Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Mad Men "Favors"

Non Spoiler Review:
Arnold and Sylvia's problems spill over into Don and Megan's household while Sally is in town for a visit. SC&P continues its growing pains. Pete finds out his mother's nurse might be too good for her.

With Viet Nam weighing heavily on this season, it at last directly impacts Don and Megan, leading to a series of events that bring a long running plotline to a head (at last). Meanwhile, Ted and Don continue to hash out their territory, which reflects the greater rivalry within SC&P as a whole.

This one was relatively mediocre for the season, with an odd Peggy side story, and an attempt to flesh out Ted's home life. But it regained its legs at the end with an unsettling shocker. Apparently there's an internet rumour that Megan is going to die at the end of the season (given Don's Sharon Tate related hallucination in A Tale of Two Cities). We'll see about that, but there certainly is a sense of build up that something is going to happen in that apartment building.

Spoilers Now!
Roger let's Don know they've acquired Sunkist. Pete's mother arrives at the office with her new Spanish nurse Manolo. Pete goes into speak with him leaving Peggy to sit with her. She explains she's pleased to see she and Pete reunited for the good of the child they have together. A shaken Peggy realizes she thinks she's Trudy, but his mother goes on to say how happy she and Manolo are together. 

Don comes home to find Sylvia and Arnold's son Mitchell talking to Megan. He leaves, and Megan explains he's in a lot of trouble—he's 1A, having sent his draft card back in protest, so he was reclassified. He wants to run to Canada. Don advises her to leave it alone. Mitchell can't spend the rest of his life on the run, and it's not their problem. 

Pete, Peggy and Ted are out for dinner and drinks to celebrate Ocean Spray. Ted is happy to have the agency he's always wanted—ambition, brains and beauty. Ted goes to check in with his wife, and Pete picks up on the looks between she and Ted. Peggy knows, but nothing can happen. Pete is happy to have an account, and he tells Peggy at least one of them ended up important. He asks that Peggy not pity him, because she really knows him. She does really know him, she says. Peggy then tells him about her conversation with his mother. She thinks she's making love with Manolo. Pete is shocked to learn they're sleeping together but enjoy a laugh at the thought of it, and when Ted returns he notices their chemistry.

Arnold shows up at Don's home. He apologizes for Mitchell's visit, as his son told him, too. He and Don go out for a drink and Arnold admits he never even knew Mitchell had left school, but has noticed that Sylvia is lying about things, as well. He asks Don what he would do. Don explains Korea was very different. He wanted to go. Arnold thinks his son is soft and likely won't survive Viet Nam. 

Ted comes home to his wife who is chagrined he missed dinner with his family. She thinks he's working too hard but he's also obsessed with it. 

Don meets with Pete to ask if he still has a friend at the Department of Defense. He needs someone who can really pull strings. Pete is a little annoyed and reminds Don he's meeting with General Motors, so he can try asking them, given they're a large defense contractor. Pete then learns that they acquired Sunkist, which conflicts with Ocean Spray. Ted snaps at Don that he should read a memo once in awhile. 

Betty is dealing with Sally's mini university field trip to Manhattan with her friend Julie. In the city, Mitchell meets Sally and Julie in the lobby of Don's building. Julie tries to flirt with him. Sylvia comes down berating him for not getting their cab. Later the girls are both infatuated and make a list of things they like about him.

Pete's mother visits him at home and he points out Manolo is her nurse and she might have misconstrued his attention for affection. She informs him she's entitled to the pleasures of love. Pete declares they will have to let him go, which prompts her to call him a sour man who has always been unlovable and goes home. 

At the Chevrolet dinner, Don takes the opportunity to bring up Mitchell's 1A situation. Ted is uneasy at the direction he's taking the conversation and the table grows awkwardly silent about talk of the war. Roger saves the day by changing the topic. 

Peggy finds rats in the apartment and phones Stan in the middle of the night. He tell her he's not her boyfriend. She realizes he has a girl with him and Stan suggests the rat will be dead by morning, and hangs up.

Ted confronts Don the next morning about the evening's conversation, especially since he said he wouldn't involve himself with Chevy. Don admits he doesn't know what to do about his friend's kid. Ted considers it and says his flying teacher is a general in the National Guard, who is always looking for pilots. He'll call him, but first Don has to stop the war he's waging against Ted. They're going to get Ocean Spray, so he'll need to drop Sunkist. Don thanks him and shakes his hand. Ted reminds him the handshake is a binding contract. He suggests the kid should write a letter about his childhood dream of being a pilot, and goes off to make the call.

Don phones Arnold, but gets Sylvia, and explains the favor he's called in. Sylvia is very grateful but Don warns her they have to act fast. Sylvia breaks down and tells him she hopes he knows she was just frustrated with him. She didn't want him to fall in love and doesn't want to go through it again. He was better to her than she was to him.

Pete berates Bob for referring him Manolo and insists he fix it. Bob assures him that he doesn't think Manolo's interests are that way. More important, he points out Pete even admits she seemed happy. And when it's true love it doesn't matter who it is, Bob says. His knee touches Pete's. Pete pauses and then says he will given Manolo a month's pay, and asks Bob to tell him it's disgusting. 

As the girls get ready for their mini university, Julie informs Sally she slid their letter under Mitchell's back door in order to set them up. Sally rushes home and asks the doorman for the keys given she lost hers. She heads up to the Rosen apartment and listens at the back door, knocking lightly. When she hears nothing she opens it, but finds the letter isn't on the floor. It's on the counter and she takes it. She turns and sees Don having sex with Sylvia in the maid's room and drops the keys. Don is shocked to find her standing there. Sylvia freaks out as he dresses and runs after her. Don nearly breaks down in the elevator. The doorman tells him he helped her get a cab, explaining she lost her keys. Still in a fugue, Don goes outside.

Pete comes home to his quiet apartment. Peggy watches television with her new cat. Ted arrives to spend the evening with his family but his wife is asleep on the bed.

Don sits in a bar and finally goes home drunk to find Megan having dinner with the girls. Sally sends him a look and remains silent. Don goes to lie down but Megan insists he eat. Arnold and Mitchell show up and Sally tries to excuse herself. Mitchell thanks him for pulling some strings, and Arnold fills in Megan what he did for them. Arnold tells him he owes him. Sally announces her father makes her sick and runs to her room. Don goes off to talk to her.

Standing outside her door, Don explains he was comforting Sylvia. It's very complicated and he asks if she understands. Sally finally answers okay and Don goes to his room.

The Verdict:
In hindsight it was inevitable that it would be Sally to stumble upon Don's affair. Of course Don wasn't over it, and how much of him helping Mitchell was with the intent that it might make Sylvia love him and take him back? I doubt this ends here. Arnold remains the wild card that's been hovering in the background, and surely he and Megan have to find out by the end of the season.

Poor Sally. Again she's seeing adults behave in an adulterous fashion (At the Codfish Ball), and that time it was Megan's mother. She is definitely going to be as screwed up as her father when it comes to relationships.

Bob's pass at Pete seemed to come out of left field, given he has been courting both male and females at the agency. It doesn't add up that Pete is the final object of all his work, though. I got the impression that Manolo was gay and that's how Bob knew of him, but it was unclear if he was really sleeping with Pete's mother or not. Whatever the case, it felt very anticlimactic.

Peggy's rat infestation was a B plot that went nowhere, but her scene with Pete was quite effective and really shows how far these two characters have come. And of course it raises questions as to where their child is (and if we'll ever find out).

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