Mad Men: “Chinese Wall”

This episode begins with Peggy getting into Joyce’s car after a weekend trip to Jones Beach. Suddenly, several “hitchhikers” appear, with Abe Drexler being one of them. Peggy is less than pleased at first, but we then see them falling into bed together back at Peggy’s place.

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Meanwhile, we see Ken having dinner with Ed and Cynthia Baxter, his future in-laws. The young couple is telling the story of Trudy going in to labor when a BBDO employee named John Flory walks up and offers Ken his condolences for SCDP losing the Lucky Strike account. Ken assures him that they haven’t lost Lucky Strike, but Flory says that they have.

Ken excuses himself, and hunts down Pete at the hospital. He tells Pete about what his friend had said. Pete can’t get Roger on the phone, so he calls Don at home, who is just walking in with Faye. Don tells him to wake Cooper and meet him at the office.

We then see Ken, Pete, Don and Bert waiting for Roger in his office. He walks in, and everyone gives him the bad news. Don demands that Roger call Lee Garner, Jr., and Roger fakes the phone call by secretly pressing down on the hook. Roger pretends to lose his temper with Lee, then says that he hung up. Roger then offers to fly to Raleigh the next morning.

Back at Don’s apartment, we see Faye asleep on the sofa when Don comes home at midnight. He tells Faye what has happened, and she instantly recognizes it as the disaster it is. She tells him to go easy on the liquor, and he says that he spent every day trying to not think about what would happen if this happened. She calls him the “most hireable man on Madison Avenue”, and Don disagrees. He leans back on the sofa, and she comforts him.

Back at the hospital, Pete returns and tells Tom, his father-in-law, about the loss of Lucky Strike. Tom initially says that there’s “no place for business” at the hospital, but when he hears about SCDP’s position, he tells Pete that he should go to CGC. Pete isn’t excited about CGC, even though Tom really talks up Ted Chaough. Trudy’s mom Jeannie suddenly appears and Pete asks if he can see Trudy. Jeannie refuses, saying that she’s sleeping.

The next morning, Abe is in a hurry to leave Peggy’s place, as an air conditioner repairman is due at his place at 8. However, Peggy talks him in to staying, and the two have sex again.

We then see Roger, alone in a hotel room. He calls Bert, pretending to be in North Carolina, and says that Lucky Strike is gone for good, and since Lee Garner Sr. got sick, the board has taken control away from Junior. Cooper then reads a short statement to the gathered SCDP staff, in which he announces the loss of Lucky Strike. Don then takes the floor and tells the agency that they will not only survive, but thrive:

We’ve had a pretty good year. We’ve gained more accounts than we’ve lost, a lot more, because our work is thoughtful and effective. Even Lucky Strike said so… which means that nothing should change. Nothing will change. We’re gonna push ourselves shoulder to shoulder and we’re gonna overcome this and succeed tenfold and it will be exhilarating.

We then see Peggy walking in to the office late. She asks Freddy what’s going on, and he says that Joe, the head of accounting, is talking to them and it can’t be good. A few moments later, Joe breaks up the meeting, and Stan tells her that SCDP has lost Lucky Strike. Peggy is shocked.

Don then calls Peggy, Stan, Freddy and Danny into his office. Don tells that the agency is in trouble, and that Creative needs to “be on its toes”. Danny asked if the agency has a “last hired, last fired” policy, but Don reminds him that he’s in the meeting. Don says that he and the partners will have to be out getting new business, which means that they (the Creative team) will need to pull out all the stops in keeping current clients. He tells them to be extra nice to clients, and to pay close attention to them. He then ends the meeting, and everyone leaves. But he keeps Peggy there, and explains to her that he can’t be at the Playtex meeting as it will look desperate. Peggy assures him that she has it under control. He says that he’s counting on her.

A little while later, Roger calls Joan from the hotel room. He says that he needs to see her, and she says that she’s not going to fly to Raleigh to see him. Roger then admits to her that he never left the city, and that Lee Garner Jr. told him about Lucky Strike leaving weeks ago. Joan is furious, and yells at him, saying that they could have been “doing something” about it. Roger whines like a child to her, telling her not to yell at him. Joan asks what she’s supposed to do now that she knows Roger’s been lying for weeks. He apologizes, and says that this is the reason he needs to see her. Joan says that she needs to go, as they now have piles of work to do. Rogers begs her to visit him at the hotel, and she only says “we’ll see”.

We then see Peggy running through ideas for Playtex with Stan and Danny. Her presentation, about the tactile pleasure of wearing Playtex gloves, is almost erotic. She has their full attention. Just then, Abe appears, pretending to be a courier with a delivery for Peggy. They sneak off to her office, while Danny and Stan wonder about Peggy’s sexual energy.

Don, Harry, Bert, Ken and a sleeping Pete are holding a status meeting to see how they’re doing with clients. Joan walks in to say that she’s talked to Lane in London, and he’s estimated their billings without Lucky Strike to be in the $22 million range. She further says that he can’t give them a solid number until he gets back to the office, which she says will be as soon as he can make it. Bert then notes that the funeral of David Montgomery is the next day, and he says that there will be a lot of clients there that SCDP could pick up.

Megan interrupts the meeting to say that Don has a phone call from Al Weaver at Glo-Coat. He goes back to his office to take it, and despite pleas from Don, Glo-Coat drops SCDP. Don, who mentioned the agency winning the Clio Award to Al, smashes it on his desk in frustration. Megan comes in when she hears the ruckus, and asks if there’s anything she can do for Don. He asks her to stop him after he’s had three drinks.

Don walks back to the meeting and hears Pete talking to everyone about Trudy’s problems with labor. Don brusquely tells him to go to the hospital, that there’s “nothing to do here” and that Trudy’s pregnancy is apparently what matters to him. When Pete asks what he means by that, Don says that he doesn’t know what Pete said to Al this morning. He then walks over to a blackboard that has all their clients listed and erases the name Glo-Coat. Everyone understands what has happened. Don then asks Joan if they’re down to around “$20 million and change”. Pete then stands up and asks Don if he really feels as if he’s not giving it his all. Don says that all he had to do was call Glo-Coat and tell them that everything was okay. Pete asks Don if he thinks those types of calls are easy to make. Don says that Pete is distracted and because of that he scared the clients. Pete asks who he thinks he’s talking to, then leaves.

Stan sees Abe walks out of Peggy’s office and he smiles.

At the hospital, Pete finds Ted Chaough waiting for him. Chaough has a gift for the baby (a rattle) and one for Pete: full partnership at CGC. In fact, because one of the other partners is retiring, Ted even offers to rename the agency Campbell Gleason and Chaough. He tells Pete that they’ve just scored the Alfa Romeo account, and he tells Pete that he’d love driving one. When Pete says that he doesn’t drive, Ted offers to teach him. Ted then turns to Pete’s in-laws and offers to get them a hotel room across the street. Pete stares into space, not buying Ted’s offers for a minute.

Meanwhile, Roger stops in at Joan’s apartment. He walks in and kisses her, but she pushes him away. She says that he told her he needed to talk, and if this is how he’d going to act they can talk on the phone. He then makes fun of her “unsexy” pajamas, and she demands to know what he wants, as she’s exhausted. He says that he waited for her at the hotel, but Joan says that she can’t do this any more. He says that they belong together, and that she always comes back to him. He says that he needs her now, and Joan asks if she’s a port in a storm. Roger says that it’s because he “feels like shit” and that she cares about him. She says that she’s not a solution to his problems… in fact, she’s just another problem. He says that she’ll change her mind, but she pushes him away again. Roger asks if the last time they had sex (the night they were mugged) was the last time, then says he wishes he’d known that. He then turns and leaves.

Faye stops in to see Don that night. She expresses surprise that the office is empty, but Don says that it’s 8 o’clock. Don asks if she’d like a drink, and she says that she’d rather eat. Don assures her that he’s only “one over” for the day. The two embrace, and as soon as they kiss, the janitor stops the floor buffer, and Faye takes note of that. Don says that clients are “running scared”, and that he’s used to them rejecting his ideas, not him. He asks how she’s doing, and then asks her to give him the names of some of her clients that are unhappy with their current agencies. She refuses on ethical grounds, and he presses her. Again she refuses, saying that the ethics in the advertising world are already low enough. Don keeps pressing, and Faye asks if he expects her to kill her own business to save his. Faye takes a few steps back and says that if Don wants to cry on her shoulder that’s fine, but she won’t let him throw her to the wolves. Don says that he’d do it for her, but Faye says that she’d never ask. She then leaves in a huff.

The next morning, we see Peggy, in her office with Stan, preparing for the Playtex presentation. She says that she’s nervous, and Stan says that he has a suggestion. She says that she can’t do the presentation drunk, but Stan claims to have a “relaxation technique” that he learned for a yogi. He locks the door to her office and has her start a deep-breathing exercise… which ends with him trying to kiss her. Peggy pushes him away, and asks what he’s up to. Stan says that she’s “so horny he can smell it on her breath”, and notes that she had sex with the delivery boy the day before. Peggy asserts that he is her boyfriend, and Stan says that it’s the “end of the world”. She then asks why he keeps making her reject him, and says that it worked, because she’s not anxious any more.

In Roger’s office, the senior partners meet, and Roger continues his lie about having met with Lee Garner, Jr. He says that Lee is worried about the British ban of TV ads for cigarettes and that the company wants to cut costs. Roger then says that it might be a good time to get out of the cigarette business, which Pete calls “crap” and says that Lucky Strike sales were up 10%. Joan, who has been staring at Roger the while time, announces that the funeral starts in 40 minutes. Roger, who didn’t know that Montgomery had died, asks who’d want to go to that funeral, and Don and Pete say that they’re trying to get new accounts. Roger accuses them of ganging up on him, and Don accuses him of ignoring it. He says that Roger had one single account and he ignored it. Roger looks to Pete for help, but Pete says that Roger squeezed him off the account. Roger points to Pete and says that he (Pete) would never have let this happen, and says that Roger did what he could do… which was nothing. Roger then reminds Don of his amateur status when he “found” him, and says that they were only friends because of the Lucky Strike account, and now that it’s gone they have no need to be. He orders them all out of his office and tells them to “go chase a hearse”.

Just then, Megan walks in to tell Pete that Trudy had the baby, a girl, and that she’s resting comfortably. Pete smiles at the news, then checks his watch and tells everyone that they should get going to the funeral. Don and Pete leave, and as Bert leaves, Roger asks where Don gets off talking to him like that. Bert says that Lee Garner Jr. never took him seriously because he doesn’t take himself seriously.

Peggy, meanwhile, is ready for the Playtex meeting. She has lipstick on her teeth, which Stan notices. He doesn’t say anything about it, however. Later, we see Peggy doing her pitch, and a Playtex executive runs his tongue across his teeth several times to alert her, which Peggy ignores. Harry tells her that he has lipstick on her teeth, and she looks at Stan, who just smiles at her.

At the funeral, Freddy points out potential clients to Don and Pete. While this is going on, the mourners deliver eulogies about how David was constantly away from his family.

We then see Don walking into the office. It’s dark outside, but Megan is still there. He asks her for the campaign briefs, and tells her that everyone else can go home except Peggy, who he needs in his office.

In his office, Don pours a drink and notices that fix Clio Award has been fixed. Megan walks in to say that Peggy has gone for the day, but he interrupts her to asked if she’s the one who fixed his award. She did, and she says that she figured he’d want it in the end. Don says that she’s wrong. but Megan says that the commercial was great, and nothing S.C. Johnson can do will change that. Don sits in his chair, and asks her to bring the briefs over. She brings them to him, and he says that she can go. Instead she asks if she can stay and help him. Don asks why, and she says that it’ll help her stop making the mistakes she’s been making, and that eventually she might like to do what he and Peggy do.

Don says that he doesn’t mind, and he calls her over and shows her the campaign brief for Fillmore Auto Parts. He explains how it works, then asks what she liked about his Glo-Coat commercial. She says that she remembers being a little kid and having a feeling of being punished when her mom was cleaning.

He asks where she’s from, and she says Montreal. He then asks why she came to New York, and she says it’s because the city is an artist’s Mecca. She then talks about her background with literature, painting and acting. She giggles, and when Don asks why, she says it’s because she knows everything about him, but he knows nothing about her. She then points out that she might not be his secretary for long, so why should Don learn about her? She says that Don judges people on their work, and she does too. Don asks if she wants a drink, and she asks how many he’s had. He says that he’s had four, and she puts her hand on his arm and says that he’ll get through this. She leans in and kisses him, which Don says is “not a good idea”. She says it has nothing to do with work. She then says that she won’t “run out of here crying tomorrow” like his previous secretary, and that she just wants him. The two begin kissing passionately.

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We then see Roger arriving at home. Jane asks where he’s going. He says that he’s exhausted. She says that she knows how to make him feel better. Roger, thinking she talking about sex, says that he’s tired. Instead she tells him to sit and she goes and gets a box, which contains copies of his memoirs. He looks at it, and she then asks him to sign it. He writes an uninspired “to my loving wife” inside, and she snuggles up to him and says that she’s proud of him. He only stares sadly into the distance.

We then see Don and Megan getting dressed. She says that she should leave the office first. He asks if she wants to go eat, but she says that she wants him to go home, sleep, and not drink any more that night. He gives her a deep kiss and leaves.

He arrives at his apartment, to see Faye writing him a note. Don asks why she didn’t call, but she says that she “didn’t want to do this over the phone”. Don asks why she would write it in a note then. She asks if she can come inside. There, she says that she got him a meeting with Heinz, who are unhappy with their current agency. Don says that she didn’t have to do this, but she says that she wanted to. She kisses him. He thanks her. She leads him over to the sofa and sits with Don. She snuggles up against him. Don smells her hair

OTHER STUFF

Jones Beach State Park is located on Jones Beach Island, in Nassau County. It’s connected to Long Island by the Meadowbrook State Parkway, Wantagh State Parkway and Ocean Parkway. The island was developed by famed urban planner Robert Moses in 1923… in fact, it was his first major project. Moses was also one of the leading voices behind the plan to demolish the old facade of Penn Station, a controversial topic that was discussed in last season’s “Out of Town”. Moses was also largely responsible for the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles. Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley had long wanted to move the team from decrepit Ebbets Field, but narrow-minded Moses offered him only land in Queens. In fact, Moses wouldn’t budge from his plans for a stadium in Queens, and when O’Malley decided that he couldn’t work with Moses any more, plans began to move the Dodgers to the west coast. Moses eventually got what he wanted though: the area was eventually turned into Shea Stadium.

– Heh – no one seemed to put on a seatbelt in Joyce’s VW. I often miss a lot of things about the “old days” (smoking anywhere, social civility), but not wearing seatbelts ain’t one of them.

– Loved seeing Bert in his pajamas during the emergency meeting!

– We first met Ted Chaough of CGC in “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”.

– How interesting that Pete and Ken were the only employees that were allowed to tell clients about Lucky Strike. Are they back to being equals at SCDP? Or is Pete still his boss? Or does management just think that Ken has the good sense to tell clients in the right way, at the right time?

– Was it too cute how Peggy talked about the way Don ends his presentations? After all the crap he’s put her through, she still looks up to him!

– Joan says that Lane has estimated their post-Lucky billings to be $22 million. That’s $148,034,134.26 in 2009 dollars… which seems like a lot to me. I get that Lucky Strike is their single biggest client by far, but almost $150 million in revenue is nothing to sneeze at, right?

– I didn’t do an exhaustive search, but “David Montgomery” appears to be a fictional character. Note that Bert vaguely referred to him as a “senior vice president of accounts at the #4 [ad] agency” instead of giving us a specific agency name.

Fibber McGee and Molly was a popular radio show that began back in 1935 and ran until 1959. It starred the real-life husband and wife team of James (Jim) Jordan and Marian Driscoll, who had started their careers in vaudeville and worked their way up to a show on a small Chicago radio station. The show, the origins of which can be traced back to the couple’s vaudeville act in 1927, was the first to introduce many of the memes and tropes seen in sitcoms today. A TV version of the show debuted in September 1959, but was so unsuccessful that it was pulled off the air in January 1960. Interestingly, especially in light of Don’s comments about the show, the radio version only became a national hit when Henrietta Johnson Lewis, a member of the family that runs S.C. Johnson Company (who makes Glo-Coat), persuaded her advertising executive husband to sponsor the show.

– Younger readers might not know that Alfa Romeo is a popular marque of Italian sports car. I say this because Alfa left the American market in 1995 and has not (yet) returned in quantity (a handful of Alfas were sold in 2008, but the company isn’t coming back in force until 2012, with the “Giulia” model). Although many considered their roadsters to be “sexy”, the cars were tiny, relatively expensive, and had an awful reputation for reliability in the United States. In fact, Alfa’s sales were so low in the US prior to their leaving the market that many of my friends didn’t even know that they were still sold in the US! It was kind of like when you hear about an old celebrity dying and you thought that he or she died several years ago… that kind of moment.

– There’s no obvious way to date this episode, but it was interesting that when Faye visited Don at his office, it looked pretty dark outside and Don said that it was 8pm. Last week, Megan asked if she could leave, as it was 8:30pm and it was much brighter outside.

– Don uses golfing terms to tell Faye that he’s “one over” for the day. In case you don’t know much about golf, each hole has a given number of shots (or “strokes”) that a player is supposed to get the ball into the hole in. For example, many holes are “par 4”, meaning the player should get the ball into the hole in four shots. Doing so is “making par”, while getting it in three would be a “birdie” and two shots would be an “eagle”. On the other hand, getting the ball into the hole in five shots is a “bogey” and six shots is a “double bogey”. Players keep a overall tab on how many shots they are “under” or “over” the average (par) score. By saying that he’s “one over”, he’s saying that he’s taken one extra stroke (or, in this case, a drink).

-Roger might be lying, but he at least keeps up with the news: television ads for cigarettes were banned in the UK on August 1, 1965. Most other forms of tobacco advertising (such as magazine ads and billboards) were allowed in the UK until 1986. In the US, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banned TV advertising on January 2, 1971. Amusingly, American tobacco companies eventually came to love the ban on TV ads. Since no cigarette company could advertise on TV, no one brand could have an advantage over another. And since TV commercials are extremely expensive, the tobacco companies could use the money they would have spent on TV ads to buy tons of magazine ads and billboards. It became, in fact, a boon for the tobacco companies!

– The River Club is a real place, located at 447 E 52nd Street in Manhattan. This article from The Huffington Post (blech!) is mostly about the club’s racist past, but it does have a lot of information about the founding of the club, if you’re interested. Interestingly, the facade of the club looks a lot like one that’s supposed to be the New York Athletic Club in “The Summer Man”. I wonder if they filmed the scene of Don leaving the NYAC there…

– One of the people Freddy points out is Stu Carlsbad of Ralston Purina. Don says that they “have experience” with dog food. He’s referring to Caldecott Farms, a client from “The Gypsy and the Hobo”.

– To pimp my own site, London’s Portobello Road got its name thanks to The War of Jenkins’ Ear, the details of which you can read about in the linked History Blog article. It’s pretty interesting, honest!

– There’s some talk about whether Jane had Roger’s autobiography printed by a vanity publisher or not. It certainly looks like it, no?

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That’s a pretty generic looking sleeve, if you ask me.

– Ketchum Macleod is now known as Ketchum, Inc. The company was founded in Pittsburgh in 1923. Interesting that a KETCHUP company would use an agency called KETCHUM, no? hehehehe

– For what it’s worth, Jessica Paré really is from Montreal.

– The closing credits song this week is “Welcome to My World”, a song by American country and pop star Jim Reeves:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLQl5Raj-Ic

The song was released in 1964, a couple of months before Reeves died in a plane crash on July 31, 1964. Like Tupac, Elvis and The Beatles, Jim Reeves seems to have tons of unreleased material. In fact, if you look at his discography, it look as if as many (or more) singles were released after his death than before!

As always, the lyrics seem appropriate:

Welcome to my world
Won’t you come on in
Miracles I guess
Still happen now and then
Step into my heart
Leave your cares behind
Welcome to my world
Built with you in mind
Knock and the door will open
Seek and you will find
Ask and you’ll be given
The key to this world of mine
I’ll be waiting here
With my arms unfurled
Waiting just for you
Welcome to my world

MY THOUGHTS

I didn’t care for this episode that much, even after two viewings. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it just seems like.. well, filler after the two previous episodes.

I guess the big question is… what will Pete do? It’s obvious (to me, anyway) that he can see right through Ted’s plan, and that he knows that Ted doesn’t want him nearly as much as he wants to kneecap Don. I know a lot of people love Vincent Kartheiser but hate Pete, but even then I hope they all know that Pete is too smart of fall for Ted’s tricks. Still, Pete has a lot to be mad about with SCDP in general and Don in particular, Don’s defense of him to Roger in this episode notwithstanding. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

It was nice to see Pete in a moral dilemma, though: should he go to the hospital to see his daughter, or should he go to the funeral so that he can get new business to save his career and have a future for his daughter? Lots of online commenters expressed surprise that he’d skip the hospital, but since Pete is a partner at SCDP, I’m not surprised at all. It’s not just that the SCDP ship is going down… Pete owns a large part of that ship himself.

What about Faye betraying her ethical standards for Don? Don asking her for clients was the most contemptible thing he’s done in a long while, and she was right to hold her ground with him. But then she turned around and gave him Heinz. Does she really love him that much? And am I weird for being kind of turned on when she did give him Heinz? I know, I know… Don’t ask.

Does anyone still think that Joan didn’t have the abortion? I was kind of on the fence, leaning towards “had it”, but thinking that “didn’t have it” might be a path the writers would take. But now I’m thinking that she definitely had the operation. The way she’s pushing Roger away just tells me that she did. She’s trying minimize her contact with him, not just for her uterus, but her emotional state as well.

A lot of folks out there in Internetland have called Don a dog for sleeping with Megan. I don’t get it… Don’s slept with like, a thousand women on this show, and what makes her any different? Was it OK when Don slept with 999 women, but not 1000? Did Megan just push it over whatever line people have in their minds? The fact that she seemed to totally understand the situation makes it OK with me. Yes, I wish Don would keep it in his pants generally, but he seemed to me on the outs with Faye at the time, and Megan seemed to totally understand the whole “it’s just sex” concept.

So… should we begin a Roger Sterling Suicide Countdown Clock? The man really is pretty pathetic, actually. He not only inherited the agency, he inherited the one account he was supposed to look after, and he failed. Instead of chasing Joan around and drinking like a fish he could have been out rounding up business, but he didn’t. And now, we see him with Jane and he just looks so… sad.

Is it just me, or does Megan have a busted-up ol’ grill? Are those Jessica Paré’s real teeth? I haven’t seen her in anything else, really so I can’t say. I guess you could say it’s refreshing, in a way, to see someone who doesn’t have perfect teeth on a TV show.

Will Sal come back now that Lee Garner, Jr. is out of the picture?

So… yeah. That’s about it for this episode. I can’t wait until Sunday and the next to last episode of Mad Men for this season!

One Reply to “Mad Men: “Chinese Wall””

  1. A late comment, I guess. We all know now how the season ended. Taking things in reverse order:

    Yes, those teeth are real. She’s tall, toothy and incredibly hot.

    Thanks for posting the lyrics to the Jim Reeves song. My take is, Don is hearing it as he sits with Faye, but he’s hearing Megan singing it to him.

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