Monday, September 21, 2009

Mad Men “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” And Doesn’t Walk Out

This episode of Mad Men , “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,” provided probably one of the more interesting twists that I have even seen on television, with some dark comedy to go along with it.

The backdrop of the show features Sally (Kiernan Shipka) who has suddenly become afraid of the dark. It seems that since Grandpa Gene died, and baby Gene was born, she seems terrified of the baby. Betty (January Jones) tries to work through Sally’s fear by buying her a Barbie doll (a dark haired Barbie, by the way), but Betty seems cold and uncaring in her delivery of the gift, which she tells Sally is from her baby brother. Sally doesn’t buy that it is actually from baby Gene, and later, we see that she apparently has thrown the doll out the window, as Don (Jon Hamm) finds it in the bushes when he arrives home. After bringing the doll back in to Sally’s room – where she is sleeping with a nightlight on – Don and Betty are alarmed to hear blood curdling screams coming from Sally ‘s room. She has seen the doll is back, and I think she suspects that a ghost has returned it to her room. When Betty seems cold to tending to Sally’s issue with her grandfather’s death, Don takes matters into his own hands and tries to console Sally that there are no ghosts, and that the baby is not some sort of reincarnated Grandpa Gene as Sally seems to think. Betty seems colder that liquid nitrogen to Sally, and I sense that Betty has some very deeply rooted animosity towards her daughter.

But the big news and the focus of the show was the visit from the head honchos of Putnam, Powell, and Lowe to Sterling Cooper’s office. Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) tells Don he thinks they may be coming to offer Don dual responsibilities in NY and London. It is also the last day for Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks). Everyone wonders what will be happening, and the secretaries also wonder how they will work Joan’s farewell party into all of this.

Joan, however, has bigger issues on her hands, when her husband Greg (Sam Page) comes home after an evening of drinking, and he lies when he tells Joan he called her about coming home late. She calls him on his lie, and digs deeper to find out what is troubling him. It seems that Greg did not get the position of chief resident of surgery, and he was also told that his hands have no brains. He will never be a surgeon. He tells Joan she’d better keep her job, but she can’t renege on her resignation. He tells her to find another job. Joan reminds him that she loves him for his heart, not his hands. But one can see that Joan clearly has regrets about quitting her job at Sterling Cooper.

When the people at PP&L arrive – Saint John Powell (Charles Shaughnessy), Harold Ford (Neil Dickson) and Guy Mackendrick (Jamie Thomas King), they tour the office and only meet briefly with Don, Bert, and Roger (John Slattery). In a meeting with Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), they inform him he is being promoted and sent to Bombay, not welcome news to Pryce. The big reveal comes when they sit down with the key staff members and show them the new organization chart, with Guy on the top rung. Guy will be the new CEO. Don, as creative director, will report to Guy, as will Bert, and the account people Ken (Aaron Staton) and Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). Harry (Rich Sommer) also reports directly to Guy, and the others note (after the meeting) that Harry was the only person who got a promotion out of all of it. Roger’s name is nowhere on the list, and when he makes note of it, Guy brushes it off as a simple mistake and says Roger is still part of the group. Roger's ego is obviously bruised and he actually seems worried for his job.

Later, when they call the office together for the news, Guy turns it into the farewell party for Joan, and she is in tears. Meanwhile, Don gets a mysterious call that Conrad Hilton wants to meet with him, and they agree to meet in the presidential suite of the Waldorf Astoria. Don goes there to meet him, and finds that Conrad Hilton is none other than the “Connie” (Chelcie Ross) that he made a drink for, and had an informal conversation with, at Roger’s party a while back (the episode was ”My Old Kentucky Home”) . Connie wants free ad advice from Don, and a reluctant Don looks at the ad, which contains what looks like Jerry the mouse from the cartoon “Tom and Jerry.” Don doesn’t think people would want to see a mouse associated with a hotel (my thoughts exactly). When Don says he would like to have a chance for the Hilton account, Connie seems disappointed in Don, telling him he expected him to reach higher. Don tells him that it’s like a snake that is starving; if they eat too much to fast they could choke.

Meanwhile, back at Sterling cooper, Smitty (Patrick Cavanaugh) revs up the John Deere riding mower that Ken brought into the office the day before, after landing the John Deere account. Smitty seems a little drunk. He lets Lois take the wheel and drive it, and she steers it right over the foot of Guy Mackendrick and then runs into a window wall from an office. Blood spatters everywhere, and Guy shrieks in agony. Joan is the only one to take quick action and place a tourniquet on Guy’s gushing leg, likely saving his life. Later, Roger deadpans to the group that Guy lost his foot tight after getting it in the door.

Don’s meeting with Connie is interrupted by Joan’s call informing him of the accident, and he rushes to the hospital. Joan’s dress is bloodied, but they manage to share a laugh when Joan says that she imagines Guy felt great when he woke up that morning. The PP&L people come out and thank Joan for her work, offering to reimburse her for her dress. They also tell Don that Guy is out, because you can’t have a man who has no foot or can’t walk lead the agency. Everything will stay status quo for now.

When Don gets home, he is faced with Sally’s terror over her inability to cope with Gene’s death and the birth of a new baby Gene. Yet Don seems to calmly roll with the punches. As Bert Cooper said earlier in the episode, a good ad man lets the little things go so he can get what he wants. In a way, Don seems to be able to also know what things he can change and what he can’t. With Sally, he can console her and help her recognize that there is nothing to fear. With his work life, while the company reorganization took place, he continued to have business literally drop into his lap, showing that he still can move on even as the company changes. He certainly doesn’t need Sterling Cooper to drum up business, but they certainly need him. And with Guy out of the picture at top dog, and with Don likely landing the Hilton account, Don may be in the catbird seat, both feet intact.

As far as Guy, although he literally walked into the ad agency, he didn’t walk out. It was probably one of the most surprising twists on a show that I’ve seen in a while – I expected someone to crash the John Deere, not to maim someone with it. This is why I think that Mad Men is probably the best drama on television these days – for which they were also recognized last night at the 2009 Emmys. Let’s hope this show has many many years ahead of it.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

1 comment:

The Rush Blog said...

Betty seems colder that liquid nitrogen to Sally, and I sense that Betty has some very deeply rooted animosity towards her daughter.

You seemed to have forgotten one other thing. When discussing the name of their third child, Don seemed to care that his son was named after a man who had disliked him more than how that name affected his daughter. In fact, when discussing the matter with Betty, he completely forgot about Sally.