Mad Men: The Benefactor

AMC's Mad Men - Bobbie BarrettOne reason Don Draper’s character has become a cult hero (especially among advertising and marketing professionals) is the way he deals with people. Be it by charm, wit, or sheer force of will, Draper’s ability to manipulate and manage people is a thing of beauty. Especially interesting to watch is his interactions with women. He can be paternal with his wife and then sheepish at the next turn. He’s been supportive and mentoring with his former Secretary Peggy Olsen and then demeaning and dismissive. He’s childish and jealous with his bohemian ex-girlfriend and then romantic and impulsive. Don Draper is a man successfully living a lie so I suppose he has a complex bag of tricks at his disposal.

So it was particularly juicy watching him work with the crass and domineering wife/manager of a celebrity insult comic who unleashes a particularly cruel barrage on the wife of a sponsor. Draper, being Creative Director and most charming man in New York, is called in to clean up the pieces and finds himself pinned (literally and figuratively) by the comic’s lady.

Bobbie Barrett has clearly been around the block. When Draper explains the financial ramifications to both Sterling Cooper and comic Jimmy Barrett’s career, wife Bobbie is nonplussed. Instead of working with Draper to rectify the situation, she dismisses it out of hand and all but laughs at Draper for not realizing what he was getting by hiring her husband in the first place. She then jumps his bones in the car as they wait out a hail storm. Things ain’t what they used to be!

Meanwhile, back on the horse farm, Betsy wanders dangerously closer to infidelity when her flirting with a kept man who’s being forced to learn how to ride gets a better reaction than she’d expected. Startled, Betsy runs home to Don where she’s told she’ll need to help work over Barrett and mend some fences to save the Utz Potato Chips account.

The conciliatory dinner Draper set up with Barrett and his benefactors, the Schillings from Utz, starts off coolly. Jimmy seems to only want to talk to Betsy (and who can blame him!) while Draper seethes. It’s one thing to hit on his wife right in front of him, it’s another to put his reputation and his account in jeopardy!

Don confronts Bobbie in a secluded part of the restaurant where she reveals that a close reading of Jimmy’s contract shows that he’ll get paid regardless of what Draper or the Schillings say so an apology will require a $25,000 bonus. Bobbie clearly loves to dominate men and takes pleasure in weak kneed ninnies she can push around. Realizing this, Draper grabs her by her hair, leans her back, shoves his hand up her skirt and very clearly, and very quietly, warns her that he will ruin Jimmy.

“Do what I say,” he growls and then returns to the table where he wipes his hand and waits for Bobbie to return.

She does and Jimmy apologizes for being the asshole he is.

On the way home Betsy begins to cry. She says it’s because she finally feels a part of Don’s world and that she’s happy to have helped him save the account. All the while, Don stares into the distance as the mile markers and his soul fade into the rearview mirror.

AMC’s official recap.

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