"Mad Men" Season 6, Episodes 2&3: Collaborators & To Have and To Hold

“That was the deftest self-immolation I've ever seen”- Roger Sterling

This past week has been filled with tragedy, terror, and a much-needed sense of patriotism. In the midst of it all, it was a relief to escape our world and delve into the drama of Mad Men. So far, it’s hard to tell where season six is taking us. Is a new Don breaking (I know, I’m good)? Or are we getting reacquainted with the Don we already hate (but mostly love)? I guess only time will tell. Here’s to another two episodes of pure genius and good-looks (minus Pete and Harry, of course).

Collaborators

As usual, the episode title effectively summed up the overlying theme of the episode. Collaborators was all about the unspoken rules of relationships (or “collaborations”).  It was all about the things you don’t explicitly say in a relationship but you just know. Essentially, what’s underneath the surface—a behind-the-scenes. The episode explored what happens when these unspoken rules are broken or tested. Let’s explore some of these collaborations:

Don & Sylvia:

Yeah, there is some serious collaboration occurring in this relationship. At first, they’re in agreement that they're just having a fun dalliance. They are supposed to be subtle, secretive, and remain under-the-radar.  But as the episode goes on, the rules of their relationship are tested and broken. Everything is just a little too close to home, isn’t it? It made me squirm when he talked to Sylvia, through the door, while her husband was home. They live in the same apartment building and their spouses are friends. Isn’t Don playing with fire here? And Sylvia seems to be developing feelings for Don; she’s more jealous than sympathetic when she finds out that Meaghan had a miscarriage. Uh-oh…not sure what Don is thinking here.

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media.

Pete, Trudy, & his neighborhood affair

It seems like Pete and Trudy were never really on the same page about his infidelity. They had two different ideas of what the unspoken rules were. Trudy accepted Pete’s scumbaggery and her only wish was for him to be discrete and keep his nastiness away from their home. But NOPE. He just couldn’t do it. He has an apartment in Manhattan but he still had to have a fling with a neighborhood housewife. Trudy finally puts her foot down and tells him off. YES, TRUDY. I’m officially obsessed with you too. You’re probably in third place after Roger and Joan. I’m going to talk about her more later…just cause… but I wonder what will happen here…? Is she going to ask for a divorce?

Jaguar

Even business relationships, where everything appears to be laid out in the paperwork, have their unspoken rules and regulations. And, of course, Don violated these rules. He wasn’t willing to listen to Herb’s wishes and thus for the FIRST TIME EVER we see Don do a truly horrific sales pitch to the Jaguar executive. It was terrible to watch but I took comfort in the fact that it was all completely intentional. Yes, Don is a terrible human being. But NO ONE can take away his SWAG without his permission. In this case, he gave himself permission to put it on the shelf for a few moments. Dry those tears, douchey-Don isn’t going anywhere.

Pete Campbell, YOU STILL SUCK

I think I’m going to have to write those words in every blog post. They just never get old. You had a half a second of glory with the arrival of your disgustingly fitting sideburns but it is now over. You continue to amaze me with your creepiness…you literally look like this when you smile:

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media.

I think the most horrifying part of the episode was when the woman he had an affair with showed up at his house, bloody and desperate, and all he had to say to her was "What'd you say to him?You are a soulless creature of the abyss, Pete Campbell.

The return of Don’s creepy childhood flashbacks

I don’t know what this means but it can’t be anything good. In previous seasons, we had our fair share of Don’s childhood flashbacks. But they always led to something bad…like Adam’s death. I was also convinced we already knew everything there was to know about his childhood. Apparently, I was wrong. This episode showed us child-Don (who is really unfortunate looking, by the way) growing up in a brothel and spying on his mother as she has sex. What piece of Don’s past is going to come back and haunt him now?

Bob Benson (aka the creepy new guy)

In other news, Bob Benson still has his head so far up everyone’s ass that when any of the partners yawn, you see his face. SERIOUSLY, what's his angle? I’m still unsure. Also, I literally laughed out loud when Pete asked him to buy toilet paper…such a fitting task for a brown noser.

Roger holds his place at the throne

Honestly Roger, I don’t know how you do it. He was only in this episode for a few moments but they were my favorite moments. He always provides the most fitting and humorous commentary on those around him. And, he also manages to make some important point. When Don says "This is Munich" and Pete (in all his stupidity) questions him, Roger says "It means we gave the Germans whatever they wanted to make them happy but it just made them want more." BAM. He summed up the problems behind many of the collaborations, right there, in one line. And he made us laugh. All hail Roger Sterling.

Megan’s Miscarriage

Watching Megan and Don talk about her miscarriage was another low point in the episode. It was so clear that Megan is still invested in this marriage. She wants to have Don’s babies and she’s envisioning a long future for them. And there Don is, indifferent as usual, telling her that he wants whatever she wants.

Kenny has feelings?

Is it just me or does Kenny actually have an opinion this season? He was definitely present last season but this season we’re seeing some intense emotions out of him. He’s fighting for accounts, voicing his opinion, and fighting with Don. Dayum, Kenny.

To Have and To Hold

“It sounds like New Years Eve when they empty the garbage there are so many bottles”- Dawn the secretary

Hypocrisy and Cheating

This episode was all about hypocrisy and cheating…two things that are behind most of the drama in the show. Don is the main source of it all and as the episode progresses we see the impact his behavior has on the other characters.  Throughout the episode we see various notions of morality (or lack thereof).

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media.

Megan has her own affair

JK, it’s a fake affair. I really wish it were real. But here is a prime example of Don’s hypocrisy—he gets ridiculously angry and jealous when Megan has to have an on-screen love scene. The moments when he is talking to her in the dressing room, essentially calling her a prostitute, display some of his cruelest behavior to date. He can do what he wants (hell, he can sleep with a woman who lives downstairs), and yet Megan can’t even have a fake affair…? There’s something so human and so frustrating about Don’s behavior.

Heinz, the other woman?

Sally isn’t the only one Don is having an affair with; there’s also Heinz. As much as Don wanted to do the right thing, and remain loyal to Raymond, let’s be honest—the man can’t resist a juicy affair. And that is essentially what Heinz offers him, a high profile affair. He even gets them a fancy hotel room. But, like all of Don’s other affairs, it comes back to bite him in the ass. They don’t get the account.

Peggy’s transformation is COMPLETE

In the previous two episodes, Peggy has seemed more and more Don-Draper-esque. In this episode her transformation is complete. She steals an account from Don with his own idea. I think Don felt a mix of pride and pain (as he stood there, rather pathetically, listening to her pitch). I kind of hate her beating the unbeatable Don Draper—but you’ve got to hand it to her, she’s good. I won't go as far as to say she has his level of swag but the girl has got her own style. And I’m thinking this is only round one of Peggy vs. Don in the battle for advertising domination.

Harry, YOU ALSO SUCK

I’ve always felt sort of indifferent about Harry. He’s just there, and he looks kind of Care-Bear-esque. But this episode changed my mind. You’re going on the "YOU SUCK" list with Peter Campbell. No one treats Joan like that. The one good thing he does is bring Joan’s lack-of-power to light. With her position as a partner, Joan should have a lot more power in the company. There is hypocrisy in the way they treat her. But besides that, Harry needs to skip into the pit of death with Pete.

Joanie, get it together

Like I said, in this episode we realize how little power Joan has in the office. No one respects her or takes her seriously. But I have a feeling things are going to change. First of all, Joan is a power woman…no one can get away with messing with her for long. Second of all, her friends give her a wake up call. If she wants respect, she has to fight for her. Everything is right in front of her, she just has to strut on over and grab it.

Dawn 

For the first time ever, we get an inside view on Dawn’s life. During this period, being a woman and an African-American at the office was no easy task. It’s interesting to see her perspective on things, and the struggles she faces to maintain her job and image. She seems to be the only secretary in the office who actually respects Joan. I see a friendship forming here and I think Dawn’s role is going to progressively grow. I’m happy about this—we, the audience, could use a fresh perspective in that exhausted office.

Stan Rizzo, I see you

I’ll admit it, it's easy to forget about Stan. But I appreciate him, his beautiful beard, and his stoner ways. He gets to chill in private room, smoke some weed (with Don Draper), and contemplate the complexities of ketchup. Who wouldn’t want to be Stan?

Soap Opera vibes

The whole episode gave me soap opera vibes…and that was definitely intentional. Megan is literally in a soap opera but the number of arguments, love scenes, and just overall emotions skyrocketed in this episode. I mean, I expect dramatics form this show but this was a new level. The very last scene, when Don and Sylvia are about to get weird, felt a lot like Megan’s “fake” love scene that enraged Don a few moments before.

“I pray for you to find peace”

When Sylvia said these words to Don, at the end of the episode, I got chills. Maybe this woman understands Don better than any of us expected. Don has had his fair share of affairs but most of them end due to his boredom or the woman’s inability to understand Don’s twisted mind. It feels like Sylvia might actually grasp how messed up he is. That’s all Don needs isn’t it…peace? Until he finds it, his self-destructive ways will live on.

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