Mad Men Recap: Work in Progress

MadMen_s7ep4_recap_325The student becomes the teacher in this week’s Mad Men and, as Don learns the hard way, the transition stings like a slug of Smirnoff straight from the bottle.

But Draper and Olson aren’t the only ones getting swept along by progress and change. Sterling Cooper & Partners make a game-changing addition, and Roger and Mona watch a marigold bloom right before their eyes. Read on for the highlights of this week’s episode, “The Monolith.”

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UM, THANKS? | A chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant brings Pete back into contact with George, who used to work at Vicks but now toils for the national fast-food chain Burger Chef. George mentions that Burger Chef might be looking for a new ad agency; soon after, Pete and Ted are on a conference call with Roger, Lou and Jim, discussing who at SC&P should handle the pitch.

Ted suggests Peggy for the job, but Roger wants Don to do it – and Jim agrees, a move that doesn’t make Lou feel great. So Lou calls Peggy into his office, gives her a $100/week raise and puts her in charge of the potential account. Yes! Finally, someone is recognizing and rewarding her talent and offering her a pathway to – oh wait, no. Now he’s telling her she has to include Don on her team, which is basically like giving her a raise of awkward with a bonus of uncomfortable. “You’re in charge now, sweetheart,” Lou says condescendingly.

DON WOULD PREFER NOT TO | Meanwhile, Don shows up for work to find the firm’s first floor Rapture-empty. Everyone’s upstairs, listening to Harry and Jim announce that SC&P is about to become high-tech by installing the computer Harry whined about so hard in the last episode. The creative team is bummed, because the new machine is going smack where their lounge used to be. Guys, I’m sure you can find somewhere else on the premises to throw X-Acto knives at each other and rag on Peggy.

High on her newly bestowed power, Peggy summons Don and junior copy guy Mathis to her office and assigns them 25 taglines each to get the Burger Chef ball rolling. Mathis is very grateful; Don’s Cocked Eyebrow of Disbelief – and the fact that he hurls his typewriter against the window later — says that he’s far less so.

So Draper doesn’t deliver the requested taglines, instead choosing to play solitaire, reading Portnoy’s Complaint, hang a Mets pennant in his office and chat up Lloyd, the guy in charge of the computer installation. Their dialogue about man, computers and playing God is odd and stilted – couldn’t Don have just held up a sign that said ALLEGORY and saved us all a lot of time?

But talking to Lloyd about his company gets Don’s engines revving, and he runs up to Bert’s office to suggest that the firm vie for Lloyd’s advertising business. Bert is unimpressed and unlikely to agree, and he makes that known.

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NO SYMPATHY FOR THE… | So Don does what Don does: He pinches a bottle of vodka from Roger and – in direct violation of the stipulations of his reinstatement – gets quietly soused in his office. Perhaps inspired by the pennant, he calls Freddie Rumsen and invites him to Shea Stadium for the afternoon. And Freddie, who’s no stranger to Draper’s drunken slur, shows up to get him out of there. As the freelancer is shepherding his pickled pal toward the door, Don breaks away and confronts Lloyd. “You go by many names. I know who you are,” Draper accuses the stymied IT guy. Really, Don? Lloyd is dressed like a Mormon missionary. You really think he’s the devil incarnate?

At home later, Don wakes up hungover and on the hook for a lecture from Freddie. “What the hell are you doing? Aren’t they giving you a second chance?” Rumsen demands. He’s unsympathetic when Don whines that he’s being treated like an underling. “Do the work, Don,” the sober man says.

Surprisingly, that’s what Don does. Next we see, he’s at work, typing away at his desk and assuring Peggy that she’ll have his 25 taglines by lunch. Corner turned?

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NOT SO GROOVY | Roger’s ex-wife Mona, his son-in-law Brooks and his grandson Ellery show up at the firm in a panic: Margaret has run off to a hippie cult/commune – depending on whom you ask – and they want to recover her. Roger takes his usual nonplussed view of the situation and tells Brooks to go get his wife. “It’ll be fine,” Rog assures a very worried Mona.

But when Brooks gets into a bar fight after Margaret refuses to return to the city with him, Roger and Mona head up to the farmhouse their daughter now calls home. Once there, they ask for Margaret but are instead directed toward “Marigold,” who has traded her pillbox hats and tight updos for dirty sweaters and long, messy locks. Oh, and peace and love, man. Stating that Ellery “can’t be happy if I’m not happy,” Margaretgold says she’s not leaving to become a depressed mommy who drinks in secret. The comment is a little too on the nose for Mona, who leaves in an Chanel No. 5-scented huff.

Roger stays overnight, though, and seems to gain a true appreciation of his only daughter’s desire to live a simple life with a group of pot-smoking pals… until he realizes they’re all shtupping each other.

The next morning, he orders Margaretgold to return home to Ellery… then, when she refuses, picks her up and tries to carry her off. The move ends with them both flailing in a mud puddle and spitting accusations at each other. She argues that Ellery will get over having an absent parent – after all, she did. Hippie burn! A muddy Roger walks away, while Margaretgold returns to her new friends, who probably come to a “true consensus” that her dad was harshing their buzz.

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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22 Comments
  1. Gail says:

    That was Lane’s Mets pennant…

  2. GuessWhat says:

    biggest buzzkill of the entire weekend came in the “coming attractions” — only 3 episodes left. uggh. way to kill the last season. this first half hasn’t even gained momentum and it’s almost over.

    PS: GO METS!

    • Walter Freeman says:

      Yeah; agreed. This half season B.S. doesn’t work and AMC needs to knock it off. One or two full seasons; no more splitting the difference. Breaking Bad suffered in the same way despite the surge in audience. Building to a dramatic payoff works better over 13 episodes; not seven or eight.

  3. colleen says:

    I actually felt bad for Don tonight, and I didn’t think it was possible.

    From the shallow end, Peggy’s wardrobe gets better and better.

  4. anna says:

    The worst thing about this split season is that mm seasons don’t even pick up pace until halfway through which means we have to wait a year to see the exciting episodes. Margaret becoming a hippie is such a cliche. What next, Roger goes to Woodstock? Don working for Peggy has been predicted by fans for years.

  5. Forwardad says:

    While she’s certainly within her right I really disliked Peggy. She really doesn’t know how to be a leader.

    • Patricia says:

      I agree; I don’t think Peggy handled the situation well at all. A lot of where she is now is due to Don and his mentoring in the past. Treating Don now as an underling, with disdain, does her no credit. Have to say I dislike her attitude very much. Granted, she may feel awkward, and Don’s intent stare said volumes, but she’d do well to enlist Don’s help as an ally. Of all people at SC&P, she’s the last who should want him to destroy himself.

  6. donald kaplan says:

    Don has always been able to hold his liquor…that was a pre-requisite in those days…last night he was drooling, slurring, tripping over furniture, stoned out of his mind! Next morning he shows up for work completely recovered….not bad for someone who’s composure and confidence is completely shot

    • TV Gord says:

      He was able to hold his liquor because he was drinking every day. This is a Don who has been on the wagon for a while. Falling off with a full bottle of liquor (plus whatever he drank when he went out with Freddy) would produce the mess we saw him become on this episode.

  7. Sad sack Don is getting on my nerves, bite the bullet Don and be the creep you have been for the past six years, the one we all feel in love with.

  8. C Austin says:

    Anyone notice that the commune house is the same one that Don was seen as a young Dick Whitman in the Hobo episode from season 1?

  9. AKM says:

    “Nonplussed”…you used that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  10. Isaac Hunt says:

    Roger’s daughter is in the Manson family, and they’re going after Megan! Or something.

  11. Amie says:

    It’s 1969 and Don just put up a Mets pennant, so good call on that one, anyway. Don is backing The Amazin’ Mets! I hope it brings the pennant brings him some luck. Meanwhile, Peggy is acting like a snot, thank goodness for Freddie (never thought I would say that), Margaret looks incredibly young with her hair down and the hippy clothes, and I think we all expected Sally to be the one in the commune/majorly screwed up/going all hippy, not Margaret, but they’re ending the series and Keirnan Shipka is still too young, so I guess it had to be Margaret, and this way, we got to see Talia Balsam (Mona) and Mona wth Roger again and there’s nothing wrong with that. Elizabeth Rice, the actress who plays Margaret/Marigold, is 28 in real life, but she looked about 15 in those scenes. I can’t even imagine if it were Sally. Yuck.

  12. fran says:

    he tells the ibm guy ” i know you ,,, you go by many names ,, you have many faces” some thing like that — anyway the language of advertising is written in the language of the unconscious or dream world — thats also the language madmen is written in

    • N tTVf says:

      Nice point – the language used and writing in last night’s episode was quite good.. That was the best part of this episode (which I really liked) – the quiet comparisons made between Don and his world (the creative team’s ‘bull-pen’, the NY Mets small orange pennant) and the new world coming upon them in which the IBM-360 is ‘the new,’ and begins taking over. [Yet another possible] shift in power from the creative team (Don, Peggy, Lou, Ted) to Harry and Jim?

      That moment when Don is coming back into the SC&P office after Freddie tells him to pull himself together, and the IBM ‘LeaseTek’ team is wheeling in the new (or at least a portion of it) computer through the office front double-door – speaks volumes as to what is coming. More competition for Don and his generation.

      A small moment in the episode perhaps worth noting (there were many good ones) – Pete hadn’t been told that is [soon to be ex] father-in-law had a heart attack? Apparently Pete and Trudy are not sharing much info with each other, although I thought Pete had told Don (at the restaurant) that he/Pete had gone back to NY to visit his daughter. Perhaps his father-in-laws heart attack took place after the holidays, just a couple of months earlier?

  13. Mary says:

    Where fo I know Lloyd from? It’s driving me crazy!

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