'Mad Men's' smoke and mirrors
October 11th, 2010
12:49 PM ET

'Mad Men's' smoke and mirrors

Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for the Sunday, October 10 episode of AMC’s “Mad Men.”

The future of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce remains uncertain as last night’s episode brought considerable changes for the fledgling agency.

Don met with Dr. Faye’s contact from Heinz. The star of the brand, ketchup, had representation elsewhere, so the meeting was to discuss the future of Heinz’s vinegars, beans and sauces and the company’s desire for a funny - not farty - campaign for their beans.

The Heinz representative was upfront with Don and expressed doubt over SCDP’s longevity. Don’s attempt to woo the rep was fruitless and the meeting ended as another notch on the agency’s bedpost of fail.

During an agency meeting, Dr. Faye’s research partner, Dr. Atherton, suggested that SCDP stick to what they were good at – marketing cigarettes – and pointed them in the direction of Philip Morris. The tobacco giant was on the hunt for an ad firm for their new brand of cigarettes aimed at young women.

Unfortunately, the firm’s run of bad luck continued when Philip Morris backed out of the meeting, again citing SCDP’s instability. How sad were all of the guys standing there huddled together in anticipation only to be told the meeting was off?

Matters only snowballed from there. After meeting with the bank, Lane told the partners that their line of credit had been extended on the condition that each partner put up a considerable sum of money as collateral. Then there were the layoffs; the agency also had to reduce staff size to stay afloat. The writers answered my prayers and Danny was given the boot. Who would be the first to go if you were calling the shots?

Pete, meanwhile, confronted Don about the $50,000 he was expected to contribute and expressed displeasure at being punished for the agency’s failure to retain clients. We found out later in the episode that Don put up Pete’s share in what I took to be a gesture of goodwill and gratitude. After all, many of the firm’s successful accounts belong to Pete.

We also said hello to a couple of familiar faces this week starting with Creepy Glen’s resurfacing. His strange friendship with Sally continued to blossom as they bonded over their troubled childhoods - that is until Betty discovered them together and forbade Sally to see him again. I’m firmly Team Betty on this one as the Weird Bathroom Encounter from season one is filed away in my Things I Can’t Unsee drawer. The run-in with Glen lit a fire under Betty to finally – FINALLY – move out of the house and away from Ossining, much to Sally’s disappointment. That kid is in desperate need of a hug and an ice cream cone, no?

It wasn’t all bad news for Sally, as her considerable progress in therapy resulted in Dr. Keener’s decision to scale back her appointments. Betty was predictably awful when the doctor delivered the news and insisted that Sally was still in need of aggressive treatment. Dr. Keener saw Betty’s plea for what it was – an attempt to keep poor Sally in therapy so she could have a place to discuss her problems without officially being under the care of a psychiatrist. In summary, Betty remains an immature, spoiled brat. Perhaps a child psychiatrist is right on her level.

Now, think about the last person you’d ever expect to see back on “Mad Men” – Sal, perhaps, or maybe Rachel Menken? What about zombie Anna Draper? We weren’t that lucky, but it was a genuine surprise nonetheless when flaky artist and season one conquest Midge reappeared. What at first seemed like a chance meeting with Don in the Time & Life lobby was actually a clumsily orchestrated shakedown for drug money.

At her apartment, Midge confessed to Don that she and her husband were heroin addicts. Out of pity, or maybe because he just wanted to get the heck out of that squalid hellhole of an apartment, Don bought one of her paintings that featured a penguin wearing a top hat and went on his way.

However terrible it might have been, Midge’s painting and what it represented inspired Don to pen a full-page ad for the New York Times spinning the dissolution with Lucky Strike to SCDP’s advantage. The ad stated that the firm would no longer take on tobacco companies as clients as cigarettes were evil and addictive.

Reaction to the ad was mixed. The partners were furious – Bert even quit over the matter – while CGC’s Terrible Ted Chaough delighted in the Times mention. Megan and Peggy supported Don, as did Dr. Faye, even though her research firm was forced to resign to avoid future conflicts of interest. The silver lining? Don and Dr. Faye can take their relationship public. Huzzah! There’s still one episode left though, so there’s plenty of time for Don to send a good thing spiraling straight into the toilet.

Can’t wait for the finale next week! What did you think of last night’s episode?

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Filed under: Mad Men • television • TV recaps

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Donna Featherstone

    Sad to see Mad Men about to come to a close for this season. I wish my father who worked in the ad business during the same time period this show is in was still alive to watch the show. I'm sure he would get a big kick out of the characters I think the letter Don wote will actually save his company. Remember eventually cigarette ads were banned. As far as Betty, I think she's hoping Sally acts out again over moving, so she can still see a psychiatrist, without admitting she needs to see one.

    October 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Feenigal

    I can't believe it's almost over, but I'm glad it's almost over. I have not enjoyed one show this season. Very disappointed. But hopeful for a better season next year.

    October 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Holly Golightly

    Bravo Courtney! I totally agree! There should be a support group for Mad Men devotees' withdrawls after the season finale this Sunday!

    October 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Courtney

    I love this show. I am already getting sad. 1 episode left! 🙁 I think that letter that Don did about the tobacco companies was pure genius!!! I feel that there will be a number of deaths assoicated with smoking in the episodes to come and companies will want to go to a marketing firm that had the guts to say enough is enough and SCDP will of course be on top!!! Wonderful writing!!! Deserves every award that it receives!!

    October 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SaintPetersburg

    why is that kis SO creepy? He looks like he's going to grow up to be a rapist. Every scene he is in is so awkward, they need to direct him better. I think Don's spur of the moment backslash at tobacco companies will prove to be benefitial to the Agency in the longrun.

    October 14, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Holly Golightly

    For sure! Betty needs a child psychiatrist in the worst way!!!

    October 13, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. DotDotDot

    I loved the "but I'm a child psychiatrist" line.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Holly Golightly

    Bravo fellow MM Fans! I knew you wouldn't let me down! All great ideas! Attention Matthew Weiner: we need more episodes, and we have some awesome potential writers here!!! 🙂 P.s. Go see "The Town"! Jon Hamm is superb in it!

    October 12, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pat

    Great episode. Love it when Don has these fabulous, crazy ideas. Faye will definitely be out of the picture, probably because they can now be out in the open – not sure that Don want's a girl he can really have. It was all quite tense too – thought Don might either do Midge or do what she was doing, thought Sally was going to smoke, thought that weird kid might do something really weird to Sally. You can just never predict, and that's one of the reason's I love this show.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. coach4771

    A thought I was having about a future episode involved Midge's painting that Don bought. I was thinking that with her drug problems,one day she will O.D. and that painting will end up worth something. Not that Don needs the money (yet). But that was an idea that kept popping into my head!
    I am absolutely bummed to see the season already coming to an end. Not many shows continue to improve year after year. But that goes to show how well written and acted this show is. Gonna be a long 9 months until the next season starts!

    October 12, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Carolyn

    ditto, Holly. I LOVE Mad Men and have now hooked my daughter in Calif, the mother of two young kids. She just finished watching season I and is hooked and loves it as much as I do. Great writing, great acting.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Holly Golightly

    Where are all my fellow Mad Men fans??!! I liked the episode for the most part, but then again I love the show. Interesting to see Midge again. How sad was she? I think Don felt sorry for her as well. My heart went out to Sally because she really needs friends. I'm hoping next week bodes better for SCDP! I predict Faye will find out about Don's infidelity with Megan, although I was proud of him for resisting Midge's advances! Can't wait for the finale, although I will be having withdrawls after that!!! 🙂

    October 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |

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