Mad Men is back in its element. “Collaborators” saw Don and Peggy warring with their staff and clientele. But that was the least of Don’s problems. The weight of his past and present is weighing on him. He’s not the only tortured soul as Joan and Pete battle life’s drama as well.
- Director: Jon Hamm
- Writer: Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner
- Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Jay R. Ferguson, Ben Feldman, Nancy Linsky, Linda Cardellini
Episode Title: “The Collaborators”
Don doesn’t agree with a client as Peggy attempts to motivate her staff and Pete entertains a guest.
- 50 Miles: With the slip of a business card it was clear that Pete was heading to an affair close to home. A few moments after Pete’s married mistress darkened their doorstep made us fear Trudy would let this slight go unchecked. But Alison Brie didn’t garner acclaim for her portrayal as Pete’s formidable wife for nothing. Their confrontation was fueled by his mistress’s bloody towel dirtying her kitchen table. Trudy openly acknowledged that his apartment was permission to cheat, but she admonished him for ignoring that unspoken request for discretion. Her conviction never wavered; though we worry her admitted allowance for Pete’s every whim may cause her to relent. Nevertheless, in taking the stand Betty Francis never did, she carved out an even bigger place for herself in our hearts.
- Pretending: Don’s infidelity was woven with the memory of his step-mother’s plight. Watching the young Dick enter what looked like a whorehouse while his elder stared at his mistress made us ponder. Does Sylvia remind Don of his step-mother, or one of the ladies of ill repute? Her crisis of conscience was spurred by Megan’s admission of her miscarriage and her earlier desire to end the pregnancy. Her reluctance to reconvene their tryst was ended by Don’s matter-of-fact and passionate attitude towards their coupling. His quick disposal of Sylvia’s jealousy was far more touching that his reception of Megan’s confession. As Don watched his pregnant step-mother mounted by her brother-in-law in her mind’s eye it cemented that his longstanding mommy issues seem to be the focus for now.
- The Golden Condiment: Just when we were hoping to hold on to our infatuation with Stan and Peggy’s gab sessions, his slip about Heinz ketchup screamed, ‘This is over.’ The usually hard to decipher previews seem to point to Stan getting into trouble at SCDP because of his blunder. Our girl might become ruthless if nurtured by Ted Chaough and continuously hated by her staff. Peggy’s secretary is the second diverse addition, and the only one given a semblance of a voice. Interestingly enough, Ted’s flirting seemed to spur Peggy’s confidence, nearly ensuring she’ll snap up Heinz and the dashing Kip Pardue.
- The Double Edged Sword: The bliss we felt watching Joan keep her wits about her as Herb the Jaguar pervert barged into her office was unmatched. The thrill wore off though. Her walk to Don’s office to notify him of Herb’s visit was almost painful to watch. It suggested this has happened before: entering Don’s office and merely stating, ‘He’s here.’ Making a drink and staring coldly out the window suggests a routine. This is probably to protect her from his advances as much as it is to prevent her from insulting him. But the scene was purposeful, to remind you that no matter what, Joan must be constantly tormented by what she did. It’s all around her. The second floor, the huge staff load, and if that isn’t enough, the man himself walks in whenever he chooses.
- The Average Guy: Don spelled everything out quite simply for Herb: you screwed us once; I won’t let it happen again. As the only one who publicly voiced his displeasure at Herb’s first disgusting request, he worked overtime to keep him from using them to trump his idea to decrease the national campaign in favor of radio ads. Don’s well worded attack—thinly veiled by his insistence to sell Jaguars to everyday people succeeded like only a Draper speech can. The unforeseen consequences are ahead. Like Lucky Strike before them, Jaguar is a client SCDP needs in its arsenal. Without it, their standing could crumble.
- “I know ketchup’s a gold standard but after all we’ve been through I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that if you so much as send him a ham at Christmas… I’d rather retire than watch that guy screw my girlfriend. “—Raymond
- Ken: “It’s Heinz ketchup Don! It’s the Coca-Cola of condiments.” Don: “I know, but sometimes you gotta dance with the one that brought you.”
- Herb: “I know there’s a part of you that’s glad to see me.” Joan: “And I know there’s a part of you that you haven’t seen in years.”
- “I wish you handled the clients as well as you’re handling me.”—Don
- “Now I understand. You want to feel shitty, right up until the part where I take your dress off. Because I’m going to do that. You want to skip dinner? Fine. But don’t pretend.”—Don
- Roger: “As my mother used to say, your options were dishonor or war. You chose dishonor. You might still get war.” Don: “That was Churchill.”
“Collaborator” was devoid of a dull moment. Pete continued on a path that leads to a dark and maybe morbid season. Watching Joan’s suffering was one of the most beautifully written parts of the show. We still have no clue what’s up with Bob Benson—spy or corporate climber—but his sidling up to Pete doesn’t set our minds at ease. There’s no telling what echoes this miscarriage will have for Megan, but watching Don fall to the floor in front of his apartment was telling. Weighted down by his home life, his secret rendezvous, and work troubles isn’t new, but it’s wearing.
Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.
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