There's no denying this was an absolutely off-the-wall yet masterful episode of Mad Men. We were allowed a glimpse into Don's youth, which explains a lot about his character, including his penchant for women in kerchiefs. As you can imagine, growing up in a bordello leaves a lasting impression on a young lad, as does being beaten with a wooden spoon. Young Dick Whitman, as he was then known, makes friends with Amee, one of the working girls who wears a kerchief. When he falls ill, she nurses him back to health and teaches him a few things along the way. While this might seem totally unrelated to this week’s plot, it does explain Don’s view of women.
Let's go onto the heart of the episode—satisfaction—in this case, client satisfaction, or lack thereof.
Ken Cosgrove is busy handling the prized Chevy account. He's pitched seven different creative campaigns in six weeks and the Chevy executives hate each of them. In fact, the only thing Ken has to show for his time in Detroit is a bum foot, and abrasions resulting from a car accident suffered while joy-riding with the inebriated Chevy execs. The partners loosely gathered to discuss next step and Don is angry that he didn’t make the pitch, as if it's Ken's fault the Chevy folks don't like the creative.
Side note: Did you find it ironic, if not humorous, when Don was saying he thought the timbre of his voice could sway the execs? Jon Hamm does the voiceovers for the Mercedes Benz spots currently running and there is something to be said for his timbre. Don tells the creatives they will work the entire weekend to develop fifteen ideas for Chevy.
Cutler calls in his doctor to give the team an energy boost in the form of an injection. The doctor calls it his own mix of vitamins and stimulants, but it was certainly amphetamines. Everyone is clearly "amped" after their shots. The office becomes a chaotic mess with flying exacto knives, and glassy-eyed, erratic staff running about, like boys on the playground. Only Peggy and Ginsberg do not partake and remain level headed. Stan and the others are fast-talking and unproductive. Ken, energized by the magic potion, tap-dances for Don, broken foot and all. Again, I couldn't help but think he's dancing as fast as he can for both client and upper management!
Still broken hearted over his breakup with Sylvia, Don spends a lot of time hanging out in the back hallway of her apartment. She calls him at work pretending to be her husband to freak him out and convince him to just leave her alone. But as we've seen, Don doesn't handle rejection well.
Charged up by his injection, Don frantically tries to find the right words or angle to win her back. In fact, he spends the entire weekend working on his pitch to her, not Chevy. He remembers an old soup ad they created in the late 50s and finally finds it. Sure enough, there is a woman in a kerchief, leaning over as a boy eats oatmeal. The tag line is: "Because you know what he needs." Enter the flashbacks and bingo! Don finally knows what to say to get Sylvia back. He calls in Peggy and Ginsberg who think they’re about to hear a fabulous idea to save Chevy. Instead, Don rambles on about "her" and what he is going to say. Peggy is so irritated and frustrated by everyone who received an injection.
Meanwhile, it’s Don and Megan's weekend with the kids. We get to see blonde Betty, cold as ever. Foolishly, Megan leaves the kids alone as she goes to meet her producer and Don is still at the office. Late that night, Sally hears a noise and finds a woman rummaging around the apartment. She says she raised Don and calls herself "Grandma Ida." The woman knows just enough to be believable—if you're twelve. But Sally figures out that something isn’t right and finally calls the police. Of course, the woman manages to scare the kids and leaves with jewelry, silver and whatever else she can stuff in her bag. By the time Don returns home exhausted, the police, Meghan, Betty and Henry are all there. Betty, selfish as ever, only thinks about herself and how this will reflect on Henry's gubernatorial campaign. Looking around at all of the accusing faces, Don faints. The next morning, he and Sylvia wind up on the same elevator. After spending the entire weekend creating an eloquent speech to win Sylvia back, he says not a word during the uncomfortable descent.
In the end, Don calls Sally to tell her it’s his fault the back door was unlocked. Sally answers that the woman seemed to know about him, which leads Sally to believe she doesn't know her dad at all.
The best line of the episode was the final one, when Don took himself off the creative side of Chevy. He said he'd just approve the creative but do nothing else on the campaign because "every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse." Interesting choice of words given his upbringing and the way he uses women. But I guess this episode all goes back to client satisfaction—Joan and the Jaguar account; SCDP tap-dancing and jumping through hoops for Chevy.
Has anyone else noticed the choice of books the characters are reading? Last week it was "The Last Picture Show", this week it’s "Rosemary's Baby." You know those are not just randomly chosen. What do you think they signify?