Mad Men Review: "A Tale of Two Cities"

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Tonight’s Mad Men was another episode mostly about the differences between Pete and Don.

This season has really been hitting those differences hard on the noggin, so something is bound to happen to resolve that tension.

"A Tale of Two Cities" is played out over a backdrop of the Chicago riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Mad Men has been employing this tactic - using real-life political unrest to highlight the uncertainty and turbulence in the characters’ lives - very heavily all season.

Joan Mad Men

So what exactly is the personal uncertainty and turbulence? Well, it’s plentiful.

While Don packs up to head to California with Roger and Harry, the unwavering instability of the new company continues.

Joan scores an accidental meeting with a man at Avon, Ginsberg lashes out against Jim Cutler, and Bob continues his creepy quest for relevance.

While she thinks she was on a date, Joan ends up being in a position to pitch the company to a potential client. Hoping to land Avon herself, she is reluctant to go to Ted with the news.

When Peggy insists she do just that, Ted hands the account over to Pete. The one man most critical of Joan’s position with the company, and how she got there.

Joan ends up going behind Pete’s back to hold the meeting without him. Just one more notch on the Screw Pete Belt.

Of course this enrages Pete, who takes it to Ted. While Ted seems concerned about the situation, Pete’s insistence that if people like Joan are going to start handling meetings like Avon, well then, Pete’s job will become obsolete, ends up being accidentally hilarious.

Peggy helps Joan out by faking a phone call from Avon, and Ted dismisses the issue. Poor Pete. He tries so hard, but he is so absolutely doomed.

Meanwhile, Don’s lack of effort or concern is on full display in the Golden State.

The trio’s meeting with Sunkist does not go well, but they don’t seem to mind. They hit a party “in the Hills” and forget the whole thing.

Peggy Mad Men

While there, Don gets sucked into smoking hash by a pretty young lady (anything for a pretty young lady), causing hallucinations of Megan, who gives him permission to cheat, and tells him she quit her job, and that she’s pregnant. Looks like Donny Boy resents Megan’s miscarriage.

Don wakes up form the hallucination being resuscitated by Roger, after having fallen into the pool.

The whole trip ends up being just another careless playdate for Don and Roger.

They arrive back to the office to a midst a giant sea change.

Ginsburg more or less lost the Manischwitz account, Chevy is moving forward with SCDPCGC, and Cutler has put Bob on the account, and Pete is livid about Joan’s insubordination.

But Don simply couldn’t care less. He simply fixes himself a drink.

Don is so unencumbered by concern for his job or the company that when Ted and Cutler suggest a name for the Company that excludes him (along with themselves and Pete), he instantly says fine. Welcome to Sterling Cooper & Partners.

This scene so perfectly spells out how the ship goes down. Don will be to drunk to even notice. He’ll drift slowly into his watery grave.

Pete will be panicking. He’ll be kicking and screaming and treading water for days, until a shark bites his legs off and he bleeds out.

Of course, that may all change with the final image of A Tale of Two Cities, as Pete sits down and takes a couple puffs of pot.

Will this really be a “drugs turn the uptight guy into a hippie” story? Let’s hope not.

OTHER NOTES:

  • What is the deal with Bob? He continues to be as mysterious as all get out. He seems like a guy who just wandered in one day and nobody noticed he hadn’t always been there. The season’s progression seems to suggest that Bob may soon trump Pete at SC&P, and that he’s got a lot of skeletons in his closet.
  • Ginsberg is such a great character. He’s both complex and instantly gratifying all at once, and with not all that much screen time. That's rare for a supporting character. His meltdown this week was really great.
  • It was cool to see two women taking a meeting, something that never would have happened when the show started.
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"Unwavering instability" - a poorly-worded phrase if I ever heard one.

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"The one man most critical of Joan’s position with the company, and how she got there." Huh? When has Pete ever been critical of Joan? It was in fact Pete who put Joan's partnership into motion. In fact, last week Joan commented that Pete is the only partner who has never let her down, or something along those lines. It's Harry Crane, note Pete, who has been critical of Joan and thrown her partnership and the act behind it in her face on several occasions.

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I guess Micah wasn't paying attention -- just like Don. Sorry, but HG just can't recap MM the way it should be done. It's a meaty, historical and comprehensive program that requires lots of introspection and a knowledge of the time and place. Basically, your writers are way too young!

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"The trio’s meeting with Sunkist does not go well, but they don’t seem to mind." They were shown meeting w/ Carnation, not Sunkist.