Season Four, Episode 11: SCDP -- It's Toasted. Plus, Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

FayandBetty

Don's in a pickle, with or without the Heinz meeting.

I watched the evening mentoring session turn into full-on quickie shtupping with horror. Now Don is setting up a parallel sex life to his married one, having a blonde wife and a dark-haired mistress. Who are both mad at him at the same time, all the time.

Of course, it's more complicated than that: Faye, of the many changing hairstyles, is not his wife, but a work colleague -- and has a Mob-connected dad. And Megan, the mighty dabbler of delicate French extraction, might be a total psycho. (But I do love her funny teeth, which look like real mid-century Montreal teeth) She must have memorized those lines about not being sentimental from Cosmo. She claims she can keep her emotions, and her work, separate from sex, but I'm not buying it. This episode, "Chinese Wall" proves that there is no such thing. No boundaries are respected, anywhere.

Really, Don. What happened to being a better man? Okay, we understand that you had to let the journaling go. But the swimming? (Other than jumping into the secretarial pool.) Stopping at three drinks? (That sounds like a solution Faye might have come up with, and Don is already at four and more.)

So many intertwining themes in this episode: death (but what else is new?); water (drowning, going down with the ship, Peggy likes to swim,); the fall of the Roman Empire (Roger diddling while Joan burns, Trudy of the tiny pelvis perhaps requiring a Caesarean); and can-we-have-sex-without-being-punished?

Also: Peggy as the new Don, Don as the new Roger, and Roger as, hmm, a very slim vanity project with a Roman Emperor for a wife?

We know that Roger wants Joan, but can't do the right thing and commit to her, and at the sameRogerJoan time seems to have no interest in his young wife. We haven't seen Jane in a while, but she's obviously been busy. Not only did she get her very short cousin hired at the agency (and that was a great sight gag with the head of accounting not seeing the last-hired little guy waving his arms twice), but she's arranged her life to be a pasha at home. The walls of the Sterling apartment look like the club where the funeral was held, but at the center of it, on her modern furniture throne, there Jane sits as a pasha, in a gold coat, with a golden harp behind her. (Peel me a grape!)

The instrument suggest not only the fall of Rome, (and maybe it's a reference to Livia Soprano?) but Ken Cosgrove's published short story, from two seasons ago, of the gold violin -- perfect but unable to play a single note. The message would seem to be how damaging it is, doing things for show. (Like a vanity publishing of a book.) Yet Jane seems really content to nestle her head on Roger's shoulder, as if all's right with the world, even though he can't even muster a single note as an inscription to her in the book she "bought" other than the very strained "To my loving wife."

The parallel was Don going home, stinking of fresh secretary kill, to Faye, who also just wants to nestle her head on his shoulder on the living room sofa and hope that all is right with the world, now that she has made him her world. (Gulp.)

There was also a lot about shoulders: shouldering the burden (or not.) As we will see later, everything rests on Peggy's shoulders. Don, in a scene at the agency that foreshadowed the funeral scene, tried to put an inspiring spin on a death notice. With a bit of the rhythms of the Saint Crispin's speech in "Henry V," he told the folks that they would stand "shoulder to shoulder" and it will be "exhilarating!"

("We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he today that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother." That's the way Shakespeare put it.)

RogerLosesClienHowever, having Cooper introduce the agency announcement by calling a meeting of the "nearest and dearest" sounded funereal, and the clueless accounting guy ended it on a note of no confidence.

Ham-handed Stan (who with his giant chest and ridiculously tight shirts looks like a cartoon bully) uses the possibility of death, and the agency going down, as a way to ramp up his sex life -- claiming to have an Olympian trick to teach Peggy.

Earlier, of course, Abe reappeared, and Peggy had to sit on his lap all the way home from Jones Beach. They fall into her bed. He's surprised to find that she's a slob. He's a neatnik, apparently, from the way he's shown folding his towel the next morning. And what kind of self-respecting freedom fighter waits for the air conditioning guy? Maybe he's secretly more bourgeois than Peggy. Or maybe they are a good fit and can really learn from each other. He tells her she has the shoulders of an Olympian, and he loves them.

And how magnificent was her Playtex gloves presentation? I didn't get the lipstick on the teeth thingPeggyPresents -- mere Lucy-type sight gag, or was it some sort of Scarlet Letter, cause Peggy really, really enjoys her sex?  I loved how Don responded when Peggy feared that the news of the account loss meant that she was being punished: "You're not paying for anything. I'm counting on you.'' She should frame those words.

Certainly, her newfound carnal pleasure entered into the pre-Cyndi Lauper "girls just wanna have fun" strategy: "The meaningful life a woman leads when work is done."

Not the rubber gloves used to remove a dead woman's blotter, or the gloves that a cold mother like Betty touches her daughter's neck with. (Or the thimble that a woman uses so she doesn't prick herself when she sews. That funeral scene was perfect. That's just how those guys spoke of their lives and their so-called devotion to their families, meted out in sterling silver thimbles.)

No, Peggy has a classic idea: these are the gloves that preserve the feel of a woman's touch, so that she can enjoy using her hands for all of her other meaningful activities.

Indeed, she's pulling a Don Draper at his best. It's not a slide projector, it's a memory machine. These are not cleaning implements; they are preparations for sex. How could clients possible want a better concept?

Only two more episodes to go, my fine Blogsters. As Don put it, "there's only so much we can pretend like we're doing." Predictions, anyone?

Tags: mad men
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12 comments about "Season Four, Episode 11: SCDP -- It's Toasted. Plus, Rome Wasn't Built In A Day".
  1. Jonathan Hutter from Garrand , October 7, 2010 at 2:27 p.m.

    Don't say two episodes left! I'm going to miss your column as much as I will miss the show.

    Predictions? It appears Faye has already fulfilled her own prediction regarding Don's getting remarried, albeit without the ceremony. And I agree, just once, Don, keep the wick dry! I was sure Faye would pick up some secretarial scent. Unless she did and chose to ignore it. I think she's better than that. I was disappointed as well that she put her principles on the shelf and got Don the Heinz meeting.

    I thought the lipstick thing with Peggy was more about how her colleagues don't show her the respect to tell her about that, until it's too late. That moron Stan probably saw it as some kind of his mark (like a hickey?). They'll all see, they'll all see. Sal will come back, and those guys will be history.

    Roger will have one last heart attack (I hope not though, I really kind of like him), and his last words will be, "Joan...Joan!"

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , October 7, 2010 at 3:42 p.m.

    Roger will leave his young wife. Not uncommon in "real life" when the older guy realizes he is unhappy with someone he cannot relate. His 2nd wife divorces well, but not well enough and itches him where he cannot scratch. Joan's pity for him is not enough to be his conquest anymore. And Roger winds up rather washed out. I actually remember a man in an agency back in the 70's who reminds me of Roger - wealthy family, AE with no accounts, no income, no show, alcoholic, hanging at his "club" until he disappeared. There was more than one Roger.

    Don, since he still is the hero of the show will tether in and out. Although he thinks he rules women, he will come to find out he is ruled by them. Faye is playing the same all women want is to get married game and she really does want Don even though she seems to know the pretty little life she wants with him is never to be. She takes what she can get because it feels good now, but does not trust him as Jonathan says. Don will be suckered and then sucker punched. Remember his tete a tete with the department store princess? This will be more intense.

    In the very end, Joan and Peggy will be running an agency in the 70's. Pete will leave the agency side of the business, may even take over his father-in-law's business. By the way, I read that there will probably be a 5th and 6th season. Yes, Sal will be back as a creative director. He has been building his portfolio elsewhere and can bring in a few big accounts.

  3. Marian Berelowitz from freelance , October 7, 2010 at 3:50 p.m.

    Maybe also some irony and coming-full-circle, as Peggy got her break in Season 1 with the lipstick account (the "basket of kisses")?

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , October 7, 2010 at 4:02 p.m.

    Almost forgot, Sal brings the agency up to speed. TV ad format began to change. No long Glo-coat story telling. Short and snappy :60's and :30's. Don resists at first and then has to realign himself with himself to continue as creative director and that's why he has to wind up sharing the title. There are so many stories wrapped up in this, only MW knows for sure. PS: What no radio spots?

  5. Rob Frydlewicz from RAF Consulting , October 7, 2010 at 5:38 p.m.

    I enjoyed the sccene early in the episode where Peggy & friends piled into the car after a day at the beach. It evoked perfectly the carefree days of youth - and that Peggy is still young. And part of the Pepsi Generation!

  6. Ray George from HawkPartners , October 7, 2010 at 6:39 p.m.

    My favorite line from the episode: "How was the funeral?" "We'll see" - classic.

    Being an optimist, my prediction is the Honda will come through is a big way before the season is out - it will more than save the agency (but have no idea if their ad spend was significant on motorcyles in the 60's). And who knows - maybe Connie Hilton will come back into the fold and save SCDP - which would be a Faustian bargain for Don. But I do see the agency pulling in a big account out of nowhere to save the day - and doubt it will be Heinz.

    Agree that Megan = major trouble for Don - and that Faye's mob connections will come to pass. In the constant seesaw between Don's business and person life, the business life will begin to rise as the person will crumble.

    As agree that the whole creative group is a joke compared to Sal - hope he emerges before the end of the year.

    Thanks as always for the wonderful recap.

  7. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER , October 8, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.

    PREDICTIONS:
    LINDSAY wins the election. Henry introduces him to Mike Quill as Lindsley. Transit strike shows Henry that Lindsay is a mistake and he runs back to Rockefeller.
    BLACKOUT results in Megan or Faye pregnancy (maybe both).
    AGENCY gets both an automotive account and new cigarette business.
    SALLY pitches her Dad on going to school in New York Cuty and precedes Lady Gaga to Sacred Heart by 35 years.
    SAL returns. Somehow. At least someone will now look like an art director. (Very hard for TV show to do really good print ads. They should have hired George Lois to do some for the presentations.)
    ROGER'S book is optioned by 20th Century Fox and Tony Randall is cast.

  8. Jonathan Hutter from Garrand , October 8, 2010 at 1:40 p.m.

    I forgot to mention the blackout! I predict also that the last episode this year will end just as the lights go out. Tom, we'll have to wait until next year to see if your prediction about the blackout holds up.

  9. Thorsten Rhode from marqueteer , October 8, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.

    No mention of Pete being approached about switching sides? Other than that: I look forward to your review / analysis / connecting-the-dots every week -- almost as much as to next Sunday's episode.

    (only two left? gulp...)

  10. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , October 8, 2010 at 6:25 p.m.

    Anyone else see a semblence of resemblence of Peggy to the woman in her ad for Playtex gloves ?

  11. Melissa Lande from lande communications , October 10, 2010 at 6:50 p.m.

    I agree with the head-nestling thing, not sure about the Montreal teeth. We don't want Madmen morphing into another Vampire show.....

    The Heinz reference could be symbolic (Don's 57 varieties of mistresses?), but you can't help but notice the obvious roadsigns pointing to the dark ending of Roger (jumping on subway tracks? another heart attack?)Says my husband, the TV maven, all the signs are there (Joanie's rejection of him, wife Jane's irrelevance, the Lucky Strike fallout (and the lie about when Roger knew what--you just know that will come to light), his memoirs in order, etc. Roger's already had the heart attacks. Now he's toast.

    He further predicts a dramatic shift at the agency. Enter Peggy, fresh off her knockout Playtex presentation. Roger's out, Peggy (with Don's support) is moving up, Joan's getting bad news vis a vis soldier boy and Robert Morse, in the conference board room, believing the way to succeed in business is through group song, leads his perplexed colleagues in "I Believe in You."

    Elsewhere, Pete jumps ship (the cliffhanger in the last episode), but can he do it without Don?

    And lastly: I see yet another pregnancy (yes, Faye), another jilted bitter lover (Megan), Peggy ditching too-honest-for-his- own good Abe, the return of Rachel (there's room in the lifeboat for all of Don's girls) and Betty, fairly invisible--why?--during this season's episodes--packing up and leaving after discovering Henry in bed with . . . now we're taking nominations. (I hope it's not himself, but nah, they don't live in Delaware).

  12. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 13, 2010 at 1:03 p.m.

    The lipstick on the teeth? My take was she was set up by her sexist colleague who used his supposed interest in a kiss as a way to mar her appearance for the presentation. He did it on purpose because he's trying to tear her down, down, down.