Mad Men Recap: When It Rains….

Mad Men Season 6 RecapMargarine. Ovarian cysts. A bomber jacket. The sudden appearance of a yen for sexual dominance. Dementia. Constant rainfall. An impressive dressing-down from a sometime underling. All of these things are in the mix as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and Cutler Gleason Chaough merge in this week’s Mad Men.

As you might’ve guessed, it’s total chaos – making for a heck of an episode — and that’s before one of the most nationally traumatic events of the late ’60s takes place. Let’s review the major developments in the John Slattery-directed “Man With a Plan.”

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ALL TOGETHER NOW | CGC moves into SCDP’s offices, causing a bit of insanity as everyone tries to figure out who goes where – and who’ll be gone for good when the inevitable staffing cuts take place. Joan and Peggy have a really great moment as the new partner shows the newer copy chief to her old office (which used to be Harry’s). “I’m glad you’re here,” Joan says with a sincerely happy smile, and Peggy responds with an equally cute, “Well, I’m glad you’re here!” But no one’s really glad that Burt Peterson, formerly of Sterling Cooper and currently of CGC, is around… so he’s the first one let go. Roger takes a little too much glee in the dismissal, informing the fuming account exec. “No one fought for you.” Burt sputters,”You’re a real pr–k, you know that?” to which Sterling fires back, “Damn it, you stole my goodbye!” (Heh.)

The partners meet to take stock of their combined accounts, and it’s revealed that Fleischmann’s margarine is interested in being one of the new firm’s first clients. Don, Ted and Pete also make plans to meet with Mohawk Airlines – and Ted, who turns out to be a pilot on the side, volunteers to fly them in his plane. (A pilot, a generally nice guy and someone who gives up his seat to a receptionist? Don’t look now, but Ted’s on the fast track to favorite status with the firm’s secretarial pool.)

LIKE BUTTAH | SCDP’s creative team’s thoughts on Chaough, however, seem more up for grabs. He leads them through a “rap session” to generate ideas for the Fleischmann’s campaign; as he later tells Don, who was 40 minutes late for the meeting (more on that in a minute), “It took 40 minutes to figure out no one knows s—t about margarine.” Don’s never met a problem, be it life-changing crisis or minor irritation, that he hasn’t poured booze on – so he brings a bottle of something or other to Ted’s office and they get soused as they brainstorm about the butter substitute.

A few belts in, Chough is stretched out on the couch and moaning that he needs to eat something. “Doesn’t ice count?” Don asks. (Ha!) They somehow manage to come up with a few good ideas before Ted busts into the creative room to take an impromptu political poll. Peggy is not happy to see her new boss being corrupted by her old boss, and she tells Don so (while wearing a great geometrically patterned skirt, I might add). She’d hoped Ted would rub off on him, not the other way around. “He can’t drink like you. No one can,” she says, and it’s not a compliment. He mocks her notion that the merger was all about getting her back on his team. She warns him to get his act together and leaves with a simple-yet-forceful, “Move forward.” Can’t we just name the new firm Peggy Rules All and be done with it?

Meanwhile, Ted gets a pep talk from the ailing Frank Gleason, who encourages him to let Don be as “mysterious” as he wants: In the end, Frank believes, Ted’s natural ability and inherent greatness will prove he’s just as capable and talented as his Brylcreemed former competitor. And that certainly seems to be true as the two endure some very shaky flying through a storm on the way to meet with Mohawk. After Don sweats through his suit in fear at the bumps and rain, he acknowledges that Mohawk will be far more impressed with Ted’s flying prowess than with anything Draper could think up. “At least,” Don’s probably thinking, “I’ve got my hot little mistress squired away in a hotel room, awaiting my next command.” Yeah, about that…

ROOM SERVICE | One morning while on the elevator in his building, Don overhears the Rosens having a loud argument. Soon after, Sylvia’s calling him at work. “I need you and nothing else will do,” she says. The phrase is apparently some kind of trigger that unleashes the sexually dominant supersoldier lying dormant within Don, because it’s not long before he’s meeting her at the aforementioned hotel, ordering her to crawl on her hands and knees to fetch his shoes, and directing her to undress, get back in bed and await his return.

Sylvia’s a little hard to read at the beginning of Don’s dom turn, but she seems game and crawls under the covers. He calls her later just to remind her, “You’re going to wait there, and you’re not going to know when I’m coming back – don’t answer the phone again.” (Don’t worry, Don; when you test her by dialing back a few moments later, Sylvia’s already letting her fingers do the walking somewhere else.)

Draper continues to power-trip in the extreme, later sending her a sexy red dress from Saks and then making her slowly strip in front of him, telling her, “You exist, in this room, for my pleasure.” (Is he coming off as desperate and sad to anyone else?) Finally, upon his return from the Mohawk trip, Sylvia ends the game – and their affair. “It’s time to really go home,” she tells him gently. “This is over.” He fights her on it, saying, “It’s easy to give up when you’re satisfied.” There’s regret, but no rancor, in her voice when she replies, “It’s easy to give up something when you’re ashamed.” The way Sylvia originally said they couldn’t fall in love made me think the writers would have her fall hard for a callous and ultimately distant Don; having the opposite happen was a pleasant surprise, no?

JOAN MAKES A FRIEND | Bob accidentally walks in on Joan nearly hurling in her office trash can – she has food poisoning, she tells him, and he discreetly helps her to the emergency room. (Side note: When Joan started talking about where little Kevin would end up, did you fear that she secretly has been sick for a while and we just didn’t know about it before now? I really, really did.) Bob proves himself a good doobie by asking her babysitter to stay late and working some magic to help Joan quickly get seen by a doctor. He even stops by the next day to see if she’s OK – the illness turned out to be an ovarian cyst (phew) and to bring Kevin an age-inappropriate-but-still-thoughtful football. Joan’s mom thinks Bob is cute, but Joan says he’s too young. Still, she looks pretty pleased that he visited, and when the partners discuss further staffing cuts at the end of the episode, Joan deftly saves Bob from the chopping block. (In related news, adios Margie and Steve from creative.)

MOM MOVES IN | Pete’s sure that he’s going to be ousted in the merger, and his paranoia isn’t helped by the fact that his going-senile mother suddenly demands a great deal of his time. She shows up at his Manhattan apartment claiming that his father, who died in Season 2, is still alive; when his brother Bud won’t take her home to live with him and her own apartment is uninhabitable, Mama Campbell ends up staying with Pete. (One of my favorite lines from the episode comes when Pete realizes that, while away from the office dealing with his mom, Don and Ted have left to meet with Mohawk without him: “My mother can go to hell — Ted Chaough can fly her there!”) Mrs. Campbell may be slowly succumbing to dementia, but she’s still sharp enough to pick up on cues that Trudy has booted Pete from Cos Cob – and to wake Pete in the early morning to tell him that “they shot that poor Kennedy boy.”

NATIONAL TRAGEDY REDUX | Unlike the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, Mad Men chose to play Bobby Kennedy’s murder as the final beat of an episode that was all about the chaos associated with change. Whether we’ll see more about the historical moment than Megan weeping while watching the news – as Don sits, turned away from her, lost in his own thoughts (which, forgive me, I don’t believe are focused solely on the country’s loss) – remains to be seen.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Did you laugh at Ted’s “black or white?” when asking about Draper vs. his secretary? Do you feel sorry for Harry, who never gets to keep his office? How do you feel about the end of Sylvia and Don’s affair? 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. courtland says:

    pretty good episode overall…got a little bit of everyone (except betty, who must be sitting in storage somewhere) and i am seriously bummed about the sylvia don break up…only because linda cardellini has been phenomenal and i wanted her to stay around forever.

  2. JC says:

    Bob. Benson. Coffee.

    • LizVH says:

      I think Don wanted to have control in his life and that’s why he did that with Sylvia. He doesn’t have complete control in his personal and work life but he wanted it there in the bedroom.

      I feel bad for Pete, though he is a weazel. I also feel bad for Megan. She is so trusting of her husband and she has no clue to what he is doing with their friend.

      Loved how Peggy got the office with the pillar in it. From Pete, to Harry now to Peggy. And loved how she stood up to Don.

      No Betty. She only shows up once every few episodes. Ever since she and Don divorced. Sad. I like her.

      Have a hard time remembering who Burt Peterson was. Have to look at the first season to refresh my memory.

      I also thought Joan had something more seriously wrong with her. Happy it wasn’t. But loved how Bob took care of her. And he is soooo handsome!

      And, I agree, the merger was so rushed. No pre planning, nothing. Just chaos. But, I guess that was the point. Chaos at work and in their lives.

  3. J Mitchell says:

    I think Sylvia thought the “stay in bed & don’t do anything unless I tell you to” was fun at the beginning but she quickly realized that Don was a little too intent on staying in “character.”

    I also liked Peggy’s tart smackdown of Don. Glad Joan is OK (thought she was going to have cancer too, or need dialysis and a kidney transplant.) I was also remembering that night out with her friend and thought she ended up pregnant after her nightclub hookup. Maybe she will soften a little toward BobBenson and they will try to give their relationship a go.

    Although I wonder….in last week’s episode I got the impression Bob didn’t “enjoy the company” of the working girls. Maybe we’ll find out he’s gay (Bring back Sal right now! 1968 calls for a flamboyant, over the top creative director.

  4. Marc says:

    It thought that the episode was quite good, though I did not find it realistic that the firms had not figured out who was staying, who was being fired, what accounts would have to be dropped, and who got what office before the CGC people moved into the SCDP space. The show is usually a lot more realistic when it comes to things like this. Instead, they used an implausible situation to play out these plot points in one space in one or two days. Unless CGC suddenly got themselves evicted from their offices, this made no logical sense.

  5. Krissy says:

    Loved the Peggy/ Joan interaction though I don’t think we’ll ever see the two of them as besties, which is a shame.

    SO many theories about Bob. Wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    This ep seemed like a call back to The Suitcase. Don crying, grabbing at Sylvia’s hand. I’m sure it was supposed to be poignant, but at this point I feel like the show is basically rehashing old stuff. Blah.

    Lol @ the return and exit of Bert Peterson.

    I’m really excited about the Peggy and Ted dynamic. I loved how quickly he redeemed himself this ep after passing out drunk. I’m going to need a gif of him putting on those aviators.

    (By the way has Mad Men always been so consistently gif-worthy? I mean it seems like there is a moment every week)

    Because it’s been happening so frequently, everytime I see Megan cry I think back to that ep where she first slept with Don in the office. “I’m not going to run out of here crying”. Granted, Don wasn’t the reason she cried (this time), but I still have ZERO sympathy for her.

  6. curious george says:

    I think Don and Ted died in a plane accident…

  7. Ram510 says:

    I thought I was a good episode, not quite as good as last week. I didn’t understand Don’s random role play character. My guess would be in a chaotic time he found comfort in playing a role in which he was in control.

    • Lauren says:

      I didn’t find it that out of character. Remember his and Megan’s weird fight/sex while she was cleaning the apartment in her underwear after his birthday party? He’s got a little kink in him.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        Oh, I forgot about that! There was also that weird chase scene from Far Away Places where he actually got a little scary. So that makes three women now that he’s been a dom with. Bobbi was the third.

  8. cat says:

    I’m glad the Don/Sylvia stuff is over. Don is the most boring part of the show now. And where is Betty??

  9. Tom Barman says:

    Don Slattery’s direction was special. Several opening camera angles were stunning. Also intrigued that sponsors are Lincoln & Audi, but new client is Chevy

  10. cfm says:

    50 Shade of Draper… gross. Guess Don is feeling out of control at the office so controlling Sylvia was his outlet. He was so pitiful when she ended it, on the verge of pleading. It was he who needed her, not the other way around. I think he may feel the same way about work now Ted is there.
    The episode title, “Man with a Plan”, could reference many characters: Bob Benson, Ted, Roger. Don and Pete need plans at this point, they’re scrambling. Bob’s been watching the way the office works. When Joan pulled Don and Pete in the conference room last week to chastise them, Bob lingered on the stairs. Taking note of Joan’s power.
    Where the heck was Dawn???
    Ted’s “Gilligan’s Island” theory works at agency too. He’s Maryann to Don’s Ginger. Same with Peggy and Joan.
    Closing scene with the Kennedy news, the music, the groovy world of people coming together is actually chaotic, dangerous and terrifying. Just like the merger.

    • TV Gord says:

      I thought it was weird that they talked about Gilligan’s Island, which had been cancelled by 1968 (and didn’t flourish in syndication until the early 70s). Ad men would always be looking at what’s trendy, and Gilligan was hardly trendy by 1968.

      • RabbitEars says:

        Last Week (Season 6 – Episode 6) Ted was hanging out late in his office trying to get his Tv to work so he could watch “Hazel” when Peggy arrived and they had the kiss. “Hazel” ran from 1961 to 1966… this week Ted is spouting “Gilligan’s Island” which ran from 1964 to 1967.
        The current storyline is set in June 1968… obviously Ted has a thing for sit-com reruns… perhaps this reveals something to us about his character. As cool as he is, he has a soft-spot for watching something he enjoys play out more than once ?
        I will definitely be watching to see if there are more such references in future episodes.

    • shmrck14 says:

      There’s definitely something up with Dawn missing. They made a point not once, but twice, of showing Don looking at her desk.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        She had to be around the office somewhere though, because Peggy had that line, “Dawn won’t tell me where he is. She’s a very good secretary.”

        • cfm says:

          True. Maybe she was busy with her time card duties?
          Could be they left her out to emphasize Don’s loss of control? The other secretaries were around helping their bosses.

      • Klementine says:

        Literal answer: Dawn is now in charge of the supply closet and time cards; surely she was very busy with all the new people.

        Figurative answer: Don is all alone; he doesn’t even have Dawn to take care of him.

  11. Enoch Bahir says:

    We shall await the flashback to who, what, where, when, and why the phrase “I need you and nothing else will do” elicits a deviant sexually controlling response from Mr. Draper. Ater all, he was raised in a brothel. Linda Cardellini has been delicious since Freaks and Geeks.

  12. Jason says:

    Linda Cardellini killed it in this episode (and has been all season). And I must admit I enjoyed seeing her rock the garter belt and stockings.

    I think the title of this recap should be BD(on)SM :P

    • joe quellman says:

      spot on. her appearance in final minute of episode 3, from the shadow of the servant’s entrance, is a visual masterpiece. please, please keep her coming and cuming!

  13. timmy says:

    my mommy hurt my head

  14. Pat D. says:

    Bahahaha…I just loved the scene with Roger gleefully firing Bert for the second time.

  15. Jett says:

    My cynical side sez Bob’s kindness to Joan is just more of his ingratiating personality, trying to “get on the inside” with the power brokers during a consolidation. If he hadn’t been so insulin-producing in he earlier episodes, you would think that he is just, really, a nice guy.

    By the way, mergers don’t work like that – the two companies would have stayed in their own offices while cuts were made and logistics figured out.

    • gdv says:

      I mean, this is 1968, right? People weren’t able to communicate and work remotely like they do now. (No email, screen shares, etc.). So I can see that they would want the merger to happen asap, if at least to get everyone working together as soon as possible. Also, I once worked for a company that got new leadership and waited 6 months to lay people off. Regardless, it’s just a tv show people.

  16. steve kaplan says:

    sylvia is intriguing.and sexy…but doesn’t anyone out there see a physical resemblance to Dean Wormer’s wife in “ANIMAL HOUSE?” speak up if you do…Steve K

  17. GradyBunch says:

    I have been waiting for Don to return to the Don of season two: silent, sexy, in control. They are trying to bring him back, but in my mind his “in-controlness” now has a mean streak. The undertone is a total turn off to me. Sadly, I am finding the advertising issues, like catsup vs ketchup and the popularity of margarine (that’s all my mom bought growing up in the 70s) the most interesting part of the show. Oh, that and the fact weasel extraordinaire, Pete is, finally, getting what he deserves.

  18. Tammy says:

    I get that mergers don’t normally happen like that but with finances tight at CGC and both firms losing at least one client thanks to Pete’s FIL…. I think that accelerated it in true SCDP fashion! I like how Mad Men changes the dynamic up every so often….. acquisitions, new start ups, mergers, etc. It keeps the show from getting into a rut and forces change. Considering how much change went on in the 60’s, it’s a great way to show it. I really wish they could come up with a show to showcase the 70’s the way Mad Men has showcased the 60’s. Doesn’t have to be any of these characters, just another way to spotlight events but focus on characters and how they changed.

  19. april-ann says:

    I don’t have a good feeling about Dawn, I think something may have happened to her. That, or she’s had enough of going to work at that cesspool every day. I also had a bad feeling about Joan’s “cyst” and thought it would turn out to be not just a cyst. But I see that this plot was there just to show Bob worm his way into her good graces. Love Peggy, but I didn’t get the “go girl” vibe and didn’t really think she “told off” Don. What she did was play right into his hands, letting him know that she’s into Ted. Because Ted IS a grown man, and not hers to protect. So now Don knows. And implying the merger came about just to get her back? Get over yourself, Peggy. I thought she came off as uncharacteristically none-too-smart last night. Could Don be LESS interested in Megan? There hasn’t been enough of Roger, but what we do get is delicious. Pete’s a weenie but I’d like to see him take control of his life.

  20. hanne says:

    can i just say: I LOVE TED??? he’s a brilliant character!

    • zigzagzoey says:

      Me too! And thank God they gave us someone else good to root for. It’s not so fun seeing Don and Pete be so horrible!
      Wow…I’m surprised Don didn’t jump out of the plane he is so depressed!
      I thought it was HORRIBLE how he got Ted drunk so he could make a fool of himself in front of everyone just because Don was jealous as hell that everyone liked him so much at the morning meeting. He’s smart, positive, talented and nice. And a pilot.
      I loved it when Peggy yelled at him for doing that, and I knew that’s what she was gonna do. Loved it when she got right up out of her chair and put Ted in it.
      I also totally loved Bob Benson and the excellent story he told the nurse (while kissing her ass). That was pure awesome. And then I loved how Joan saved his job.
      Damn, the stuff at the hotel was bizarre, but a great way to show how much Don wants control, and how much he is losing control!
      Don even looked kinda awful this week.
      I ♥ Roger so much!

  21. gina says:

    Don was totally gross with Sylvia not sexy at all.Love when he takes charge at work but not so much in the bedroom. Yuck

  22. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Yay, Mad Men review! I missed this last night, and was glad to find it here when I went to look today.
    I have always been confused by Don’s dom behavior. He was like that with Bobbi too. I can’t figure out why only certain women bring that out in him, and what is it about him that makes him crave that behavior? I also can’t decide if it’s sexy or not. It was sexy with Bobbi, but I think with Sylvia it just kind of took me by surprise so I really couldn’t react. Either way, hearing him suddenly switch gears and beg Sylvia not to leave him and his utterance of that plaintive “Please” broke my heart. So I guess that is probably the end of Linda Cardellini’s run on the show. Sad.
    Now for Joan…I was totally convinced she had an ectopic pregnancy when she started grabbing her side. I was running through all the potential daddies in my head until we learned it was an ovarian cyst. I didn’t realize those could make you puke like that, or come on so suddenly. BTW…Joan and Bob…there’s chemistry there. It’s possible he could make me give up on my dream of Joan and Roger running away together.
    I was surprised how little attention the episode gave the Bobby Kennedy assassination. The only reaction we get to see is Megan’s? That’s totally Weiner’s revenge on us for disliking Megan. She gets to be the conduit of such a horrific moment in history. (You’re right, Don didn’t even notice what was going on, or didn’t care.) But I thought it was clever how they introduced the assassination, which we’ve known from the last few episodes was coming up quickly after MLK. I liked how the first we hear about it was Pete’s senile mom waking him up with the news and him not taking her seriously. I guess in a way it makes sense we didn’t get more attention on Bobby’s assassination. Weiner has never wanted the events of the 60s to be the main focus of the show, and after he devoted so much of the MLK assassination to that particular episode, he wouldn’t let a tragic event from that era take over again so soon.
    Fine episode. Very engaging.

    • Klementine says:

      I’ve had an ovarian cyst, and while painful, they don’t make you puke. I think Joan told her mom it’s a cyst to cover the fact that she’s pregnant with slimy Herb from Jaguar’s baby. And I think she will get together with Bob.

  23. I had a feeling this eppy would involve RFK’s assassination. It was 2 months after MLK’s murder,and the title, Man with a Plan, may refer to Sirhan Sirhan (the assassin) who’s the subject of an article, ‘A Murder Plan’..

    Some think Bob Benson is a spy, I say he’s the new Don Draper(get it? Alliterative?) He watches people, sees what they need and makes his move. Like a younger Don

  24. GG says:

    I considered that Don’s transition into the role of domination with Sylvia was to distract her. from what is occuring in her world. Sylvia complained of being anxiety ridden about Paris being on fire while Sylvia’s son is studying in Paris. Sylvia is also frustrated and upset with her Dr husband for various reasons. By Don taking full control of Sylvia’s attention and thoughts, Don would thus allow Sylvia to take a break from all that is troubling her. Don even aksed Sylvia not to answer the phone. Now that Sylvia has returned to the world of reality, she will unfortunately be attached the phone as she waits for news from her son and her husband

  25. Hannah says:

    Does anyone know the name of the song at the end of the episode?

    I missed Dawn in this episode, I’d really like to see them do more with her character but hopefully that’s coming up. I liked this episode though, Mad Men never disappoints me!

  26. bella says:

    The song is Reach out of the Darkness

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