Wednesday, 8 May 2013

MAD MEN, 6.6 – 'For Immediate Release'

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My favourite Mad Men episodes are often the ones where seismic events hit the workplace, and "For Immediate Release" delivered one of the best in the merger of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and its competitor Cutler, Gleason & Chaough—in a deal intended to win a lucrative deal with Chevy, while simultaneously taking it to the big time as one of the country's top 25 ad agencies. There's still time for this dream to come crashing down around Don (Jon Hamm) and Ted Chaough's (Kevin Rahm) ears, as I somehow don't expect Mad Men to end on a happy note when it finally comes to an end, but for now it's cause for celebration.

Of course, many people had predicted a merger of the companies was the obvious next-step for the show, because the show couldn't justify giving us a whole other agency to pay attention to just because Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) worked there. There was only so long this was going to play for, and the possibility of Peggy coming back to SCDP with her tail between her legs wouldn't have been satisfying or appropriate because of her talent. Instead, she's now faced with the prospect of her 'old life' and 'new life' colliding. You could feel her heartache when she was told her mentor Don's re-entered her working life, because working for Cutler, Gleason & Chaough was 'her thing'; something she succeeded at herself, without the mighty Don. Still, as Ted pointed out, she's in a fantastic position for a woman living in the late-'60s who hasn't even reached the age of 30 yet, so maybe she'll come around soon...

Before the good news, there was plenty of disasters for the characters to handle. Pete (Vincent Karthesier) and Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) were celebrating the SCDP going public at $11 a share, making them incredibly rich, but Don's selfish decision to end their deal with Jaguar because of Herb Renet's (Gary Basaraba) unreasonable demands put an end to that. And while there have been occasions where Don's been in the wrong and upset a lot of people, it really seemed to hit home this time. You expected Pete to fly off the handle over Don making such a momentous decision without even consulting the other partners, without knowing all the facts, but to see Joan (Christina Hendricks) get upset—partly because her 'bedroom liaison' with Herb was ultimately for nought, but also because she realises how much Don plays with people's lives—was a genuinely upsetting moment. If Joan's angered, you know you've done wrong.

Luckily, Don has luck on his side. Even the second disaster (Vicks pulling out of their $9 million contract, because Pete's father-in-law bumped into him at a whorehouse) was just about salvages by Don managing to convince Ted they should join forces to secure the Chevy contract. Pete wasn't so lucky, with the situation with his father-in-law ultimately being the final straw, forcing him to move out of his marital home after telling Trudy (Alison Brie) some home truths about her dad.

Arriving at the halfway point of season 6, I'm glad this development might shake some life into the show. It's been coasting a little this year, or it's felt that way because most of the ongoing storylines are just tweaks on things we've seen the characters deals with before. I don't think the creation of a 'super agency' will ultimately change too much, but it'll be fun to see Peggy back amongst old friends, and for Ted Chaough to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Don Draper. Will they make a good team, or will this conflux of talent pools turn into a messy business? I've heard that the car Chevy are aiming to put on the market with the agency's help is the Vega—a vehicle that didn't exactly set the world on fire. Maybe Don's luck is about to run out after all...

written by Matthew Weiner / directed by Jennifer Getzinger / 5 May 2013 / AMC