Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mad Men Season 4, Episode 6: Waldorf Stories

Danny Siegel is interviewing for a job at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  What he lacks in experience, and height, he more than makes up for by being related to Senior Partner Roger Sterling's  wife Jane.  Jane is his cousin and that should be enough to get his tiny foot in the SCDP offices.  His work is pedestrian - mostly riffing off the "cure for the common cold" idiom. Under normal circumstances, he'd never have a shot at a job there as a copywriter.  But his familial relationship is not a normal circumstance.

Regardless, Don is still reluctant to hire Danny, much to Roger's disappointment.  He's starting to wonder if having his name on the door means anything anymore. First he couldn't stop the partners from pursuing Honda, now he can't get them to hire a junior copywriter to make his wife happy?

After the interview with Danny, Peggy goes to talk to Don. While she's talking about the poor quality of his book, considering the fact that he's not much younger than she is, she is also fishing for a compliment from Don.  He's going to an awards dinner that evening where their commercial for Glo-Coat is up for an award.  Peggy is looking for acknowledgement that her work is being honored and that her original idea is up for the award which Don will be picking up in her absence, but Don deflects and discussion of Peggy's role in the campaign. He even gives the extra ticket to the awards dinner to Joan rather than Peggy. 

Don and Roger pre-game before going to the Waldorf for the Clio award gala. This lead to a flashback of Roger Sterling's first meeting with Donald Draper.  Don was then a slick fur salesman, Roger was a philanderer who needed a token of his appreciation for his new mistress, Joan.  Nothing says I appreciate you like an expensive fur and nothing says mink like mink. Roger noticed the posters in the store and asked who did their work and Don said that he did.  Advertising was an interest of his. In fact, he had put together a portfolio of his work and other ideas.  Roger handed him his card and Don was surprised to see the man he was talking to was the president of his own Advertising agency.  Don asked if he could call him to discuss the profession, but Roger was not interested in being anyone's mentor. 

Later, when Don sent the mink to Roger he included samples of some of his advertising work.  Roger was not impressed with his spunk and ingenuity, he was irritated.  Don did not give up.  Instead he planned for a chance meeting at the lobby elevators for Roger's office and managed to entice him with the promise of an early drink to meet and discuss the business.  Don plied Roger with booze but still Roger had no interest in even considering hiring Don.  So Don did what he does, he made up a story, acted like he belonged there, and marched into the offices of Sterling Cooper as their newest employee.

Peggy is butting heads with her new art director, Stan Rizzo.   She complains to Don how he loses his art work and doesn't get back to her fast enough.  But Don doesn't want to hear that Stan's the problem.  "Stan is talented and more experienced. You need to learn how to work with him, not the other way around," he tells her.  Peggy is already irritated that she's not only not going to the Clios but not getting any acknowledgement for coming up with the idea that lead to the potentially award-winning commercial.  On top of that, she now has to deal with a dilettante who thinks he's her boss.  Stan is arrogant and goes on about nudity and the human body and how uptight and repressed Peggy is. If this were a network sitcom, they'd be dating by the next episode.

The Clio Awards were exciting enough with the prospect of winning their first award, but on top of that we have Duck making a drunken fool of himself and Pete getting some gossip about a possible buyout or merger of the company involving his old rival Ken Cosgrove.  Don and Ted Chaough get to snipe back at forth with each other, with Roger classically referring to him as Chao-guh-guh.  Don accepts the award for the Glo-Coat commercial and then immediately decides to ride the wave back to the office to meet with the Life Cereal reps (who came by unexpectedly).

We've seen good pitches and we've seen memorably brilliant pitches, but this is the first time we've seen Don Draper look at work like we've seen him in his sad lonely out-of-the-office life.  He's drunk and (for him) disheveled and rambling.  He does what he criticizes Danny for doing - plagiarizes someone else's idea.  First he goes back and pilfers parts of his own successful pitches, most obviously the Kodak carousel one, as he scrambles together ideas on the fly.  He's unprepared and unrefined and he only needs to piss himself to complete the full Rumsen.  In the middle of all of this sputtering, he comes up with an idea they like.  "Life, cure for the common cereal."  He's happy, they're happy, everyone's happy.

Except for Peggy who realizes what just happened. Don just sold Danny Siegel's pitch.  She can't help but appreciate the irony - once again Don gets credit for someone else's idea, once again he believes he invented the idea all on his own.

She's not the only unhappy employee.  Pete comes to Lane to ask him if their firm is merging with the one where Ken works, only to find out that Lane has been negotiating to hire Ken for the new SCDP.  Pete, who was always in competition with Ken, is mad that he wasn't consulted, and madder still that his rival will be coming back to challenge him for accounts.  But Lane puts it in pragmatic terms that Pete can understand - they need Ken's business, they can't continue to rely on just Roger.

Don goes out for more drinking, to continue the award winning celebration into the night. While there he sees Faye Miller.  They engage in a little verbal foreplay before the heavily drunk Don does what he's been doing every time he's had one (or five) too many - he hits on Faye.  Even though she's a psychologist and an expert in human behavior she's also a red-blooded woman, but so far she's able to resist uber-handsome Dob Draper's oily charm.

 While Don grabs the attention of an attractive woman at the bar, Roger thinks back again to when he knew Don before he came to work at Sterling Cooper. Don intercepted him in person after repeated efforts to reach him by phone failed. As part of his pitch, Don asked the silver-spoon fed Roger if he ever needed a break.  Maybe feeling guilty that everything was handed to him in life, or just intrigued by the offer of early morning drinking, he agreed to have a drink.  But he doesn't make Don an offer, joking that he always needs a good fit man. 

While Don was plastered earlier in the evening, he told Peggy that she and Stan   needed to get a hotel room for the weekend and figure out a pitch for Vicks by Monday. The two spend the night needling each other, sparring and trying to be creative.  But mostly, there's a power struggle between the two.  He accuses Peggy of being a prude, she calls him on just how free he really is - calling his bluff about nudism.  They strip down and go about their work.  If this were a network sitcom they'd be dating by now. 

The next time we see Don he's sprawled out in bed with a woman next to him. Betty's on the phone and she's furious, Don has missed his time to pick up he kids.  He thinks she's got her days mixed up until he discovers that he was so black-out drunk that he missed an entire day.  It is Sunday and instead of being with his children, he's with the second of two young women he's been holed up with.  And she thinks his name is Dick.  Not Don's finest moment as a father. 

He spends the rest of the day with his phone off the hook, hungover. sleeping it off.  Peggy comes to his apartment to tell him how he stole Danny's idea and pitched it to the Life Cereal team.  Don has no memory of that.  Nor does he remember ordering her and Stan to spend the weekend locked in a hotel room brainstorming.  She doesn't let Don try and wiggle his way out of the trouble his drunken presentation his gotten them into.  She frustrated with his behavior, how he gets away with so mug and is never held responsible. And how everyone thinks she's his favorite and yet he treats her like dirt. 


Stan tells Peggy that he knows that she's Don's favorite.  (He also says he knows there hasn't been anything romantic between them, because, basically, Draper can do better.  Stan's a classy guy)  Peggy hears this all the time (Pete was be first to tell her) but she certainly doesn't feel it. Don is like an abusive boyfriend, sending her mixed signals, praising her one moment and ridiculing or demeaning her the next. 

The quote Danny was looking for was: "Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration, and inspiration."

That's Betty Draper, fashion model, in the Heller Fur ad.  We knew that she was a model, and that's how she and Don, met, and now we see the proof.

Ken is back.  Pete understandably was reluctant to have his position at the new offices challenged and, having won the war, he certainly doesn't want any new battles starting up. But Lane brings him into the negotiations and let's him set the rules - he's a partner. Ken is not, and that seems to mollify Pete.   Pete may be prickly, and emotional at times, but he has a good sense of what's good for the bottom line. 

The parallels between Don and Danny are there - both are eager and will do anything to get into the advertising game.  Both play on Roger's weaknesses to get their jobs (Don gets Roger drunk and then lies to him, Danny uses his cousin).  But where Danny is upfront about who he is and how he expects to get hired, Don uses deception to get his.  He lacks the connections that Danny has, so he has to reinvent himself.

We also see the differences between Roger and Don.  One, the spoiled rich kid who inherited his wealth, status, career, company.  The other, the self made man, raised in poverty, who did whatever it took to become successful.  Roger feels envious that everyone thinks he's never really had to work and that he coasts through life.  Don is perennially afraid of being revealed as a fraud and constantly needs validation.

At least Don knows that he gave Danny  the job.  Roger does not realize - or at least does not acknowledge - that he didn't actually discover or hire Don.  Not only is Don Draper's life origin story false, his career origin story is a lie as well. So Roger cannot even take credit for hiring Don.

First introduction of new art director Stan Rizzo, who immediately butts heads with Peggy.  But Peggy does a great job getting the upper hand with him.

"Ladder Of Success" by Skeeter Davis


Danny: You know what they say, aspiration's as good as perspiration.
Don:  That's not how it goes.

Peggy: What's his connection to Roger?
Don:  Besides being delusional?

Don: You finish something, you find out everyone loves it right around the time that It feels like someone else did it.

Roger:  Plagiarism?  That's resourceful.

Don:  Can I assume this is some kind of an apology?
Roger: No no no, I know exactly how much that costs.

Don:  Make it simple but significant.

Peggy: I was clapping and he thought I was clapping for him.
Stan:  Who claps for themselves?

Lane:  Roger Sterling is a child, And frankly we can't have you pulling the cart all by yourself.

Faye: Just think how you'd feel right now if you lost.
Don:  About the same, I suppose. It doesn't make the work any better.
Faye: That's very healthy.

Faye: Award or no award, you're still Don Draper.
Don: Whatever that means.

Stan:   I know you're his favorite.  I bet he takes you hunting and lets you carry the carcasses in your mouth.

Woman: Is that Don Draper?
Roger: Yes it is.
Woman:  Is he attached?
Roger:  To that glass? Absolutely.

Roger: They don't seem to give awards for what I do. 
Joan: And what is that?
Roger:  Find guys like him. 

Joan (to Roger): You've crossed the border from lubricated to morose. 

Don:  It's just I've left some messages for you.
Roger: And I've ignored them.  That's my message for you,

Roger:  My mother always said be careful what you wish for because you'll get it. And then people'll get jealous and try to take it away from you.
Don:  I don't think that's how that goes.
Roger:  You're an expert on everything, right? And how can I hire you? You know too much about me.

Spoilery observations. (DON'T READ UNTIL YOU'RE CAUGHT UP)

Megan stumbled pulling the projector out of Stan's office.  Was that to have continuity for when she tells Sally in Ep. 4.09 The Beautiful Girls that she falls all the time?  We should have seen Megan coming, she suddenly was everywhere on the screen.  Why couldn't they have put Clara on his desk?  She wouldn't have gotten knocked up by Torkelson in Season 7 and Don wouldn't have married Megan.  We can dream.

Stan and Peggy have a long wonderful non-sexual relationship and I thank the Mad Men writers every day that they kept them as close friends (the times they spend on the phone together is priceless) until the very end when Joey Baird's prescient "you love her" finally was proved correct and the two proclaimed their true feelings for one another. 

Fur comes back into Don's life in Ep. 7.08 Severance when he auditions models wearing fur (and hallucinates Rachel also in fur) as part of the Wilkinson Razor commercial. 

In Ep. 4.12 Blowing Smoke Don's ex-girlfriend Midge uses the same ruse to bump into Don - pretending to have a meeting in his office building.

The rivalry between Ted Chaough and Don Draper finally becomes a partnership as the two of them joined (in Ep. 6.06 For Immediate Release) to try and out maneuver the bigger agencies only to end up together in the type of behemoth agency they each tried to avoid. 

Danny won't stay at SCDP forever, but his career path takes him to heights no one could have imagined.  In Ep. 6.10 A Tale of Two Cities we discover that the little guy is now a Hollywood big shot.

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