Roger gets my vote as Mad Men’s most impish, incorrigible and endearing character this week. He’s my mischief-making hero in Mad Men’s Episode 6, “For Immediate Release.”
Thank the silver fox for his latest conquest – a sweet young thing named Daisy, who just happens to be his eyes and ears in the First Class Lounge at the airport. Not only is she the ticket to a good time in bed, but she’s at the starting gate for SCDP’s journey to salvation when a duo of client relationships hits the skids.
“For Immediate Release” hooks us on heated competition and satisfying symmetry: rival agency CGC has apparently resigned Alpha Romeo, and in a fit of unbridled ego and irritation, Don hands Jaguar’s Horrible Herb his hat.
An entertaining episode with the just the right amount of office intrigue, titillating twists, and characters caught in their own webs? You bet!
Guys and Gals
To this viewer’s amusement, all egregious emotional encounters are squarely situated in the Manly Camp. The women – especially Peggy, Joan, and Megan – do a superb job embodying that much loved and oft-cited… dare I say it… ad-age: Keep Calm and Carry On.
Even Arnie loses his cool professionally, resigning from his hospital when he doesn’t get to perform a heart transplant. (You may recall that medical milestone was reached only months earlier, first in December 1967, and again in January 1968, at the hands of Dr. Christiaan Barnard.)
He’s on a roll (or should we say stumble?), going from pride (and prejudice?) to petulance and personal poor choices. The Cocky Campbell blows off steam at Don in front of the entire office, taking a fall on the stairs as he does. (Slipping as he slips up. Love it!) Joan, ever the adult, whisks the tirading twosome away.
Pete also finds himself caught with his pants down at a whorehouse, or more delicately phrased, a “party house on Lex.” More precisely, he’s post-flagrante and in the hallway, as he bumps into his father-in-law finishing up a little business of his own, and with a prostitute that Pete deems decidedly unsuitable in both complexion and size.
And might we recall that Trudi’s Daddy Dearest is also client Vicks, furnishing some $9 million in billings?
Say bye-bye to your favorite cough drops, Pete. The agency gets the axe, Mr. Campbell spills the beans to his wife, tries to justify his actions over Big Bucks, and she tosses her hubby out on his assets. (Are we sorry to see it? I for one am not.)
Roger to the Rescue, Peggy in No Man’s Land?
Meanwhile, as accounts bite the dust, all is not lost – or is it?
Burt, Pete, and Joan have been meeting with a banker to take the agency public. Bad timing to lose a client – much less two – both Jaguar and Vicks. But here comes Roger’s stealth strategy to the rescue!
Surprise, surprise, as Daisy phones with a lead and Roger hightails it to the airport and on to Detroit. He snags Don and Creative a shot at a mystery Chevy, described only by “Power, technology, comfort and price.” It’s a huge opportunity for any agency, for SCDP, it’s now a must.
Peggy’s agency, CGC, isn’t in much better shape than Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. One of the partners is critically ill, Ted (like Don) is tired of playing the Little Guy with Great Ideas, but Peggy remains coolly focused on doing her best work. Well, at least until Ted plants a wet one on her unsuspecting lips, and apparently, she likes it.
Flash to an increasingly Miss-Matched Miss Olsen with one Honest Abe who’s comfortable in their newly purchased run-down mess of an apartment. Shall we mention it’s a neighborhood with junkies on the stoop and wiring that doesn’t work? Peggy fantasizes about Ted as she gets down and dirty with Abe in their abject abode, and we have to wonder if (and when) she’ll realize that a bird in hand is not always worth two in the bush.
From Me to We
In a long overdue scene, as Don defends his self-centered actions that damage the agency and infuriate Joan – he never should have let his disdain for Herb get the better of him – Mrs. Harris takes down the arrogant ad man, reminding him that if she could barter her body for billings, Don could’ve tolerated Herb’s overbearing character.
Joan has had it with Don’s “I” over “we,” diminishing the sacrifices and contributions of others.
Not only does Joanie merit a round of applause for this pointed speech, but “we” sparks a surprise move in Detroit, prior to pitching for the GM account. Don and Ted commiserate over drinks the night before, knowing they offer the better creative but not the resources of the larger competing firms. They team up and decide to merge – winning the business, returning to their offices in New York, where Peggy is caught off-guard by the news and this unlikely partnership, as she is asked to write the press release.
And as all press releases do, it begins with the location, the date, and “For Immediate Release.”
In these closing minutes, Don acknowledges a small measure of his former mistakes, asking his Once Upon a Time apprentice to describe the agency as she would like it to be, and Ted informs her happily that she is now the Copy Chief for one of the 25 largest agencies in the country.
What else do we love in this episode that offers lessons in opportunities lost (and made), as well as identity?
Pete gets his comeuppance, Marie reminds Megan how to keep Don interested, and it’s a roller coaster week but a juicy one on Madison Avenue. And as Peggy types out the press release, we’re reminded of the date: May 17, 1968. We know what’s coming next.
Images, Michael Yarish. Click to access originals at AMCTV.