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Monday, May 6, 2013

Mad Men Recap: Cris-a-tunity!

Posted by Jacob Schraer on Mon, May 6, 2013 at 10:44 AM

First of all, the GIF everyone wants to see:

oQnzqR3.gif

That pratfall came right after Pete yelled out, "DRAPER!" like a curse word across the office. Find out why after the jump!

Lisa: Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for "crisis" as they do for "opportunity"?

Homer: Yes! Cris-a-tunity!

-The Simpsons

"For Immediate Release" was a very satisfying episode full of hearty, cathartic conflict. Mad Men rarely delivers like that; though so far this has been the season for cataclysm.

The big event, the merger of the two agencies, wasn't much of a surprise. It was easy to see coming from the couch; there were multiple hints, but the experience of watching it was thrilling. It was exciting to see Don and Roger in Season 1 form, working the angles to achieve their goals.

Like the best episodes, even the scenes that didn't move the plot ahead were entertaining. Julia Ormond groaning insults in French while Herb's wife, Peaches, chatters insipidly at dinner. Ken's tale about catching one of his teachers at a porno movie. ("He wasn't playing the slide whistle or anything.") Pete throwing the news of Trudy's father in her face.

Matthew Weiner says this episode is about impulsive decisions. Nobody thought anything through. That sets up a lot of potential intrigue for the rest of the season. A fleeting kiss between Peggy and a drunk Ted is quickly dismissed, leaving Peggy confused and pining. Don, disgusted and insulted by Herb, fires Jaguar over a hasty dinner. Megan turns on her wifely charms, at her mother's suggestion, and all thought of his mistress, conveniently kept off screen, is gone. SCDP loses two major clients and Pete's marriage is officially over. Joan throws Don's narcissism in his face.

As big of a change the merger represents, it continues in the vein of the rest of the season, encapsulating the entire series in one cycle of events. Don's marriage ended right as SCDP was formed, just as Pete's is ending now. It might provide a clue as to where the show is headed, though so much is happening so quickly that I'm only guessing at what might lay ahead. "The future is something you haven't even thought of yet," says Don.

A major problem for our friends at SCDP is that Joan is right, of course. Don thinks he's fixed everything, but really he's just gotten what he wants. A bigger company, a major client, and his best buddy back in the fold. But it only takes the look of worry and confusion on Peggy's face when she hears the news to hint at what's to come. Like Joan, like Pete, Peggy wanted autonomy, something of her own. But they're all still beholden to Draper. Cooper once described Don as "completely self-interested." Don's building an ark for himself, but as Hannah Rosin wrote at Slate last week, Noah is not the hero of the flood. He ends up drunk and alone.

FUN STUFF:

—Too much to mention almost.

—Don once again pitches something you can't see. Only this time it is literally something you can't see. The car doesn't exist yet.

—In Peggy's fantasy, Ted is wearing a silk robe over a turtleneck and reading "Something" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

—Pete seeing his father-in-law in the brothel was wonderfully awkward.

—Cooper's satisfaction at the prospect of raking in a million dollars was great. It also gave Joan something to feel genuinely happy about.

—In the bar Don says to Ted, "Hey, Lieutenant. Want to get into some trouble?" That's what the soldier said to Don in Hawaii.

—I don't know why I keep reading hate-reading snarky coverage of Mad Men by The New York Times and The Atlantic (aka We Used to Be One of the Most Respected Magazine in the Country Now We Just Troll). Remember this when the NYT finally turns on Portland and ruins our tourist economy.

Next week on Mad Men: Bob tries to bring Peggy coffee!

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