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‘Mad’cap Recap 4:6

In honor of this episode, I wrote this recap in the nude!–Kate

On Sunday night, Mad Men received an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series right around the time Don Draper was crashing and burning after his own victory at the Clios. Series creator Matthew Weiner seemed to be telling us that he knows no matter how many statues you take home, you’re only as good as what you do next.

Which is bad news for Don, seeing as how his follow-up to winning a well-deserved award for his Glow-Coat campaign is to get sloppy drunk, almost ruin the pitch meeting with Life, lose an entire day’s worth of memories, and skip out on his kids. When Mad Men started, the casual use and abuse of alcohol was like a code for “Weren’t the sixties different?” As viewers, we were invited simultaneously to feel superior to the workplace lushes and awed at Don and Roger’s supernatural abilities to drink at work and never have it affect their job performance. Well, it’s sure affecting Don now. All episode long, he was barely one drink away from becoming the new Duck Phillips. But instead of a dog to abandon, Don’s got three innocent kids. I tell you, this story arc is leading nowhere good. (Although, it did give me my favorite little moment of the episode, the panic on his face when the blonde in his bed called him “Dick.” How wasted would that guy have to be to tell somebody his secret identity?)

In dorky contrast, we were treated to a rare flashback of Don Draper’s origin story. I always assumed that Don was given his big break at Sterling Cooper because Roger saw the seeds of greatness in him. The truth, as it turns out, is much less glamorous. Don got his big break not by virtue of his talent but by virtue of his persistence. I think Roger gave Don a job just to make him go away. Don’s relentless self-promotion 12 years ago is in keeping with one of the recurring themes of this season–as the old get tired, the young get rich.

Speaking of which, the continuing adventures of Pete and Peggy did not disappoint. Pete has been maturing (if you can call it that) from the petulant child of Season 1 into a sly and opportunistic adult, ready to turn every potential disaster into a win. Rather than allow himself to be threatened by the return of his rival Ken Cosgrove, he seized the upper hand and made it clear that Ken would be welcome at SCDP only as Pete’s subordinate. Pete is leaving a swath of opponents in his wake–first his father-in-law, now Ken. I don’t know who might be next on Pete’s hit list, but I sure hope for their sake that he left his rifle back at the old Sterling Cooper.

Finally and gloriously, Peggy’s journey through liberation took an awesome turn as she TOTALLY GOT NAKED, humiliating her pompous wannabe-nudist co-worker. Not only did she refuse to let herself become an object of ridicule or lust, she proved she was able to turn out great work even in the middle of a most distracting situation. Peggy and Pete are bent on becoming the Don and Roger for a new generation, and they are not slowing down or looking back. At least, not until they win a few awards of their own.

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