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New Show Recap: Mad Men, Season 6, Ep. 12, “The Quality of Mercy”

Because I’m house-sitting this week I didn’t have the show on DVR and my Amazon download isn’t working for me. So I’m mostly working from memory here, just a heads up. 

Chevy has moved on from metaphorically trying to kill Ken to LITERALLY trying to kill Ken as he gets Dick Cheney-ed while out hunting with some of the guys who wanted to help him celebrate the news that Cynthia is pregnant! Ken, now sporting a jaunty eye-patch and some bird-shot in his face, thinks a BETTER celebration would be leaving Chevy forever and ever amen. So the account will be moving to Pete, which puts a real spring in Pete’s step until he finds out that the other partners are going to want him to work with Benson, who was also on Chevy. Pete’s initially reluctant and tries to weasel his own people in, but is unsuccessful since he won’t out Benson. One of the few things we can give Pete credit for.

Instead, Pete feeds Benson’s resume (and a healthy cash incentive) to Duck to get Benson a better offer elsewhere to entice him away without any unpleasantness. What Duck finds, though, is that Benson’s resume is a meticulously crafted collection of half-truths and outright lies that the former SCDP never bothered checking up on. Pete finds this all disturbingly familiar, but instead of asserting his authority over this new version of Don Draper, Pete tells Benson that he’ll hide the younger man’s secret and work with him as long as Benson keeps his eyes (and knees) to himself. I guess Don’s current downward spiral hasn’t made much of an impression on Pete yet, or he figures he’ll have time to bail before Benson hits that state of total system failure.

Sally hasn’t been going to Don’s on his weekends lately, and Betty calls Don to apologize for that and to let him know that she wants to go to boarding school. Don seems sad, but sends along his encouragement via Betty. Sally gets to go for an overnight visit/interview at Miss Porter’s School. She finds out that the refined young ladies of Miss Porter’s are just as interested in drinking and boys as her former classmates, and their approval of her depends on her ability to procure those things for them. Glen happily lends a hand, and everything’s going great until Glen and one of the girls go back to her room and his skeevy friend starts trying to put the moves on Sally and getting verbally pushy with her when she makes it clear she’s not interested. Sally summons Glen, who wrestles his friend to the ground and punches him in the face for mistreating Sally. This is so impressive to the Miss Porter girls that Sally is accepted. Betty gets to deliver this news on the ride home, and offers Sally a congratulatory cigarette which is era-appropriate, but which nearly made my brain leak out my ears to watch. Betty jokes that Don has probably given her all manner of age-inappropriate substances but Sally, looking and sounding far older than her years as she takes a drag of her cigarette, flatly replies, “My father never gave me anything.” Betty picks up on this, but doesn’t press.

Don, meanwhile, is continuing to drink himself into oblivion, and Megan convinces him to stay home one particularly bad day. The two of them catch an early evening showing of Rosemary’s Baby where they run into Ted and Peggy. Megan puts the pieces together before Don does, but once she clues him in, he sees the way the two of them are acting like giggly teenagers together at the office. Half of the office has also noticed. Ted is so affected that he’s let Peggy run with an idea for an aspirin ad that will go way over budget on actor residuals* just because he likes her and her ideas so much. Don steps in for the good of the company, even dancing on the edge of revealing their emotional affair to the client, and manages to smooth things over. Ted is deflated, but also chastened. Peggy, on the other hand, rages at Don and calls him a monster for one of the few decent things he’s done this season for her AND Ted.

We’ve got a season finale coming up next week, so any bets on how that will go are welcome. How will it all end! Probably with someone staring out a window, knowing this show.

*Residuals, by the way, are the royalties due to actors each time a commercial or TV show they’re featured in appears on air. So if the order is for a specific number of commercials during prime time for x months, then they know how much they have to pay each actor every time that commercial runs.

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One thought on “New Show Recap: Mad Men, Season 6, Ep. 12, “The Quality of Mercy””

  1. This season IMO has been marked not by really huge plot points, but rather by very small but very important/impactful moments. You point out two of my favourite of the whole season – Sally’s “My father never gave me anything” and Pete’s scene with Bob.

    In Sally’s moment I felt like it was one of the first times Betty has ever felt a common ground with Sally. While the scene looked like it was more about a coming of age moment for Sally, I actually think it was Betty who reaped the rewards. In that moment I feel like Betty had her personal feelings about Don confirmed, and, the she and Sally could really connect on an adult topic (it might just be me, but last season and early this season, as Sally was coming into her teen years I felt like there was an effort to make Betty seem like she was resentful to Sally for her youth, and longing for that freedom that Sally gets to experience as growing up as a teen with a young and hip mother figure in Megan and during the sexual revolution, rather than in the 50s as Betty did).

    And Pete’s scene with Bob was just great. Not only did it show Pete’s true colours (we’ve always known where Pete’s intelligence has come from – it’s knowing where he fits in the world and knowing when and where to exert power), it also reminded us of just how much fearful admiration Pete has for Don. He fears Don so much that he can see a hint of that driving force in Bob and early on decides to give himself an insurance policy – not by butting heads with him, but by striking a deal with Bob (who is obviously a manipulation mastermind…I knew from the first time we saw him that there was something going on with him. He just so randomly showed up in the inner circle…).

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