'Mad Men': All Don's Mergers


Mad Men has always been about Don Draper’s personal and professional life, but last night’s episode was really demonstrative of how similar his approach is to the two: he has no idea, and little concern, about being a good partner.

Still, that doesn’t stop him from continually entering into such relationships, as he did with Ted Chaough’s agency on last night’s episode. More on that in a minute. So much happened leading up to that, in the most action-packed episode of the season thus far.

First, we learn, during an apparent Saturday night clandestine meeting, that SCDP has the potential to go public, earning the partners a huge amount of money. (The $1 million for Joan’s share alone—presumably the smallest—is equivalent to about $7 million by today’s standards. Not too shabby.)

Then we find out that Roger Sterling is actually doing his job of getting new clients, and doing it really well by sleeping with a hot, young stewardess who works in an airport lounge. What synergy! She alerts him to potential business, and in this case, a Chevy exec whose flight to Detroit was delayed. Roger uses the time to befriend him, and deceptively (and rather responsibly) drinks water while he gets his new friend wasted and lands SCDP a presentation. While we’ve all been focusing on whether or not Don is capable of change, it turns out that Roger is actually doing it—sort of. It’s a really positive step for him, without losing any of the Roger-ness that makes him so lovable.

Meanwhile, Don dumps the Jaguar account because he could no longer stomach the sleazy Herb. When Pete catches wind of this, it leads to one of the best prat falls in television history.

Interestingly, during the fight that followed, Pete and Joan hit the nail on the head when they told Don exactly why he sucks as a partner. Joan was mad that she had to deal with Herb’s disgusting bullshit for this entire time, while Don couldn’t even make it through one dinner with him. (To be fair, though, Don never wanted Joan to sleep with Herb to land them the Jaguar account.) She told called him out about not being a good team player, that he’s always about “I” and “me” and never “we.” Pete was pissed that Don lives so recklessly like “Tarzan swinging from vine to vine.” (Which could easily describe his romantic life.) And just when he let go of the Jaguar vine, the Chevy vine was within his reach.

But then the bottom dropped out from them again when Pete’s father-in-law pulled the Vicks account from SCDP after running into Pete at a brothel. It was punishment for cheating on his “princess” Trudy. (If Trudy is the princess, wouldn’t that make her mother the queen, and wouldn’t cheating on her with a hooker be equally horrible?)

Just like Don said, Pete needs to just understand when it’s over. And losing the Vicks account should’ve been his first clue. Instead, he thought that he could somehow win both the account and Trudy back by telling her that he saw her father with a “200-pound Negro prostitute” at a brothel, not really thinking about how being in a brothel in the first place would implicate him or that blood is thicker than water and Trudy would take her dad’s side no matter what. Trudy, who was starting to soften to the idea of allowing Pete back in her life, is now officially done. But will Pete understand that it’s over?

In Detroit, Don was doing something that he’s done in at least one scene in every episode this season: drinking alone in a bar. He was depressed over learning that he probably won’t get the Chevy account because all the bigger agencies are competing for it as well. Just then, Ted Chaough walks in—and now Don’s not alone anymore.

After sharing their pitch ideas, and talking about how this business is “rigged,” Don proposes to Chaough. It’s so reminiscent of when he proposed to Megan—he basically didn’t know what else to do, and figured that a merger would, if nothing else, be beneficial to him. For such a depressed guy, he’s such an idealist. He really thinks this is going to work. Maybe it will?

Don is definitely into the idea of fighting, and doesn’t want to give up, unlike Dr. Rosen, who quit his job after losing two patients and being convinced that he’ll never conduct a successful heart transplant. He was talking about his career, but, as we learned, he has the same approach to his marriage. Plus, Megan is trying really hard to make the relationship work, too, learning from her mother that the key to a successful marriage is more blow jobs.

It’s weird that Dr. Rosen is always going on about having his place in history, because by this time, the first American heart transplant had already happened in January 1968, performed by Norman Shumway. But the procedure, in general, wasn’t all that successful and had poor results with patients not living very long afterward. Most surgeons, like Rosen, abandoned the practice, but Shumway stuck with it, and in the 1970s, he pioneered the use of a specific drug that made the operation safer and more effective. (Side note: Shumway eventually died of lung cancer, something that Rosen is always harping on Don about.)

So there is a divide in ethos presented on last night’s episode: the importance of knowing when something is over, and the importance of sticking it out. So what does that mean for the future of SCDP or the Drapers? Like Don said in his Chevy pitch, “The future is something you haven’t even thought of yet.”

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