Mad Men: A Tale of Two Cities, Review

Hypocrisy is often the name of the game with Don Draper and friends, and the latest episode, "A Tale of Two Cities" is no different.

Practicing what you preach is always easier said than done. It’s easy to give orders, advice, and pass judgment, but it’s far harder to hold yourself to the same set of standards. Everyone holds ideals, and though they always aren’t the same for everyone, we all have moral codes or worldviews that we hold esteem in. But though we all have them, we cant possibly live up to these ideals. Hypocrisy is incredibly hard to avoid, anyone who says otherwise is likely a hypocrite. It’s easy to offer someone else guidelines for a certain situation, but face the same situation yourself, and I’m sure you’ll act in a less than perfect manner. In Mad Men, hypocrisy is just another carry-on case that makes up a character’s baggage. How can Don lecture Pete on adultery? How can Pete believe that Roger plays dirtier than him? How can Joan pass judgment on the way Peggy has made it into the ad world? Mad Men is full of hypocrites convincing themselves that at least they’re not as bad as the next whilst staring an array of different faults in the face.In “A Tale of Two Cities” hypocrisy floats in the atmosphere while the riots at the Democratic National Convention happen on the ground. Don watches the action from L.A. He, Roger, and Harry are there on business, and Don watches the riots unfold while sweet-talking his wife on the phone. If you pay attention, Don and Megan always seem to be connecting when the world around them is chaos. In the last episode the two had major conversations with sirens playing in the background from their New York City balcony. Could this be a motif that symbolizes their relationship? Who knows, but later in the episode Don is at a party chasing woman and doing drugs again. This time it’s hashish, and in no time Don goes from kissing a woman, to fantasizing about a California-ized version of Megan, having a conversation with the dead actual Don Draper, then watching himself drowning in a pool, where in reality, he was actually drowning in a pool. The whole sequence is fantastically trippy and masterfully put together by director John Slattery, in his second episode of the season. Don should know to stay away from drugs at this point, and he should also not be kissing other women after just last week telling his wife how he would change.Hypocrisy runs high back at the offices at SCDP-CGC as well. The partners all demand they make a change of their name, but no one is man enough to have their name dropped from the title. The selfishness runs even deeper than that. Cutler gets a lot of screen time this week trying to split the office down into a Us VS Them, despite Ted Chaough’s protesting that the they should be working as a unit. That Ted Chaough is a good egg, well, besides everything that’s going on with him and Peggy. Cutler sabotages one of Roger’s accounts by sending Bob Benson and a worked-up Ginsberg (who is sickened by the company and companies he works for given the political views he has) to the meeting, where they lose the account.Pete isn’t embracing the team-player attitude either. He’s upset when Joan lands an interview with Avon Cosmetics, but then doesn’t invite him to the meeting because she wants to be the accounts person herself. Pete spends the episode storming about the office, acting as insufferable as we have ever seen him, just because Joan has some ambition to take a piece of the pie for herself.Joan very purposely omitted Pete from the meeting, but invited Peggy along to offer an input from a creative. She’s uncomfortable with the fact that Joan went over Pete’s head and breached the normal way that the office picks up clients, but she and Joan still nail the meeting with Avon’s Head of Creative, and head back to the office. Before they enter through the big glass doors, Peggy finally vents her frustration with the way Joan handled the business, and the two finally have the fight that has been brewing since the beginning of the show.Peggy and Joan are two women in the ad world with a substantial amount of clout. Both women went about gaining their respect different ways, with both acting strongly and with ambition, but not failing to make morally grey decisions or ride coat tails on the way. Both woman have always been friendly, but never necessarily friends. They always seem to have a passive aggressive way of resenting one another for the things that they have achieved. In one fight, this all finally comes out, with Joan telling Peggy that she’s unencouraging, but Peggy firing back by saying Joan was never encouraging to her. Joan tells Peggy she rode Don to the top, while Peggy says that Joan literally rode her way to the top. Peggy says Joan doesn’t respect the process, but Joan feels that no one respects all the hard work that Joan really does for SCDP-CGC. Both woman hypocrites for shaming the other, because their not 100 percent perfect themselves. Once it’s all out in the open though, the two woman help each other avoid trouble when Pete tries to rat on them to Ted.Among this, there is also tons of battling between Republicans and Democrats, businessmen and hippies, and New Yorkers and Californians, and in every battle neither side realizes that they’re just as imperfect and flawed as their foe. At the very end of the episode, the partners agree on the new name of Sterling-Cooper and Partners, with Cutler quipping “it’s equally offensive to everyone”. Pete tells Don that they’re taking a step back, and that things are changing in the office, that they have to fight for their dominance. And then he goes to the creative room and smokes a joint. Great work ethic.The Best of the Rest.Seriously, what’s up with Bob Benson? Ginsberg asks if he’s gay. He listens to self-motivational records in his office. He gets things like, “why are you always down here?! Go back upstairs!” yelled at him. He kisses ass like no other and gets handed a position handling Chevy. He’s impeccably nice. There’s something not right.Danny Siegel, former SCDP copywriter and Roger Sterling cousin-in law, now Hollywood producer, is at the party in LA. He and Roger get in a war of wits, where of course Roger pummels him for being short, but Danny gets the last laugh when he punches Roger in the balls.Harry Crane’s ascot.“I’m in charge of thinking of things before they know they need them.” – Joan HarrisCutler wants to fire everyone who worked at SCDP and keep “his guys.”Chevy builds their business with Sterling-Cooper.Things get heated when politics come up in a meeting with Instant Breakfast, but Roger smooths things over, as usual.

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4.5 out of 5