Mad Men Recap: Of Vice and Men

Mad Men Season 6 RecapTwo rats get caught in this week’s Mad Men… and the rodent that meets a writhing, bloody, screaming end on Peggy’s floor gets off far easier than the Brylcremed one who can’t keep his fly zipped. Elsewhere in the episode, Bob shows his true, rainbow-hued colors and Ted does a SC&P partner a solid – for a price. Sweetheart, hold my calls, because we’re going to review what happened in “Favors.”

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IT’S GETTING DRAFTY IN HERE | Don comes home from a day at the office to find Megan very much alive and chatting with Mitchell Rosen, Arnold and Sylvia’s college-age son. After he leaves, Megan reveals that the shaggy-haired kid sent his draft card back in protest and is no longer in school, so the government has seen fit to bump him to 1A status: Basically, he could be sent to war at any time. Mitchell was picking Megan’s brain about fleeing to Canada, but Don warns her to stay out of it: “He can’t spend the rest of his life on the run.” And if anyone should know…

Soon after, Don and a very mournful Arnold hit the bar, where the good doctor laments the situation, expresses frustration at his son’s political leanings and lets on that Sylvia has been “lying about little things” a lot lately. (Big things, too, Arnie.) And as Don starts poking around for help pulling strings on the Rosen kid’s behalf, I think it’s time for a round of “What’s My Motivation?” Does Draper want to help because A) He wants to make amends for banging Sylvia into next week? B) As a father, he understands the heartache of knowing your child may soon be in peril? C) Arnold is pretty much the only male friend he has? D) He doesn’t believe in the United States’ involvement in Vietnam? E) He’s run the whole Don Draper thing into the ground and is planning to make Mitchell exchange identities with him in return for getting him a hall pass from the war?  F) He’s actually making a go of trying to be a good man? (Here’s a hint: One of those choices (F) is definitely (F!) not true.)

JUICY | At the office, Pete can’t help Don in his endeavor but cheekily suggests that he asks some Chevy reps at the client dinner scheduled for that evening. After all, the company is a huge defense contractor. Don walks into the hallway and runs right into an irate Ted, who’s angry that no one’s reading his memos – as a result,the firm is about to have competing juicemakers Sunkist and Ocean Spray on its client roster, which equals conflict and chaos. The communication breakdown is so great it sends Chaough running to his office and flinging himself on the couch, arm drawn over his eyes. Thank goodness you’re not getting dramatic about it, Ted. When Jim follows him, the two of them do a body-switch from the conversation they had last week, with Ted crying, “I don’t want his juice. I want my juice” and Jim arguing for cooperation.

At the Chevy dinner that night, Don brings the convivial conversation to a halt when he mentions Mitchell’s plight to the clients… who’ve got no patience for the woes of a subversive would-be draft-dodger. Interesting that it’s Ted who smoothes things over, and Ted who shows up at Draper’s desk the next day demanding that his co-creative chief “lower your weapons.” In exchange for a friendly, cooperative attitude about their work, Ted says, he’ll call a contact at the Air National Guard and help Mitchell avoid an all-expenses trip to Southeast Asia. I love how shocked Don looks at this: “Someone’s going to do something nice for me, and all I have to do in return is not hate him? Does not compute.”

Though Mitchell’s salvation is far from a done deal, Don calls the Rosens and gets Sylvia on the line. She weeps with relief when he shares the news, and even though I yell, “Hang up. Hang up!” at the screen after she thanks him, neither of them listen to me. So we get into a very dangerous area where she tells him she was “just frustrated” with him when she broke off their affair and he does that little lip twitch he does when he’s trying not to cry; it’s brought on by the realization that she didn’t reciprocate his feelings for her. “You were good to me, better than I was to you,” she says quietly, leaving me wondering if the Season 6 DVD extras are going to include the deleted scenes where Sylvia makes Don crawl on his hands and knees to fetch her hairbrush and then forbids him to wear clothes/leave the room for hours on end. Oh, those scenes never happened? Oh, OK.

SALLY SEES ALL | Let’s interrupt this slow-motion trainwreck for a moment to acknowledge that Sally and her friend Julia are in town for Model UN. Per Betty, they’re staying at Don and Megan’s because the chaperoned trip was mostly boys, and “Like everything else in this country, diplomacy club is just another reason to make out.” (Heh.) The girls meet Mitchell and like what they see, so Julia slips a note under the Rosens’ servants’ entrance and makes it seem like the missive is from Sally. The teen confesses her actions while the girls are on the way over to the mock UN session, so Sally sneaks away and returns home to retrieve the note before her crush can read it. (Note to Jonesy the doorman: In a building that’s recently suffered a rash of robberies, maybe it’s not the best idea to pass around the master key ring like it’s the offering plate on Easter Sunday. P.S. Congrats on not dying!)

Sally lets herself into the Rosens’ kitchen, where she gets an eyeful of her dad and Sylvia going at it half-clothed in the maid’s room. (Side note: Something about Don’s flopping shirttail in that scene seemed so pathetic and sad to me. Anyone else?) Sally’s horrified on a number of levels; Don and Sylvia react as though it is the end of the world. (And it just may be, for both of them.) Don has a hard-to-read moment in the elevator as he pursues his daughter – he seems to be circling a breakdown, or about to have a stroke or heart attack or something really bad, though nothing happens. No, let me amend that: What happens is what always happens. He goes to a bar and comes home 12 sheets to the wind. Don barely makes it through Arnold and Mitchell’s thank-you visit (we’re all quite assured this string-pulling is going to come through, aren’t we?), but Sally won’t look at him. She finally bolts from the table and won’t let him into her room, so he’s forced to tell a locked door that he was “comforting Mrs. Rosen.” Dude, Don, give your kid some credit. They’re both very upset, but she won’t yield, and he eventually gives up and stumbles down the hall to his own bedroom. (Side note: Though I’m interested to see what Megan’s reaction might be to the infidelity, you just know Betty’s outrage is going to be far more fun to watch. Cue big, blonde meltdown in 3… 2…)

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN | Pete’s awesomely addled mother shows up at SC&P with Manolo, her Bob Benson-approved nurse. While Pete and Manolo settle accounts, Peggy engages Mrs. Campbell with some small talk. It’s pretty clear from the get-go that Pete’s confused mom thinks Peggy is Trudy, but Pegs’ face when the older woman mentions the child Peggy/Trudy and Pete share is still fantastic. Dorothy also says a few things (the phrase “physical satisfaction of love” is bandied about) that lead Peggy to believe that Manolo is one very talented hired hand.

She says as much to Pete over dinner with Ted after a client call to Ocean Spray.  Pete’s buzzed and horrified. In related news, Peggy’s buzzed and bummed that Ted has stepped away to call his wife. “He’s in love with you, too,” Pete tells her, which is cute, but given how oblivious he is to something else that’s been brewing two cups of coffee under his nose all season, I don’t know that I’m going to crown Pete a relationship whisperer just yet. As Campbell laments his dwindling list of accounts, we also get this telling exchange:

PETE: At least one of us ended up important. Please tell me you don’t pity me.
PEGGY: I don’t.
PETE: You really know me.
PEGGY: I do.

Is Mad Men actually thinking about maybe revisiting Peggy and Pete? I don’t know how I feel about that, Internets – especially because I hold out hope for Stan and Peggy, despite his late-night refusal to dispose of her dying rodent — but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

IN WHICH I AM VINDICATED | Pete later confronts his mother about her involvement with her well-bred nurse. “Manny has awakened a part of me that was long dormant,” she confirms, and when Pete is grossed out, she leaves. (Side note: Dorothy’s “elegant handwriting” comment made me laugh out loud.) The next day, Campbell asks Bob whether his mother’s stories could be true. Bob all but says that Manolo’s not into ladies. “Couldn’t it be that, if someone took care of you, very good care of you, if this person would do anything for you, if your well-being was his only thought, is it impossible that you might begin to feel something for him?” Guys, wait a minute: I don’t think we’re talking about Manolo anymore. “When there’s true love, it doesn’t matter who it is,” Bob continues, and any ambiguity about his meaning is obliterated when he purposefully lets his knee rest against Pete’s.

As I lace up my sneakers for a victory lap, Pete seems to seriously consider what’s been said for just a moment… then he instructs Bob to tell Manolo he’ll get a month’s severance. “And tell him it’s disgusting.” As the hope in Bob’s eyes dies, his corporate lackey mask falls back into place and he exits the office promising to get right on the task. You just know he wound up at Joan’s desk, where she discreetly closed her door, rubbed his back soothingly and was all, “Honey, he doesn’t know what he’s missing. Now go wash your face, get back to work and we’ll process over a couple of bottles of merlot at my place tonight, OK?” Now that‘s a DVD extra I’d pay to see.

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