5 Things I Learned from Last Night’s Mad Men: “The Quality of Mercy”

In an episode that really, really, really left me wanting to know what happens next– Mad Men killed it this week. I laughed, I cried, I was in suspense, I was shocked, I thought Ken had been killed by Chevy. I hated Pete, I liked Pete, I hated Pete. Most notably, I watched Don Draper cry like a small Jewish baby which is literally the greatest thing to ever happen on television. Seriously, enjoy this video before getting into the serious stuff. You’re welcome.

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Here are 5 things we learned this week!

1. Bob Benson is Don Draper meets Pete Campbell meets Man Servant. And here I thought the only thing Bob was hiding was his sexuality.  But nope! In a Don Draper twist, we learn Bob is absolutely not who he says he is. He was born into nothing. His only work experience is being a personal secretary. I am not mad about it. He may have made up some past job experiences, but he got to where he is now with a charming demeanor and by being great at his job. Bob is good at doing whatever it is he’s doing—just like Don. Where these men came from doesn’t matter, it’s where they are now. It’s how quickly the both of them moved up in their companies regardless of their background. It’s about a willingness to please, a willingness to do whatever it takes.

2. Peggy and Ted are Basically Flirty High School Kids. Oh, Ted. Always wearing his heart on his sleeve. He is disappointed in St. Joseph’s rejecting the budget not because he really wants this ad, or because of the company, but because it means so much to Peggy. It’s heartfelt and lovely, except for him being married and all. And everyone at the office notices it, and everyone at the office feels uncomfortable around it. Their relationship is clouding Ted’s judgment, and for Don Draper, this is unacceptable. Do I sense a little jealousy, perhaps? I certainly tasted a big gulp of irony after Don put him and Peggy on blast during their pitch meeting and Don stated:  “I know your girl has beautiful eyes, but that doesn’t mean you give her everything.” Says the man who just removed his mistress’ son’s name from the draft list. Please.

3. Pete is A Growin’ Man! He finally admits, out loud, for the first time all season, that he and Trudy are separated. He is acknowledging that his life is changing. Even though it’s super depressing and he does it basically by saying this is my life now so it’s okay if Chevy kills me because nobody will miss me… But still. No more denial! He also handles his discovery of Bob Benson like a boss. By not running and crying to the other partners about his new-found discovery, he is able to use this to his advantage. Even though he does it mostly so Bob won’t hit on him—he is admitting something here. Pete proved me wrong in this moment, and for the first time in a long time, showed growth. He learned his lesson when he tried to move up prior by putting Don on blast. Rather than tattle on Bob, he uses it to his advantage as he wisely states, “Where you are and who you are is not my concern. I surrender.” And I imagine this will turn out to be one of the best decisions Pete has ever made.

4. Sally Draper is Super Badass. I feel horribly for her—what an awful situation to be in. To see your father in bed with another woman… Who isn’t your mother, or step mother… I mean. Yeesh. She doesn’t want to ruin her father’s marriage. She doesn’t want to hurt Meagan. So instead, she has to hold on to this secret. But she’s doing something about it by moving away to a boarding school, she’s getting the eff out of Dodge. And I loved this decision. I honestly think it was the most reasonable way to deal with what happened (is this me being sucked completely into this world of honesty def not being the worst policy? Because I think telling Betty would have been so much worse).

5. Don is slipping, slipping, slipping into depression. Cut to: Don curled up in the fetal position on Sally’s bed. Don slipping vodka in his orange juice. For as much drinking as we see these men partake in, I’ve never seen Don drinking to cope—drinking to get by.  He spent the episode trying—he tries to see his daughter. He tries to make Meagan happy. He tries to help Ted and Peggy, in the only way he can. But, nothing goes his way. His daughter refuses to see him. He can’t give Megan what he wants. And, worst of all, Peggy acknowledges all of his failures and all of his disappointments when she tells him: “Well you killed him. You killed the ad. You killed everything. You can stop now. You’re a monster.” Is Don a monster? Is Don this person? Cut to: Don ending the episode right where he began, curled up in the fetal position on his couch, asking himself this very question.

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