Last week, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce took the bad news of Lucky Strike leaving about as well as you’d expect.  They had to start looking for more business, and figure out how to contain the fallout.  How’s that going?

The Players:

Episode: “Blowing Smoke”

Don meets an old friend.  Sally talks with her therapist, both official and unofficial.  Don writes a letter.  Cooper finds his shoes.  Trudy and Pete have a disagreement.  Half of SCDP gets some really bad news.

The Good:

  • Fire in the Hole: The firings at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, as well as the departure of no less than Bert Cooper, were surprisingly low-key and well-handled, dramatically.  We all saw these coming; it’s not like this show believes in dramatic last-minute reversals.  Speaking of which!
  • Bert But No Ernie: So long, Bert Cooper.  We’re not sure of much, but in light of how little he was used this season, Bert’s probably gone for good.  We feel a bit bad, actually, since he kind of deserved a stronger send-off, but that’s the kind of curve-ball this show will throw at you.
  • Craning Your Neck: Especially funny was Harry Crane, who if they’re not going to use him for much, at least use him for comic relief well this episode.  Whether he was getting thrown out of Don’s office by Cooper, or commenting on Bert’s departure, for once Harry got more than three lines and something to do.  He even got more one-liners than Roger, which isn’t easy to do.
  • Letter of Intent: Don’s gamble to get the phones ringing again, which ultimately leads to the American Cancer Society and, we suspect, the ultimate professional salvation of Don, although maybe not the agency, was pretty amazing.  The show even throws in a callback to Emerson Foote, the infamous manic-depressive ad-man who ultimately walked away from McCann Erickson to fight Big Tobacco full time.

The Weird:

  • Swatting Midges: Boy, that callback to season one just came out of nowhere, didn’t it?  So, in the intervening five years, Midge broke up with her one true love, found some jerk playwright, and became addicted to heroin?  Yeesh.  That’s a bit out of left field.
  • SCDP: Accidental Innovator?: One thing the show’s very good at, and seems to be setting up relentlessly this season, are call-forwards: SCDP landed the Honda cars account, which takes off in the 1970s with the Honda Civic; Joan’s made a few Vietnam references, which is almost certainly where most of these fired workers are going; and now Don and SCDP are, for better or worse, ahead of the curve when it comes to smoking.  In other words, in the future, if it survives, SCDP is going to be very well situated.  Somehow, we don’t think that’s an accident, but it does kind of undermine the suspense a little to know they’re well-situated for the future.

The Bad:

  • The Sally and Betty Show: Oh, man, Sally and Betty this episode.  In an episode that has a lot of Season One throwbacks, Glen’s always welcome, but jeez, we spent an awful lot of time hanging out with Sally and Glen right when we couldn’t give less of a crap about them if we were paid to.  We’ve got all this drama going on with Don’s business, where the season’s interests have undeniably lain the entire time, and half the episode we’re either cutting away to Sally and Glen having little-kid conversations, or Betty nattering away at Sally’s supposed therapist.  It’s aggravating and we’re not sure it’s even going to pay off.
  • Pitch and Cheough: Granted, he’s supposed to be annoying, but Ted Cheough was really irritating this episode; quite a feat since he was on for about a minute.


A kind of dull episode doing housecleaning before what’s apparently going to be one doozy of a finale.

Rating: 8/10

Agree?  Disagree?  Wondering what AMC’s sitting on for that finale?  Let us know in the comments!

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