Mad Men – 4×11: Taking it Seriously

“Lee Garner, Jr. never took you seriously because you never took yourself seriously.” – Cooper, to Roger

“I don’t want to make another mistake.” – Don, to Megan

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Pete ponders a future with SCDP and a family (AMC)

Arghhhhh! Why?!? Where to even begin… What’s wrong with you people? When are you going to self implode already? I’m so grossed out right now at the thought of these characters living and working in their own filth for so long and fully aware of it, yet continuing to roll around in it. Roger is trying to get back with Joan, married again, but with a different wife than the first time he tries dicking her around. Don is sleeping with yet ANOTHER woman working “beneath” him, making three just this season and just inside SCDP! Disgusting. Oh and Stan trying his luck with Peggy for a second failed sexual advance! How hard is it to just keep your dick in your pants, gentlemen? Take yourselves a little more seriously.

 

We wonder why Lucky Strike is pulling out, do we? Bert Cooper said it best in that line to Roger. After all, American Tabacco are the only men pulling out of anything around here, if you know what I mean.

Don Draper (+Faye Miller)

Back to his old antics, hard as he may try not to. In my opinion, however, he’s just not trying hard enough. Oh no no, I am not giving him a pass simply because Megan threw herself at him. Not anymore than giving him a pass for being drunk and throwing himself on every 20-something in heels all season. Why? Firstly, because he’s a grown ass man who should know better. And secondly, because now he’s cheated on Faye, too! This is what I mean by “old antics”: serial infidelity. Being a whore in the workplace is bad enough but repeatedly cheating on women.

When we met Don he was a high up ad exec and family man turned playboy with the world at his fingertips — and now, he’s what? Some divorced shmuck at a small-and-getting-smaller ad company with nothing ahead of him but more whoring around and drinking? Seriously, what sustainable good could possibly be coming Don’s way right now? Not at the rate he or anyone else is going. I can’t help but wonder: how will it all end?

Last week I expressed how disappointed I was to learn that Joan, the Big Red herself, had donned (no pun intended) her own scarlet letter! And this week, Don and Megan? I’m not disappointed in the show per say, but in the characters. Let’s get something clear, I am of the opinion that adultery is much more natural than Americans like to believe. Not to say it’s not wrong, just not as rare. But once everyone has committed the same sin, and well-knowing it, it all becomes a bit much. And its with the utmost lack of respect and regard for their respective partners, as well.

Oh Faye. Week after week I kept saying there was something about her I just didn’t like and couldn’t put my finger on… and here it is: she chose Don. While the women of the world have realized that Don is an asshole (asking Faye to break her ethical and professional code like it’s nothing?!?) Faye stayed behind. Perhaps it’s not her fault, but perhaps it is. She’s seen how he treats women and she’s seen how he drinks and behaves. This is a time when women are supposed to be finding their independence and Faye… she’s simply not there with them. Not like Stephanie who rejects him, the Nurse neighbor who nurses him, Alison who puts him in his place, or even Megan who takes matters into her own hands and doesn’t expect much in return (more on that later). Faye did what Don asked of her even when Don himself knew it was a royally dick move. Sure she may have said “no” in the past, but it was only because she already had a boyfriend. It’s not as if he won her over with his charms, she was just rebounding. But she’s loyal, I’ll definitely give her that. I kind of feel bad for her ignorance since the audience knows more than she about Don’s past, but its not enough to gain my respect either.

Roger (+ Joan)

One of the most fascinating and unique, albeit confusing, things about Mad Men for me, has been the way the passing of time is treated. Between episodes there may have been a week, a month, or a season. Between television seasons it could be years. And so, it would appear that between last week and this week, the entire month that Lee Garner, Jr. had given to Roger to get his shit together at SCDP has gone by. WHAT? So basically Roger just sat back and watched it all crumble out of fear.

What does this tell us about Roger? About his approach to impending doom? This is not the Roger that had a heart attack and realized life was too short to do nothing so he divorced his wife and ran off with Don’s secretary. What happened to that Roger? Has he now come to realize that what he did, accomplished nothing? That you can’t prevent impending doom, only delay it? Is that what he think he has done by marrying Jane? Obviously, I think the answer to these questions is YES. The rebirth of his infatuation and love for Joan is a return from another lifetime when he was happy and himself with her, not from a place of new adventures and keeping a young wife satisfied. It would appear that Roger is one of the first men on Mad Men to realize that things were better off once upon a time, and that they wont be as easy as they once were for much longer.

But good Old Joanie comes back to save him from himself, or at least when it comes to them. Then again, she realized he was not the man he once was. Just the way Don is not the man he was when we first met.

“I am not a solution to your problems. I’m another problem.”

Brilliant line! I knew she was no serial cheater. She’s so loyal, and smart and good. And as it turns out they only had sex that one time under the subway stairs!

Peggy (+Abe)

Peggy finally meets her match and lets go (AMC)

LOVE! Real love! Young, happy, wholesome, honest to God, love! Can it be? Could two people really have found somebody to love without being in other relationships, or living in a world of lies? I just don’t imagine Peggy or Abe cheating or lying to each other from here on in. If anything, Peggy will prioritize work over her relationship with him like she did with Mark but, then again she didn’t care about Mark the way she does about Abe. With her its always been about getting married and showing to her family and her co-workers that she could have it all. And its not just them who doubted Peggy… I think we did, too.

 

And now she’s really fallen in love. That opening scene of Abe dressing to go and Peggy wrapped in a sheet practically begging him to stay with her eyes, and him asking her to say it. Oh, young love! I have nothing else to say except “Good luck!” I really want this to work. Someone needs to be happy around here! No seriously, I’m all about conflict and what-not but its getting ridiculous.

P.S. Funniest rejection ever! “Well, thanks! I’m not anxious anymore.” Oh, Stan, silly boy.
P.P.S. What a PRO! Winning over Playtex with a risque idea that the execs don’t even see — and with lipstick on he teeth. I love how she just laughs it off when she realizes Stan set her up.

Pete Campbell

After being dragged out of the hospital where his wife is giving birth, then back to the hospital and given the guilt trip by his mother-in-law, then back to the office to handle calls with the clients and get told by Don to go back to the hospital because “its obviously what matters to you“. Then back to the hospital to get very convincingly swooned by Ted Shaw, a partner at CGC.

[*Nickelodeon Throwback Night: Larisa Oleynik, star of the classic series The Secret World of Alex Mack, stars as Ken Cosgrove’s fiance at dinner — plus Joe O’Connor comes back as Trudy’s father, formerly the father on Clarissa Explains It All.)

[*What is Fibber McGee and Molly? Don tells the Glo Coat exec on the phone:

“That commercial was the first successful strategy you’ve been near since you sponsored Fibber McGee and Molly!”

You can read up on it here: Fibber McGee and Molly, but basically it was a radio show from the 30s. Quite the humorous little reference, after-the-fact, hehe.]

This Week’s Theme

Don’t let business become life. Everything about the episode screamed this theme. Right down to the Playtex ad.

“It’s about the meaningful life a woman leads when work is done.”

  • Don sleeps with another co-worker, turning business into pleasure.
  • Roger focuses on winning Joan over when at work instead confessing to SCDP about Lucky Strike which leads to losing them.
  • Faye gives up a client against her professional ethics in order to please her new boyfriend, Don.
  • Pete allows work to take him from the birth of his firstborn child.
  • Peggy sleeps with her boyfriend at work and gets all horny at the creative meeting leading the boys to get the wrong idea.
  • Cosgrove abruptly leaves dinner with the soon-to-be in-laws in order to attend to a business matter.

The episode ends with both Roger and Jane/Don and Faye sitting on their couches at their respective homes, with the women all curled up into their lover’s arms, believing that they are their knight in shining armor. Their chink? Minimal. And certainly strong enough to protect them the way they always dreamed their knight would. Oh little do they know… chivalry is dying.

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