Monday, October 4, 2010

Mad Men “Chinese Wall” Recap & Review

All photos from AMC
Mad Men “Chinese Wall” may not have had the fire and spark of other episodes of this season, but it certainly set the tone of gloom and doom for some of its key players. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is back to drinking – and philandering - to sooth all of this problems. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) seem to be going through a role reversal with Peggy becoming confident both professionally and sexually, while Roger is becoming weaker and needier.

The episode starts out on a light note – Peggy has what seems to be an accidental meeting with Abe (Charlie Hofheimer) which ends up with the both of them at her apartment, in bed. Things turn bad quick. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) is at dinner with his fiancée and her parents, and finds out from an employee of competitor BBDO that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has lost their largest account, Lucky Strike. Ken spreads the news to Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), who is at the hospital waiting for his wife to deliver their baby. They later tell Don, who immediately starts drinking and then orders a meeting with the partners.

With Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) and Roger back at the office, Roger feigns shock and outrage, and then fakes a phone call to Lucky Strike’s Lee Garner Jr. and pretends to set up a face to face meeting. Of course, he has no intention of going, and while the employees of SCDP are notified of the loss of their account, Roger is staying at a hotel right in town, later calling in to lie that he met with Lee and there is nothing they can do.

When Pete returns to the hospital to wait for the baby to arrive, he tells his father in law Tom (Joe O’Connor) about the loss of the account. Tom clearly wants Pete to get out of SCDP. Typical for the day, Pete really doesn’t hang around while Trudy is going through labor; he goes back to work to pick up the pieces as best he can. (Later, Ted Chough (Kevin Rahm), a competitor, comes to the hospital to see Pete to give him a baby gift – and to offer Pete full partnership at CGC.)

As the key players of SCDP tell their key clients about the loss of Lucky Strike, more accounts begin to fall. Glo-Coat, the client whose ad won Don his Clio award, wants to move on. Don, hearing the news, slams his Clio statuette onto his desk and breaks it. Don later asks Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono) to use her contacts to get him an in to other new accounts. She is appalled that he wants her to compromise her ethics, and storms out of his office.

Peggy, however, is still working hard on the Playtex account and Don tells her he is counting on her. She has an ad idea, and it's one that seems to get Stan’s (Jay R. Ferguson) and Danny’s (Danny Strong) blood flowing. They think something is up (sexually) with Peggy. The two men are even more convinced when Abe shows up in the office, pretending to be a delivery man, and she takes him into her office for a little action. When Peggy is preparing for the Playtex presentation, Stan tells Peggy he can help her relax, and instead makes a move on her and she pushes him away. She later goes through the Playtex presentation with lipstick all over her teeth, not reading the signals from one of the Playtex people who keeps running his tongue over his teeth.

Roger, meanwhile, calls in to Joan (Christina Hendricks) and tells her that’s he’s really staying at a local hotel, he knew about Lucky Strike for weeks, and he wants her to come meet with him. She is appalled and turns him down.

When Roger returns to the office and tells them it is over with Lucky Strike, Don laces into him. (Pete also finds out that Trudy has had a girl, but keeps on working as if nothing has happened.) When Roger looks to Bert for support, Bert tells him "Lee Garner Jr. never took you seriously because you never took yourself seriously.”

Don, Pete, Bert, and other reps from SCDP head to a memorial for a competitor in order to scout out new business.

Later, Roger comes to Joan’s apartment and she tells him it is over. When Roger dejectedly heads home, his wife Jane (Peyton List) is waiting there for him, with a box full of copies of his memoirs, the book titled “Sterling’s Gold.”

When Don return to the office later that evening, his secretary Megan (Jessica Pare) is still there and Don sees she has repaired his Clio. She offers to stay and help him with her work, saying she want to know more about the ad business. She also has other ideas, and tells Don she wants him, and she won’t go running out of his office the next day. Don takes advantage of her offer, right on his office couch. He leaves the office as Megan is still putting on her clothes. When he gets to his apartment, Faye is waiting for him in the hall, and once inside, she tells him she set up a meeting with him and Heinz. Don says that she didn’t have to do it, but she says she wanted to. They sit on the couch, and she puts his head on his shoulder, and Don seems to immediately fall asleep.

The season will end soon, and while this episode moved slowly, it can only make me wonder about whether SCDP will meet certain doom, or if the loss of these accounts will only bring new, and better, business for the company? Roger seems to be heading for disaster. With his memoirs now published, yet his company on a downward spiral and his secret love Joan rebuffing him, will it eventually kill Roger? I had this feeling that Roger may be at the edge of possibly even taking his own life. Don may have also made a huge error in revealing his real identity to Faye. If she gets wind that he is cheating on her with Megan, or if he expects her to bring her more accounts, she just may use his secret against him. Don has fallen back on drinking (but expects Megan to help cut himself off) and it won’t take much before he’s back to drinking himself into oblivion. It seems like too many things are causing a crack in the “Chinese wall”, both for SCDP and for Don Draper. It’s only a matter of time before things collapse.

Video Recap – Chinese Wall

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