What a fitting title "The Collaborators" is for this episode of Mad Men as every character collaborates with someone on some level.
Let's start with the extremely insensitive Pete. He and a neighbor’s wife have a tryst in his NYC apartment. She is fonder of Pete than he of her and suggests several secret signals to let him know she is thinking about him. He clearly wants none of it. Later that evening when she shows up beaten and bloody at the Campbell home, Pete knows he is busted. He tries to rush her off to a hotel and callously offers to call a cab for her. He’s less than thrilled when Trudy drives her. Women talk and sure enough by the time she returns home, Trudy knows all about the affair. Trudy goes on to prove that she is no shrinking violet. She reads Pete the riot act and throws him out of the house the next morning. Pete can't win at the office either as he and Don don't see eye-to-eye on the Jaguar account.
Unforgettable Herb, the local Jaguar dealership owner who played a key role in SCDP landing the coveted Jaguar account, still thinks he's all that. He makes a pathetic come-on to Joan, saying "I know deep down there's a part of you that's happy to see me." Her quip, "And I know there's a part of you, you haven't seen in years," was one of my favorite lines of the show.
At SCDP, Herb tries to throw his weight around to alter the Jaguar buy from national to more locally-focused. Herb pitches Don and Pete an idea for radio spots, touting his dealership over the national campaign, even though everyone (including Herb) has already signed off on national. Naturally, the men at SCDP will increase the campaign for more money. But that’s not what’s going on here. It would just be a shifting of dollars.
Don is masterful in the meeting with Herb and the British gentlemen representing Jaguar. Herb tries to push the idea of a local focus as that of SCDP. Pete is jovial as he's onboard with Herb's idea. Then Don begins his pitch as only he can. His tone, demeanor and smooth presentation make it sound like going local is the best thing for the client – a witty and effective use of reverse psychology. Anyone can afford a Jaguar. The guy driving a truck should just go down the road and get a new Jag. He says it so earnestly you almost believe he wants this campaign switched. Everyone at that table, with the exception of the two individuals that matter, knows what he is doing and is powerless to stop it. Naturally, Don and the Brits won and the campaign remains national as intended.
Later in the episode, the Heinz folks "Beans" and "Ketchup," make a “non-visit” to SCDP. Ketchup is curious about the increase in sales of beans since that division signed on with SCDP. The Ketchup division’s upstart is happy with his current agency, DDB, but wants to see what Don and his team can develop. As soon as "Ketchup" leaves the room, their client "Beans" stresses that this meeting did not happen. He emphatically insists SCDP forget this meeting as he doesn’t want the Ketchup division to be even more successful than it already is. So Don tells them to back off from Heinz Ketchup even though, "Ketchup is the Coca-Cola of condiments."
Stan relays this humorous story to Peggy on one of their late-night calls. Peggy then tells Ted about it because she thinks it's funny. Surprise! The next morning Ted insists she go after the Heinz Ketchup account since they're shopping around for a new creative agency. I must admit, I was very excited about all of the advertising discussions this episode. I have no doubt there are still some closed door dealings and client loyalty issues going on today.
Speaking of Peggy, she's still navigating her way through the good ol' boys way of doing business. There aren't many women creative directors and she's uncertain how to manage her mostly male team. She doesn't want to seem too bossy or shrew or motherly. Her little pep talk doesn’t incite any excitement among the team because it seems flat and false. The team in turn plays a practical joke on her to not-so-subtly highlight her overly-critical tendencies.
Viewers were also treated to some flashbacks into Don's earlier life this episode. Since his formative years were spent living in a brothel, it's little wonder why he treats women the way he does. To offer Sylvia money (whose husband is a surgeon) is very insulting. Even more disappointing was that she happily took it. Their relationship is interesting and though Sylvia may not realize it yet, she has the upper hand. The restaurant scene between those two was ripe with subtext and undertones. Sylvia later expresses a fear, saying they can't fall in love. But I'm afraid it's too late for Don. Sylvia is his drug of choice and lucky for him she's only a floor away.
Mistress and wife meet in the laundry room and Megan has an emotional breakdown. The two ladies have a heart-to-heart conversation as Megan shares she recently had a miscarriage. She is upset and feels guilty because she wasn't sure she wanted the baby and hadn't even told Don. She finally tells Don and he of course wants what she wants. I'm sure what she really wants is for him to be faithful. Don is a playboy and being faithful isn’t in his nature. So yes, we had collaborations of all sorts this episode.
In the world at large, the Vietnam War is definitely heating up. Did you notice any time there was a TV or radio in the background the news was about the war? It'll also be interesting to watch how that major event is woven into the storyline.
Until next week!