“Show me the MONEY!” – A Recap of Mad Men’s “Blowing Smoke”

LANE:    Don . . . about your . . . article in the Times.  I think we need to discuss some possible strategies for damage control.

DON:   Show me the money!  Show me the money!  SHOW ME THE MON-EYYYYYY!

LANE: *Stage whispers to Roger*  What’s he yammering on about?

ROGER:  Hell, if I know.  I don’t speak “Creative.”

DON:  Help me help you, Roger.  Help me help you.

PETE: *disgusted*  Don, are you DRUNK?

LANE:  I daresay he might be having a nervous breakdown.  Don, can you hear me?

DON:  You had me at hello?

ROGER:  If he goes nuts, I’m turning his office into a  massage parlor.

DON:  Come on guys!  Haven’t any of you ever seen Jerry Macguire?

LANE, PETE, ROGER: ???

They say mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery.  If that is, in fact, true, the folks who made Jerry Macguire must have been VERY flattered, after watching this week’s installment of Mad Men.

YEAH!  DON DRAPER IS THE MAN!  And Peggy Olson is a fellow Scientologist!

After all, if you recall, it was the titular Jerry Macguire who, after having a drunken career-altering epiphany, first wrote and published an “altruistic” manifesto on moral integrity and its relationship (or lack thereof) to marketing.  As a result of said manifesto, Jerry, like Don, found many of his colleagues questioning his sanity, his clients questioning his business acumen, and his competitors dancing on what they believed to be his gravesite.

Bob Sugar = Ted Chaough

Then again, Jerry Macguire was made in 1996, and Don Draper pulled his stunt in 1965.  So, who’s to say WHO is copying WHO?

For the most part, this penultimate episode of Season 4 of Mad Men consisted of two main plotlines.  We spent one half of the episode, watching SCDP fall apart, while Don went to increasingly desperate lengths to save it. 

And we spent the other half watching Matt Weiner’s spawn Glen  . . .

“Hi, I’m Chucky Glenny, WANNA PLAY?”

 . . . the creepiest kid on television today, channel all the creepy kids you’ve seen in horror movies for the past decade.  And this boy is FRIGHTENING with a capital “F.”  Forget that girl from The Ring.  How’d you like to have THIS KID crawl out of your television set?

“If I keep smiling like this, maybe he won’t chop me into little pieces and serve me to his dog . . .”

Oh, and we had some nice Neighborly Heroin Addicts thrown in for good measure . . .

No . . . not that kind of heroine . . .

That’s the one!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Smells Like Desperation . . .

“That’s not DESPERATION you smell.  I just tend not to shower after sex with random floozies . . .”

When the episode opens, Don is at the pitch meeting with Heinz . . .

 . . . which Faye scored for him the week prior.  Although Don handles the meeting with his trademark wit and charm, there is something a bit off about Don himself.  He’s talking a bit too loud, and too fast.  He’s jumpy, skittish, aggressive, and almost rudely insistent.  This alteration in demeanor is not lost on the client (who, by the way, gets major props from me for not even cracking a smile, while delivering his line about why commercials about BEANS shouldn’t be funny . . .).

“I bet I could get a f*ck from date with your mother now,” scoffs the arrogant bastard, noting Don’s desperation to get this account — which couldn’t have been any more apparent, if he came to the meeting wearing a red clown nose.

“Why are you looking at me like that?  Is there something on my face?”

After condescendingly telling Don to leave business relations to the “accounts men,” the prospective client tells Don that he will gladly meet with SCDP for a formal pitch in six months (IF the company is still around by then).  Sugar-coating aside, Don knows exactly what “See you in six months” is code for . . .

Dances with Creeps

“Do you like scary movies, Sally?  Are you even allowed to WATCH scary movies?  Because you are in one . . .RIGHT NOW.”

Back at the House-Formerly-Known-As-The-Drapers, Sally tries out her best Stepford Wife impression on Betty.

“When I grow up I want to have no earthly purpose but to please my husband . . . just like you!”

When Sally asked Betty if she could start eating her meals with Dull Henry, I honestly couldn’t tell if the tween had mastered the art of passive aggressiveness . . .

 . . . and was making a not-so-subtle comment about New Dad’s frequent absences from the family home, or if she had been lobotomized by Dr. Edna during therapy.

“It’s just a little snip.  I promise, you will barely feel a thing!”

Whichever it is, Betty is absolutely overjoyed by the “positive” change in her daughter’s behavior.

I am absolutely overjoyed by the positive change in my daughter’s behavior.”

But alas, all is not right in Sallyland.  Unbeknownst to Mommy Dearest, her darling daughter has forged an EVIL ALLIANCE .  . .

 .  . . with CREEPY GLEN!

First thing I wondered when I saw this image: Who the heck let this twerp on the football team?  Glen always struck me as more of the “mascot” type, or the Water Boy, or the kid who pees in the Gatorade. 

 And while, under normal circumstances, I hate to rank on a little kid, this little kid is plying Sally with cigarettes and spiked with Ruffies Coke.  He is also isolating the preteen from external influence, by telling the emotionally vulnerable girl he is smarter than her shrink.  As if that isn’t bad enough, he uses on her the “Everybody else hates me.  I have no one but you,” line, which just so happens to be the first sentence in the Psycho Stalker Killer Handbook.

From Psycho-Stalker to Psycho-logist

Fortunately, Sally has a more positive role model in her shrink Dr. Edna . . .

 . . . who kind of looks like Miss Garrett from The Facts of Life.

No wonder she’s so gosh darn likeable!

Miss Garrett Dr. Edna plays cards with Sally, and compliments her on her positive progress in learning to kiss her mom’s ass control her emotions.  She takes an interest in Sally’s schooling and social life, and wants to lessen her sessions so that she will have more time to spend with Creepy Glen her friends.  Most importantly, Dr. Edna tells Sally that she is proud of her, not once, but TWICE in a single session.

It is worth noting that this is more times than BETTY and DON have told Sally they are proud of her in FOUR SEASONS!

After Sally finishes her session, Betty enters Dr. Edna’s office to talk about herself ad nauseum and get free therapy discuss Sally’s progress.

When Dr. Edna discusses the possibility of reducing Sally’s sessions, Betty FREAKS OUT at the thought of not getting free therapy anymore halting Sally’s “excellent progress.”  Dr. Edna slyly reiterates that she is a child psychologist, and does not generally counsel adults.  Betty responds by sucking her thumb and wetting her diaper.  Dr. Edna agrees to resume therapy sessions with Betty to continue to discuss “Sally’s excellent progress.”

A Certain Kind of Girl . . .

“You’re a certain kind of girl, and tobacco is your ideal boyfriend,” says Faye’s despicable boss Dr. Atherton, about SCDP.

Translation: You (SCDP) are the nerd in the back of the classroom, with fish breath, parsley in your teeth, and elastic waist pants that go up to your tits.  Basically, no one in their right mind would want to have sex with you.  So, if you want to get laid,  you really should go for the dumb slutty boy, with loose morals, who smells like ash (Tobacco).

With Faye’s and Dr. Atherton’s help the firm gets an intervview with Phillip Morris for a new line of women’s cigarettes they plan to begin selling.  After thanking Faye profusely for getting him a date with the Class Whore, Don heads to the lobby where he encounters Old Flame, Midge.  Right away, I don’t trust Midge’s motivations.  Perhaps, this distrust has something to do with the fact that she’s a grown woman, dressed like an animated character from a series of children’s books I used to read .  . .

After confirming that Don is divorced and living in the village, Midge invites Don back to her place.  When he initially declines, she begs him to reconsider, giving off the same stench of desperation Don gave off in the episode’s first scene.  “But, I want you to meet my husband!”  She jabbers.

Ultimately, Don can’t resist Midge’s no longer existent charms.  After all, he is a certain kind of guy, and Midge is his ideal girlfriend (a.k.a. unrelentingly needy and majorly slutty).  When Don arrives at Midge’s and her “husband’s” (they are only married “for the bread”) hovel and apartment, he finds his ex-paramour’s “better half” to be even more persistent and grating than she is . . .

Mr. Midge aggressively pushes his and his wife’s ugly paintings on Don, not-so-subtly hints at Don’s massive dick wallet size, pawns some quick cash of Don, and heads out into the night.  Later, Midge admits that her meeting him in the lobby of his office was no coincidence.  She and her husband are heroine addicts.  They are low and cash, and need a fix.

Don, who only sympathizes with life-crippling addictions when they come out of a bottle, is totally turned off.

In fact, he is very eager to get back to his non-heroin addicted girlfriend, thank you very much.  And so, to solve this problem, Don decides to do what he does best.  Throw money at it.  He writes Midge a check for $300 for one of her ugly paintings.  But Little Miss Ingrate is apparently too strung out to walk across the street to a bank, so she asks for cash instead.  Don promptly rips up the check, and reduces the amount to $120.

“Do you think my work is any good?”  Midge asks.

“Does it matter,” inquires Don, as he stalks out of the stinky apartment.

“I went to a crack den for $120, and all I got was this lousy painting.”

“If you don’t like what they are saying about you, change the conversation.”

As it turns out, the Phillip Morris meeting ends up being nothing more than a ploy orchestrated by the company to score a meeting with a bigger advertising agency.

Now the executives at SCDP are forced to make some tough decisions.  In order to keep the firm afloat for another six months, they must reduce their staff by half.  Additionally, the main partners must each fork over $100, 000, with Pete and Lane forking over $50,000.  (No small potatos!  Especially not in 1965.)  The increasingly loveable Pete balks at the amount, and not because he’s being a cheap prick either, he REALLY DOESN’T HAVE IT.

On the sly, Pete attempts to secure a loan from the bank, but doesn’t think to leave them with his work number.  So, when the Poor Schmo comes home his Brand New Mother of a Newborn wife thinks they are getting a house, and she’s thrilled.

But Trudy’s mood quickly sours when she learns what Pete is REALLY using the money for.  She equates SCDP to the Titanic (and not because it’s VERY large, and has people of Leo DiCaprio-caliber attractiveness working for it, either).

“I’m the king of the WORLD!  Wait . . . what’s that big block of ice doing up there?  Is that part of the tour?”

Throwing back in Pete’s face that very same patronizing and condescending tone he has used with her on so many occasions, Trudy scolds, “You are forbidden to give any more money to that company!  And don’t think of asking my father for money, either!”

Pete’s manhood . . .

Back at the office, the tables have turned as well.  Don is asking Peggy for advice on what do to with his failing company.

Peggy smartly quotes Don’s own words back to him saying, “If you don’t like what they are saying about you, change the conversation.”

This little pep talk gives Don and . . .

He goes home to his apartment and immediately begins to write.  The next day, there is a full page article in the New York Times entitled “Why I am Quitting Tobacco.”  The article decries tobacco as a product that doesn’t NEED advertising, because all its clients are already addicts.  Oh, yeah, and smoking kills you too.  (Never mind that Don is SMOKING A CIGARETTE while he writes this . . . )

“OK, cigarette.  You and I are SO OVER!  But how would you feel about a nice goodbye screw?”

Don concludes the missive by announcing that SCDP will no longer take tobacco clients.  He then proceeds to list all the other agencies that WILL.

The article, understandably causes a firestorm, with most of the office looking at Don like he just killed their puppies (except, of course, for the ones that want to f*ck him).

Oh, and Roger’s not mad either.  He’s just happy there’s someone at the firm now that people think is a bigger screw up then him.

“You know, Don.  You should really try to be more politically correct, when making public statements.”

While Don is arguing with his colleagues about the merits of his “conversation changing” article, which he tauts as a “firm advertisement,” he receives a phone call from . . . Bobby Kennedy?

OK . . . now I was still a couple decades shy of being born when the Kennedy’s were in office, and I could tell that wasn’t Bobby Kennedy on the phone!  That was the WORST IMPERSONATION of a politician I have EVER HEARD!  And yet, Don, never a big one on humility fell for it hook line and sinker.  The call ended up being a prank one, made by Season 4’s apparent Super Villain, the EVIL Ted Chaough . . .

Once Don hangs up the phone, Bert Cooper throws a TOTAL TEMPER TANTRUM, calling Don impatient, childish, and not cut out for the partnership.  He then QUITS THE FIRM!

And, just in case you weren’t sure whether Old Bertie was SERIOUS about this, he asks Megan FOR HIS SHOES!

OK.  Now, I know he never has many lines, but I really can’t imagine this show without Bert Cooper and his shoes!  Then again, I couldn’t imagine this show without SAL either, and look what they did to him!

Bert Cooper, you will most certainly be missed!

To add injury to insult, Lane lays a pretty heavy guilt trip on Don, telling him that he moved his entire family back to the States, so that he could continue working at the firm (undoubtedly dumping his Poor Playboy Bunny girlfriend in the process).

“LOVE HURTS!”

Fortunately, for Don, SOME support comes his way, in the way of Megan . . .

 . . . who, channeling Rene Zellwegger in Jerry Macguire tells Don how much she would like to have a second go around with his Mr. Winky admires what he did.  Sure, she understands that this was all about not looking as though SCDP was “dumped” by Big Tobacco, but it was still brave, and sparked a conversation.  Megan . . . now THAT’S a girl who really knows how to grease a wheel . . .

Though not quite as effusive as Megan, Peggy .  . .

 . . . offers Don a sweet smile, and jokingly says that “she thought he didn’t go for such shenanigans.”  (Then again . . . she was probably just happy she wasn’t part of the half of the staff that got canned.)

Later, the third lady in Don’s life, Faye comes to tell him that her company has resigned its representation of SCDP, because tobacco is her “ideal kind of boyfriend.”  Speaking of ideal boyfriends, she still wants to bone Don on a regular basis.  And without work between them, it will be much easier to do so.

“Or will it?”

Caught in the Act

Back in the less interesting plotline Salllyland, Sally was trying to sneak off with Creepy Glen when Betty caught her and told her he was BAD NEWS.

“Is this just because I watched you take a whiz and asked for a lock of your hair to use in a human sacrifice ritual?”

At dinner that night, Betty announces to Henry that she is FINALLY ready to move out of Don’s old house.  Henry is overjoyed!

“I am overjoyed!”

But Sally is NOT.  In fact, she runs off crying, clutching that piece of twine Glen gave her when he vandalized her house a few weeks back.  Ladies and gentleman, it’s official.  Sally has VERY BAD TASTE IN MEN!

“I’ve Gotta Go Learn a Bunch of People’s Names Before I Fire Them.”

Apparently, this guy’s name was “Bill.” 

Was that in poor taste?

At YET ANOTHER staff meeting, the SCDP exec board (sans Cooper) learn that Don’s little stunt earned them the right to do a pro bono anti-smoking campaign for the American Cancer Society.  “Don saved the company, now let’s go and fire half of it,” Pete says snidely, as the meeting adjourns.

However, a few moments later, when Pete finds out from Lane that Don forked over Pete’s $50,000 share to the company, so Pete’s wife wouldn’t chop his balls off, he is forced to eat those nasty words.

Outside the office, Pete raises his glass to Don in silent acknowledgement that they have now both covered one anothers’ asses within the past few episodes . . .

This mildly happy moment is contrasted with the firing of half of SCDP’s staff, most notably the heretofore anonymous, “Bill,” and Little Danny . . .

We barely knew ye!

All in all, it was a pretty doleful episode.  Smart . . . but doleful.  I really hate seeing my Maddies so unhappy.  Here’s hoping things perk up a bit in next week’s Season Finale!  🙂

[www.juliekushner.com]

2 Comments

Filed under Mad Men

2 responses to ““Show me the MONEY!” – A Recap of Mad Men’s “Blowing Smoke”

  1. Alchera

    Awesome! As usual. Haha love your Jerry Maguire dialogue. The whole time I was reading, I was picturing Don shouting “show me the money!”, lol.

    What an episode. But yes it was doleful. I was at the edge of my seat throughout the ep and even paused the video as soon as I found out that the Bobby Kennedy was a prank! I was so embarassed on behalf on Don, can you believe that lol! Well, I can’t believe myself 🙂

    But that letter was the real deal. Loved it.

    Btw, I think apart from Peggy’s line, Midge’s painting (ironically) played a big role in Don’s inspiration. I think that was an important scene. You put that scene where Don’s staring into the painting but didn’t really write about it, that’s why I wonder if you think Midge’s painting is just “bad” ?

    • Hey Alchera! You never fail to give me food for thought. I think Midge’s painting might have meant a number of things for Don. If you recall, Don’s words when Midge asked him if he thought her artwork was any good, were “Does it matter?”

      On the surface, the comment was caustic. Don is disgusted by Midge, and wants her to know, in that special biting way he has, that she has become a frivolous and pathetic woman. She is a woman who has manipulated him, a former lover, into buying an ugly painting, just so she can “shoot it up her arm.”

      The comment also could have been more analytical, and directed at Midge, herself. Because, even though she ASKED about whether Don thought she was talented, she obviously no longer cared about her talent, or her art, for that matter. She only cared about where she would get her next fix. Don too is an artist, and he sees Midge as a cautionary tale for him. This is what could happen to Don, if he lets his demons and his drinking get in the way of producing good work.

      Another way of interpreting those words, is that they are a reiteration of what Peggy said to him in the office. What is on the canvas, for all intents and purposes, DOESN’T matter. What matters is what people THINK is on the canvas. And Don, is a master at hiding the truth, by altering people’s perception of it. “If you don’t like what they are talking about, change the story.” Don took an “ugly” situation, and made it “look” like a strong and purposeful choice on the part of the firm.

      But, yes, the first time I watched the scene, I just thought the painting was ugly. 🙂

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