Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

'Mad Men' Recap: Will the real Bob Benson please stand up?

SPOILER ALERT: STOP READING AND WATCH LAST NIGHT'S PENULTIMATE EPISODE OF MAD MEN'S SIXTH SEASON.

'Mad Men' Recap: Will the real Bob Benson please stand up?

Michael Yarish/AMC

SPOILER ALERT: STOP READING AND WATCH LAST NIGHT'S PENULTIMATE EPISODE OF MAD MEN'S SIXTH SEASON.


We start off with Don in the fetal position, sleeping alone in Sally's bed in his apartment. It's clear that he's rattled with guilt over having been caught with his mistress. He appears to be on a classic Don Draper bender. For breakfast, he takes a splash of O.J. with his vodka. Megan's concerned about him and urges him to stay home for the day.


Peggy and Chaough... barf. The two of them are doodling each other's names on their trapperkeepers and finishing each other's sentences. It's a wonder Teddy wasn't walking around with his hand in her back pocket like they were hanging out at the Orange Julius at the mall waiting for their parents to come pick them up. Get a room.

Later in the day, Don and Megan go to the movies to see (SURPRISE!) Rosemary's Baby.

*Insert Sharon Tate reference here*


On the way out of their seats, the Drapers bump into Peggy and Chaough who are tripping over themselves to awkwardly excuse the fact that they're (actually) in love and (basically) on a date. You can feel Don's wheels turning as he realizes he's now in a position of power next to Teddy Chaough, who's blinded by his infatuation with Sterling Cooper's chief copywriter.


The group discusses an idea for a spot based on the film, which eventually leads to one of the more enjoyable Don Draper moments of the season, as Teddy goads him into pretending to cry like the baby in the ad. Eventually, they realize that the commercial will go over budget, so they set out to shoot it and convince the client, St. Joseph's, that the money was worth it, after the fact.


But, Don Draper's got a different plan in mind.


When Don needed help finding a way to get Sylvia's son out of having to go to Vietnam, Teddy Chaough asked him to put down his weapons in exchange for the favor. In doing so, Chaough inadvertantly alerted Don to the fact that a war was going on in the first place, essentially screwing himself in the process becase the best way to win a fight is to smash the other guy in the face with a brick before he knows he's in a fight.


Now, we've got a different Don Draper than we've seen before. He calls up Harry Crane in California and makes the Sunkist thing happen, even though he had previously promised Ted that it was off the table. Then, Don Draper apologized. Think about that for a second. The man apologized. After sabotaging the St. Joseph's idea by sending over a revised budget, Don's agreeable and says he'll back Chaough up the following day. He's apologizing and being cooperative. Not exactly the Don Draper we're used to. Teddy Chaough just shot himself and probably won't come out of it as marginally unharmed as Ken Cosgrove did.


Meanwhile, Sally Draper is busy growing up. She's sick of her father's line of bullsh** and can't stand her mother. So, her suggested solution is boarding school, where none of the limited parental supervision she's used to will stand in the way of her angsty, peer-presured development. Sally goes to a presitigious boarding school for an overnight visit to check out the campus and see if it's a good fit (read: drink, smoke, and smuggle boys into her room). She's tentative, still not ready to fool around with boys or smoke weed, but rebellious to the point that she enjoys the rush she gets when she's doing something wrong.


This makes her absolutely terrifying.


When Glen and one of the other girls pair off, she's left with some typical bro who's trying to talk her into hooking up. She says he tried to force her Glen beats him up as she watches, smirking from the corner.


Sally's manipulative like her father, but petty and jealous like her mother. She's the perfect storm of sinister and capable. Regina George ain't got nothin' on Sally Draper. It's only a matter of time before that boarding school has a Burn Book scandal on its hands.


After Sally's visit, Betty lets her smoke in the car and prods her for the dirty details of her visit. It's clear that Betty's aware that Don has really screwed up this time. Already resigned to the fact that she can't be a great mom to Sally, Betty seems all too content with being her daughter's new BFF. This little girl is doomed.


Then there's the whole Bob Benson fiasco. With Ken Cosgrove bailing on the Chevy account, Pete Campbell and his fivehead are all set to slide right in up in Detroit. But, the Sterling Cooper partners are insisting that he take Bob Benson with him. Campbell's averse to the notion because of the epic knee rub that happened last week.
In an effort to get Benson out at Sterling Cooper, Campbell gives our boy Duck Phillips a call to see if there's a spot for him at another agency. The result of this preliminary phone call is that Duck Phillips calls back to report that BOB BENSON'S A PHONY! He's from West Virginia (the son of a brother and sister, apparently) and worked as a man servant for three years. Most of his backstory is a fraud and Pete Campbell knows about it. Sound familiar? Last time we were in this situation, Pete Campbell stormed into Bert Cooper's office to snitch out Dick Whitman. This time around, he's learned his lesson and decides to let the whole Will the Real Bob Benson Please Stand Up? thing drop.

Keep your friends close but your enemies... closer.


In the meeting with St. Joseph's, Teddy and Peggy aren't persuasive enough to get their larger budget. When the client pushes for an explanation as to why he was blindsided by the request in the first place, everyone is kicking dirt until Don steps up and starts to throw his colleagues and their obtrusive new romance under the bus. He explains that the motive was severely personal and that Ted probably didn't want to talk about it. Don practically starts to sing K-I-S-S-I-N-G before finally allowing the other shoe to drop, suggesting that the request was because the spot was the last great idea from the late Frank Gleason. Everyone else in the room was expecting him to out Peggy and Ted for whatever the hell their obnoxiously flirty dance has become.


In the aftermath of the situation, Don lectures Chaough. He urges him to get back to thinking with his head and offers an, "I know your little girl has beautiful eyes, but that doesn't mean you give her everything." The line is poetically reversed a few scenes later when Sally Draper is smoking in the car (like a bawse) and says, "My father's never given me anything."


Peggy's all pieved because her boss/crush left the office to avoid her. She runs in to take it out on Don who, for once, isn't really the bad guy here. Sure, he didn't have to ambush them, covertly napalming their blossoming affair in its infancy during a client meeting. But, really, watching those two yuk it up was offputting as hell.

Plus, since he was a kid, Don's been conditioned to keep his private life private. He's ashamed of his sex life, but that (obviously) doesn't mean he doesn't have one. It's OK to sleep with your secretary, but it's not OK to act like you're sleeping with your secretary. In the show's pilot, Peggy puts her hand on Don's and he chastises her with a harsh, "I'm not your boyfriend." In this episode, he's making sure that Ted realizes that he's not her boyfriend, either.


The episode closes just as it started, with Don Draper by himself, sleeping in the fetal position. Don Draper: Forever alone.


Notes

 

  • They shot Ken Cosgrove in the face! Of course Roger Sterling is the one cracking all of the pirate jokes at Cosgrove's expense.
  • I can't decide whether I prefer Don's "I love puppies!" from earlier in the season or his impersonation of a wailing baby in last night's episode.
  • "You finally found a hooker that will take traveler's checks?" - Don Draper
  • Peggy's made a habit of messing around with Don Draper's adversaries. Pete Campbell early on. Duck Phillips when he and Don were at each other's throats for a while there. Now Teddy Chaough. Guess she has a type: the anti-Don Draper.
  • I don't like the image of Don Draper at the movies with Megan. For whatever reason, I've always liked the fact that The Dark Room has been his place. He goes by himself, or to bond with his son, or to inspire Peggy. The idea that he sometimes goes to the movies because he's not feeling well and his wife thinks it'll help is so normal and boring, to me.
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