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Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 6.10 - A Tale of Two Cities



blog-Roger-Sterling-John-Slatt-008.jpgRoger Sterling (John Slattery), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) check things out


The blogger is in – five days late, to be sure, but only one episode behind. While I roamed the wilds of Northern Alberta, Madison Avenue’s finest were living the high life and undoubtedly making a mess of it. Let’s get to it before they finally murder Pete.

Previously on: Bob Benson’s a jerk, Don makes a creepy pitch, Ken is injured, everyone’s overworked, Harry mentions Joan’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 television’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 “be slick, be glib, be you†and compares them to conquistadors – “Our biggest challenge is to not get syphilis.†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 he’s a hypocrite. Bob Benson tries to calm things down, to which Cutler wonders why he’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 can’t do that. With a mutter that he’s the world’s most expensive babysitter, he stomps off. Moment saved – for now.

Joan is courting a guy (in the business sense) who employs her friend Kate at Avon. It’s her first pitch, and she’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 Cutler’s office, where he starts off apologizing, but Cutler cuts him off. He’s going to give Benson a little test – 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 Peggy’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 doesn’t feel she should arrange for a meeting without Don’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 world’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 – descends into jackass mode as usual, acting like a condescending prick and completely pissing off Joan. Tragically, he doesn’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 world’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 it’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. It’s Megan, who has a lot more sympathy for the protestors than he does. Generation gap rears its ugly head. Megan’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 can’t make it – because he wasn’t invited. That’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 Avon’s at a bit of a crossroads – it’s a new era and they’re a little left behind. It’s quite clear that experienced as Peggy is, she needs Joanie’s people skills. Rock on, women of SCDP.

The California contingent discuss the convention, where it’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 60’s equivalent of – well, the sort of people we discuss on a regular basis. “Dutch Reagan†is brought up. Haha. Anyway, they’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 they’re here now. They have Carnation’s ear – 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 Joan’s maneuver to get rid of Pete.  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 – but not before Joan points out that it was the only way she could do it. You’d think Peggy of all people would get that, but nope.

Bob Benson, listening to the convention in his office, gets a phone call. It’s Ginsberg. He’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 he’s part of the establishment. “Maybe you smoked too many funny cigarettes,†Bob soothes. I love it. After a quick pep talk, Ginsberg is back on his feet, but not before asking Benson if he’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 it’s just the trendier side of the same phony coin. We run into Danny – former copywriter fired in Season 4, Jane’s cousin, now a screenwriter dating a hippie named Lotus – and he looks kind of like 60’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. Life’s always a party with him.

Don chats up a scruffy guy in a crazy suit, who doesn’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 60’s have arrived.

Roger flirts with Lotus, who would probably be sexy if she wasn’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, I’m so proud of you – you’ve grown up so much. It’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 it’s okay to screw around, it’s California and sharing is in. Then she tells him she’s pregnant, and he asks her what she thinks it is. “A second chance,†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 he’s MIA – but he’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 they’re in review. Chaough is pissed, tells Cutler it’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 – 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 Joan’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 it’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 Pete’s side, it seems. Things look rotten for Joanie, but just then Meredith comes in. There’s a phone call from Avon – 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 – a name (but not before Pete gets in a dig at Joan). Their suggestion is Sterling Cooper & Partners. Oh, of course Cooper’s going to suggest that (though it apparently wasn’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 he’s doing, and everyone expects a Pete Campbell Morality Lecture – when suddenly Pete snatches the joint from his hand. PETE CAMPBELL! Oh, my God, my little weasel is growing up. As Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart†plays, we get a terrific shot of pot smoke curling around Pete’s face. And that, my friends, is the end.

I can say that this episode was well worth the wait. Though I don’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 – let’s face it – it’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 I’m very glad to be caught up. Next week – “Favorsâ€. If that’s not a juicy episode I’ll eat my hat. While we wait, however, I’ll be in the corner with the hookah.


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  • Posts

    • thoughtful


      23 minutes ago, Xan said:

      I think Gary would be easy to brainwash.  If you had the right man talking and he sounded religious, Gary would eat it up.  Brainwashing some people would be like laundering a pair of overalls that are covered in grease, mud, and ink stains.  Washing Gary's brain would be like laundering a napkin that was soiled with a few cracker crumbs.

      He is well and truly brainwashed - Baker is just adding to the mix.

      To continue your metaphor, I don't think Gary's brain even needed washing - just a quick shake to get the crumbs of reality out of there.

    • Bassett Lady


      While Free Jinger does engage in snark, I think most of us have come to deeply care for the children being raised in stifling fundamentalist homes which aim to limit and hobble them. 

      I am thrilled to see Jinger dressing for the weather, comfort, personal preference, and planned activities.  I am happy her children have arrived when she felt ready to have them. It seems her daughters are getting a much better education than she received. 

      Is there more I wish for her? Yes

      However, she has come so far. I am happy to take a moment and celebrate how far she has come. 

      • Upvote 2
      • I Agree 3
    • JDuggs


      Today in their IG stories, Abbie and John were advertising Mix Tiles, like every other Duggar and Bates influencer. Abbie narrated in a very monotone voice. This doesn’t seem very natural for her yet. I’ve included a photo of Charlie from their video since they haven’t shared his photo much. He’s really cute.




      • Thank You 2
    • JDuggs


      @xenobia Thank you for sharing that. I try to avoid watching the YouTube stuff, but I did find this interesting. Jinger kind of made Free Jinger sound like a group that has meetings dedicated solely to freeing Jinger rather than basically a snark site with a mission to educate, but it was still interesting that she acknowledged it. I felt she has seriously reflected on what it means to her to be free. Jinger is somewhat of an engaging personality if she could only get past the sweet season of using the words sweet and season. Although I just assume that Jeremy is a pompous ass in general, he was toned down and somewhat likable here, probably because he was interviewing Jinger and just letting her talk.

      • Upvote 3
    • thoughtful

      Posted (edited)

      I listened to some of last night's service at Family Baptist (why do I do these things?).

      After some songs and a prayer, Baker tells them to be seated, and his wife comes up. He doesn't acknowledge her (that's not so unusual - in their services, vocalists, especially Baker's family members, often just come up and get into position). But they don't make eye contact and they look like this as he goes to sit down:




      She is one of the two piano pounders for the church, and always looks sad and fragile. I could be reading way too much into it, but it seems to me that there is an unpleasant vibe between them.  She always follows dutifully behind him, looking down, as he strides quickly down the aisle, when they recess after church. Screenshots from the end of this service, for example:


      image.png.466d222f92426bbc5678270ba8b0171f.png     image.png.2a6a62ee18ca47fd5ed848bbc334dc2e.png

      Then again, she could just be exhausted from having and raising eleven children, being a pastor's wife and the pianist for the church. And her pale coloring probably adds to the sense that she looks fragile.

      For all I know, she could be a gleefully hateful child-beater, no better than her slimy spouse.

      She chirps Sweet Little Jesus Boy in a strained, childlike voice.

      She walks away and Baker comes back.



      He says, without any enthusiasm, "Look forward t'that every year. Mrs. Hyles used to sing that uh every year and look forward t'that, beautiful."

      After another song and greetings (Gary hovers over Becky), it's time for the Sunday evening blessing-fest.

      A man says he has been working two jobs, and, at one of them, two departments have been "kinda fightin' over me, over who wants t'have me and keep me."

      I put Baker's response in a spoiler, in case anyone wants to guess.


      He pretends to be the two departments heads: "Like, we don't want him! We don't want him either! We don't want him! We don't want him either!"

      If you can't be original, at least be kind, dickwad - you're supposed to be a pastor.

      The man said he's going to the department he wants to be in, with a raise, and, while he'd started the story by saying God had been good to him, he actually credits a person who works there with helping to make that happen.

      Baker makes a joke about the raise. Wanna guess?


      "Wife's more excited than you, like 'Yeah, that's more money to spend, uhhhh save'."

      He calls on Becky - oh, excuse me - Rebecca. She says she'd said this in Sunday School (I guess they also do blessings then - there are never videos of that service), but made a mistake. "It's been eleven years, and not ten years, since I've been able to put up my own Christmas decorations"
      Baker (interrupting): Awesome.
      Becky Rebecca: Which is amazing and, um, three of - our children have said they're comin' for Christmas"
      Baker (interrupting): Wowww!
      Rebecca: "So that's exciting."

      Gee, I wonder which three of (hesitation) "their" children are coming?

      She sounds so excited to be somewhere that she can put up decorations - she really hated being on the road.

      More later, if I can stand it.

      Edited by thoughtful
      • Upvote 1
      • Thank You 2

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