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This Week on ‘Mad Men’: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

Posted by Jon Wiener on August 22, 2010

Every week, I am forced to say to anybody who will listen, “There is not a single bad episode of Mad Men“.  I said it to a friend at a party last night and I repeat myself, one episode later.  Mad Men creator, Matthew Weiner, has created characters so interesting that the details of their lives continue to unravel in each passing episode.  This week, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce meets with a new potential client…a giant one, but one of the company’s partners disagrees with the collaboration for irrational political reasons.  Rather than continuing ambiguity, let’s break it down…

Don Draper: Life at work is proving complicated for Don, but his grand ideas and limitless charm constantly prove their worth, especially when SCDP has to woo Honda in an effort to spearhead their motorcycle campaign.  Being such a hot commodity, a handful of ad agencies must compete for their business while abiding by a set of rules.  Don is concerned that one specific company is after all of SCDP’s former clients.  In an effort to best them, Don plans to make them THINK that SCDP is breaking the rules by producing a big-budget commercial in order to trick them into actually breaking the rules and create a finished commercial.  Meanwhile, Don’s personal life is going haywire, all due to his eldest daughter, Sally.

Sally Draper: Ever since Grandpa Gene died and her parents got divorced, Sally has been acting out in some very unsavory ways.  While at her father’s apartment and being watched by his adorable nurse-neighbor, Sally sneaks off and cuts her hair in an effort to look pretty, probably to get her father’s attention.  Also, Sally gets caught playing with herself at a friend’s sleepover party, mortifying all parents, especially Betty.

Betty Draper: This woman has a touch of the crazies!  Yes – her ex-husband was unfaithful, but the way she reacts to every problem is very unattractive.  She slaps Sally after the hair incident and makes her go to a therapist (Henry’s idea) after the masturbation fiasco.

Glen: Sadly, Glen was not in this episode.  I just wanted to bring him up.

Roger Sterling: Back in SCDP-land, the Honda account is very worrisome for Roger.  As a WWII veteran, Roger generalizes the Honda execs as evil and refuses to do business with them.  He verbally bashes them in a formal meeting, jeopardizing the deal.  Don’t worry – Don may have saved it with his aforementioned panache.

Pete Campbell: Nobody likes Pete.  He’s a little weasel and is unaware of how much of a pipsqueak he is.  Nevertheless, he has quite a set of balls (figuratively speaking).  After Roger’s inappropriate tirade, Pete furiously yelled at him, claiming that Roger is attempting to sabotage Pete’s potentially large accounts in order to make his own (Lucky Strike) the biggest account at the firm.  Jaws on the floor.  If an Arsenio Hall audience was to witness Pete’s rant, they surely would have barked like dogs.

Joan: While greeting SCDP’s Japanese guests, they ogled as they commented to one another in their native tongue.  “How does she now fall over?”  Amazing.

Before I wrap up this recap, I would like to file a formal complaint to AMC regarding the Mad Men next-ons.  Every week, all we see are the Mad Men characters saying meaningless shocking blips (“Oh my god!”, “I want him to die!”, “We’re an advertising agency!”, “River of shit!”, etc).  I will always watch new Mad Men episodes, but not because of these teases.  They’re meaningless.  Perhaps hint at the plot.  Include two sides of a conversation for once.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, I can assure you that as long as Matthew Weiner makes television, I will be watching.  For now, the story of Don Draper will fascinate me week after week.  Keep watching, world.

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