Mad Men recap: Gold Mettle
When Roger put on that fedora in Joan’s entryway, the hat cockeyed and forlorn, I had a feeling that we too were saying goodbye. “So that night we got mugged,” he asked her. “That was the last time? I wish I’d known that.” I can’t help but wonder if we’ve seen the last of the Roger we’ve come to love, the one who made us snicker and groan. Perhaps we too should’ve better savored the man’s wit. It was long gone this hard episode, as he dodged and crumbled and whined over the loss of Lucky Strike.
Ken was the first get the scoop, while out to dinner with his cutie fiancee and her rich parents. She was just in the middle of a story about Trudy going into labor in the middle of a rhododendron lecture (hooray!), when a SCDP rival oozed up to the table with news of Lucky Strike’s defection. Ken collected Pete from the hospital waiting room and they pulled Mr. Cooper out of bed and Don out of Faye’s ravenous embrace. Oof, that was a tough scene, watching Roger give a bad impression of himself while pretending to chew out Lee Garner Jr. on the phone. Perhaps it was a little ridiculous getting a close-up of his hand pressing down the receiver, but the point was that this man himself is ridiculous. Later, he holed up in a downtown hotel rather than going through the ruse of flying to Raleigh to plead the agency’s case. He’s a mess. He’s a coward. He needed his Joanie.
How my heart goes flippity-flop when I see Joan do the smallest of everyday gestures, like when she briskly unclipped her earring before answering the phone. “Dammit Roger!” she cried. “Get on a plane. You’re very persuasive in person.” Ha! He fessed up to the mess he created, and any love she’s long felt for this man seemed to drain out of her already pale face. He showed up later at her apartment which I hoped meant we would get another scene of her in glasses, but we were forced to make do with her I’m-so-over-it pajamas. “Is that what you sleep in now?” said a peevish Roger. He tried his best to explain that he really needed her right now, and that they belonged together in his times of crisis, but she gave him the sad, strong arm. He exhausts her. He exhausts himself.
With the loss of Lucky Strike, Roger had been rendered meaningless at the office. The only man who’s been bringing in any real business is Pete. And now Don doesn’t think his head in the game because of Trudy’s too-small pelvis. “They should cut it out!” barked Mr. Cooper, as Joan’s face stared blankly in the background. (Yes, yes, I think she’s exhausted because of the baby too.) If Don hadn’t been such a Dick last week, the agency would have North American Aviation to help mend their cigarette-mashed hearts.
NEXT: The most odd and genuinely romantic line of this whole series?
As it was, the partners had to give a state of the union address to the agency, with the three stooges Stan, Freddie, and Danny in the back taking bets on why they’d been summoned. Mr. Cooper read off a piece of paper and then it was Don’s turn up to bat, the employees looking to him for grit and reassurance. He gave the anti-Obama speech—“Nothing should change, nothing will change!”—and then summoned creative into his office. He was counting on them, counting on Peggy, to stabilize and secure their existing clients.
Peggy, the one bright light of the episode, was more than up to the task. Dang, that girl floated into the office high on afterglow. After a chance ride home from Jones Beach on Abe’s lap, she invited him back to her happy slob pit of a room and those two kids got it on until the break of dawn. I love his legs. He loves her Olympian shoulders, which might have been the most odd and genuinely romantic line of this whole series. The next day, after a morning romp, air-conditioning man be damned, her Catholic guilt fizzled up to the surface when she heard about the loss of Lucky Strike. But she used her swirling hormones to fuel her Playtex presentation. As she dreamily listed off the many parts of a man’s body a woman wants to rub her soft hands on, Stan got an enormous boner under the table and Danny drooled donut. “I can’t imagine Don saying that,” he gasped, as Abe popped in with a special, Brooklynese delivery.
Stan, that goofy hunk of lunk, wrongly assumed the energy in the air to be aimed his way. When Peggy stretched her impressive shoulders as she amped herself up for the Playtex presentation, Stan pounced. He planted a Bluto kiss on her lips—poor thing is a smitten kitten!—and she brushed him off. “Why do you keep making me reject you?” she demanded. He paid her back later, first by wearing that awful spoiled avocado blazer and then by letting her swan into the presentation with a gob of lipstick on her teeth. She nailed the pitch, even with the client making what she figured were lewd french kiss faces at her. Afterward, Harry, who’s been suspiciously reduced to one or two zingers an episode, pointed out her gaffe. Stan gave her a gotcha look, she accepted it gamely. This is a woman who knows how to play well in the sandbox.
In a classic alcoholic’s move, Don had new rules for keeping his drinking in check. He was back on the hard stuff, but he figured he just needed to enlist the women in his life to cut him off after three. Pffft. Don usually shines when his back is against the wall. But last night was not a repeat of Season 3’s finale. He may have sidled up to his telephone’s blinking light like he was in a Western gunfight, his hand twitching at an imaginary holster, but Glo Coat still yanked the account. Then, like a complete bonehead, he chewed out Pete for the loss and for being distracted by Trudy’s labor pains. “Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” demanded Pete.
NEXT: A weak baby shower, and an even weaker funeral.
Seriously, watch yourself Don. At the very least, you’re chasing this young man who saved your ass into that worm Ted Chaough’s lap. Then Don went and tried to sweet talk Faye into hooking him up with the restless clients she gives counsel to for her job. “So I’m going to kill my business to save yours?” she raged. Don looked put out by her resistance, and what he saw as her unnecessarily sentimental call to ethics. “This is different, this is everything to me,” he said. Dammit man, you make it hard to root for you.
I laughed and laughed later when Megan popped into the partner klatch with news of Pete’s baby girl. “Hmm, congratulations, good job, congratulations,” murmured the group of unsentimental men. It was the softest, lamest baby shower ever. Okay then, off to the memorial service! Mr. Cooper was in a poaching state of mind, but first Don and Pete had to endure the niceties for the deceased. As the man’s colleagues praised Mr. Montgomery’s sporadic devotion to his family (“Lynn, it was your fifth birthday and the next day when we were in the airport…”), his survivors sat there stone-faced. The wife looked pissed, the daughter vacant. “I know it’s hard, but Dave loved you more than anything,” the man’s colleagues promised, which seemed to offer scant comfort. It was hard to tell what if anything Don and Pete were absorbing from the scene. I like to imagine otherwise for Pete, and for that little baby girl he had yet to meet, but both men seemed to have their eyes only focused on the prize. It was Purina that had their attention. Not the idea that a man could leave this world without ever really knowing how to love the women in his life.
Yikes Megan, I didn’t see you taking that bull by the horns. If Peggy hadn’t already gone home for the night, Don would’ve temporarily avoided diving into this new landmine. (Eventually this guy is going to have to learn how to take some responsibility for himself.) But after a day of rejection, Don was left at the office with just Megan and the omniscient janitor. Megan had already stroked his Clio (forgive me), rescuing the banished trophy from the corner and perching it front and center back on his desk. Don dismissed her, but that girl had learning on her mind. “I think eventually I’d like to do what you do, or what Miss Olson does,” she said before taking a seat on the sofa to bone up (why can’t I resist?) on strategy statements. Don got a few words out before he decided he’d really rather hear about how great he is. Megan’s flattery intrigued him, and prompted him to ask her a few questions about herself, which made her giggle because all she does all day is think about him, even when she goes home at night. Uh oh, trouble. One clasped wrist, one more appeal to the man’s courage, and Megan basically muscled a willing Don on top of her, promising him that she was the unsentimental type who didn’t let a good lay get in the way of business. I can’t decide if Megan is young and shrewd and unapologetically horny, or if she is simply the second coming of Jane. Maybe Faye was right all along and this guy will be remarried come next season.
NEXT: Faye disappoints.
Speaking of the J word, she was dressed up like a bearded dragon, holding court for herself in the Sterlings’ lifeless living room. Roger dribbled into the room, his slack face bleached of color, saying he needed to go to bed. Jane was sure she knew how to get him in a better mood. “What’d you buy?” he asked in a weary tone of voice. She presented him with a finished copy of his ridiculous book Sterling’s Gold. The illustration of the insouciant man on the back cover bore no resemblance to the broken man slumped next to her on the couch. Jane curled up like a kitten to her husband, who looked like he would gladly change places with David Montgomery. This man is not long for this world.
The episode ended with first Roger and Jane, and then Don and Faye, in the pose of Peggy’s Playtex couple. Oh Faye, you disappoint. After rightfully reading Don the riot act, she showed up at his door with news not that she was giving him the boot, but that she’d arranged a meeting for him with Heinz. Damn woman, even Don looked miserable for you for a second. I kept waiting for her to smell a whiff of Megan’s perfume or spot some suspect lipstick on his collar. But instead she waited for the world’s worst invitation to stay the night (“I may fall asleep on you”). She rested her head obliviously on her man’s heart, unaware of the demons pulsing within.
Such plagued men, Roger and Don, driven by ego, ruined by shame. In her client pitch, Peggy emphasized the “meaningful life a woman leads when work is done.” Roger and Don’s worlds lack any real meaning outside of the office, and that, along with the booze, is their downfall. But earlier, when Megan announced that Peggy had already left for the evening, wasn’t it fun picturing her diving back into bed with Abe? And maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I like to imagine that Pete only had eyes for his baby girl when he first held on her, and wasn’t consumed with thoughts of jumping ship. I dare say there’s hope for those two yet.
What did you folks think? Were you surprised by Megan’s gumption? Is she bad news? Would the Faye we know really have offered up Heinz that quickly? Please reassure me that Pete isn’t going to go work with that stinkweed Ted Chaough. Is Danny the new Miss Blankenship in terms of broad comic relief? Hands up if you think yes. Is marveling at Stan’s ridiculous shirts one of the highlights of your week? Any bets on what Trudy named the baby?
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Jon Hamm stars as Don Draper in the Emmy-winning ’60s-set drama