Mad Men Season 6 Episode 7: Man With a Plan

This week on Mad Men, the women without a plan seem to be outperforming the men in the decision-making department. Episode 7, “Man With a Plan,” presents a merging SCDP with CGC in a state of clutter and commotion.

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 7 DonMan with a plan? What plan? Or for that matter, what man?

Concocted of a drunken albeit creative scheme between Don and Ted, the combined power of both agencies succeeded in laying waste to the competition and snaring the Chevy account. Score!

But now the clash of corporate cultures is cranking up, and on SCDP’s turf at that. All hail the duo of pissing contests between Don and Ted!

Dare we admit they’re made all the more amusing by the urine reference, as Joan finds herself stuck in a drab and leaky ER?

This promises to be anything but a smooth organizational transition. Then again, what merger is? Are we witnessing the less polite version of the once-upon-a-time British invasion of Sterling Cooper?

Ah, but this is different. We have Peggy caught between dueling allegiances. We have Ted and Don with dramatically different styles, though theoretically, they’ll be squared off as equals. We have no John Deere mowers in the wings. As for smooth? Don Draper may be smooth, but he doesn’t do smooth. Not very well, or for very long.

Calling Maxwell Smart! Make That Ginger and the Professor?

Who has a shoe phone? Can you spell KAOS?

Maxwell Smart may not make an appearance to clean up the mess (or better still, the more level headed Agent 99), but chaos, clamor, and competition are the name of the game at the moment. And shall we commence with Don and Ted’s Big Adventure?

First, we have a tussle over margarine, Fleischmann’s to be exact. Second, in a pair of pissing contests over alcohol capacity, it’s an easy win for Don. That adolescent achievement is quickly overshadowed when Ted flies them to Mohawk and through a storm, as even Don concedes “whatever I say, you’re the guy who flew us up here in his own plane.”

Still, the rival Ad Men seem to hold their own…

Meanwhile, SCDPCGC (for lack of other name for the entity) is bustling: half-opened boxes are stacked, carted, and wheeled around. Secretaries pop in and out of offices. Doors are opening and closing (and slamming shut). The corridors are teeming and jammed. Arguments break out over clients, over accounts, over roles.

It’s in this disorder of Ted’s new office that he and Don brainstorm, and Mr. Chaough likens the client and competitive space to the characters of Gilligan’s Island, as Don tries to follow. Was that Blue Bonnet as “Ginger, the red-headed Marilyn Monroe?” Was that Parkay as the Professor?

Then the “mysterious and eloquent” hero revs up his storyteller’s engines and paints his latest canvas: an ambiance, an aroma, a feeling – a sumptuous and hearty meal of eggs and pancakes and syrup with… you got it, a pat of Fleischmann’s margarine, melting on top. And a campaign is born, and like most births – painfully, noisily, messily – and with ample anesthesia.

Don and Sylvia

My, my. Whose book is Mr. Draper borrowing from as he overhears a row between Sylvia and Arnie, then exploits the situation by locking up the pretty (and willing) Mrs. Rosen in the Sherry Netherland? He commands her to stay naked, stay there, and “ask no questions,” as he enacts his own “shady” version of domination and submission, which he shows no sign of relinquishing until Sylvia has had enough.

There is little titillation as these scenes play out. Instead, they’re unnerving as Don’s dip into the humiliation tank recalls his times of wanting to be punished in bed, a few seasons back. Of course, we’ve seen glimpses of sexual games in his marriage to Megan, but this is something else. Why does he need this absolute control over Sylvia? Is Megan’s success fanning the flames? Is this some mid-century male midlife crisis? All of the above, or more to the dark underbelly of Dick’s life that we’ve yet to uncover?

Don demanding that his mistress crawl across the room to fetch his shoes? Very unsettling. His stony expression belies a nastier need to rule this roost and take no prisoners, even in his fantasy prison with Sylvia as his precious prey.

But she’s had enough and says “this is over.” Don counters with a return to tenderness, kissing her hand, adding: “It’s easy to give up something if you’re satisfied.”

Sylvia’s having none of that, and replies:

It’s easy to give up something when you’re ashamed.

Don made his bed, and now he can’t lie in it.

Oh wait. Of course he’s lying in it. Lying to Megan that is, each night he crawls back to her and lays down at her side in their bed.

Was Don’s plan to force Sylvia to leave him, because he couldn’t leave her? If so, it worked. Yet judging by the stricken look on his face, if that was the plan, he’s unhappy with the consequences. More likely, his tumble into Mistress-as-Pleasure-Prisoner was hatched spontaneously, in some reactive mode to whatever is amiss for Dick-Don-Dick.

Note a superb moment as this pair rides together in the elevator where the season began, and where once they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Now, they stand motionless (nice contrast to the office), with a marked space between them. She looks down, her shame evident. He looks up, seeming to suffer.

Pete, Bob, Peggy, and Megan

Poor Pete. That little tumble down the stairs not long ago? That’s bubkis, baby, compared to the fall he’s worried about now!

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 7 Joan SmilingHis Mama is his seeing his dead Papa. She’s descending into dementia and disoriented, interrupting him at work, starting a fire in his apartment in the city, occasionally lucid, and plenty mean. Pete’s already bothered over his place at the table; he’s certainly a man without a plan when it comes to whatever he needs to do next.

And then there’s Bob. Solicitous Bob. Coffee-fetching Bob. Bob who finds Joan doubled over in pain and has the finesse to whisk her discreetly out of the office to the Emergency Room, and sweet talks her into an examining room after a long wait.

His head was on the chopping block; Joanie saves his job.

More musings?

Let’s give it up for the brief reference to the May 1968 protests in France, as students took to the streets. (Sylvia’s son is in France; the US is not the only part of the world undergoing violent civil unrest.)

Surely we’ll encounter fireworks between Cutler and Roger in the future. (What’s not to love about Harry Hamlin in that role? Roger needs a foil, and Cutler may be just the ticket.)

Peggy trying to mediate between Don and Ted? Her cooler head (again) prevailed, as she gives Don a stern talking to after his alcohol-inspired slap down of Mr. Clough. Ms Olsen says:

When you told me about the merger I hoped he’d rub off on you. Not the other way around.

The dialog continues:

Don: He’s a grown man.

Peggy: So are you.

And at the dawn of this new age, where is Don’s secretary? Her absence is notable though her name is mentioned as the partners run through possible headcount cuts, and the question is asked – is she white or black?

In the background as the episode closes, news of Bobby Kennedy’s shooting plays on the television. The date is June 5, 1968. He was shot three times. (And the room number at the Sherry Netherland as I recall was 503. Matt Weiner does enjoy his details.)

And the man behind the assassination plan? Do we ever really know the Man with the plan?

As the episode comes to a close, Megan, who has done an expert job of not explicitly confronting Don’s distance, faces forward and watches the news of the RFK shooting with tears in her eyes. Don finishes dressing for work, and sits on the side of the bed, his gaze fixed in another direction.


Images, Michael Yarish. Click to access originals at AMCTV.

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© D. A. Wolf

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Comments

  1. Delicious as always, delovely!!! Thank you, thank you my friend!

  2. I watched a BBC series about Prime Time TV in America and it was a real awakening for me. The shows focused on the Father Image, The Geeks/Misfits, Independent Women and the Crusader. Actors and writers were interviewed. Madmen was one of the shows featured about how men are confused about their roles these days. The awakening for me was how little TV I’ve watched not just recently or here in Britain, but since I hit my 20s. I learned about any number of major TV shows. I’d heard of most, but not all. I only started watching MASH when it went into re-runs. I never thought All in the Family, the Cosby Show or Roseanne were worth my time. Too busy working, going to classes and studying I think. By the time I was done with my education, I’d lost the habit. Watching last night I felt as though I was reading the crib sheet on much of what I missed, catching up with modern life in my era, finding out what everyone else has known for a long time. I don’t regret my choices, but it was very strange.

  3. Sunday night was the Survivor Finale – and I never miss Survivor. I have been a fan since the very first show, the very first season. So, we watched Mad Men last night. When the episode ended, I said to my husband: “That was chaos!” My head was spinning.

    Office space? Peggy is in Harry’s old office and the paper sign read: “Coffee Chief”. Couldn’t they have prepared better for her return and her position? I am happy to see Joan and Peggy back together.

    I am overjoyed Sylvia came to her senses. Don was freaking me out. Did it take the experience in 503 before Sylvia felt shame – better late than never. And with friends like Don, who needs enemies? is perfectly fitting, even if it is cliche. I hope Arnie never finds out.

    Pete is really getting tested with his family relationships this season! First Trudy. Now his mother.

    I like Ted, so I am looking forward to seeing how he and Don work together. They seem to have somewhat different styles. I do think Ted impressed Don flying through the storm, after Don humiliated Ted by giving him too much to drink. Don really is Dick on the inside, and he is showing his true colors more and more. But, score one for Ted. Peggy knows Don inside and out, and when she gave Don a dressing down, I think we were seeing her loyalty to Ted. If anyone is stuck in the middle of the merger, it is Peggy.

    Great review!

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Coffee Chief in paper, yes! Excellent, Robin. That was comical, wasn’t it? Peggy in the middle, for sure. Then again, who knows if that temptation with Ted will be escalating around Don, whose darker contrast will surely highlight Ted’s equally creative but “nicer” aspects.

      So much to love about this show!

      (Did you notice when Peggy asked Joan “how’s your boy” and she replied “he’s the man in my life?” Then she asked Peggy, who, without skipping a beat made her reference to Abe, though with a fumble about buying the building together, or rather, her buying the building so they could live their together. I loved the mixed up ambiguity in what was and wasn’t said in that very brief exchange.

      Which brings me to your remark that she knows Don inside and out. Likewise, Don knows her far better than she may like. He was there when she had and gave her child, which you may recall, he counseled her to forget as if it never happened.

      • Such great points! When it comes to Abe, Peggy is definitely following her heart and not using her head; but I am hoping to be surprised in a good way. Peggy deserves something good in her personal life. As for Don, I think her secret is safe – I hope it is.

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