War! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing but awesome TV. The sixth season of Mad Men is starting to ramp up, as the conflict in Vietnam provides an eerie mirror for the struggles within Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
This entire episode was played out against constant, interrupting news updates about how things were going South in the Asian front. It seemed like most of the characters were on edge because of the uncertainty about Vietnam, although nobody’s actively questioning the war yet. What’s interesting about this is that Don Draper is a relic of an older age, where morality was either black or white, good or bad (even though he’s mostly bad). The nuanced self-perception of America in the late 60s is totally foreign to him.
We also get the start of a little offensive between Peggy Olson and her former mentor. Heinz Beans, a long-time SDCP client, is pissed off at the ketchup division of the company (and, hilariously, the executives from both branches are just referred to as “Beans” and “Ketchup” all episode) and the ketchup account is up for grabs. Peggy gets the inside scoop and debates whether to try and swoop in and snipe the account, which would bring her in direct conflict with her former firm.
We also learn a little more about Don’s past in this episode that puts his relationships with women into perspective. Back when he was Dick Whitman, the young man was raised in a whorehouse. Prostitution played a big part in this episode, as Jaguar (the client that Joan slept with in order to get to sign to SDCP) returned with a particularly dumb idea, and Draper’s liason with his neighbor’s wife got a little messier.
But the absolute high point of the episode came in Pete Campbell’s marriage. His long-suffering wife Trudy confronts him about his affair (which, I believe, was his first) and lays the smack down on him with aplomb, telling him that she’s not divorcing him, but he needs to play by her rules now (including getting out of their apartment) or she will “destroy him.” Considering how much he’s leaned on her family to cement his position at SCDP, this is a real threat and I can’t wait to see it play out.
A solid episode, with some new balls put in play for the characters to deal with. I wasn’t that psyched about this season before it started but now I’m firmly back on board. What’d you think?