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Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 6.11 - Favors




Ooh, tantalizing title. One of the great advantages of being late for an episode is that “Next Time on Mad Men†isn’t quite so far away. Still, a two-day wait is long enough, so l think we’d better get started. The season is winding down – which means the crazy storylines are just beginning.

Previously on: Ted and Peggy kiss, Benson hires a nurse for Pete (hmm, wonder what that implies, FJ readers), Don and Ted argue about Chevy and Don quits the account. Opening credits: Weiner co-writes, Getzinger directs, good good.

Peggy is getting ready for work, but is startled by a rat in her apartment. So she still lives in the shitty Olson-Drexler Den of Sin, only minus Drexler.

Don shows up to work only to learn that Sterling’s waiting for him. They’ve won the Sunkist account. As Roger juggles, Don goes through all the potential problems it involves, which of course Roger treats with his usual degree of seriousness.

Pete’s mom arrives at SC&P with Manolo the nurse. Pete whisks the man away and leaves Peggy to deal with the grandmother of her child. She starts going on about how good it is that they’re back together “for the good of the child you have togetherâ€, which drives Peggy batty until she says “Trudyâ€. Ah, it’s a simple case of the gaga, not a harassment campaign. Mrs. Campbell then goes on about the physical love she’s enjoying with Manolo. Peggy waves the situation away, though her voice sounds husky. Meanwhile, Pete pays for Manolo’s extra work, telling him what a great job he’s doing. Seeing Pete actually appreciate something is like eating soup with a knife.

Betty yells for Sally, who’s off on a Model UN trip with a chaperone she doesn’t approve of. Sally suggests staying with her dad, which Betty shuts down immediately. They start screaming, Sally claims Don loves her better than Betty does, which is probably true. They storm off. Status quo in the Francis household.

Don comes home to find a shaggy-haired guy on the couch with Megan. No, it’s not what you think – it’s just Mitchell Rosen, son of Sylvia and Arnold. Huh, I didn’t think he was an adult. Anyway, little baby Mitch is bound for the draft and is calling on Megan to arrange a Canadian escape. Don says “He can’t spend the rest of his life on the run.†HO HO, pot, kettle. They argue about it, nothing is reached. Vietnam reference! Take a drink.

Ted, Pete and Peggy go for drinks after work, where Pete starts in on his father’s death via plane crash. They’re all getting on extremely friendly-like and Ted  starts waxing eloquent about how wonderful they are. They’re quite trashed. Threesome? Please? Anyway, Ted heads out for a moment, leaving Pete and Peggy drunk in the same room. BAD IDEA. Pete suggests that Ted’s in love with Peggy, which she tries to dodge. He then says “please tell me you don’t pity me, because you really know me.†The tears come back, but Peggy is brave and says she doesn’t pity him. She then recounts the story of Pete’s mom and their unusual conversation. Pete immediately gets freaked out about someone fucking his mom, and he and Peggy soon descend into giggles. Ted comes back and Pete tells him that he’s never been less afraid to fly. They laugh again. Ted just looks confused. It’s okay, sweetie, you’ll catch up.

Don is watching TV when the doorbell rings. It’s Arnold, who is here about Mitchell. He thinks it’s unfair that the Drapers got caught up in the drama, and indeed it sounds like there’s drama in the Rosen house. Don takes his buddy out for a drink. Arnold apologizes for being so distant lately and wonders aloud why Sylvia seems to lie so often. Don’s face gets excruciatingly poker-like. Little baby Mitch went on a trip to Paris and became a godless Communist dropout, and Arnold doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want his son to go off to war, but there doesn’t seem to be any solution. He asks Don what he would do. Oh, boy, I want to hear this suggestion. All we get is “It was different, I wanted to go.†Oh, COME ON.

Ted joins Mrs. Ted in their room. She’s mad because he missed dinner with the kids, he thinks it’s no big deal, she claims he’s a workaholic. Ted assures her it’s temporary. Riiiight. Mrs. Ted rightly claims that he’s obsessed with work, and has her husband figured out, including his rivalry with Don and his feelings for Peggy. She doesn’t condemn, but wants him home. I like Mrs. Ted, let’s keep her.

Don arrives at work to find out about a Sunkist meeting he hasn’t heard of before. Pete walks by, and promptly gets pulled aside and interrogated about his Department of Defense friend. Don wants the right strings pulled for Mitchell, but Pete’s quite reluctant. They’re interrupted by Roger, then Ted, then Cutler, and soon they start arguing about whether they should drop Sunkist or Ocean Spray. Nobody tells anyone anything, and now they’re screwed. The accounts are equal. Ted winds up screaming at Don to “join this company and read a memo once in a whileâ€. Cutler follows him and has an “I told you so†session. “I don’t want his juice, I want my juice!†cries Ted, getting to the heart of the matter.

While Mitchell argues with the doorman, Sally and her adorable friend show up at the Draper building. Within seconds, Sally’s friend (Julie) gets on to some hardcore flirting. Oh, god, someone’s going to lose their virginity, aren’t they? Sylvia shows up then, angry that Mitchell doesn’t have a cab, and blows off the girls. Julie comments on how cute Sally’s neighbour is. Hmmm.

Pete hears a knock at the Man Whore Apartment. It’s Mommy and Manolo. He’s pissed to see them, but lets them in. However, within seconds he has dismissed Manolo and gotten his mom alone. He broaches what he pretends is concern, which Mrs. Campbell immediately sees through. His mom tells him that she’s a grown-ass woman who is entitled to a bit of sex (a bit more delicately, though), and Pete whines that the guy needs to be fired. Mrs. Campbell goes on a rant about the “sour little man†in front of her and tells him that he’s always been unlovable. Ouch. Not even Pete deserves that. Wow, the Campbells can all go to hell. There’s door slamming and screeching.

Cutler, Sterling, Draper and Chaough are out to dinner with some Chevy execs, where one bores them with a story about fishing with his grandson at a cottage in Muskoka (Canada reference!). Don brings up the story of his A-1 neighbour, adding that he has two sons for emphasis. It’s pretty clear what he’s asking for. The others switch the subject immediately, recognizing danger when they see it. “Next time this year we’ll have won the war,†says Roger, wrong as usual. They get back to talking about fishing, and the crisis passes.

Staying up as teenaged girls do, Julie and Sally compare notes about how groovy Mitchell is. Megan opens the door to tell them to GO TO BED. Julie calls her Mrs. Draper to piss her off. Once Stepmommy’s gone, Julie tells Sally that she’s lucky to live there and encourages her to sneak downstairs and try to kiss him. This is all going to explode by the end of the episode, I can tell.

Peggy opens a door in her apartment, hearing a noise. As she crosses into her kitchen, she finds an enormous trail of blood on the floor. There’s scritch scratching – the rat is trapped. The phone rings in another apartment. A man rolls over in bed. It’s Stan. Peggy begs him to come and deal with her rat situation, to which he responds that he’s not her boyfriend. She offers sex in exchange for some rat murder. Wow...at least Joanie got a partnership out of it, Pegs. Anyway, Stan’s got a lady friend over, so he’s unavailable. Peggy takes this with aplomb and they hang up. The sexual tension is still quite high, though I think I like them as BFFs better.

The next morning, Sally and Julie revise for their big event, though they’re dead tired and Sally’s still in her nightgown. Megan is in a hurry and frustrated with them both. While she calls her agent, Sally and Julie sneak away.

Ted comes into Don’s office screaming that he’s trying to ruin their chances with Chevy. Don protests that Chevy belongs to all of them, to which Ted freaks out that he’s destroying the relationship with silly politics. He says he was trying to help his friend’s kid. “I bet you don’t have a lot of friends, Don,†Ted says. Ouch, again. Anyway, once the situation is explained, Ted has a bit more sympathy, suggesting a friend he can call or asking Mitch to wear glasses. He then asks Don to end the war – the war between their juices, that is, not North and South Vietnam. They agree to an understanding, and a compromise is reached.

Don calls the Rosens only to reach Sylvia, who is pissed to hear from him. He tells her about Mitchell’s chance. She’s pissed that he told someone, but soon becomes grateful that her baby has a chance. She tells him that of course Mitchell will do whatever Ted’s friend wants, and bursts into happy tears. Don reassures her. She says she can’t believe he would do it. He dismisses it by saying he has children to – but they get to the real reason pretty fast. She explains that she cut him off because she didn’t want him to fall in love. Damn, this is the closest thing to an honest conversation he’s had with a sex partner.

Bob Benson is called to Pete’s office, where he gets screamed at for “sending a rapist†to look after Mrs. Campbell. Pete demands that Benson fix it. Benson hints that Manolo’s interests don’t – turn that way. Pete just takes this as further proof of his perversion, and the look on Benson’s face says – oh my god, guys, you’re right, he’s gay. My bad. Bob manages to settle the situation by saying that if someone cares for him, and it’s true love, isn’t it all okay - and rubs his knee against Pete’s. OH MY GOD, this is HILARIOUS and AWFUL all at once. Pete gets a pissy look on his face, jerks his knee away and says he’ll give Manolo a month’s pay. Benson is dismissed, hopefully just from Pete’s office. Benson is gay and into Pete of all people! Guys, are we just missing something? Does Pete have some kind of 60’s-era magnetism that doesn’t translate? Being gay and liking Pete is like being a non-vegetarian who only eats Spam, for god’s sake.

While they go over various information, Julie and Sally get to talking about Guess Who. Sally says she’ll never ever bring up her crush to Mitchell himself, to which Julie says that’s no problem – she wrote a note from Sally and slipped it under Mitchell’s door. Sally is mortified and enraged and says she can never go home again. Oh, I think you can, my dear. She runs out of the car.

The doormen change shifts just as Sally runs in, looking adorable in plaid. She is clearly flustered and asks for the keys. Not going to her apartment, of course, but she doesn’t say that. She runs up to 16A and knocks on the door. Nobody’s home – or so she thinks, because the first thing she does is walk in on Don and Sylvia. You know, with Don’s track record this really should have happened like five seasons ago, but I’ll throw in an OMG WHAT anyway. Sally runs away, Don and Sylvia stop the proceedings, and Don goes after his daughter. He gets to the lobby just as she leaves in a cab. Don looks absolutely shaken to the core. Yeah, you’ve royally fucked things up this time, buddy.

Pete arrives at Casa Man Whore and pours himself some cereal. He looks supremely upset, and ends up throwing the cereal box on the floor. To be fair, he is perpetually pissed off.

Peggy sits on her hideous late 60’s couch, watching TV with her cat. That’s right, the Pegster has become a cat lady. Goodbye, rat problem, hello spinsterhood.

Ted walks into his room to find the boys watching TV and his wife asleep. He sits on the bed with a resigned smile and his kids hug him. The three guys walk out together.

Don goes to a bar, then returns to his apartment ready to face the music. He hears a chirpy Megan, so at least we know he’s dodging one bullet. Sally avoids hias eye, but Megan and Julie behave as normal. Don tries to avoid the table to go lie down, but Megan makes him eat. The doorbell rings. It’s Arnold and Mitchell. No, not what you’re thinking – Mitch has just come by to say thank you. Megan thinks it’s wonderful, Arnold’s grateful and says he owes him. Um, you might want to check on that, buddy. Megan embraces him, telling him how sweet he is, when Sally screams “You make me sick!†and storms out. Good for you, Sally, seriously, you poor little neglected thing.

Julie explains it away with the supposed crush, but Don knows what happened and he follows her. Sally refuses to let him into her room, so he explains through the door. He starts with “I know you think you saw something.†Oh, COME ON. She’s fifteen, not stupid. Anyway, it’s complicated and Sally can’t possibly understand and Sally is totally not buying this, because she’s her father’s daughter and knows when she’s being played the fool. She claims she heard what he said, but as he walks down the hall, she collapses on her bed crying. Don goes to his room, looks down the hall one more time, and closes his door. We play out in silence.

Next on: everyone’s shocked and upset about something. Also, Pete has his gun and an insane grin and is going hunting, presumably for sexy male nurses and/or sycophantic ad men. Man, that looks intense.

I wasn’t sold on this week’s episode – nothing bad about it, but nothing particularly exceptional to report, either. Excellent performance from Kiernan Shipka, who needs to finally get that Emmy nomination, and from Vincent Kartheiser, who just makes Pete so damn hateable yet so sympathetic. Hamm was also quite good, particularly as he chased after Sally in the building. The show was solid enough but I’ve moved on to next week already. Two more episodes left, people. Let’s make this count.


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