Mad Men – Favors

If Sally Draper kept her dad on a pedestal before this, he’s made it very clear that he doesn’t deserve her respect or admiration anymore.   Don Draper has been on some sort of death spiral for a while, not only at work but, in large part, due to the damage he’s inflicted on everyone he’s ever come in contact with.  It comes across as self-loathing and it probably is, and each week he becomes less likable and more pathetic   He couldn’t even offer help to the Rosens with a simple favor, without making a mess and becoming entangled with Sylvia Rosen all over again.  Only this time he got caught, in bed with Sylvia, by his very bright and very sensitive daughter.  While he may not care what Betty or Megan think about his affairs, the look in his daughter’s eyes should leave him reeling – that is, if still has any feelings left.

It’s pretty obvious that the daily dealings at the office are just an exercise for Don, carried out on auto-pilot.  He’s been going through the motions, putting in the least amount of effort necessary to keep his position as partner, and maybe his job, at that.  The only real pleasure he seems to get by showing up for work is the opportunity to play games with Ted, who he still sees as beneath him.   Ted, who we know is spending too much time at work and not enough at home, still cares about his family and his marriage, even if they’re playing second fiddle.  When he kissed Peggy, he realized that he’d crossed a line and had betrayed his vows as well as his business relationship with Peggy.   Don would never have the same qualms given the same set of circumstances.  It’s as if he always wanted to get caught – maybe not by Sally, but surely he wasn’t ever going to take ownership for his behavior or try to change it.   If he doesn’t know what he did to his daughter, then he’s more than welcome to descend into that final circle of Hell and can certainly abandon all hope.

While Don crushes the lifeblood from those around him, the people at Sterling, Cooper and Partners are carrying on as if he barely exists – which he does.   Ted would like to see the company go after Ocean Spray and their cranberry cocktail while Don, with a little help from Roger, is eying Sunkist orange juice.  Of course, Don has ignored the memos sent by Ted, which only frustrates their relationship and partnership even more.  Ted takes to his office bemoaning the fact to Jim Cutler that he’s not being taken seriously.  He wants his juice, not Don’s.  As affable as Ted appears, he can turn into a petulant child at the drop of a hat with his perception that every slight is meant to be against him.

Pete is having a different set of problems, namely with his mother, who, in her advancing dementia, believes that she’s in love with her nurse, Manolo.Mad Men Season 6 Episode Photos

She also mistakes Peggy for Trudy and tells her that she’s glad to see Pete and Peggy back together for the sake of their child.   For the briefest of moments, Peggy’s face reflects fear and despair, as she thinks that Mrs.Campbell is talking about the child she conceived with Pete and then gave up for adoption.  Pete, over drinks with Ted and  Peggy later that evening, hears about the tales his mother has been telling,  including how his mother believes that Manolo has awakened new passions in her.  Although Pete says that he doesn’t want to think about his mother even brushing her teeth, he’s upset enough to call Manolo to resolve the situation.  When he arrives, with Mrs. Campbell, Peggy is given the task of mom-sitting so that Pete can deal with the Manolo problem.  Pete then goes after Bob, for having suggested Manolo in the first place.  Bob does his best to explain the different kinds of love people can share, erasing any doubts we had about Bob’s sexuality.  Pete, who, for just a split second, looked as if he understood what Bob was telling him, quickly turns on the idea, orders his subordinate to get rid of Manolo, with a month’s salary, then calls the fired nurse a degenerate.  The fact that Bob’s response is to brush Pete’s knee with his leg seemed a little awkward under the circumstances, but knowing he’s just been rejected, he does Pete’s bidding anyway.

A dinner with the executives from Chevrolet presents Don with an opportunity to politicize the meeting with talk of the war in Viet Nam and the effect it’s having on the Rosens.  Without naming them, Don begins to tell the group how his friends and their son are in despair over the war and the draft policy.  It seems that young Mitchell Rosen has quit college, gone to Paris, and, in an anti-war sentiment, has sent his draft card back, refusing to serve, despite his 1-A status.   He would rather move to Canada, living out his days as a fugitive than fight in this worthless and unnecessary police action.  Don’s remarks only serve to anger the execs, and drive a bigger wedge between him and Ted – at least in terms of the Chevy campaign.  Ted, it seems, is not totally at odds with Don’s sentiments.  The truth of the matter is that it’s Ted who finds a way for Mitchell to stay out of the war, by joining the Air National Guard’s pilot training.Mad Men Season 6 Episode Photos  Ted tells Don that he’ll help Mitchell because he’s got connections with the Guard, but first Don has to agree to a favor in return – stop chasing Sunkist and go with Ocean Spray.  The two men shake on it which Ted calls a binding contract and the deal is struck.  Quid pro quo and all that.   Ted’s never experienced Don’s commitment to a gentlemen’s agreement, but he may be about to find out.

When Don calls the Rosens to talk to Arnie, Sylvia answers and the two former lovers reignite the fire they never should have started in the first place.   This wasn’t what Don had intended to happen when he made that call.  For what may be the first time in his life, or at least for as long as we’ve watched him, he was trying to do someone a favor – without expecting something in return.   His own battlefield experience taught him that war and being a soldier isn’t for everyone.   The draft forced young men into a war, against their will and their political ideologies.   Don had a choice to enlist.  Young Mitchell Rosen didn’t and was willing to sacrifice his life as he knew it in order to avoid going to Viet Nam.

Which brings us to that sucker punch of a scene where a young daughter sees her father in the arms and the bed of another woman.  So much mattered to Sally when she let herself into that apartment.  Her girlfriend,  in some well-intended effort to help Sally along with her crush on Mitchell, slid Sally’s love letter to him under the Rosens’ door.   In one fell swoop, she now knows that that relationship will never go any further, if it was ever meant to be, and she has to live with the image of her father and Sylvia, the mother of her young heart’s desire, having sex.   Maybe Don Draper has met his match with Sylvia Rosen and she’s as self-destructive as he is.   They both threw caution to the wind and put their families’ needs on hold while they gave in to their respective selfishness.

Jon Hamm and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper) took their roles to a whole other level during the scene at dinner, later on.  Arnie Rosen dropped by to thank Don for helping Mitchell and Don looked as if he had nowhere to hide – he was panicked, terrified and humiliated. Mad Men Season 6 Episode Photos

He also knew that he had no one to blame but himself – again.  Megan is beaming with pride by the generosity of her husband and Sally simply explodes, running to her room and locking the door.  When Don offers to explain what she saw, Sally knows that it’s all bull shit.  She’s says “okay” but it’s clearly not okay.  She’s old enough to know that what was taking place between her dad and Sylvia was not “comforting” the grateful mother.   Now, the question is if or when Sally tells anyone what happened.  If she does, who will she tell?  Megan? Betty?  Both?  It’s all too much for an adolescent girl to have to deal with and her own father put her in that position.  He broke her heart, just as he’s done with every other woman in his life, but this one mattered so much more.  It’ll haunt a father and a daughter forever.

Peggy’s adopted a cat to deal with her rat problem.  Pete is happy that he and Peggy still enjoy their friendship.  Ted goes home to be with his wife and kids, and Don is slumped outside the door to his daughter’s room – alone.


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3 Responses to Mad Men – Favors

  1. Kaereste says:

    Bravo Empress, Clap clap! I love your tak on this episode and DD.

    I agree that Don has sunk to his lowest, which is pretty low even for him.
    At least at work he always managed to be polished and improvisational . Now he smells of flop sweat. He can’t pull a great idea off. Hell, Don can’t even pull a terrible idea together. A few episodes back he spent an entire weekend in a drug haze obssessing over his grand idea – which was not about a car ad for Chevy – how to pull Sylvia back into his death dance.

    I never thought for a moment Don loved Sylvia. She is an off the shelf bored whiney housewife. He likes the risk of double dealing both his “friend’ Arnie and his sweet wife Megan. A two-fer, nuclear explosion of “see what a piece of garbage I am”. I don’t think he helped the Rosen’s son for Sylvia. I think it was guilt towards Arnie that motivated him (and self pity because no one would have done the same for Don years back).
    And why did Don call Arnie at home and not his office?

    Now Don has become his stepmother. The disgusting whore whom he spied on through the keyhole.
    I lost all affection (OK much of my affection) for Don last year. I disagree with the columnists (mostly male) who still claim Don’s best quality is he is a good father. Good fathers don’t gamble their children’s sense of security by constantly destablizing their world (again & again).

    Don is an absentee dad, an absentee employee and an absentee husband.
    He’s just fading away from his own life.

    • Hey, K, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. In case you couldn’t tell, Don got on my last nerve. Re: Arnie and Sylvia – ITA. Don slept with Sylvia just so he could drag a doctor and a very nice man into the gutter with him. There has to be an island somewhere where Don can carry on his man-whorish activities and not be around decent, kind people.
      Surprisingly, I’m starting to like Pete more and more. His scenes with his Mom and with Peggy made him look almost human, especially when he told Peggy that at least she had become important. Do you think they have a future, now that Trudy’s kicked him to the curb?

  2. Kaereste says:

    *Sigh* This week’s MM another fabulicious episode. Don is still cracking up in slow-motion. Peggy is still awesome. Sally is still on her trajectory of disillusioned youth. Pete is still a douche. Megan is still trying (though I think she asked her agent to send her to LA).
    Kenny is the only one to smarten up; he quit being a target range.

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