Mad Men Recap: 'It's All About What It Looks Like'

mad-men-trudy 300Don’s desire to change his life’s downward trajectory stalls in this week’s Mad Men — or maybe it just gets tired of waiting for him to stop shtupping his neighbor. Meanwhile, Peggy gets a nudge toward becoming a true Mad Woman and Pete has never known the all-encompassing wrath of a suburban housewife scorned… but he’s about to. Let’s review the major developmets that take place in the Jon Hamm-directed “The Collaborators.”

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CARRY ON | At the beginning of the episode, Don has a morning rendezvous with Sylvia Rosen just after her husband leaves for work. As he approaches her doorway, Draper flashes back to what I’m assuming is his first glimpse of a hooker, a tawdry blonde who was sitting in the living room when he and his pregnant stepmother arrived at the whorehouse where his aunt lives. His aunt introduces them to Mack, who lasciviously eyes Don’s stepmom and tells them he’s the “rooster” in the hen house they’lll be calling home. “You keep your eyes down and mind your own business,” Abigail Whitman warns the teen. Back in the present, a post-coital Don and Sylvia smoke in bed. She wonders how they’re going to get through a double dinner date with their significant others later that week. “I don’t think about it,” he replies, seeming very untroubled about the whole thing. “They’re both good company.”

But Sylvia’s agitation continues to grow when she and Megan run into each other in the laundry room and Don’s upset wife confesses that she recently miscarried – and he doesn’t know. (The Awkward Moment of the Evening Award goes to when Megan announces what happened and Sylvia thinks she’s still describing her character’s plot on the soap. Eep.) Adding to Megan’s guilt is the fact that she’d been considering an abortion – though she never actually says the word – and she was relieved when she realized she didn’t have to make that decision. Citing the Catholic upbringing they both share, Sylvia says she’d never be able to consider such a thing. Just then, Don comes home and is perplexed to see his crying wife and his mistress hanging out. Sylvia leaves abruptly.

TABLE FOR FOUR TWO | When Megan doesn’t feel well and Rosen gets a medical call during dinner with Draper, Don and Sylvia are left to dine alone. She’s very snippy to him at first, saying she “doesn’t know what we’re doing” and wondering how he can “enjoy how foolish they both look.” But this isn’t Don’s first trip to the freaked-out-cheating-wife rodeo, and he lassoes this bull like a pro. “Now I understand,” he says calmly but with purpose, as if she’s an account he knows he’s going to land. “You want to feel sh—y right up to the point I take your dress off… because I’m going to do that.” (So wrong, yet so hot.) Shots of them getting it on after the meal are intercut with his speech, making it literally a foregone conclusion that she’s going to get over whatever’s bugging her. For now.

Megan later confesses to Don that she’d lost the pregnancy at six weeks. They have an oblique conversation about what she wants and whether it’s the right time; though he says she should have told him, he doesn’t seem terribly broken up about what’s transpired. And later, we see him making a plan to visit Dr. Rosen’s wife again in the morning – but when he gets to his own door, he flashes back to spying on “Uncle” Mack bedding Abigail – and sits heavily on the hallway floor.

‘BOUT TIME | Pete flirts with Brenda, one of his and Trudy’s new neighbors, and it’s not long before the blonde is visiting him at his New York apartment. He uses his best lines on her – asking her whether the temperature suits her, then remarking “It’s been known to get hot” (Side note: Ugh. Seriously, how does this guy get so much action?) – and pretty soon she’s putting her stockings back on and remarking that the place could use “a woman’s touch.” Uh-oh, Pete, better douse yourself in Downy, because you’ve found yourself a real clinger.

That state of affairs becomes more evident when Brenda frantically knocks on the Campbells’ door late one night. The blonde’s husband, who hit her in the face, calls out that she’s Pete’s problem now as the Campbells take her inside. Trudy sends Pete to get some medical supplies from another room, and he’s slow to move. What he says: “I’ll be right back.” What he means: “For the love of my receding hairline, please don’t confess our illicit meeting to my wife while I’m out of the room.” Don’t worry, Pete –your chippy saves that bomb until Trudy’s driving her to a hotel.

The next morning, Trudy is waiting for her husband in the kitchen. (Didn’t you just know this was coming from the way she looked at him when she got home the night before?) “Somehow, I thought that there was some dignity in being discreet. She lives on our block!” she growls – she’s known about his infidelity all along, it appears; what really cheeses her off is that he brought it home. She bans him from the house unless he has her explicit consent to be there. “I’m drawing a 50-mile radius around this house, and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you,” she informs him. Good God, Alison Brie is on fire in this scene.

KETCHUP KERFUFFLE | Raymond from Heinz beans brings his colleague Timmy, who deals with the company’s ketchup division, to meet the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce  gang. But Timmy makes it clear that it’s not an official visit, and even more puzzling, Raymond later tells them not to pursue him because he doesn’t want Timmy sharing in the glory that SCDP has brought to his bean biz. After Raymond leaves, Ken is incredulous that the firm isn’t going to go after Heinz ketchup. After all, “It’s the Coca-Cola of condiments!” (Heh. By the way, that line is my third favorite from the scene, after “Suicide mission: vinegars, sauces and baked beans” and “Ketchup is the gold standard.”) Don reminds them that Raymond hired them when they really needed him, so they’ll honor his wishes and leave Timmy alone.

When Stan relates all of this to Peggy during one of their late-night calls (I loved this exchange: PEGGY: “Everyone hates me here.” STAN: “That was bound to happen.”), and then Peggy tells Ted, he sees it as an opportunity to best SCDP. She objects at first, but starts to get on board. “Your friend’s mistake was underestimating you,” he says. One ketchup cha-cha on the way, boss!

JAGUAR FOR THE COMMON MAN | Herb Rennet, whom Joan bedded in order for the firm to land Jaguar, arrives at the office and immediately sleazes his way to the redhead’s door. When she’s frosty to him, he says, “You know there’s part of you that’s happy to see me.” She fixes him with that look and replies, “And I know there’s part of you you haven’t seen in years.” Fat-guy burn! She beats it to Don’s office, pours herself a drink and knocks it back while informing him that Herb’s there.

Herb’s gross, so let’s just get to his point: He wants the Jaguar campaign Don pitched – and the dealers bought – to focus more on getting buyers into local dealerships and less on building the idea of Jaguar as a luxury item in the national market. And he wants SCDP to suggest it, because the association is much more likely to listen to the experts than a sweaty Jersey mouthbreather like himself. He’s the client, so they do as he asks – but Don craftily sabotages the meeting by comparing Jaguars to used cars and suggesting that “truck drivers and housewives” are their target audience. (That one gets a smirk out of Roger.) The rest of Herb’s delegation decides not to go with SCDP’s suggestion; after they leave, Pete rails against Draper for working against him and not doing what the client asked.

Later, when Bob stops by Pete’s office, we learn that he was in finance for a while but wanted to be an advertising player because Campbell & Co. made it look so fun. “It’s all about what it looks like, isn’t it?” Pete wearily responds.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Adam says:

    It was a good episode with a lot of guilt going around between the characters (isn’t there always?), but the show seems to be responding to last year’s criticism that not enough was happening or moving too slowly by packing a lot of action into one episode and using more overt symbolism.

  2. Colleen says:

    The Stan/Peggy phonecalls have to be some of the best scenes around.

    I have waited to so long for Trudy to call Pete out, and it was well worth.

    Who was it playing the other neighbor at the start of the episode (not the blong)

    • Colleen says:

      Ok so I placed it – its Katie Walder in the scene tonight – is Matt Weiner some sort of closet Gilmore Girls fan? I half expect to see Pete hooking up with Liza Weil or Olivia Hack next…

  3. I think Alison Brie was wonderful– a great actress. Jessica Paré is better than people believe. She really brought the whole Megan in trouble but unaware of Don’s infidelity thing alive. This is beginning to be more the 1968 I knew as a teen, but I never knew people with money and a warlike attitude then, so it is also different. How will MM end???????

  4. Lindsey says:

    I was just thinking at the beginning of the episode how I wasn’t a fan of Alison Brie on this show. Boy, did she prove me wrong with that ending scene!

  5. anna says:

    How much longer is this Don/Sylvia crap going to go on for? They are both so loathsome. And why is Megan suddenly so dumb this season? Last season she was paranoid about him cheating on her now it doesn’t even occur to her. And PLEASE do not have Megan get pregnant again. Don doesn’t even care about the 3 kids he already has.

    And where’s Betty?? I thought she had a much larger role this season.

    • Good comment. Don and Sylvia are so horrible. The whole comment by Dr. Rosen about how people are willing to do anything to relieve their anxieties is just not true. It’s like a one-size-fits-all excuse for appalling behavior and a weak and false way to explain Don Draper.

    • td says:

      This is only the second episode (or third, if you count the premiere as two, which they officially are). Betty had a highly significant role in the premiere. Virtually no character (except Don) gets a significant role in every episode–the cast is too big.

    • Sylvia’s an attractive woman. But it does surprise me that Megan seems to have no suspicion of the sexual relationship between Don and Sylvia. And what about the doctor? He has no feeling of what’s going on with his own wife? It is rather surprising. I’m sure it will all blow up in Don’s face… hope something more interesting happens. It’s not “free love” as someone commented. For that to be the case, Megan and Dr. Rosen would have to agree to the relationship.

    • Kalina says:

      I never cared for Linda Cardellini in ER and still don’t. She has very immature looks and I always get a sense of a teenager acting as a grownup. I don’t find her sexy or attractive at all and wonder why she was cast in the first place. Funny how she gets cast opposite the hottest men (Jon Hamm and in ER, Goran Visnjic).

  6. P K says:

    I am not sure if that was Don’s mother with Uncle Mac in the second flashback scene, I mthink it was don’s aunt, Uncle Mac’s wife.

    • Chloe says:

      I thought it was his mother because she looked pregnant.

      I personally hope that Stan’s babbling will be discovered and that he will be fired. It’s fine to keep in touch with a former coworker but you shouldn’t be discussing business with them, especially when that info could be used against your firm. I’d like to see Roger & Don rip into him and then toss him out of the firm. And if the writers could come up with a way for him to NOT go to the competition, so much the better. [Is that elevator still acting wonky?] LOL

    • sophie says:

      Yes, Don’s mother died giving birth do Don. The women from the flashback is Abigail, his stepmother. Please change this in the recap so people don’t get confused.

      • Abby says:

        Exactly. In a pretty heavy Don episode, it would be nice to see crucial character history & players actually noted accurately.

      • Kimberly Roots says:

        Don’s stepmother Abigail was noted by name, but the “step” has been added to make it clear for anyone confused.– KR

  7. Gail says:

    I believe the pregnant woman who came to the whorehouse with young Don was his step mother. His birth mother died when he was born. His mother was a whore and his father her john. He was left with his father and his wife as an infant after his mother died. His father died in the barn when drunk and getting kicked in the head. Don was in the barn when his father died.

    • sophie says:

      Yep, that’s how it was. I don’t understand how people forgot that Don’s mother died giving birth to him. Also ”Uncle Mac” was not his real uncle, he just called him that. He was the lover of Abigail, after Don’s father died.

  8. sophie says:

    Finally Trudy!!! Pete really has no standards, he is just awful. It reminded me when Don slept with Sally’s teacher, I mean seriously it’s like bringing your mistress to your wife’s bed, disgusting.
    Oh wait, Don is doing exactly that! Again! No character growth at all. I don’t even care for Megan but this poor doctor, in his own home. How low can you stoop, Don?

    • whowho says:

      Did people really sleep around this much?

      • MissMe says:

        I was wondering that too! I know it was free love or whatever in the 60’s. But THIS MUCH! Yeesh.

        I’ve wondered the same thing about the show Nashville. I’m not a prude at all but my husband and I were discussing if people really sleep around that much. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m watching pornography!??!?!? (Grateful to be monogamous)

        • dude says:

          It’s funny cause when they opened this week’s Nashville with Hayden in bed with her mother’s sponsor I thought “wow, a lot of sex happens on this show”

        • This is not “Free Love.” Free love involves freedom and consent on the part of everyone in the situation. This is just old fashioned sexual infidelity (boring). I’d love to see Megan agree to it, make it more interesting — she’s young and hip! But we already know she wouldn’t because she’s very conventional at heart and also would be fearful of losing Don.
          People did have lots of sex (myself among them) because AIDS did not exist. All STDS were pretty much curable. However, I always found having sex with people one didn’t really love and to whom one was not deeply committed on SOME level was not a whole lot of fun.
          I was in my teens in 1968 and was and still am of the “Hippie” culture, (we called ourselves freaks, heads, or, in my world, which was very intellectual and focused on the proper use of the English language, ” unconventional persons” — and we tried to have genuine free love. It was a time of great experimentation. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…” (A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens).
          It got tiring after a while!

    • I like Trudy because she is so intelligent. But how can such a bright woman settle for a life in the ‘burbs with her kid and with PETE? He’s not so great…
      I love MAD MEN. Hope it finishes up well in its final 2 years.

  9. betti says:

    Yay for Trudie and Alison Brie.

  10. MadMenFanatic says:

    Better than last week! I am happy.

    It’s true tho that there are too many characters and we have to wait to get back to Betty. And still havent seen much of Joan. And Roger only had a mini scene last night. Bummer.

  11. Irena says:

    These have been the most boring three hours of Mad Men ever. Seriously. Don cheating. Pete cheating. Don drinking. Everybody drinking. Don ignoring clients and playing games with them. Been there. Done that. Let’s move along Mr. Weiner. PLEASE.And if you’re trying to make Don seem like a boring, drunk, depressive, one-note character who has nothing more on his mind than drinking and sex…you’ve succeeded. BORING.

    At this point, I’m praying we see more of Peggy, her boss and her office and its dynamics because Sterling Cooper Draper is just boring beyond belief.

    I have to laugh when I read recaps of Mad Men. I honestly think the recappers put more energy and creativity into their interpretations of what Mad Mean means than the writers do. Recaps are often far more entertaining than the show itself these days.

    Mad Men is the biggest con show on TV. Congrats, Matt W. you’ve conned AMC into these last two seasons. Now, it would be nice if you actually were creative with the show.

    • EatMorePez says:

      So you’re still watching a show that you apparently don’t like. And then you read the recaps. What does that say about you?

      • JayJay says:

        It says that the show used to have potential and some of us are hanging on for dear life in the hopes that the old show will return! I agree with the original poster, Irena, this show is headed toward an epic crash and burn, ala LOST.

        • Gailkate says:

          Absolutely. The show was getting too choppy last season, and it’s a mega-stew of shallow scenes now. So much cheap symbolism – many teenagers can put together better plotlines and characters in amateur videos. Because it was so clever and nuanced in the early years, some of us can’t let go. But I’m thinking Weiner and a few reviewers are trying to claim Deep Meaning when the writing is really getting schlockier and schlockier. It’s like a parody of itself.

          • There’s not much longer to go– I almost feel that one year after this is not enough time to wind it up in the proper way. House, MD had a pretty good ending if one considers that they had almost no time to come up with a really good ending. I’m hoping that Mr. Weiner is thinking about the resolution of each character on the show… not just Don, his 2 wives, and Peggy.
            What will Sally’s life be like?? That interests me. Also her brothers’ lives?
            I also wish that we could see more of a focus on the 60s many of us knew. Either returning soldiers from Vietnam or some of the anti-war people (who did NOT spit on them when they came home, as far as I am aware). Also, will we hear about the assassinations of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy? Really be aware of them? They affected the culture.

  12. Karen says:

    I’m so bummed that my dream of an eventual Peggy/Stan coupling will now never happen – and their friendship is doomed. At least I don’t think it will, once Stan figures out what Peggy did (we know she’ll do it!).
    Their phone-conversations have become my favorite part of this season thus far…

    • Steveindanville says:

      I have a sneaking suspicion that Peggy will get so mad at the “enemy not friend” shenanigans that she might go back to the firm. She’s strong, she has nit-wits working for her, she saves Stan by going back, and the ketchup issue goes away for her.

  13. april-ann says:

    I enjoyed this episode. Agree with everyone who thinks Stan’s a** should be fired and kicked to the curb. The season premier last week showed it was Christmastime; I’m wondering if this was supposed to be a few months later, since nothing of New Year’s was mentioned, and also someone (I think it was Trudy) made mention of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies. If it is now months later, maybe that means we can look forward to seeing a slimmed-down once again beautiful Betty. (Not saying she is not still beautiful heavy, but she obviously has issues and is very unhappy and it shows not just in her weight).

    • Kelzbot says:

      No way! Stan is one of the more invigorating characters on Mad Men right now. His dynamic with Peggy is fantastic. If he gets fired, they need to keep him around.

  14. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    Good comments – I really like these posts, and I do appreciate reading the feedback from the women in this blog (and Kimberley) – I like to see what other perspectives there are regarding Mad Men. I love this show, and I see it through the eyes of a man, so sometimes Don’s behavior doesn’t upset me, although I know it should. I don’t realize the effect it has on women viewers. I think that’s why I always watch this show alone [no exceptions] – never with my girlfriend, never with anyone else – alone with no Twitter, no Internet. The show is really that ‘personal’ to me.
    I have to be honest – when Don and Sylvia had their ‘pillow-talk’ in the maid’s room, and Sylvia is feeling some guilt and asks Don about the upcoming dinner, Don’s reply – “They’re both good company” had me laughing and rolling on the floor. He is almost robotic at those moments – he knows what he has to say and think to ‘keep going.’ I thought that reply was so insensitive, and yet, so thoughtless, sad and funny. And then Don’s says “This never happened”, and points to his head as in ‘only here’ – Don is always going to be Don. But I do admire this guy – all his faults – he knows he’s in trouble, he knows he’s doing bad things to those around him, but he has to keep pushing forward, regardless of the consequences. I do believe he’s trying to do good things, trying to be that better man, but he is failing, and he knows it.
    I don’t know if anyone out there knows the last time MMen had a flashback scene. I really like those, and missed them last year in season 5. I checked my notes, and I believe the last time we saw a Don flashback was S4.6 – “The Waldorf Stories” – a flashback to when Roger first hired Don. As to when was the last time we saw a flashback to when Don was a young boy/teenager? I think it was S3.13 – “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”, when we see how Don’s father was killed in the barn during a storm via his horse. A long while back – I hope we see more flashbacks in S6 – maybe even something more w/Anna, one of my favorites.

    Best scene in this episode – the look on Peggy’s face when Ted tells her to go after the Heinz account. That look is not just unhappiness, it is a look of fear (great acting by EM!). Heinz is not a happy memory for Peggy – “Baked beans are beautiful!”

  15. a elmham says:

    This episode really showed Dick Whitman for what he really is, a loathsome sybarite whose whole existence is about self-gratification. He seems hellbent on self-destruction at the same time. Mr Weiner isn’t holding Dick up as a hero, but as the personification of our whole society…No one has mentioned how he said he was paying no attention during the Tet Offensive. Match this with earlier statements that he doesn’t vote and we see a man completely self involved.

    • Nero theTVFiddler says:

      I agree 100% with your assessment of Don, but that’s the dangerous beauty of the man – he is indeed completely cut-off from society, a ‘no-where’ man, watching and observing, with no interest in the politics, wars, people, etc. around him. No interest. And yet, his position as an advertising man makes him extremely important to the society that he seems disinterested in. He is paid to get people to buy certain things, aspire to certain things, want certain things. And there’s nobody better on Madison Ave – he’s the guy. He’s [one of] the inventor[s] of the ‘American Dream’ machine.
      That’s the beautiful irony of what Matt is creating – Don is on the outside looking in, and yet, he’s the center of the universe. His colleagues may be puzzled by him, but when they are in a jam, they go see Don – he get’s things done – when he cares. Matt is making a statement about our society (today) with this series, because so much of what we all still believe in, aspire to, want from our lives, that is all a legacy of that post-war period of the 50s and 60s.
      I think the show is about how our society is shaped by guys like Don Draper, guys who have a keen instinct for what drives people, what they are anxious about, what they want out of life. And in the specific case of Don, a guy who has these skills, but also suffers from self-doubt, self-hate and an existential crisis in which he is searching to find some answers, weather from Anna out in California, or Sylvia in New York. He’s looking for answers.

      • sophie says:

        Interesting thoughts by both of you. My take on Don is not that he is searching for answers in his affairs, he is escaping from himself, cause he hates everything about himself. So these women make him feel like he is worth something because they want him, because they admire him and some of them even loved him. He can’t stay faithful cause the rush of the passion drives by very fast so he needs a new one every now and then. It’s his drug.
        Last season, Don tried to change. When he kills the women in his dream who seduced him, he is trying to kill his old self, cause he thought with Megan everything would be different. He probably thought he didn’t love Betty enough, that his marriage was the problem and not himself so Megan just was the perfect solution.
        But then, another suicide very tied to him happened, another women close to him sold her body, another marriage is going down roads.. So naturally he blames himself, but instead of dealing with his blame, he just goes back to his drug,
        Now this doctor is doing everything right, he seems as an honest and good person, someone who is saving lives instead of ruining them like Don so Don probably couldn’t handle it and that’s why he is sleeping with his wife and doesn’t even feel guilty about it.
        Just like he couldn’t handle that Ginsberg last season had a better idea then Don did so he took credit for it.