Mad Men Season 6 Episode 11 recap
Everyone wants what someone else has. What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we be satisfied with who we are? Why can’t we see ourselves as others do? It would save so much trouble if we could just be who we are.
But of course, drama happens when it’s the character whose choices make bad things happen. We love them because they screw up so consistently, in ways that are so distinctly them. Ted Chaough is, for better or worse, the architect of all his own problems.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like hanging out with him this week. What a guy he is! Who flies their own plane? He’s just off kilter enough to make everything he does - especially where Don is concerned – just a little pitiable. He wants so hard, but he’s so earnest! He’s so sure doing things the upright-right way is the right way. Ted Chaough sends memos!
What does it mean to be a rule-follower all your life and then be confronted by the fact that it’s not actually necessary for success? Ted has governed himself according to what was right and proper and, according to his wife, what was going to get him to the right place. But here at Sterling Cooper & Alphabits, none of those rules apply. Everything Ted does is as likely as not to fall by the wayside – because there’s no respect for proper procedure. He doesn’t want to be Don, exactly, or he does, but not the way Don actually is.
And so it was such a blatant relief to see him laugh and relax and take it easy at that dinner with Peggy and Pete. I don’t know what they were eating but it seemed to me like a seafood restaurant and I started hankering for a lobster roll. It seemed casual and easy. Even more so once Ted got up – Peggy and Pete have this ease between them that I’ve always enjoyed. (When he’s not treating her like a babysitter for his mother at the office, that is.) They are able to see into each other fairly simply, even when it would be more convenient not to. Peggy gets away with saying things to Pete that most other people would get reprimanded for. When she, rather easily, turns the "you love Ted" back onto Pete, he’s really open. “Yes, I’d like to get an account.” Straightforward. Simple.
Peggy could do with more straightforward and simple in her life, I think. She’s a little too fond of trying to make situation A (I have a coworker and we get along) into situation B (He’ll be there for me no matter what and that includes mousery). I actually didn’t mind that she considered situation C – making it worth Stan’s while to come over; she’s always been pragmatic in that way. But it’s the screaming over a mouse, actually, that makes a liar out of Peggy, both as someone who could call a man in the middle of the night to deal with it, and who isn’t trying to deal herself as a reaction against living without a man, and all that entails. It seemed like a cheap way to get Peggy and Stan on the phone in the middle of the night.
But better Stan than Pete, I guess, who’s mostly a noblish pawn this week, waiting to find out whether the new bliss his mother is experiencing is, um, that kind – and whether or not that matters. I mean, I have beaten this drum before, but Pete wants to be a more upstanding guy, morally, than he is. If only it wasn’t so damned inconvenient. He wants only the best for his mother, if only she would want that too. He wants to be seen as effortlessly good at the kinds of accounts he wants to be assigned to, and the harder he pushes, well, you get the idea.
This is why Bob got so far with him when he should have been pushed out the door. Did you notice he told Pete to sit down and shut up – and got away with it? Even Roger would have gotten lip there. Furthermore, Bob did exactly what Pete needed – he showed him how all the choices he was making were in fact in service of Pete being a very good guy. When someone goes out of their way to show you how kind and caring you are, well, don’t you feel good about them? Regardless of whether or not they have their knee pressed against yours?
I have to believe this is Don’s motivation, too. He is desperate to prove to Arnold that he’s a good guy. He threatens a client dinner because of it – has to call in a favour from Ted. This is the same man who would be – and will be – sleeping with the man’s wife within the week. This is the same man who slept with his own ex-wife a matter of days ago (or, since Sally’s back in school, maybe weeks again. What month is it?). But he can’t stand the idea that he could be the type of guy who could have done something, and didn’t. I know we were supposed to remember Don’s military history as a reason why but that didn’t feel so true to me. Instead it was all about what he could do in front of everyone – Megan and Arnold and Sylvia and even his work colleagues – to be the hero.
So your fourteen-year-old daughter gets caught in the crossfire. So what?
First of all, I would absolutely die if I ever had to go back to being that age, and lists about boys and pretending to like someone in close proximity or not. But secondly, I wince for Sally every time Don proves Betty right. He’s barely there, barely a parent, and certainly not modeling anything he wants her to emulate. Not only will she remember this forever, she’ll also never tell him anything again. And she’s also never telling Betty anything for completely different reasons, and so I think it’s about time for Sally to hit the bottle. I’m not really joking. I can’t imagine having as many secrets as that kid does, plus an insecure stepmother and a really gross best friend, and having to cope completely sober. I bet her parents will be furious, too. After all, that’s not how she was raised. That’s not the kind of girl they expect her to be.
Everyone wants to be someone they're not.