Any episode of Mad Men without Betty and Henry is an automatic win.
No, I would not like to watch Betty watch people eat. No, Henry mumbling about the department of transportation is not a compelling second act break.
Because of the absence of the Franceses, “For Immediate Release” is already one of the better episodes of the season.
“For Immediate Release” is also the episode where stuff starts happening. Business stuff. The interesting stuff. It always takes five or six episodes for the season to kick into second gear, and now it has.
To start, Don, who has always been disgusted by the firm’s unsavory relationship to Herb and the Jaguar account, abruptly ended things with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s only car.
You know, the car that Joan prostituted herself to get?
Once again we the audience agree with and appreciate Don’s impulses regarding the business, but once again he’s failed to foresee what others may think of his actions.
Joan is understandably livid. And Pete, well, he’s always livid. But we get to see him stumble and fall down the stairs in a fit of Don-directed rage, which is hilarious.
Will we ever tire of seeing Pete get tortured?
Roger, meanwhile, is using a stewardess he’s sleeping with to sneak in to the presence of an accounts man from Chevy. As they say: you win a car, you lose a car.
It’s a good thing, too, because Pete and Bert are negotiating a deal to take SCDP public, and they can’t do that without a car.
Pete, meanwhile, runs into his father in law at a brothel ("immediate release" indeed!). What he assumes will be a “you won’t tell if I won’t” situation ends up with Tom pulling his business from SCDP. This stock deal now looks dead in the water. Oh, and also so does Pete's marriage!
Peggy, who is now by far the most realistic, levelheaded, and relatable character on the show, is in way too deep with her new apartment. As always, she’s unsettled. Everything is just slightly off in her life.
It turns out, in fact, that things are very unsettled. After sharing a kiss with Ted Chaough, she starts to fantasize about him while she’s with Abe. She did just call him fearless. I guess she’s into fearless.
All of this confusion and disorder and boss-kissing comes to a head when Don and Ted both find themselves in Detroit auditioning for Chevy.
When they run into each other at a bar, they realize that Chevy is only looking at smaller companies to steal ideas and give them to a firm big enough to handle their account.
So on a drunken whim—Don’s good at those—the two decide to join forces and pitch together, giving Chevy the small company ideas with the right amount of personal.
They pitch, they win the account, and the two companies merge! All without consulting anybody whose lives will be effected by this massive change.
Peggy’s not comfortable with change. She said so herself earlier in the episode. She was referring to her neighborhood but really she was talking about the merger she didn’t know was happening yet. Clever.
The look on Peggys’ faces when she finds out she’ll be working for Don again is the reason we all love Peggy so much (we all do love Peggy so much right?). It was a brilliant mélange of chagrin, intrigue, pain, and comfort.
Peggy loved working for Don. She tried to pave her own way and that way led right back to Don. It seems like she’ll feel right at home again, but it’ll be interesting to see what level of defensive façade she erects.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason Chaough. That has a nice ring to it.