“Nobody knows where they’re headed but they’re not afraid of what’s beyond the bend.”—Ted Chaough

“The future is something you haven’t thought of yet.”—Don Draper

These are these two men’s pitches to Chevy and they're quite similar in tone. They also describe the major events of “For Immediate Release.” The future is a merger between SCDP and CGC. Earlier in the episode Peggy says, “I don’t like change. I want everything to stay the way it was.” Well you’re in luck Peg: You get to work with Don again!

As I watched that scene with Don and Ted at the bar I was practically hopping up and down in excitement. “Don’s heroically saving the company again!” I thought. It’s like when he told Lane to fire them, so they could start their own agency unencumbered by their overseas benefactors. This is what Don does. How could we ever doubt him? Dr. Rosen quit his job because his hospital “chickened out” on the heart transplant; Don Draper similarly merged companies because the business is “rigged.” “You make your own opportunities” damn it! There is no fate.

But the more I think about this the less I’m sure about the morality in this decision. It certainly was a brilliant decision by Don; however, he sort of created this predicament: He quit the Jaguar account without consulting anyone. Sure Herb was an odious man and his wife—as Marie points out— is “the apple that goes in the pig’s mouth”, but these decisions affect other people besides Don. Pete said the IPO would “double” the size of the agency. Bert said that Pete “expanded our business while keeping it lean.” So didn’t Don just detonate one viable vision of the future for his own vision? I understand that now they have Chevy and that is more prestigious than Jaguar, but did Don just want to selfishly be the hero again?

Joan is indignant that Don doesn’t think in terms of “we” when he is making decisions for the lives of others. Joan is right but, honestly, what did you expect? You’ve seen the way this guy goes through women. Even as Don conceives of the idea to work with Ted he still seems to only view "we" as himself and Ted. Conversely, Ted Chaough can't stop thinking about Alfa Romeo and how dropping that account is affecting poor cancer stricken Frank Gleason.

Maybe this merger will be fortuitous for the agency and everyone involved will be delighted. It reflexively feels good and as a fan of this show the idea excites me way more than an IPO, but I question Don’s impetus.

Just like Draper exploded their relationship with Jaguar, Pete has his own little bombshell he’s sitting on. Unfortunately, knowing this piece of information is immensely precarious. Pete ran into his father in-law at a whorehouse [1] with a “200 pound Negro prostitute.” Ken describes this as “mutually assured destruction,” that neither person involved could ever speak about without blowing himself up. “It’s why I don’t worry about the bomb”, explains Cosgrove. Are you stealing John Slattery’s lines, Aaron Staton?

But Ken is wrong: Tom “pressed the button.” “You blew everything up!” shouts Pete upon learning that Tom dropped Vicks from SDCP. Evidently, Tom has higher standards for the husband of his daughter than he does for himself. And of course, after Tom fires the missiles Pete can’t resist. He tells Trudy for no reason other than to sully the image of daddy dearest in revenge. Trudy takes this moment to tell Pete that they’re “done”, meaning I guess they’re not even keeping up appearances anymore. So Pete’s retaliation results in him getting hit again. Classic Pete Campbell!

We also get a sufficient helping of Roger Sterling in this episode and I was so ready for that. The thing is: Rogers is actually doing really well for the agency. He single-handedly got them the meeting with Chevy in true Roger Sterling fashion: He was sleeping with a girl who works at an airline frequented by the Chevy guys. “I close, Pete. I close things”, he says full of swagger and he isn’t even talking about the girl at the airline.  

This episode of Mad Men was cool. Draper had a ton of funny lines in this one. Also, the scene at the bar between Ted and Don was great. This certainly will be interesting in the ensuing weeks. I do feel like they maybe tried to do too many things at once here and consequently some of it lacked the clarity as a whole that Mad Men usually has. I thought that the scenes between Megan and her mother were a little flat. I see how it was juxtaposed with Peggy and Ted, how both Peggy and Megan emotionally restored their men in a moment of anxiety, however, the payoff wasn’t as exhilarating as it usually is.

They also really jumped into the notion that CGC were under financial stress due to Frank Gleason contracting pancreatic cancer, but I don’t have a problem with that; cancer tends to pop up unexpectedly.  

Additional Notes:

Pete Campbell: “Draper, what in the hell have you [falls down stairs]...”

Bert Cooper drinks Spirits of Elderflower!

Peggy is having erotic fantasies about Ted!

Roger orders “water with an onion in it” to give the appearance that he is drinking when he isn’t. Of course, whenever John Slattery is drinking Gibson Martinis as Roger Sterling, they are always that: water with an onion in it.

Don Draper one-liner of the night: “I love puppies.”

[1] Don’t you hate it when that happens?