Mad Men: Meditations in an Emergency   Rewatch 
August 27, 2014 5:09 AM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

(Season Finale.) Sterling Cooper is in play and the office scrambles without Don. Betty learns some disconcerting news.
posted by Sweetie Darling (14 comments total)
Peggy's drop of the "I could've had you" and Don's "I don't have a contract" are two of the signature moments of this series for me.
posted by nubs at 9:45 AM on August 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I think "I don't have a contract" is the biggest and best mic drop moment in the show so far. Duck's face afterward--PRICELESS. He just knew he had all bases covered, only to see it all slip through his fingers.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:19 AM on August 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's actually fascinating to see Duck go from his smarmy, smug, superior attitude to his petulant self. He's a potential future of Pete Campbell.

And I love Bert. He takes it all in, considers, and then turns to Don - "What do you think?" And I have to believe that Bert is smart and savvy enough to know that Don is going to turn the moment on its head and get Duck out before he even began.
posted by nubs at 10:37 AM on August 28, 2014

And then Duck's just gone in Season 3. It took me a while to figure that out the first time I watched it because Weiner doesn't like to offer much exposition and sometimes I am not that bright on my own.

"He never could handle his liquor."

I'm glad for the way things play out between Father Gil and Peggy. He wants her to confess to him so badly, but I always felt that by this point it was motivated by his frustration that she wouldn't more than by concern for her mortal soul. But it's clear that she found her peace when she confessed to Pete.

I love that scene so much, especially when it's called back in Season 6. (I can't find it on video, but here's some Tumblr gifs).
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:02 PM on August 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Those two are the most physically altered over time (of the adults). They are also the youngest employees so it makes sense they would change more.

I did love Duck's tantrum and the instant he realised he'd blown it completely. I want to feel sorry for him, but I just can't. If he hadn't thrown Chauncey out in a moment of petulance, maybe he'd be more sympathetic. Everyone is against him, he's completely alone, and now he's lost what would have been the climatic moment of his career in much the same way he's lost everything else up to that point. Instants of anger and frustration. Don in comparison is cool, everything just runs right off him. He's spent his life finding easy escapes, and it's worked in that "I don't have a contract" moment. Poor Duck.
posted by tracicle at 12:10 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Instants of anger and frustration. Don in comparison is cool, everything just runs right off him.

Watching it again, I realized that it's a pitch meeting. The product is SC - it's already been purchased, but it's the two competing philosophies in the room that are being pitched: Duck - when the economy is good, people buy things - it doesn't matter what they are or how we sell them "no reason to be tied to creative's fantasies of persuasion";
Don - you need to make people want and perceive a need for the item - "I sell products, not advertising" that are being pitched.

Don essentially pitches himself here as the product. If they want to sell products, they need to buy Don for the price of Duck. If they just want to buy advertising space and sell it to whoever wants to buy, they buy Duck for the price of Don.

And Don, as he does in other pitch meetings if the customer doesn't like the idea, is prepared to walk away.
posted by nubs at 9:51 AM on August 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm on painkillers for a tooth, but I'm going to attempt to make a comment anyway. If I veer off in a ridiculous way, like comparing Sterling Cooper to the House of Hohenstaufen, or something stupid like that, you'll know why.

This is a great episode.

If there was no missile crisis in this episode I would have thought all the characters had gone insane (or the writers). Everyone is telling the truth. It's the anti-Hobo Code episode. Peggy comes clean with Pete and herself. Pete tells Peggy he loves her and comes down on Don's side. Don admits to Betty his lack of respect and his infidelity. Betty is openly telling people she's considering having an abortion. Betty! The woman who is always so concerned about what people think. Madness!

Pete preferring to hear from Don "Good work" than having Duck tell him that he will be made head of accounts and then informing Don what he knows. What a change. "One never knows how loyalty is born."

Still think Duck is incompetent, it's not just the alcoholism. Hey Duck, Don's a different breed of cat, better make sure he actually has a contract. It's a multimillion dollar deal. You had better lock down the details, don't ya think?

And finally, good ol' Francine: "I wish we had a shelter so I could slam the door in her face."

Said nothing too foolish. I think. Alright.
posted by cwest at 10:03 PM on August 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of hand-wringing about the impact of the character of Don Draper in popular culture as a result of Mad Men. Weiner himself has has said Don shouldn't be a role model.

But I don't think it's the womanizing and alcoholism that draw people to Don. I think it's moments like "I don't have a contract."
posted by dry white toast at 11:04 PM on August 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think it's moments like "I don't have a contract."

For sure. It's his cool charisma and his talent that makes him aspirational.

I never noticed before that Peggy's office door is pink while Don's is blue. I think some of the others are green and brown, but if you have a lady in an office, she's got to have a pink door, naturally.

Betty has some awesome moments in this episode. She walks out of her abortion-shaming doctor's office without waiting for the exam and goes riding. She demands that Don admit to cheating on her and them tells him that they haven't missed him at home. She drops her kids off at Don's hotel, tells him that she has other plans, and then has "To not thinking about things" sex. Not bad for a 60s housewife.
posted by donajo at 5:53 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Duck really doesn't understand the kind of firm SC is. Their entire self-identity is wrapped up in this boutique New York personal service idea pitch, and his philosophy is "people buy things when they are happy. " He really doesn't get the creative side.

It's this the first episode in which we see Betty eating like that? I'm a big proponent of the "Betty feels out of control, so controls the only thing she can" interpretation.

Great season ender.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:28 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Duck) really doesn't get the creative side.

And it's interesting to me - since I just finally got completely caught up with Mad Men last night - how similar Cutler's character is to Duck's. He doesn't get the creative side, he wants to do pinpoint ad buys - it's about research and data, not the creative stuff. Cutler is just more in control of everything; he doesn't have Duck's addictions and temper.

I'm starting to think that the pitch in "The Carousel" is the key to this series; "around and around and back home again", because while everything is changing, it seems the characters keep circling back around the same problems and similar issues - sometimes with different results, sometimes not.
posted by nubs at 10:49 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Cutler is just more in control of everything; he doesn't have Duck's addictions and temper.

He does have his own, though. "Vitamin shots" and voyeuristic peeping ...
posted by tilde at 5:39 PM on September 7, 2014

I love this episode so much because of the scene between Pete and Peggy. Is there ever another episode in which we see Pete cry?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:27 PM on May 14, 2015

If there was no missile crisis in this episode I would have thought all the characters had gone insane (or the writers). Everyone is telling the truth. It's the anti-Hobo Code episode.

My guess is that all the "now or never" acts we see in this episode would have been quite typical of reality in the run-up to the missile crisis: the sudden interest in confessions - both religious and otherwise, the background of panicked rumours, the devi-may-care one night stands. The genius was to time the season finale with these historic events: the whole world thought it was in a fucking season finale.
posted by rongorongo at 11:42 PM on August 24, 2019

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