Mad Men recap: 'For Immediate Release'
It's Mother's Day in 1968 and Matthew Weiner delivers another game-changer
Hello. I’m filling in for the mighty Keith this week so please be kind. Like Peggy, I’m just trying to keep up.
We open with a banker-y looking fellow crunching some numbers with a dressed down Cooper, Pete and Joan — who has let her hair down for what is obviously some kind of clandestine meeting. “I’m sorry this is taking so long,” Banker McMoneyman says. “It’s a common mistake to not ask questions when you want something because you’re afraid of the answers.” And hel-lo: here we are in the opening minutes of this week’s episode and it’s like Matthew Weiner is shouting something very significant right to us! (Also, I believe this statement to be very much true.)
But veering off the philosophical for a second, we learn that SDCP is considering taking the company public — and here is where I will disclose I am absolutely the wrong person to explain what this exactly means except that Bank-y guy says it will be nine dollars a share (my handy inflation calculator puts this amount into modern monetary means of around $58) and Bert wants twelve. We also learn that Don doesn’t know about this yet (hmmm) and that everyone stands to make a million dollars which in 2013 money is a gazillion, basically.
Banky says he needs more time with the documents and that he’ll get back in 24 hours. “These papers are spotless, my compliments to the chef,” he says, leering at Joan. After Bert escorts him out, Pete — ever the charmer — comments to Joan, “It’s a marvel: Everyone wants you, don’t they?” And I suppose Pete Campbell being jerky enough to try to cut Joan down to the lowest, crassest level just means he’s staying consistent in character. He’s also not above vaguely hitting on her, commenting on her state of flush, and trying to get her stay for another drink. Joan being the smart cookie we know her to be frets mostly about what Don might think. She reminds Pete that the next day is Mother’s Day. Which is great news ’cause it’s not like anyone on this show has any mommy issues or anything.
Cut to: Roger in bed with a very young, very cute girl with great false eyelashes. We learn that this is Daisy (played by, holy hell, Danielle Panabaker!!?! Will these Disney girls stop at nothing to stamp out their Mouse House squeaky clean image?), a stewardess who is smart enough to wake up before Roger to put “her face on”, and that she works in a first class lounge, and that Roger is using her (in part) for information. Also, her uniform is amazing and short enough that we can see her ’60s-print undies when Roger manipulates her back to bed with, “Don’t go, my Mother just died.” Oh, Roger.
NEXT: So many more underpants Also in underpants is Pete Campbell, who slides into bed with Trudy and tries to awaken her with a little Mother’s Day Surprise. Sorry, I just grossed myself out too. The fact that she’s let him into the house means he’s already making progress winning Trudy back, but she puts a stop to anything else. Pete, being Pete, explodes with, “So we’ll maintain every other aspect of this marriage except the one that matters.” Pretty rich considering what got Pete into this position in the first place. Pete smarms some more about whether it counts that he wants her and then makes an allusion to the fact that he’s about to come into a whole lot of money soo. Trudy is, I’m afraid to report, visibly softening. Sigh.
Back in the city we see that Marie is at Maison Draper for Mother’s Day which is excellent news if, like me, you like a slightly bitter, quippy parent around to liven things up. She’s talking trash, in French, about her grandkids when Dr. Rosen shows up wearing a bathrobe and in a Mother’s Day panic on behalf of his son. Rosen and Marie flirt mildly — and when he departs she teases Don to keep an eye on the “handsome, talented” doctor and Megan. Me, Don and the entire Mad Men audience share a collective scoff at that one.
Across the park — presumably on the Upper West Side as Abe suggested to Peggy they live in last week’s episode — Abe is rocking overalls and no shirt and trying to do some handyman work. Peggy arrives home to explain about the poop on the stairs, probably from their junkie tenant upstairs. This leads me to believe that she has bought an entire brownstone and I don’t need my inflation calculator to know that this is a very good investment. But for now, Peggy seems a little freaked out about how much more shabby than chic her home is. Also that her handyman almost electrocutes himself in order to save money.
Back at the office Pete informs Don that Herb — of the gross Joan prostitution Herbs — has cancelled dinner, which Don deems to be a relief. Pete offers to have dinner with Don anyway — an offer Don bats away almost reflexively. In his office he finds Roger, who asks if Pete told him that dinner with Jaguar was off. “Yes,” says Don. “Unless it was the world’s most boring dream.” Oh shades-of-season-1-Don, I love you so. Roger informs him that dinner is still on with Herb, just without Pete involved. Roger suggests packing the dinner with spouses and visibly brightens when he hears Marie is in town.
Over at Peggy’s agency, Cutler Gleason and Chaough, a meeting is taking place with Ted Chaough, Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin, holla!) and Frank Gleason. They’re meeting about Chevrolet but Frank isn’t having it, tired of the astronauts and despairing over their decision to resign from Alfa Romeo (with a sly reference to the car Dustin Hoffman drove in 1967’s The Graduate, a movie I can only imagine Don went and saw four or five times.) But what Frank’s really upset about is that he has pancreatic cancer, and is worrying about taking down their agency. Ted, clearly rattled, reacts terrifically — he’s so weird but so far I think I do like him.
Roger gets a tip from Daisy that there’s some car executive stranded at the airport and we get an aaaaaaamzing shot of Roger emptying a bag full of Sterling’s Gold (to me, a joke that will never get old) and dashing off to the airport. Roger gets to the airport and meets Mikey: They bond through commiserating about how miserable flying can be (if they could only see what it’s like in 2013, and I don’t just mean the uniforms) and how cute Daisy is and Roger is clearly setting the stage for something: He even goes so far as to tell Daisy to bring him water, not alcohol, and to get him on Mikey’s flight. Who knew Roger even drank water?
NEXT: Ken Cosgrove! Meanwhile, Megan — in the elevator with her mother and a bunch of shopping bags — is stopped by some young girls for her autograph. She glances at her mother, clearly hoping for her approval or recognition of her growing fame, and gets le zip. Later, as they dress for dinner, Megan admits to her mother that things are not perfect with her marriage. Marie, probably rightly, points out that Don might be slightly put off by Megan’s career taking off and suggests, “Don’t dress like his wife. The only thought he should have at this meal is how quickly he can get between your legs.” Happy Mother’s Day! It sounds classier in French, I’m sure.
Megan takes this advice rather literally as we see at dinner she’s basically wearing a dress that looks like a gold shirt and no pants. But first she and Marie have to suffer to listening to Peaches, Herb’s wife, prattle on for a bit. Roger is a no-show (he’s getting on a flight with Mikey somewhere) and Marie looks murderous. She comments to Megan in French about breaking bottles over Mrs. Herb’s head. Marie is fun.
But when the ladies go to the restroom things get a lot less fun, starting when Herb leers grossly at Megan and then really puts his back into insulting, asking him to run his work by some kid who writes flyers for Herb’s dealership. Don seems delighted to tell Herb he’s done with him — even making a fat joke to boot — and I still don’t really understand just how important Herb even is in relation to Jaguar. Either way, Don seems happier than he has all season to say goodbye to Herb. “I’ve never felt better in my life,” he tells him.
At home, Don demonstrate that Megan’s choice of wardrobe has paid off and that mothers really do seem to know best as he celebrates happiness the only way Don Draper really knows how (this is also how he expresses sadness and rage, too.)…. And there goes the third pair of underpants we’ve seen at 24 minutes into this episode.
Marie, drinking her way through the horror of having to listen to her daughter have sex against a wall, answers the phone and is made even more unhappy to hear it’s Roger (calling from the coolest-looking pay phone in the world). Roger steps in it when he admits he really wanted to talk to Don about something really big but whatever, as far as I’m concerned this scene is really all about how Marie refers to Herb’s wife as “the apple that goes in the pig’s mouth.” Le zing!
Back at the office, Burt Cooper moves faster than a man in only socks should be able to and gleefully tells Pete that Banky has gotten back to them and, pending due diligence, the news is good: $11 dollars a share. Pete almost bursts into tears of happiness and even Cooper can’t help but want a drink to celebrate (though sadly, Pete is out of Elderflower.) Basically everyone at SCDP stands to get very very very rich. Am I the only one who feels sad thinking about poor Lane?
Pete Campbell sure isn’t. He’s with Bob Benson, that ass-kisser that my father would refer to as “a haircut” who keeps trying to ingratiate his way in with the top brass — in this case by trying to pay for Pete’s good time — at some crazy ’60s pleasure party house. But uh oh: Leaving a room with a scantily clad African American lady is their man from Vick’s who also happens to be Pete’s father-in-law. It’s hard to say who is more horrified, though Pete does turn an impressive shade of green.
The next morning a still-pale Pete comes to Ken Cosgrove. Hooray for a Ken scene! Pete lays it out: “I saw my father-in-law with the biggest, blackest prostitute you’ve ever seen.” Kenny just laughs, which is awesome. But this is not the end of Ken Cosgrove awesomeness: He then launches into a story about how this is like the time this movie came to his little town in Vermont — “A delivery system for some filthy stuff” — and that he saw his science teacher there. (Thankfully not “working the slide ruler.”) He tries to hip Pete to the concept of mutual assured destruction, meaning that since both men are guilty they’d both be doomed if they sell the other one out. Or something. I’m not sure if this is the same thing at all, Ken, but I do love your sunny optimism and your hair and your smile and it seems like you’d smell good and I’d like to read whatever sci-fi novel you are working on at night. As if things couldn’t get worse, an urgent calls in from Jaguar.
NEXT: Pete takes the fall This leads to Pete raging down the steps and then, you guys, taking the best fall I’ve ever seen. Seriously. I’ve re-watched it now about four or five times. It’s just about the best two seconds of television I think I’ve ever seen. Oh internet, can’t you please make a gif of this? (Oh you have: Thank you!) Pete then goes on to lose his damn mind in front of basically everyone in the office that Don has ruined the company’s public offering — something most of them knew nothing about — and thankfully Joan is there to wisely pull these two into a conference room. Amidst the shouting, Roger arrives triumphantly to let everyone know that thanks to drinking with Mikey O’Brien en route to Detroit, they will be presenting for Chevy in just a few days. Don is all, see? Things work out! But Pete will not be placated: “Don’t act like you had a plan: You’re like Tarzan swinging from vine to vine,” he seethes. But the real surprise is Joan, who is even angrier than Pete. Don asks, “don’t you feel 300 lbs lighter?” Uh, nope, she doesn’t.
What was the point of it all if Don is allowed to claim the moral high ground? “If I could deal with him, you could deal with him,” she says. She’s not wrong, but I’m still glad to see the last of gross Herb. She’s also not wrong that Don doesn’t really ever think of himself as a “we.” This becomes key to this episode by the end.
The creatives meet about Chevy’s new secret car. Stan — looking clear-eyed and lucid — wants to know who they’re competing against and he’s pretty psyched to hear it’s just “two steamships and a rowboat.” Don is looking even happier than he did telling Herb to eff off. This doesn’t seem to bode well, does it?
Peggy finds Ted on his office floor trying to watch TV. He’s clearly spooked by the weight of the knowledge of his partner’s illness and the amount riding on this Chevy account. After getting in her face and begging her not to call him nice, he kisses her — and ugh, I’ve been sort of waiting for this to happen all season. Peggy doesn’t pull away but Ted quickly does and apologizes.
Don gets into the elevator with a rough-looking Rosen (are there any other people in this building?) and he informs Don that he’s quit his job after losing two patients. “I don’t believe in fate,” Don Draper/Dick Whitman tells him and then turns down the offer to go for a drink, which means he really does believe in free will ’cause I wouldn’t have called that one. Megan, perhaps continuing on the thus far effective please-your-man-with-sex strategy, attacks him when he gets home.
The following morning at the airport we learn via Daisy that men from the competing agency, Dancer, are on the same flight as Don and Roger. One annoying dude comes over and, as the ad men banter nastily for a bit, lets the news drop that Vick’s — and their $9 million in billing — is suddenly up for grabs. “Anybody have a cough drop? I know these guys don’t.” Burn. An unruffled Roger drinks a martini and gloats that Daisy will make sure to lose their luggage.
NEXT: The two tribes merge Pete storms over to his father-in-law’s who is not having it at all. His daughter is a princess, after all, and now he knows what kind of guy Pete is. So much for Ken’s theory about mutual assured destruction.
Peggy is home and not enjoying being a pioneer so much where kids light firecrackers on her front stoop and she can’t wear shoes. But good old Abe, he is enjoying that the times, they are a’changing. Peggy goes into a reverie that involves changing undershirt-wearing Abe to a turtleneck-wearing Ted reading the mythical book Something by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Take from this what you will. Or go back and read your copy of Sterling’s Gold. She kisses dream Ted passionately. Oh, Peggy.
In Detroit Don, as usual, can’t sleep and heads to the bar where real life Ted enters, wearing a very real turtleneck. “Damn it,” Ted says, realizing what it means to see an SCDP snake in Motor City paradise. He tells Don they’re both dead meat: that bringing in two small agencies among the big ones means they’ll just take their creative work and give it to the bigger agency. Don’s Chevy glow begins to fade, as he realizes Ted might be right. “This business is rigged,” Don says, ordering another drink. Ted suggests they show each other their pitches. Don tells him to go first and Ted stands up and delivers a spiel about the young at heart. Not bad. And then Don lays his out: classic Draper, involving music and wonder and power. Don then proposes they join forces (using the line, “Hey, Lieutenant: want to get into trouble?” — a callback to the season premiere and a conversation that took place at a different hotel bar).
The next morning, as “Baby Jane (Mo Mo Jane)” by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels plays, the two agencies meet up at Chevy headquarters. “I want to make this clear,” says bizarro Roger (Harry Hamlin). “Unless this works, I’m against it.”
Pete waits for Trudy, creepily, at her house. He asks her to sit down and he tells her that his father pulled his business from the agency. Trudy doesn’t care. “You understand we were going to be very rich and he ruined that,” Pete says. Trudy, a good daddy’s girl, rises to the defense of her father. And then Pete Campbell, displaying every ounce of Pete Campbell-ness, goes ahead and tells her he saw her father with a “200-pound Negro” prostitute. Stay classy, Campbell. Trudy, quite rightly, tosses him out the door.
Ted arrives back from Detroit and summons Peggy, wearing a cute short dress (with a questionable bow) to his office where… surprise! There’s Don, sitting on the couch. The new buddy duo of Ted and Don inform her that the companies are merging and Don — remembering how crappily he did it last time — asks rather than assumes that she stick with them. Peggy gets tasked to write the press release (which explains this week’s title) and this new company doesn’t even have a name yet. “Make it sound like the company you want to work for,” Don tells her, before further confusing matters by implying she’ll still report to Ted. Of course.
Well, who saw this one coming?! Certainly not me. Next week, there are doors, conversations, bad news, and boxes!
Jon Hamm stars as Don Draper in the Emmy-winning ’60s-set drama