Mad Men – The Quality of Mercy

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,  upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest:  It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.”  –  The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

Pete Campbell did all of us a favor and found out who Bob Benson was.  We’ve watched Bob all season as he charmed his way around the office and people of Sterling Cooper and Partners, not knowing exactly how he got there or what his job was.  Thanks to Pete, with a little help from corporate recruiter Duck Phillips, we now know that Bob is Don Draper 2.0.   It seems that Bob, just like Don Draper/Dick Whitman, is a figment of his own imagination and has hustled his way into the corporate world, with nothing but a personnel record that Duck says “might as well be written in steam” and a very good-looking exterior.   Pete’s heard the story before, as have the viewers, and he intends to use this bit of news to his advantage.

Don, on the heels of Sally’s discovery of his affair with Sylvia, is reduced to sleeping in a fetal position, in her bed.  He takes the day off, presumably because he’s working too hard, and spends most of the day drinking and watching television.  During the course of his metal health day, Don receives a call from Betty who announces that Sally no longer wants to visit with Don and Megan, and that the young girl would like to go to boarding school – Miss Porter’s to be specific.   Don seems all too happy to pay for his daughter to go away and spend a few years in Connecticut.  Betty is just giddy with the idea that her offspring could walk in the footsteps of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, potentially nabbing a rich and powerful husband or two thanks to the grooming the private girls’ school will provide.

Betty drives her daughter to Farmington, dropping her off to spend the night in an effort to get the Miss Porter’s experience.  The sleepover turns into something else, however, when two students decide that there should be booze and boys.Mad Men Season 6 Episode Photos

Sally makes a call to her friend Rolo and he arrives with Glen and the alcohol.  Glen goes into a room with one of the girls and Rolo tries to kiss Sally, which she wards off.  When Glen comes out, Sally tells him about Rolo’s advances and Glen pummels him.  All in all, the visit was a success – let’s face it, Sally does make a mean Tom Collins, thanks to Don – and Sally is invited to join the other rich and spoiled young ladies of Miss Porter’s.

Don isn’t getting too much time to spend in quiet reflection, however.  Harry calls to tell him that Sunkist wants to do TV ads and are offering a budget of $8 million.   No one bothered to tell Harry that SC&P weren’t going after Sunkist anymore and that Don and Ted had reached an agreement to represent only Ocean Spray.  That seems like an odd thing, even for Don.  Maybe it slipped his mind after the Sylvia/Sally or maybe he never intended to keep up his side of the deal with Ted.  I’d vote for the latter.  Roger tells the others that they’ll call Ocean Spray and tell them about the conflict, but Ted is furious, suggesting that they call all their clients in order to warn them about any future knives in their backs.

Ted, thankfully, has a distraction from all of this.  He and Peggy are working on an ad for St Joseph’s aspirin and seem to be having a good time while they’re at it, with Teddy appearing to be enjoying his time with Peggy more and more.Mad Men Season 6 Episode Photos

The two are discovered in a movie theater by Don and Megan during a 5PM showing of “Rosemary’s Baby”.  The movie is their inspiration for the ad campaign and in a hilarious scene, Ted, Peggy and Joan act out a bit of the commercial for Don.  While Don plays a crying baby “wah-wah’s” and all, the other three run through the idea for the ad.  Joan’s part was that of the Jewish neighbor lady.   Don is worried about the budget, however and, after Ted and Peggy leave for casting, Don places a call to the execs at St Joseph’s.   When Peggy and ted return, the execs are waiting for them and aren’t happy about the money about to be spent.  Then Don does what he’s so good at, he undermines his colleagues.  Knowing that Peggy is ecstatic about the project and imagines winning a CLIO, he sees to it that the budget won’t cover her vision.  On top of that, he uses recently deceased Frank Gleason’s name to bring the bottom line up ever so slightly, telling the execs that the ad was Frank’s last idea.   Peggy is crushed, Ted is apoplectic and Don is smug in what he’s accomplished – two birds with one stone.

Ken Cosgrove was shot by a Chevrolet executive during a hunting trip – not killed, but bad enough to be wearing an eye patch.  He comes back from Detroit and begs Pete to take the account from him, which Pete is more than happy to do.  Pete polishes up his rifle and states that he’ll gladly go hunting with Chevy.  Ken offers to take up the slack in New York, just relieved that he’ll live long enough to see his baby be born.  Things don’t go quite as smoothly when the problem is brought to the attention of the SC&P partners.Mad Men Season 6 Episode Photos

Jim Cutler would rather see Bob Benson take over for Ken.  Angry as all get out, but knowing better than to let on, Pete shakes Bob’s hand for what seems like and eternity and lays down some ground rules as to how they’ll get along  Pete won’t share a hotel room or work after hours with him because of what Pete viewed as Bob’s advances.  Bob appears shocked by Pete’s inferences and tells him that he only has admiration for Pete and his work.

Bob does have an angry phone conversation, in Spanish, with someone which adds to his mysterious persona.   Everything about Bob has sent Pete into a tailspin of suspicion, which is why he called Duck to look into Bob’s background.   Duck, as we recall, used to work for SCDP until he and Don got into a fight one night and Duck was forced to leave.  The information he’s found on Bob adds up to just about nothing.  There’s no proof that he went to any college, never mind Wharton, or that he held any job except as a manservant.  Knowing this puts Pete  between a rock and a hard place – a position that he created all by himself.   Ken interviewed Bob, no one asked any hard questions and Pete signed off on it all, hiring Bob on the spot.  Now the only real question is whether Pete can use and control Bob – something he could never do with Don – who’s asleep on the couch in his office, curled up in a fetal position.

Empress

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