Ok Mad Men, I know this show is all about subverting expectations and everything, but what the hell? That episode was all anticlimax. Which is not to say it wasn't enjoyable. More below.
KENNY GETS SHOT; PETE TAKES ON BOB. Last week, chronic liar Matt Weiner claimed that, despite popular theories, no one is going to die this season. And then this episode opens with "Kenny" getting shot in the face, causing heart attacks and South Park flashbacks across the nation. Kenny survives, sporting a stylish eye patch, but decides to give up the Chevy account.
Pete sees an opportunity for advancement, but Bob is in his way. This leads to some petty maneuvering on both their parts, culminating in Duck sniffing out the truth about Bob. In spite of involved, lucid blog posts discussing his character, Bob turns out to be a GDD, a Gay Don Draper who came from nowhere, built himself a personality, and practically sneaked his way in SCDP. In another call back to Mad Men's history, Pete confronts Bob with his discovery, but unlike in Season 1, Pete offers a reprieve. "Stay out of my way, and I'll stay out of yours," basically.
This makes sense for Pete. Bob bared his fangs at Pete early in the episode, and it was scary! After eight years of withering resentment from Don, maybe Pete realizes the value of having a young climber in his debt. Staying out of Bob's way was his best option with the way BB had already infiltrated his life. Pete didn't even remember hiring him.
SALLY GOES TO BOARDING SCHOOL. Thoroughly disillusioned with both parents, Sally decides to seek her independence at boarding school, following the example of her mother. She's apparently avoided her father's house since discovering his infidelity. But boarding school brings a fresh challenge in the shape of two terrifying girls trying to haze Sally.
So who comes to the rescue? Gentlemen Glen! Been waiting for that guy to show up. He still makes people's skin crawl who can't forget his creepiness from early seasons, but Glen is doing all he can to shake that image, even beating up his buddy who gets too fresh with Sally. Sally clearly enjoys this development, and might start changing into a deft manipulator like her parents.
PEGGY AND TED ARE IN LOVE. It's super gross and everyone who spends more than a minute with them can see it. Her Rosemary's Baby commercial idea wasn't even that great, but Ted was willing to jeopardize a client relationship for it. Don's power play to cut it short was indeed monstrous, a great bit of boardroom drama. He continues to alienate every woman in his life, his former friend now calling him a monster to his face.
Don exhibited that one thing that makes him vaguely likable, awareness that he has totally fucked up his life. No sympathy for him, just a distant, muted approval of his self-loathing. Still, he can't bring himself to even act like a husband to Megan who tries harder and harder to show him he is loved.
Maybe that was the point of those flashbacks. Don believes he's sick, he knows he's a monster, and even though he wants the love Megan offers, he can't accept it without hating himself even more.
—I really want to hear the story of Roger cupping Lee Garner Jr's balls. Pitch idea: Mad Men: The Early Years.
—Joan's "Jewish lady" impression was funny.
—This season continues to reference past seasons. What other call backs are left? I would think some sort of variation on Betty leaving Don, which would be Megan leaving Don, one can only hope. Another Nixon election episode might be fun. Season 1's "Nixon vs. Kennedy" is one of the greatest episodes in the show's history. And of course there's an affair blowing up in Don's face, a la Season 2. Of course, we might have already seen the ultimate consequence of his affair with the Sally incident.
—So next week should be a happening season finale! There's a lot to tie up. Joan's account, Bob's insanity, Peggy and Ted, Megan and Don, Sylvia and Arnie, orange juice vs. cranberry juice... It's all very complicated.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!