Mad Men 4.12 – A Certain Kind of Girl

Sorry for the delay in knocking out this week’s blog, but I spent the weekend attempting to cover the New York Comic Con, and the end result was that, upon flying home and making it into my house at about 10:30 PM, my attempts to watch and blog the show while wearing my spiffy new “Mad Men” button from NYCC – it has an illustration of Roger Sterling, along with the words, “When God closes a door, he opens a dress” – were interrupted by my complete and utter inability to stay awake.

So here we are on Monday morning, and although I’m still pretty freaking tired, I’m at least slightly better rested than I was last night.

Guess I picked the right button: it’s another episode directed by John Slattery. Things kick off with Don having an off-the-record meeting with a guy from Heinz, trying to get a feel for whether or not the company might be willing to hook up with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It’s clear that he respects Don and his work (though he may just be saying that because Don’s behind his premise that beans don’t have to be funny), but they’re on different timetables. There are two people at that table, but only one of them has any real confidence that SCDP will be around in six to eight months, and, frankly, you can’t blame Heinz for wanting to make sure that they’re working with an ad agency that’s going to have some sort of staying power.

Geoffrey Atherthon lays the state of SCDP on the line, using dating metaphors to make his point, and since “tobacco is your ideal boyfriend,” he’s helped provide the firm with a meeting with Philip Morris about their new cigarette line for women. “We will listen more than we will speak,” says Bert, matter-of-factly. “Like a good girlfriend,” smirks Atherton. Immediately after the meeting, everyone begins to break into small camps: Bert and Roger discussing what sort of clients they should be pursuing, Harry and Ken mostly just trying to figure out where they stand in the firm, and Pete and Lane talking about the state of the office and Don saving the day. Meanwhile, Don and Faye are chatting as well, but it’s work-related, so the conversation ends in a handshake, a decision which clearly bemuses Don. I’m guessing it probably wasn’t a coincidence that the shot was framed in such a way that Megan appeared to be between them.

Not that I want to come across as overly cynical, but when Sally started asking about eating dinner with Henry, my first thought was, “What’s she up to?” Up to this point, all we’ve really seen is tension between Sally and Betty, and now Sally’s trying to suck up…? It just goes against everything we know about her.

Why am I not surprised that Sally’s new boyfriend has some experience with tricking psychiatrist? He’s such a creepy little bugger. He’s also got an ego, first asking her if she thinks he’s smarter than her psychiatrist (wisely, she remains mum on the matter), then wanting to know if she talks to her mom about him. She did, but she doesn’t anymore. Sally’s modus operandi is to just do whatever her mother asks her to do, thereby keeping her off her back. That’s great, but it’s too late: the emotional scars from their mother/daughter relationship are already in place. The poor kid has no concept of a parent or role model who would actually feel a sense of pride from her actions. She doesn’t even believe in Heaven. That’s just sad…

And could Betty possibly have looked more horrified at the news that Sally was all better? “I’m afraid of losing this influence,” Betty says, but it’s clear that what she’s afraid of is losing the chance to talk to a psychiatrist without all that nasty stigma of actually going to one on her own.

I’m pretty sure my expression mirrored Don’s when Midge came onto the screen. Indeed, I actually had to Google her to refresh my memory on exactly who she was…but, in my defense, I wasn’t blogging Season 1, so I wasn’t following the ins and outs of the show quite as diligently at the time. It seemed more than a little bit odd that she’d invite Don, a former lover, over to meet her husband, so I was pretty suspicious about her intentions from the get-go, and once we actually met her husband, I knew something was off-kilter. Not like it was hard to tell, what with the hubby all but pimping out his honey, saying to Don, “She digs you…and I can tell you, she’d do anything if you bought one.” But heroin…? I definitely didn’t see that coming. Her state of affairs is pretty tragic, but it was almost as depressing to see Don twitch when she told him that she was glad he hadn’t changed.

It was a cute little scene with a nervous Don reciting the old “Peter Piper” line, having to get assurance from Peggy that he’s going to do great with the Philip Morris meeting. How depressing, then, to have it turn into the same situation as Heinz: a desire to wait six months and see how things are going with the firm then. I laughed out loud at Harry’s attempt to slip into the gathering of the partners, but there weren’t any smiles being cracked within the office. When Don tossed back his drink and stormed out of the office, I figured he was probably off to beat the bushes and find a new client. Instead, he was actually heading back to his office to have another drink and wallow in self-pity. After his brief rant about the unimportance of creative types, Peggy looked like she was going to cry, “I have no more heroes!”

Tensions are running high outside of the office, too. The way Pete reacted to the news that he – like the rest of the partners – would have to fork out a sizable chunk of dough to keep the firm afloat, I immediately wondered if he even had that much, especially having just had a baby. He didn’t, of course. When he went to Trudy and told her the situation, though, I didn’t expect that kind of reaction, given that she’s always been so supportive of his endeavors in the past. Is it sexist to suggest that maybe it’s at least partially the hormones talking?

For Don, the time has come at last: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may be, according to Atherton, “a certain kind of girl,” but that girl is finally giving up cigarettes. It’s arguably the ballsiest move Don’s ever made, putting his thoughts on the matter to paper and running them in The New York Times, but, damn, what a way to make the firm stand out in the crowd. Personally, I thought the move was genius, but everyone else was ready to throttle Don, and I laughed out loud at Roger’s lone positive spin on the situation: “It’s good not to be the reason this place went down anymore.” Be honest: did you really think it was RFK on the phone? I knew it had to be a prank. In fact, my thought was, “Is it Ted Shaw, or is it someone from within SCD&P?” It was the latter, of course, but, really, it could’ve gone either way. The kids in the office have no respect for Don, anyway, and…well, you know things are bad when Bert Cooper takes his shoes and goes home. (Megan’s in his court, at least, but that doesn’t count for a lot at the moment.)

Does Peggy really have so little self-confidence that she thought Don was going to let her go before anyone else? Another chuckle-worthy moment came when she instantly threw Danny to the wolves, but it was really quite sweet when threw his “shenanigans” comment back in his lap. Faye’s support for Don is unyielding: his actions cause her firm to depart from SCD&P, but she’s still ready to spend the evening with him. It’s worth it, she feels, for them to now be able to have a relationship that doesn’t find them working together…but what if work was the only real bond between them? What a great scene between Faye and Peggy at the end, too, revealing the similarities between their characters.

I knew that Sally’s storyline would cross with Betty’s at some point, but I can’t say as I anticipated that Betty would stumble upon Sally’s liaisons with her boyfriend. I feel strange saying this, but…for once, I actually feel comfortable siding with one of Betty’s parental decisions: I know it’s a heartbreaker for Sally, but Betty needed to cut ties with that house, and we know Sally’s boyfriend is a creep, so the idea of moving seems like a no-lose scenario. Still, handling it with that “she’ll get over it” mentality was 100% typical Betty, so it was pretty easy to go right back to disliking her.

The final meeting of the episode held several more funny moments – Lane seconding Joan’s sage wisdom on the matter of making sure that office supplies don’t walk out with the departing employees, the fact that the first significant call after Don’s ad was from the American Cancer Society, Roger saying, “I’ve got to go learn a bunch of people’s names before I fire them” – but it also featured a surprising one, with Lane revealing that Don had paid Pete’s share of the money to keep the firm afloat. Maybe it’s just to keep Pete’s mouth shut (he does still know his secret, after all), but it was still a sweet gesture.

Things aren’t exactly on a positive upswing for next week’s season finale. Will the day yet be saved, or will Season 5 kick off with yet another new firm? We shall see…

  

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