Mad Men, Season 6, Episode 6: “For Immediate Release”
Written by Matthew Weiner
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on AMC
It must be frustrating living life as Pete Campbell, putting so much effort into everything only to watch it come crumbling down around you while Don Draper, at the end of his rope , effortlessly reaches out and finds another vine waiting for his grasp. Sympathy for Pete is difficult to come by; his petulance frequently undermines whatever pity we could feel for him. The lack of judgment he displays as he confronts Trudy with her father’s infidelity out of spite is staggering. Still, petulance isn’t a quality Don has been lacking of late. Something underlined by Christina Hendricks’ fantastic acting as Joan dresses him down for letting his personal prejudices get in the way of maintaining the Jaguar account.
Look at the shock on Peggy’s face as she walks into Ted’s office and finds Don sitting there. Is it because she had romantic expectations or because she thought she had finally gotten out from underneath Don? The conglomerate we can only assume won’t be called Sterling Cooper Cutler Gleason Chaough Draper Pryce allows Don and Ted to compete for big accounts, but for Peggy and Joan it’s one step forward and two steps back. Peggy was just getting used to running a creative department without Don looking over her shoulder, and Joan felt like she had finally gotten the respect she deserves in the form of the $1,000,000 she would obtain from the IPO.
Things aren’t going well for Peggy at home either. It’s hard to blame her for being upset. When you finally pull the trigger and buy an apartment, you don’t expect your triumph to be rewarded with poop in the staircase. There are differences in the lives they want for themselves. They are on opposing sides of the cultural shift that’s happening, and that’s going to be very difficult to reconcile going forward. These schisms in her relationship with Abe are what led to her allowing Ted to kiss her, they fuel the fantasies she has about him (reading “Something” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, in a hysterical gag) as she is with Abe.
The détente between Don and Ted allows Don to ride in like a knight in shining armor—or swing in like Johnny Weissmuller—but he was only given a shot at the Chevy account because of Roger’s ability to schmooze clients (a talent Pete, with his overbearing desire to please, will never possess). For someone who has been placed in direct opposition to Pete as a self-made man, Don likes to assume credit for other’s work. He enjoys being dominant. This explains his anger with Megan as she asserts herself in the world, becoming her own person. After dinner, he reaffirms the fact that he appreciates her most when she’s in service to him.
The same goes for Peggy. His inability to give her credit for her work is what led her to flee to CGC. Now that Don is in charge of her again, he has reacquired his swagger. The manner in which he conducts himself with her in the last scene tonight oozes with confidence, a confidence that wasn’t there when he ran into her at the cinema earlier this season. Even as he attempts to restore Joan’s honor by eliminating the firm’s dealings with Herb, he treats her as someone lesser than him—as a secretary not a partner. There are going to be a lot of egos to manage at the new SCCGCDP, and Don has never been one capable of considering the “we” over the I.