymond later tells them not to pursue him because he doesn’t want Timmy sharing in the glory that SCDP has brought to his bean biz. After Raymond leaves, Ken is incredulous that the firm isn’t going to go after Heinz ketchup. After all, “It’s the Coca-Cola of condiments!” (Heh. By the way, that line is my third favorite from the scene, after “Suicide mission: vinegars, sauces and baked beans” and “Ketchup is the gold standard.”) Don reminds them that Raymond hired them when they really needed him, so they’ll honor his wishes and leave Timmy alone.
When Stan relates all of this to Peggy during one of their late-night calls (I loved this exchange: PEGGY: “Everyone hates me here.” STAN: “That was bound to happen.”), and then Peggy tells Ted, he sees it as an opportunity to best SCDP. She objects at first, but starts to get on board. “Your friend’s mistake was underestimating you,” he says. One ketchup cha-cha on the way, boss!
JAGUAR FOR THE COMMON MAN | Herb Rennet, whom Joan bedded in order for the firm to land Jaguar, arrives at the office and immediately sleazes his way to the redhead’s door. When she’s frosty to him, he says, “You know there’s part of you that’s happy to see me.” She fixes him with that look and replies, “And I know there’s part of you you haven’t seen in years.” Fat-guy burn! She beats it to Don’s office, pours herself a drink and knocks it back while informing him that Herb’s there.
Herb’s gross, so let’s just get to his point: He wants the Jaguar campaign Don pitched – and the dealers bought – to focus more on getting buyers into local dealerships and less on building the idea of Jaguar as a luxury item in the national market. And he wants SCDP to suggest it, because the association is much more likely to listen to the experts than a sweaty Jersey mouthbreather like himself. He’s the client, so they do as he asks – but Don craftily sabotages the meeting by comparing Jaguars to used cars and suggesting that “truck drivers and housewives” are their target audience. (That one gets a smirk out of Roger.) The rest of Herb’s delegation decides not to go with SCDP’s suggestion; after they leave, Pete rails against Draper for working against him and not doing what the client asked.
Later, when Bob stops by Pete’s office, we learn that he was in finance for a while but wanted to be an advertising player because Campbell & Co. made it look so fun. “It’s all about what it looks like, isn’t it?” Pete wearily responds.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!