“For Immediate Release” refers to the press release that Peggy bangs out on her IBM Selectric in the final electric seconds of the show. After many weeks of existential numbness, this taut and even thrilling episode exploded with the surprise merger of SCDP and CGC and its new, mutually assured plotlines.
But here’s the first hitch: although Ted talks up Peggy’s new position (youngest copy chief ever at a major agency!) and Don ostensibly makes a point of including her in the decision this time around, Olson -- who kissed her boss and announced to Abe that she hates change, and is looking more and more like a stodgy young Betty Crocker these days -- really has no choice in this mess. Flustered, she accepts her assignment, and is immediately sentenced, like Rose Marie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” to go and be the good girl typist.
Meanwhile, Mother’s Day brings out the beast in boys and some of the mommas, and they are all releasing their urges. Pete, Coop and Joan dream of the financial killings from going public, and savor the spreadsheets; Megan, taking her mother’s advice and acting like a non-star, non-wife, spreads her legs, and the cold-blast from the North, La Marie, spreads the ears of her wine bottle opener.
The obsession with whorehouses continues apace. We managed to get a new black character: a 200-lb prostitute! And just when we thought Joan’s preposterous rack couldn’t get any bigger, it does.
In the opening scene, with her hair down and her humongous breasts heaving, as the banker looks over the “spotless” books, are they supposed to symbolize “the capitalization that will mean the doubling of our size”?
There were also lots of parallel moments and character reversals. Viewers like nothing more than to see sleazy Pete beaten up. The son- and father-in-law parallel “party room” patronage did him in psychically (he’s headed for divorce) as much as Don’s undermining of the public offering wrecked his finances. Then we got the in-the-flesh fall on the stairs, the gift and GIF that keeps on giving. (And sadly, Princess Trudy probably knew that her own mother had also turned a blind eye all of these years for the sake of propriety.)
Meanwhile, nothing energizes Don like a good, inopportune client firing and the near-death of the agency, all while not letting anyone else in the office know.
But while he has come alive, his idol, Dr. Rosen, is falling apart. We first see him enter the back kitchen door of Don’s apartment in a hideous bathrobe (he and Sylvia apparently get their lazing–around-the-house clothes in Dogpatch, U.S.A.) It’s also the reverse situation of Sylvia, in her robe, welcoming Don at her back door.
A shocking scene occurs later, with the two men in the elevator. Rosen tells Don that he’s tired of fighting. He’s lost his chance at doing the world’s first heart transplant. (Denton Cooley got there first, in Houston) and he’s quit his job. In the end, it was all about Rosen’s own ego and place in history. Who ever expected this outcome back when the ever-glum Don watched the sainted Doc, at the top of his game, happily cross-country skiing to an emergency on New Year’s Eve?
But let’s get to the delicious comic moments. First of all, was it ever mentioned before that Weiner had the nerve to go with “Peaches & Herb?” for the first names of the Jaguar client and wife? (For the young’uns, they were a singing act who had a big hit in the late ‘70s called “Reunited.” )
I realize that Herb is great at playing a heavy -- and Don’s line, “Don’t you feel 300 pounds lighter?” was pretty funny. Herb just seems a little too Soprano to me to own several tony British car franchises. But some of his lines have Tony’s exact cadences and comic attempts at higher literary insights – as when talking up his protégé who is writing flyers, he says the kid “has a good turn of phrase.” (Later, he says he’d like for Don to get the kid’s “take” on the creative work. Did anyone use “take” that way in the ‘60s?)
And Megan is wearing that amazing golden dress that hits just where her fingertips do when she has her arms down at her sides. Her mother is stewing because Roger has not shown up, and she has to listen to this “idiot” from Tenafly whom she later puts down as “the apple in the pig’s mouth.”
But really, Peaches, with her love of puppies, has the most important (and least discussed) line of the evening. (Other than Don’s “I love puppies!”)
In talking about her beloved dog giving birth on the oily wet spot in their garage, (and in light of the overall heavy theme of Mother’s Day) she says that every puppy born “had its own nipple.”
Is this why the world is a mess? Because not everyone born gets his or her own nipple? Will the newly merged agency be able to double-team on one nipple?
Certainly, Ted C. was Don’s adversary on so many pitches that the merger makes sense. The Heinz Ketchup business was a prime example. And Don keeps producing these campaigns in which the product is not seen; he could use the strengthening work of another team. And as is mentioned, the Chevy business requires a 200-person team in Detroit, which is not easy to build. (This situation somewhat mirrors what Chevy has gone through in the last four years, leaving Campbell-Ewald, changing agencies again to end up at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which opened a Detroit office, and then had to join in an unworkable partnership with McCann Erickson, which this year ended up with all the business.)
Still, going after Chevy allowed for one of the greatest scenes in Mad Men history: Roger collecting his last minute bag of tricks (including copies of “Sterling’s Gold” his self-published memoir) to head to the airport. John Slattery is not only a great actor, but also a great physical comedian. In his white shirt and black hat, fumbling around his office, bags flying, he almost reminded me of Charlie Chaplin.
And though the Ford Mustang was mentioned, the car the new agency is launching is mostly likely the Chevy Vega, the disastrous little eco-hatchback, hardly a tech savior out of “the future you’ve never imagined.”
Let’s talk about this glorious future. So many characters in this episode mentioned that they were “sick of it.” And “tired.” Ted’ s partner with the pancreas cancer is tired of drawing rockets, which are as American as the drive to explore outer space. And Dr. Rosen is quitting, just as new technologies are making all sorts of medical breakthroughs within the human body (inner space) possible.
Don has been referred to as “Superman” by Megan, in a clunky analogy that suggested he will fall off the balcony. Pete accuses him of being “Tarzan,” swinging from vine to vine.
He is neither. Obviously, the merger of the two agencies has the seeds of mutually assured destruction (MAD!) sewn in at every step.
The big picture is even worse: Robert F. Kennedy will be assassinated in Los Angeles in less than one month.
Shut the door, take a seat: We’ll always have “Hazel.”