MAD MEN “Man with a Plan” & “The Crash” Episodes Recap
If you stopped by here last week Tuesday looking for more talking Mad Men I must apologize. Sadly I had an emergency and couldn’t find time to write/watch/talk Mad Men until late in the week, and by then I assumed y’all would just as prefer one giant double episode write up than anything else. So take this as you will and let’s get moving…
“Man With a Plan”
With the recent merger of Ted and Don’s firms — into what I will call the super firm — we are witness to what a real madhouse looks like as all these people attempt to stay under one roof.
If there’s one thing one can take away from this is the idea of power. Who has it and where it comes from.
With the internal struggle in the firm we see Ted trying to make his mark and every employee scrambling to remind us of his importance. We even get the wonderful moment of Burt being fired again by Roger, who did the same thing about two seasons ago. But most importantly this is seen between Don and Ted.
Don is not so much threatened by Ted’s presence, being the two creatives that make up the partnership now, but still he feels a need to assert himself. He does so in one of the few ways he can call himself a master, drinking him into the ground. Ted refuses to back down but finds himself staring at the bottom of the glass a lot quicker and woozier than Don.
Ted finds himself trying to be accommodating too often with his first days in super firm. Even in the first meeting where there are one chair too few and he and Pete are at it to try and take up that chair and be the one who can sit at the table as opposed to hanging off to the side being symbolically (and contextually) irrelevant. If you’re not at the table what’s the say that you won’t be tossed out like all of the dead wood we see this week?
The power struggle continues with Don having a sexual power play with his Sylvia this week when she calls Don at work and all she says is “I need you and nothing else will do” which turns Don’s screw just enough. He then decides that she is his and only his taking her to a hotel room and keeping her for his pleasure alone. He dominates her mentally and physically in a game that he dictates the rules with little questions allowed. It’s as if the writers had been dared by their wives who had just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey (do I get bonus points for referencing it?) and they did it all.
However, like all power plays with Mad Men they come to a crashing halt reminding our hungry power mongers that they really aren’t in that much control. With Sylvia eventually getting tired of it all realizing that she doesn’t want Don and Ted flying Don to his meeting. In these two finite moments Don is reminded that he has power over no-one and while he can drink Ted under the table there are elements of this world he cannot be the king of and the skies have been claimed by another.
With things reaching a sense of normalcy about the office we return to people actually doing work for a change and with Chevy top of the order people jump into work a bit too deep for their own good. With a strict deadline ahead and very little headway happening we see our men of super firm (read above) turning to the wonderful doctor with his super serum that makes everyone awesome and time travel possible for Don.
If anything this is what I call the most fun drug induced episode Mad Men will ever have. With the staff running around the building, throwing pens at each other attempting to hit apples they hate more and bearded men making advances it’s just a funtime and the super firm that will have you just jumping giddy from just watching.
We see Don, who’s immediately affected by the drug, forced into seeing flashbacks of his childhood spent in the brothel (that we saw in earlier episodes this season) to a time when he was struck with an infection of some kind. It comes in waves these flashbacks and somehow everytime we return time has moved in ways that is unworldlike. Don walks into a room, sees a vision, walks out and day becomes night, Friday becomes Saturday, clean shaved turns to five o’clock shadow.
Also in the world of the Draper family we see Sally and co. (i.e. her brothers) left alone at home one night, with Don at work and Megan at the theatre. This odd night Sally awakens from her sleep to see an older black woman in the apartment and she claims to be Don’s mother, or at least someone who took care of him when he was younger. Sally continues to converse with her and they eat eggs together and such. While this is ongoing we have this weird feeling of something awry, while also wondering if she at all fits in with Don’s brothel tale of childhood? Even further when we learn our suspicions to be true and see the police appear the next morning. More disconcerting than anything before is a phone call between Don and Sally where Don attempts to put Sally at ease that it was all his fault she says, attempting to say that while this woman’s story and presence was absurd she happened to have an answer for every question, then to admit the real truth being that “I don’t know anything about you” talking to her father.
With all that happens in the firm we stick with Don more than anything else, and as we see him reach for that perfect pitch we see more than anything else he’s pitching for Sylvia — who’s detracted from him completely — rather than Chevy. He manages to be his eloquent self excited for ideas towards the end of the episode shouting for Peggy but rambling on and on about everything but Chevy leaving his staff confused.
This drug induced reflection leaves him in a moment of realization which is understood in Don’s finalizing statement in the episode that he can no longer be THE creative but rather the director of creatives. He will supervise and critique but not create, claiming he’ll return in the 70s when Chevy actually wants an ad as opposed to objective goals to jump through hoops and redtape before actually having an ad campaign run by the super firm.
What did you think of the last two weeks episodes?