5Takeaways from Mad Men, “The Quality of Mercy”

This season has gone by so fast. It almost seems like yesterday when we were seeing Don reading Dante’s Inferno and now we are now at the season finale. This season has had a ton do with duality and I’m wondering if the finale will somewhat mirror the premiere, but that’s for next week’s episode.

We had a very plot heavy episode this week which was kind of nice given how many questions we have about characters and the certain state of conflicts. Let’s chat about this week’s Mad Men.

 1. Don is a complete mess.

I feel like this is becoming a “takeaway” almost every week now, but given what happened last week in regard to Sally seeing her father in a compromising act, it is clear that Don hasn’t really been able to recover. We enter the episode in Meghan and his room, but Don is not there. He is cowering in his children’s room. We then see him slip some vodka into his orange juice. Meghan makes him stay home from work, but this halted when Harry calls and explains how Sunkist wants to spend $8 million on a advertising campaign.

If you remember, Don said he would halt his participation with Sunkist if Ted helped Mitchell get out of the war. But the money is too enticing. This once again brings Ted and Don into conflict, but Don wins out. After another issue with Ted (more on that later) Peggy starts fighting with him as if she’s his mother at the whorehouse. She calls Don a “monster,” like a mother would call her child. Just like the start of the episode we leave Don cowering and in the fetal position on his couch. There is even a scene where Don starts crying like a baby (acting out an advertisement). Don might be a powerful executive, but he really never group up.

2. Sally is turning into her mother.

For almost the entire run of Mad Men, Sally has always been much more into her father than her mother. Maybe this is just the way young ladies act, but she always blamed her mother from the divorce. After last week, it seems that Sally has finally discovered the truth about her father. We learn that instead of attending school in her town, Sally wants to go to boarding school. She doesn’t really say why she wants to go. I think you can only conclude that she really can’t deal with any of her parents anymore.

At the boarding school Sally learns she needs to gain the approval of two other girls. They are almost surprised when she learns she didn’t bring any alcohol or cigarettes to curry their favor. But two guys arrive including Glen(!) come to visit and bring party favors. After some partying Glen goes into the room with one girl, while the other guy stays with Sally. Sally feels uncomfortable when her guy tries to make a move. Glen “beats him up” and then leaves. On the way home, Sally learns she is a shoe-in for the school and smokes a cigarette, mirroring her mothers in an exact way.

3. We (sorta) find out who Bob Benson is.

As I talked about last week there have been tons theories for who Bob Benson is. Some internet recappers believed he was a Federal investigator, some thought he was a journalist. There was even some crazy theory that he was actually Bobby Draper, transported to the past. Last week we discovered that he might be gay judging from his interaction with Pete Campbell.

This week Ken Cosgrove asks to be taken off the Chevrolet after a mishap involving his eye and a gun. Campbell is excited about the opportunity of taking over the account but Cutler wants Bob Benson to partner with Campbell. Campbell calls Duck Phillips to try and get Benson to move on. The next day Phillips calls Campbell and tells him that almost everything about Benson’s resume is made up. Benson is similar to Don Draper in this way. He tries to please everyone so they won’t ask questions about where he’s from.

Learning from past experiences (involving Don Draper), Campbell says he won’t tell anyone Benson’s secret as long as he doesn’t try to ruin Campbell. Again we see the theme of duality as Benson is almost a mirror image of Draper. There is also Campbell’s ability to “try again” and learn his mistakes from the first season.

4. Peggy and Ted clearly have more than a “work relationship.”

As I said earlier, Don told he would stop “standing” in Ted’s way last week, by relinquishing the Sunkist account. But with Harry’s call that Sunkist is willing to spend $8 million on a campaign, the firm needs to go with them. And then, Don learns that Ted and Peggy are going way over budget on a commercial for a hospital called “St. Joseph’s.” Ted is under the impression the commercial is worth the money and will win Peggy a coveted Clio award.

It seems like Ted and Peggy are the only people who think this. It’s clear they have more than a “business relationship” in the office and people are started to get weirded out by it. Don and Meghan actually run into them together at the movies. They say they are doing “research” by watching Rosemary’s Baby. Don actually decided to call the client and they come in for a meeting to discuss the budget. Even though Ted did not want a “relationship” with Peggy in previous episodes, it is becoming clear that Ted does want something. I’m just not sure Ted knows that is yet.

5. Don puts Ted into his place.

When the partners have a meeting with St. Joseph’s, the client is unclear by why they have to spend so much money on the ad. Ted can’t really come up with a compelling reason. Don has to rush in and say that it was Frank Gleason (the guy who died of cancers) last great idea. The client says they can do the ad, just not with as much money.

Ted is pissed off, but Don says he isn’t thinking with his head. He is thinking too much Peggy and it is becoming way to apparent in the office. This is when Peggy goes off on Don.

Can’t wait till the season finale!


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