5 Things I Learned From Last Night’s Mad Men: Episode 7, “A Man With A Plan”
With the merging companies, there is trouble, tension and transition everywhere. Merging clients and jobs, dealing with logistics of job security and office space — the office is in turmoil, and so is everyone’s life around it. And this is all before the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Unlike the MLK Jr. assassination, Mad Men chose to put this assassination at the tail end of an episode that centered on the chaos of the character’s lives, rather than the chaos associated with this tragedy.
When did Ted become such a bad ass? Loved, loved, loved Ted this episode. It took him a little bit to find his groove—but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t act this way at first when becoming business partners with Don Draper. I mean, DON DRAPER. Ted feels insignificant, I think he feels a little bit like a phoney—as a fraud. He can’t drink like Don. He doesn’t have the same confidence. But once he is reminded that, yes, he owns half this building. He’s a goddamn pilot and he is the only chivalrous man that works at this ad agency, he gets his swagger back. Don put it best: ““No matter what I say, you’re the guy who flew us up here in his own plane.” Period.
Is Pete finally going to explode? On everyone? Nothing works for Pete this week—and I think he got sweatier and sweatier with every scene. Each time he was on screen he looked a little more disheveled, and I got a little more scared. His marriage is falling apart—Trudy is finally done with him after that escapade last week. He’s losing his accounts. There’s no chair for him at a meeting. Business is going on without him. His mother is suffering from what appears to be severe Alzheimers and he has the burden of helping. Not a great week for Pete Campbell, and we all know, Pete doesn’t handle these situations with grace.
Why is Don making Sylvia put on his shoes? Watching Don this week, I’m reminded of the moment with him and the prostitue post-Betty. When he’s with a prostitute and he makes her punch him in the face. Don is pretty messed up sexually—I think we all know this. I hate watching him treat Sylvia like this, and I hate the look on his face as he does it. And worse, watching him crawl into bed with Megan afterwards makes me feel sick to my stomach.
But—you know who hates it more? Don. Don is so effing ashamed of himself. Seeing Sylvia walk out that door, the red dress on the bed, thrown down in a way that clearly meant nothing to her—he’s so ashamed. I can’t remember the last time I saw genuine emotion in Don, but I saw it here, in his goodbye with Sylvia. It has nothing to do with her. It has nothing to do with their relationship, we all know he wanted to push her away the second he saw Arnold’s suitcase outside that elevator. In this moment, he questions his ability to be fixed, to finally be a good man. He knows Arnold is a stand up guy, a man to admire. He knows Ted is a man with integrity, why else would Peggy have told him she hoped Ted would rub off on him, and not the other way around? What does he have to offer? What kind of man is he?
And finally, I left this week asking myself, where do we go from here? Mad Men never takes a season where I think it is headed, and even though there was, in a sense, some progress this episode—there’s still so much gloom. Don’s face when Sylvia leaves the room. Peggy telling Don, essentially, to grow up. Bobby Kennedy is shot. So many people’s lives are crumbling, and while some may grow from the ashses (has Joan finally found a decent man? Will Peggy become the strong, confident woman I know she has in her?) I am afraid that too many lives will not—Don being one of them. I’m starting to lose faith in him, and I know he’s lost faith in himself.