What keeps us up at night? There are worries and fears. There are ideas and plans. There is anxiety and expectation. Poor Sally Draper is simply afraid of the dark, but it’s never the dark we’re afraid of but what we think lurks in the dark. As she struggles with the complexity and confusion of losing her Grandpa Gene, Sally stares into the darkness and down the hall to where a new Gene grunts and stirs in the night. No, Sally is not adapting well to the introduction of another Draper man in her life.
But Sally’s not the only one who can’t sleep. As the Sterling-Cooper office prepares for a visit from their British masters from the home office, Joan prepares for a life of domestic tranquility—if only her heel of a husband can finish his residency and get a position on a surgical team. Our resident office maven and all-around sex pot has already put in her notice and the office girls are abuzz in anticipation of her grand send-off. Cakes have been ordered, presents have been wrapped, booze is on ice! Of course, given how Joan rules that office, one can imagine there’s a sweet tinge of relief emanating from the secretary pool with each thought of Doctor and Mrs. Harris sailing off into the sunset. If only the louse can get a job!
Don’s restless nights are filled with fantasies of London nights and British birds since old Bert Cooper put into his mind the idea that this trip from the Limeys may in fact be to bestow a new title and authority upon Don that would have him oversee all creative in New York and London. Why, there’s even talk of a new title and who doesn’t blush a bit at the thought of President Draper?
Nobody knows if Roger Sterling sleeps since it appears he requires only good bourbon and the occasional bowl of soup for survival. If anything is keeping him up though it’s surely the fact that for the first time in his life he has a boss, and one who seems to have forgotten he even exists despite his name being emblazoned across the front of the building. “I am being penalized for making my job look easy,” Roger bemoans to Bert. If his job is getting loaded at lunch and dropping priceless one-liners, he’s right—he does make it look easy.
Londoners Harold Ford and Saint-John Powell tour Sterling-Cooper and we meet the man who would replace resident penny-pincher and droll buzz kill, Lane Price. Saint-John touts new man Guy MacKendrick’s education and accomplishments to Don, Roger, and Cooper like he’s a fresh catch from the Queen’s own pond. The kid’s as sharp as Don and as slimy as Campbell. Imagine if Jude Law came in and replaced your boss. Now imagine he was whip-smart and shallow as a cup of tea. See where the possibilities for fun lie? Price’s payment for “whipping Sterling-Cooper into shape” is a one-way ticket on the Bombay Express. We can guess what’s keeping him up at night.
The slow, cold war between Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove slogs on, seemingly unbeknownst to the carefree Cosgrove. The Thin Man arrives late to the office on the day before his new bosses show up, but he arrives in style: on a John Deere tractor. Yes, there’s a new client on Kenny’s roster and everyone’s going to get a ride. It may seem like a cheap visual stunt to have a riding mower suddenly appear in a Manhattan office, but given the stories I’ve heard from old timers in the biz and the possibility for hilarity that such a development brings to our gang of lovable lushes and you soon forgive the stretch.
Luckily, we don’t have to wait long for the fun to commence. Following a closed door meeting in the Big Room with the Big Names in which everyone’s dreams are dashed when the new org chart shows everyone, including Draper, reporting to Jude Law, the big shots set out to mingle with the unwashed masses and send off our Joanie. A note perfect speech right from the British Toast Masters graduating class sends Red into tears when she’s faced with the fact that A) she’s leaving her job despite having to work while Doctor Dingleberry puts in another year of residency; B) she knows deep down that she’s worth more than that yet has settled for the paper dream while living in the real world with a jackass. No, the guy can’t get a job.
Nobody makes Joan cry and gets away with it. Hapless office dope Lois takes the wheel of the John Deere and manages to shred Jude Law’s foot to bits. Yes, she was drunk driving a John Deere in the office and ran over her boss’s boss’s boss’s foot leaving the office looking like “Iwo Jima,” in Roger’s words.
“I guarantee you that in this business somewhere, sometime this has happened before,” Roger quips to the gang as the cleaning staff tries to mop up the gore. He makes it looks so easy.
Remember that old coot Draper ran into at Roger’s party? The guy who we all thought was a bartender at first but turned out to just be some cool old geezer who shared a storied past and a rags to riches pedigree? Turns out that was Conrad Hilton. Yeah, the hotel magnet and Grandad to Paris. He was so impressed with Don’s drink making talents that he called all over New York looking for him. Cheap bastard just wants some free advice on a dopey new campaign featuring a knock-off Mickey Mouse showing off the Hilton properties, to which Don initially balks but then relents and bestows that magic Draperism we all wait for: Nobody wants to think of mice in a hotel. Don’s payment? A shot at the old man’s business. Looks like Draper just secured his year-end bonus.
Obviously (to the British, anyway) Jude Law’s career as an Account Executive is over. I mean, the dude only has one foot now! That means Lane Price gets a reprieve. “I feel like I just went to my own funeral,” Lane tells Don, referencing Tom Sawyer. “And I didn’t like the eulogy.” No shit. That’s what happens when you’re the guy whose job it is to kill fun.
Back at home, Sally still struggles with the fact that there’s a new person named Gene living in grandpa’s old bedroom who looks like him and will probably even sound like him when he grows up. Betty tries to make peace by giving Sally a Barbie doll with a note from Baby Gene. Sally ain’t having it and tosses Barbie to the curb only to wake up screaming when she sees that creepy plastic harlot has returned to her dresser top. Don tries to console her but it’s only later when he explains that Baby Gene is not Grandpa Gene that Sally starts to warm up.
“He’s only a baby,” Don tells her. “We don’t know who he is yet or who he’s going to be. And that is a wonderful thing.”
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One thought on “Mad Men – Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”
yet another great review Derek! the last scene with Don & Sally was very heart warming. It’s easy to forgive Don’s marital shortcomings when he’s the one who comforts the kids at night while the wife just bitches at them.