The blogger is in â€“ five days late, to be sure, but only one episode behind. While I roamed the wilds of Northern Alberta, Madison Avenueâ€™s finest were living the high life and undoubtedly making a mess of it. Letâ€™s get to it before they finally murder Pete.
Previously on: Bob Bensonâ€™s a jerk, Don makes a creepy pitch, Ken is injured, everyoneâ€™s overworked, Harry mentions Joanâ€™s shagging. The opening credits tell us that John Slattery directs (yay!) and Matt Weiner co-writes (double yay!)
We see Don and Megan watching the Democratic convention. She mentions that televisionâ€™s not covering the real issues, he pulls her in for some loving. Smooth. Don is off to California once again, though he wishes he could take Megan with him. They reminisce about Disneyland.
Pete and Ted have a meeting with an important Chevy exec and Don, Harry and Roger are heading out west. They argue over the name once again. CGC wants to be first, SCDP wants to be first, Pete wants his name in there, Joan points out that any combination looks stupid. They agree to find a compromise while the guys are away.
On the plane, Roger suggests to Don that they use their California days to go crazy executive-style, which is absolutely typical of Roger Sterling. He urges Don to â€œbe slick, be glib, be youâ€ and compares them to conquistadors â€“ â€œOur biggest challenge is to not get syphilis.â€ He then asks the stewardess to send a drink up to the pilot. Classic Roger.
The creatives listen to the convention, until Cutler comes in to lecture them for slacking. Ginsberg goes into a rant where he calls Cutler a fascist and a Nazi and suggests that he holds up the establishment. Cutler counters that heâ€™s a hypocrite. Bob Benson tries to calm things down, to which Cutler wonders why heâ€™s even down there. Heh. He then runs to Teddy-boy and suggests that they drop all the SCDP employees while the cats are away. Ted rightly tells them they canâ€™t do that. With a mutter that heâ€™s the worldâ€™s most expensive babysitter, he stomps off. Moment saved â€“ for now.
Joan is courting a guy (in the business sense) who employs her friend Kate at Avon. Itâ€™s her first pitch, and sheâ€™s a bit halting, but soon finds her feet. He clearly seems much more interested in Joan. Same old, same old, but she skillfully steers it back to business like the pro she is. Go Joanie.
Bob Benson goes down to Cutlerâ€™s office, where he starts off apologizing, but Cutler cuts him off. Heâ€™s going to give Benson a little test â€“ the Manischewitz pitch the next day. Aha! The game is on. Can Benson finally prove himself besides looking adequate in a suit? And being a good pseudo-stepdad to Kevin, of course.
Joan storms into Peggyâ€™s office demanding a drink. YES! We get another Joan and Peggy friendship moment! Remember Season 4? I remember Season 4. Anyway, Peggy wants on the account, Joan doesnâ€™t feel she should arrange for a meeting without Donâ€™s approval. She suggests they take it to Ted, setting off an unholy power struggle. She also promises that Joan will be the account man. Joan and Peggy, the worldâ€™s most unbeatable ad team. Pete is called in and is coaxed into the discussion. He insists that he be on the account, and when Joan wants to be included, Pete â€“ descends into jackass mode as usual, acting like a condescending prick and completely pissing off Joan. Tragically, he doesnâ€™t fall down the stairs again.
Palm trees and a red convertible bring us to California, where Don, Roger and Harry are stepping out in sunglasses looking dapper. Hey, yellow is a big colour this episode. Megan is in yellow-and-red stripes, Pegs is rocking a yellow dress, and Harry has the worldâ€™s most garish yellow jacket and purple tie combo. Don Cherry would be proud. Harry is in his element, surrounded by media people and leading Don and Roger through the maze. Of course, Roger has no ambitions higher than getting wasted and screwing around, so itâ€™s perfect. Don is considerably less enthused.
While the Chicago riots blare on TV, Joan folds laundry in her pajamas. Tiny adorable toddler clothes FTW. Joan watches the coverage idly until something gets her attention. Some guy is getting the crap beaten out of him by police. Someone she knows? We catch up with Don, who is watching the same thing. The phone rings. Itâ€™s Megan, who has a lot more sympathy for the protestors than he does. Generation gap rears its ugly head. Meganâ€™s in tears. She asks Don to be careful, then suggests that he go for a swim. Remember Season 4? I remember Season 4. They hang up, the riots continue, Don looks impassive.
Peggy is surprised to find Joan at the restaurant. The latter blithely explains that Pete canâ€™t make it â€“ because he wasnâ€™t invited. Thatâ€™s right, someone pulled a clever move (Joan) and the Campbell got left out. HA HA HA. Peggy is introduced, everything seems to go swimmingly, and a pitch is haltingly begun. Peggy goes a little too businesslike, Joan reins her in. These two are honestly a good team. Start your own agency, guys! The exec explains that Avonâ€™s at a bit of a crossroads â€“ itâ€™s a new era and theyâ€™re a little left behind. Itâ€™s quite clear that experienced as Peggy is, she needs Joanieâ€™s people skills. Rock on, women of SCDP.
The California contingent discuss the convention, where itâ€™s revealed that the businessmen are all hardcore Republicans, surprise, surprise. The head Carnation exec, Jack, flips out, calling Nixon an opportunist and generally acting like the 60â€™s equivalent of â€“ well, the sort of people we discuss on a regular basis. â€œDutch Reaganâ€ is brought up. Haha. Anyway, theyâ€™re not off to a good start. The East-West divide is mentioned, with Carnation claiming that New York is always acting superior. Roger points out that theyâ€™re here now. They have Carnationâ€™s ear â€“ but for how long?
Peggy and Joan return to the office, where they argue with each other about which one of them ruined the pitch. This quickly turns into an argument about Joanâ€™s maneuver to get rid of Pete. Â Joan claims Peggy has no respect for her, Peggy brings up the secretary days and how she felt belittled. She maintains that she never slept with Don to further her career, which of course brings up bad associations for Joan, and they depart super pissed â€“ but not before Joan points out that it was the only way she could do it. Youâ€™d think Peggy of all people would get that, but nope.
Bob Benson, listening to the convention in his office, gets a phone call. Itâ€™s Ginsberg. Heâ€™s having some kind of panic attack or something. Benson tries to calm him down to no avail. Is he the Team Nurse or something? Anyway, the hypocrisy comment from Cutler has destroyed him, and now he thinks heâ€™s part of the establishment. â€œMaybe you smoked too many funny cigarettes,â€ Bob soothes. I love it. After a quick pep talk, Ginsberg is back on his feet, but not before asking Benson if heâ€™s a homo. Oh, Ginsberg, how wrong you are.
Roger strides out of the hotel looking like Cary Grant, Harry pulls up in an obnoxious pink jacket and the flashy red convertible, which Don disapproves of. He drives them off to a crazy Hollywood party, full of ridiculous outfits and unwashed hippies. Roger and Don look very buttoned-up and Eastern, and Harry has to play fast diplomat to keep things from falling apart. For the first time, they are fish out of wander, though I would argue that itâ€™s just the trendier side of the same phony coin. We run into Danny â€“ former copywriter fired in Season 4, Janeâ€™s cousin, now a screenwriter dating a hippie named Lotus â€“ and he looks kind of like 60â€™s-era Paul Simon from a distance. Roger tries to get the upper hand, but Danny cuts him down, fast. Fortunately, Roger is immediately distracted by a woman in a bikini. Lifeâ€™s always a party with him.
Don chats up a scruffy guy in a crazy suit, who doesnâ€™t seem terribly interested in advertising. He wanders off and finds a bunch of hippies smoking from a hookah while Indian-style music plays in the background. He is immediately coaxed into his first taste of hashish by a sexy blonde woman who greeted him. Yes, Virginia, the 60â€™s have arrived.
Roger flirts with Lotus, who would probably be sexy if she wasnâ€™t high off her tits. Roger talks to her about LSD and how awesome it is. Danny returns to get his girlfriend, and he and Roger engage in a verbal pissing contest. Danny winds up punching him in the crotch. Lotus giggles. Danny, Danny, Iâ€™m so proud of you â€“ youâ€™ve grown up so much. Itâ€™s nice to see my little copywriters leave the nest.
Don has entered into a more successful entanglement with the blonde hookah lady, which is interrupted by Hallucination!Megan, dressed as a hippie complete with headband. She tells him itâ€™s okay to screw around, itâ€™s California and sharing is in. Then she tells him sheâ€™s pregnant, and he asks her what she thinks it is. â€œA second chance,â€ she says, and leads him to dance. He then sees the soldier he was best man for in Hawaii, who tells him that his wife thinks heâ€™s MIA â€“ but heâ€™s actually dead. The soldier then prompts Don to look at himself. Don sees himself floating face down in the pool. We cut to Roger shaking him back into consciousness. He coughs up water stares into space.
Cutler and Ted discuss Chevy, which is moving on ahead. Bob Benson interrupts to tell them that Manischewitz hated the presentation and now theyâ€™re in review. Chaough is pissed, tells Cutler itâ€™s basically his fault, and letting Roger leave the firm for a bit was a terrible idea. They put Benson on the Chevy account, conveniently sending him to Detroit and getting rid of an SCDPer. Yes, Cutler just ruined an account in order to make SCDP look terrible and take over the firm. Way to go, you bastard. Poor, poor coworkers having to put up with him.
Hungover and sick, Don and Roger fly home. Roger tells Don to stop living in the past â€“ and talks about how the key to life is loving who you are, according to his shrink, anyway. Don stares into space once again.
Meredith knocks on Joanâ€™s door to tell her that Mr. Campbell is waiting in the conference room. A box of samples have arrived from Avon, and Pete is furious. He thinks Peggy and Joan are in the midst of a giant conspiracy to humiliate him. Joan claims that itâ€™s better to make a client over than have Pete trample all over her again. He freaks out at both of them and vows to take it to Ted. He comes back dragging Chaough, who is furious about the exclusion. They send Peggy away and have at it. (Fortunately, Pegasus knows a convenient intercom with which to eavesdrop.) Pete goes on a rant about how Joan is a junior partner and how it was totally unfair. Ted is firmly on Peteâ€™s side, it seems. Things look rotten for Joanie, but just then Meredith comes in. Thereâ€™s a phone call from Avon â€“ for Joan. Ted tells Pete that possession is nine-tenths of the law, ignores his splutterings, and says that business is business no matter who runs it. We see that there was no phone call. Eavesdropping Peggy has orchestrated a convenient escape. Clever, clever, and Joan is grateful. Women stick together! Girl power!
Roger and Don get back, where Pete is waiting with a pout worthy of the whiniest toddler. Cutler, Chaough and Cooper show up, where they tell the news about Chevy and move on to a stickier topic â€“ a name (but not before Pete gets in a dig at Joan). Their suggestion is Sterling Cooper & Partners. Oh, of course Cooperâ€™s going to suggest that (though it apparently wasnâ€™t his idea). Don, Ted and Cutler are a bit reluctant but agree to it for the sake of harmony, while Pete is truly annoyed as usual. Shut up, you butthurt little bastard. He whines for a bit and Don basically tells him to grow up. Well, every office has a Pete, right? Meanwhile, Don asks Dawn to get Megan on the phone. Time for some fast marriage-fixing.
Pete struts over to the creatives, where Stan is smoking his usual joint. He curtly asks what heâ€™s doing, and everyone expects a Pete Campbell Morality Lecture â€“ when suddenly Pete snatches the joint from his hand. PETE CAMPBELL! Oh, my God, my little weasel is growing up. As Janis Joplinâ€™s â€œPiece of My Heartâ€ plays, we get a terrific shot of pot smoke curling around Peteâ€™s face. And that, my friends, is the end.
I can say that this episode was well worth the wait. Though I donâ€™t think it was the strongest artistic effort of the season, I would rank it pretty high in terms of story and character progression. We had some excellent moments involving the women of SCDP, and the Joan-Peggy friendship/resentship is always full of potential. California was not the groundbreaker it has been in the past, but it was fun. Though it risked being tired (how many times can we send Don west?), the sequence was fleeting enough not to wear out its welcome. And â€“ letâ€™s face it â€“ itâ€™s always fun to get Pete Campbell angry. They should make it a company pastime. An office-heavy episode is generally a good recipe for quality Mad Men. Tonight was a fine example of this principle, and Iâ€™m very glad to be caught up. Next week â€“ â€œFavorsâ€. If thatâ€™s not a juicy episode Iâ€™ll eat my hat. While we wait, however, Iâ€™ll be in the corner with the hookah.