Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Mad Men Season 6, Ep. 11 - “Favors”.
Last season Sally learned the hard way that the city is a dirty place, but like every other character on Mad Men she is destined to keep coming back and learning that lesson over and over again in the most painful ways possible.
Sally’s discovery of her father’s dirtiest vice was made all the more hurtful by the fact that for the rest of the episode Don was being genuinely kind. Ok, well maybe not genuine, but certainly more kind than he’s ever been before. Of course Don’s first reaction to Mitchell’s plight was to leave it alone, he’d gotten himself into the situation and it wasn’t up to them to get him out of it. Besides, “he can’t spend the rest of his life on the run.” But why, Don? It’s worked out so well for you.
But eventually Don realized that saving her son might bring Sylvia, his latest favorite maternal whore back around to do some mothering and whoring for him, so Don set out to do a good deed. Trouble was, Don is quite unaccustomed to good deeds and therefore kind sucks at it. However he is good at alienating car companies over dinner and in that regard he succeeded wildly. Luckily Ted was able to salvage the dinner so Chevy won’t be going the way of Jaguar just yet.
Ted assumed that the awkward draft dodging banter was about him and Don’s rivalry. To Don’s credit, for all his many deficiencies, being vindictive is hardly one of them. It’s just often that his indifference and selfishness looks like deliberate acts of malice to those who actively want his approval and acceptance. In fact, if Don didn’t need Ted for something I’m sure his response to Ted’s “lower your weapons” missive would have been the same as when Ginsberg told Don he felt sorry for him: “I don’t think about you at all.”
But Don did need Ted, so in exchange for a ceasefire Ted agreed to contact his friend at the Air National Guard to enroll Mitchell and therefore defer his draft. And thus there was peace at SC&P and all the executives were free to succeed and prosper with abandon… for now.
And Don was free to reap the benefits of all that laborious effort to do good. He rang up the Rosen residence under the pretense of reaching Dr. Rosen, but I assume he knew Sylvia would answer. He told her the good (still unconfirmed) news and then instead of saying “thank you” and hanging up, they got into a discussion about where their affair went wrong. Sylvia took the blame, claiming she was just “frustrated” with Don when she ended it and that “You were good to me, better than I was to you.” Hmm, I must have missed that part. Either way, Don, once again, got exactly what he wanted.
But this time it came at an even higher price; ruining the already tenuous relationship with his daughter.
Don in a panic is rare occurrence, but Sally’s coital interference had him scrambling like never before. Is he merely afraid she’ll rat him out to Megan? Betty? Is he just embarrassed to have his weakness exposed to someone he worked hard to appear strong to? His attempt to explain himself to Sally further illustrated how little he still thinks of her, assuming that he could get away with “I was comforting Mrs. Rosen” and “It’s very complicated” like she’s still five years old.
Every time Sally comes into the city a little more of her innocence is lost. Yet, like every adolescent before her, she keeps actively trying to cross from childhood to adulthood no matter how much she dislikes what she finds on the other side.
While Sally got to literally see her father having sex with the neighbor, Pete only got the privilege of having to picture his mother having parts of her awakened by her handsome new Spanish (from Spain) nurse.
After a confused chat between Peggy and Mrs. Campbell, Peggy let it slip that Pete’s mother, at least thinks, she’s having an affair with the male nurse Bob Benson suggested. Pete confronted his mother and she refused to deny it or admit that it was only in her head. She also managed to work in how much she’s always disliked her son. So that was sweet.
Pete called Bob into his office to inquire about the types of nurses Bob recommends and also answered the question plaguing Mad Men fans all season. The mystery of Bob Benson has been solved! He’s not some secret spy or bastard son; he’s just a really nice gay guy who happens to be in love with Pete (See, Mrs. Campbell, not so unlovable after all). Of course Pete was having none of that and quickly rebuffed him in the most Pete-like way (i.e. horribly). Bob, the consummate professional quickly threw his peppy business persona back up and when on with his day.
But something tells me that when Pete got home to his lonely, Raisin Bran-less apartment that night, the idea of someone taking absolute care of him didn’t sound so bad.
Other Random Musings:
While Pete might not return Bob’s feelings, the chemistry was flying between him and Peggy. In fact it was more chemistry than they had when they were having their affair. For as horrible as all that worked out, it was nice to see there are no real hard feelings anymore.
Peggy’s face when Mrs. Campbell mentioned the child she had with Pete was perfection. Of course Pete’s mom just thought Peggy was Trudy, but that one moment of uncertainty and panic was priceless. Someone get Elizabeth Moss an Emmy already!
For all the Sharon Tate conspiracy theorists out there, add another clue to your list of evidence. When Sally and her friend Julia are debating what musician Mitchell looks like they settle on Mark Lindsey, the previous owner of the house Sharon Tate and her friends would later be brutally murdered in. I’m still not convinced that it necessarily spells doom for Megan, but I admit Weiner and company are having a lot of fun dropping these hints.
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