Touching on some things Buckeye didn’t address, and focusing less on Joan:
This was the first storyline to feature Dawn, and it made me realize that we don’t really know the social makeup of the office anymore. While there may be the occasional glimpse into the copy room so Ginsburg or Stan can crack a joke, the fact of the matter is all the characters we know well at SCDP are now executive level or left the agency. Dawn remarks that all the secretaries are scared working there, and there is frequent crying in the bathroom. Is this mood pervasive at the agency? It would make sense if it trickled down from the top, as we know both Don and Roger are struggling with depression, Cooper could be dealing with irrelevancy, and Pete is headed for unofficial divorce. Furthermore Harry is obviously unhappy at being taken for granted, and Joan still feels like she is treated like a secretary. With all this anxiety it is no wonder that frustrations are being taken out on the rest of the staff.
One thing I think Weiner did a poor job with this week is explaining why Stan would be so upset at seeing Peggy as part of the pitch team for Heinz. While it was set up last week to make it seem like Peggy was going to betray Stan’s trust by taking advantage of something he told her in confidence, there is no evidence that Stan should be concluding that’s what Peggy actually did. Rather, it appears that Timmy from Heinz orchestrated a secretive competition pitting three agencies against each other (with SCDP as the suckers footing the bill). Especially when the SCDP guys learn Peggy’s team didn’t get the account either* how could Stan possibly feel betrayed? I think it is a bridge too far for him to conclude that Peggy used their conversation to get her agency a pitch.
*I must admit, that I totally thought that they won the account ‘in the room,’ which is why I thought Stan was justifiably upset. But when I learned the winner was actually a 3rd agency that whole line of reasoning went out the window for me. I don’t know if it was the directing or the writing, but they could’ve done a better job conveying that neither featured agency won the pitch.
I did love the contrasting pitches though. Don uses a similar theme to what we saw in the first episode this season with his hotel pitch: he’s focused on what’s not there. While the first pitch failed because the men being pitched misunderstood the ad as suicidal, here similarly Timmy wants to actually see the bottle and the Heinz name. We have the benefit today of knowing that Heinz is essentially synonymous with ketchup, so I think we are suppose to really like Don’s pitch because we don’t need to see the bottle. Pass the Heinz means pass the ketchup, but I confess I don’t know what the market was like back then (Was catsup an actual competitor? Is it even different that ketchup? I have no idea.). Peggy’s team comes in after Timmy has given SCDP his notes, and it’s as if Peggy had them already: Heinz emblazoned and a big bottle tilted over. Note this is another reason why it makes you think they won the pitch given Timmy’s suggestions to SCDP. However, in the end both agencies wind up losers in multiple ways. SCDP loses out on Heinz only to have Ken inform them they have lost the beans account too. Peggy may be losing out on one of her closer friends. It is a sad conclusion.
Don’s look as he realized what the swingers were proposing was absolutely priceless. So gross!
Pete thinks he’s being helpful by offering to let Don bring anyone he wants to his city apartment. Don of course puts Pete in his place by reminding him that he lives in the city and can do whatever he goddamn pleases. Pete can never do anything right.
Another note on that moment, the fact that Pete is so open about cheating in this apartment demonstrates poor continuity for me, just like with Stan-Peggy, considering last episode he ‘broke up’ with Trudy. If anything he seems perfectly happy in this episode, when I would have expected him to be struggling at least somewhat with this significant life change.
Harry seems absolutely right in his assertion of how valuable he is to the agency. Will he follow Peggy and jump ship? Up until now he’s been too much of a pussy to even consider the idea, but he shows some chutzpah this week.
I need more Roger. Every week. Especially some scenes with Joan.
According to commenters more astute than myself, this episode occurs in roughly March, 1968, which sets up next episode as the likely one to feature MLK’s assassination. Given Dawn’s coming out party this week they may be setting her up for some more screen time in the near future. Buckeye openly pondered in his review if Mad Men will take on any racial themes more directly. Well, next week could be their biggest chance yet.