What an episode! Last night’s Mad Men on AMC had compelling storylines and complex character development coming at us from every angle, and I loved it. Of course the thing everyone’s talking about this morning is the fact that Bob Benson’s identity has finally been explained. Well, sort of. He’s still a bit of a mystery, but he’s a less mysterious mystery, so thanks for that, Mad Men!
This episode was brimming with conflicts and disagreements, and leave it to Mad Men to make the sympathy rankings hard to line up. Line up they must, though, so let’s work together to figure this out, shall we? Check out last week’s rankings to compare.
8. Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) (Last week: 6)
I kind of felt bad for Pete when he realized he’d been conned by both Don Draper and Bob Benson, and there was nothing he could do about it, since there was nothing he could do to get rid of Don. That’s gotta be frustrating. But he’s still Pete. I watched in incredulity as he displayed zero compassion for poor Ken Cosgrove and his eye patch (more on that later) and then slimily offered to take over dealing with the Chevy clients because his daughter “wouldn’t know the difference” if he’s not there. Add to that his continued awful behavior towards his mother and the fact that he called Duck Phillips to help him get rid of Bob Benson (before he knew his secret), and I just am not on Pete’s side.
7. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) (Last week: 8)
Don started the episode continuing his downward spiral after last week’s horrifying events involving Sally. He wakes up on her bed and stays home at Megan’s suggestion so he can nurse his hangover with spiked orange juice and TV. Happy Father’s Day! When Don finds Megan’s soap on TV and wastes no time turning it off in disinterest, he lost my sympathy for the episode. Watch your wife wear a ridiculous wig and do a ridiculous accent on that ridiculous show, Don! Watch it, damn you! I must admit I had a hard time deciding whose side I was on in his battle with Ted over the St. Joseph’s commercial. On the one hand, I agree with Don in terms of business. Ted shouldn’t have gone over budget without telling the client, especially after they had just agreed to communicate better. But the way he went about it, giving Ted and Peggy a scare and costing Peggy the CLIO by saying it was the late Frank Gleason’s idea, wasn’t so favorable. That “wah wah wah” moment when they recreated the Rosemary’s Baby commercial concept was pretty fantastic, though. Rays of goofy Jon Hamm were shining through there.
6. Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) (Last week: 2)
Maybe Don’s little stunt in the St. Joseph’s meeting will be a wake-up call to Ted that he and Peggy need to stop whatever it is they’re doing (I’m still not sure if it’s a full-on affair or just a series of inside jokes and movie dates) and not let their attraction to each other affect the way they do business. Still, I can’t help but like Ted and hold out hope that he’ll be a stand-up guy. He’s certainly not the loose cannon that Don is, so that’s a plus.
5. Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) (Last week: 5)
Don cost Peggy her CLIO award by giving a dead man credit for her idea, and that was not cool, especially since she and Don supposedly have a relationship based on respect and admiration. Still, as with Ted, I hope this is an opportunity for Peggy to come to her senses and realize that she can’t continue her flirtytimes with her married boss. Go home to your cat, Peggy.
4. Bob Benson (James Wolk) (Last week: not ranked)
We’ve been worried about a few characters on this show becoming similar to Don Draper, whether it’s Peggy or Ted or even Sally if she’s too influenced by him. But it turns out there was a second Don Draper right there under our noses this whole time. The alliterative name alone should have been enough to give it away. Duck reveals to Pete that Bob has been lying about his history and actually hails from West Virginia, where his parents were “brother and sister or something.” His resume is short; he worked as an assistant to a senior VP and just disappeared one day. His name might not even be Bob Benson and he might not even be 28 years old. Sound familiar? It does to Pete, who seasons ago tried to get Don fired for a similar identity scam. Even though I know Bob has lied and lucked his way into the job, is it okay that I kind of like him? He’s ambitious, and he’s willing to work for the other characters’ respect. We still don’t know all the details of his personal life, besides the fact that he seems to be in a relationship with caretaker Manolo, so I could end up hating him, but for now he’s cool in my book. He’s not a spy or an alien, as far as we know. Just gay Don Draper.
3. Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) (Last week: 4)
Megan didn’t have much to do this week besides besides continuing her attempts to get through to her very distant and douchey husband. I felt most of my sympathy for her when Don turned her show off, even though she didn’t even see it happen. Because really, Don?! Support your wife for more than five seconds!
2. Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) (Last week: 1)
Let’s start a campaign to save Sally from turning into Betty, shall we? On a trip to interview at boarding school, Sally has to face mean girls, unwanted advances, and peer pressure. We see the return of creepy Glen as he fights his friend in Sally’s defense, and the smirk she gets on her face as she watches the skirmish has Betty Draper written all over it. The image of Sally and Betty with matching cigarettes was haunting. But what really got to me was when Betty said Don’s probably given her a beer and Sally said, “My father’s never given me anything.” Ugh, this poor girl.
1. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) (Last week: Not ranked)
Poor Ken Cosgrove! How could I not give him the number one spot this week? First he hurt his leg on a joy ride with the Chevy guys, and then he gets shot in a Dick Cheney-style hunting accident. The pop culture world cried “OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED KENNY!” But they just gave him an eye patch to continue his transition into a pirate. And he’s got a baby on the way? Feel better, Kenny, you’ve always been my favorite man on this show.
What will happen in next week’s season finale? Will Ken’s eyepatch switch sides? Will Don watch more than five seconds of Megan’s show? Too bad the preview for next week was just an overly dramatic montage of SCENES WE’VE ALREADY SEEN! Come on, Mad Men!