Many fans raised some questions over last week’s episode of Mad Men. It was a consensus that, sure, last week was a great episode, but was the episode really necessary in the long run? Joan got her hand in the accounts game and Don had his seasonal trip to California, but for the most part the episode felt like a one-off that will have little to no ramifications for the season climax, which is coming soon. I have no qualms about episodes like this, I would even argue that Mad Men has some of its finest moments in episodes like this. Even when Mad Men is filler, it is still super compelling. The end is near and there’s no time left for filler, so things need to be shaken up a bit, and boy, were they ever on tonight’s episode.To be honest, I was pretty worried that tonight’s episode was breaching on the same territory as last week’s. I love watching Peggy deal with a rat in her apartment, but it is pretty uneventful. Somehow, even with such a small plot device, the writers of Mad Men spit out terrific scenes. When Peggy calls Stan late at night to come help her with the pest, enticing him with sex, and when he reveals he has company, a threesome, it is all pretty funny. The sex offer could also have deeper meaning though; she could be feeling a little lonesome. A few weeks back, Ted practically doused her in cold water after she came onto him once Abe dumped her. This week another soft spot gets touched upon when Pete’s senile mother mistakes her for Trudy and starts probing about her and Peter’s child. Peggy’s abandoned child with Pete is an issue that hasn’t been spoken of in quite some time. Even though Peggy recognizes that it is a mistake, actress Elisabeth Moss does an incredible job showing just the right amount of shock and pain.Later, Peggy has to spend some time with Pete, and Ted, at a dinner celebrating the work on an account. Drinks have been had and the group is feeling loose. Laughter is flowing, and Ted even takes the opportunity to flirt. Once he leaves the table, Pete brings it right up. The two characters have an honest conversation, about their love lives and Pete’s woes with his mother. The two’s history makes the scene comfortable, and it’s nice to see Pete Campbell not being such a grumpy gust and having a laugh at his misfortunes. When Ted returns to the table, he thinks he’s the one noticing some flirting. The whole time, Peggy has a demeanor about her that says she realizes that both men are off limits and that neither are a good idea. So when she needs that man in her life to help her with a rat in the house, well screw it, she’ll buy a cat. Peggy Olsen, independent woman, a fun story to tell, but not plot forwarding, no?Ted’s storyline this week is almost the same way. His wife is upset that he seems distant at home, so consumed by his work. His work can feel consuming though, especially when he feels like he’s constantly not just battling other firms for work, but his partners as well. I mean, the guy works his ass off to go out and land Oceanspray, just for Don to come in and say that he’s gotten Sunkist. He thinks it’s personal, but it’s just Don; his head isn’t in it.Currently Don’s head is consumed by Mitchell Rosen, the son of Arnold and Sylvia who was just alerted that he’s been listed as A-1 for the draft. He pretends he’s invested in the kid’s plight because he too has children, but actually he just knows how much it’ll mean to Sylvia, and he wants back in her good graces. So Don tries to ask the GM Execs for help at business meeting, but it fails. Ted misconstrues the act as Don trying to sabotage another account. When Don explains himself, Ted says that he can help the kid get into the National Guard as a pilot, so long as Don starts acting as a team player. A confused, but happy Don agrees. When Don calls to tell Arnold, but gets Sylvia on the phone, the mother is so overcome with relief and emotion. With so many feelings in the air, the two start talking about how they left things, and it seems once again that Sylvia is telling Don that things are over.The other seemingly inconsequential plot thread is Sally’s. Sally has a sleepover in the city with her friend. She seems much older than when we last left her, and her and her friend are totally smitten with the shaggy Mitchell Rosen. They spend the weekend writing a list of all the things they like about him, including his “ass.” Sally’s ditzy little friend then takes the list and shoves it under the Rosen’s door. When Sally learns of this, she tricks the doorman into giving her his keys so she can break into the apartment and get it. When she enters she sees it right on the counter. Inconsequential, right? WRONG! Sally turns her head to see her dad plowing Sylvia Rosen! Talk about a shake up. Don responds by becoming a sweaty, drunk mess and shows up at home expecting the worse. He finds Megan being sweeter than normal and the girls waiting for dinner. Normal enough, but then things get weird. Arnold and Mitchell come to thank Don for his kindness, Megan calls Don the “sweetest man ever” and Sally just cannot take it. She screams, “you make me sick!” then runs off. Megan and her friend think it has to do with her crush, but Don knows better. He chases her down and cools things a little with a talk through the door about it’s all “complicated”. Poor Sally has seen way too many traumatizing things, and now that someone has found out about Don’s affair, the clock is ticking.The Best of the RestPete spends the rest of the episode dealing with the fact that his mom is sleeping with her nurse and Bob Benson sort of hitting on him.Yeah, Bob Benson might be gay. He could still be a robot though, the verdict isn’t out.Don has a great scene talking about his military experience at a bar with Arnold.“I didn’t want you to fall in love.” – Sylvia Rosen“You’ve always been unlovable.” – Mrs. CampbellMegan suspiciously lies about a phone call she makes? Or maybe I read that wrong?Don doesn’t have a problem with Ted, it’s just that he doesn’t care about his business as much. He didn’t go after Sunkist to bust Ted’s balls, it’s just that he honestly wasn’t aware of the new business. When Roger wants to talk about creative, Don just shrugs it off and says that Sunkist writes itself. Don hasn’t really mustered one single good pitch since went all in on his pitch to Dow Chemical at the end of season five. He’s completely uninterested in his work.
Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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