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Recapping the Mad Men Recaps: Episode 6, "For Immediate Release"

falla.gifEach week PAPER will help you sort through your feelings about Mad Men by rounding up the best and brightest of the MM recaps. Read below so you can compare, contrast, and ponder while drinking your glass of water with a cocktail onion.

The company's thinking about going public, but Don's kept in the dark.

"We learn that SDCP is considering taking the company public -- and here is where I will disclose I am absolutely the wrong person to explain what this exactly means except that Bank-y guy says it will be nine dollars a share (my handy inflation calculator puts this amount into modern monetary means of around $58) and Bert wants twelve. We also learn that Don doesn't know about this yet (hmmm) and that everyone stands to make a million dollars which in 2013 money is a gazillion, basically." -- EW

"So, this whole time, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has harbored a secret cell that has been working to take the company public? And the Mod Squad consist of Bert, Joan and Pete? Don't get me wrong, I get why those three would end up in the same boat: They all have reason to feel excluded, marginalized and unappreciated, but we didn't have the slightest clue that those three were really traveling in the same orbit, let alone hatching complex and important schemes that would majorly affect many characters' futures." -- Huffington Post

"It's a pleasure to see the partners revel in their own potential riches; Joan marvels at the idea of herself with a million dollars (about $6.5 million today) -- as rich as Roger, or Don. The only thing they've yet to do before they take the firm public at $11/share is to tell Don." -- Slate

"The stock offering felt even more sudden, and it was such a bolt from the blue, I almost felt as if I'd missed an entire episode (I mean, when's the last time we even saw Bert and Joan have a real conversation?)." -- Huffington Post

Though we saw glimpses of a good-guy Pete Campbell last week, he's back to being a dirtbag. First he hits on Joan, then he hits up a brothel where, oooops, he runs into Trudy's father, Tom. Trudy's father, in turn, pulls the Vicks account. Pete can't do anything right, ever.

"Pete even has the gall to hit on Joan. (She says no, loud and clear, and then tells him, 'I hope Clara reminded you tomorrow's Mother's Day.' I love how she has become the moral center of the office - or at least the center of restraint and discretion.)" -- EW

"Like a young child without impulse control, Pete indulges his delusions of grandeur, tries to hit on Joan, tries to seduce Trudy, finally finds a whore, and then of course it all goes South. (Pretty much every time Pete tries to satisfy himself on this show, it gets ugly. He's the anti-Don: He can't smoothly secure a sexual conquest without making a gigantic mess in the process.)" -- Salon

"One moment Pete is out at the bordello having a fine time; the next he sees his father-in-law--one of SCDP's biggest clients--and sets in motion the loss of millions of dollars in annual billing. (One important and oft-repeated lesson of this show is that if you have sex with another human being it will ruin everything ever.)" -- Slate

"After all of his bloviating last week over the significance of Martin Luther King's death, all Pete could focus on was how Tom selected a "200-pound Negro" as his choice of company." -- Rolling Stone

"Pete's snottiness reached some kind of giddy peak this episode, but it was hilarious. This character in high dudgeon is comic gold, and his desperation rates at least a silver. I liked the subplot with him and his father-in-law -- another example of personal animosity affecting business, and thus a mirror of the Don-Herb stuff -- and I liked how the script didn't question the fundamental hypocrisy of one man cheating but being so outraged by his son-in-law's cheating that he takes money out of his pocket as punishment. There are no repercussions." -- Vulture

Pete falling down the stairs while he screamed at Don for firing Jaguar was the best.

"[Roger rerturns] to the office just as Campbell learns that Don effectively ended the firm's relationship with Jaguar. Pete sputters, falls down the stairs (I know this is terrible but ha!) and spews vitriol at Don for ruining the IPO, of which Draper is still unaware. It's a scene full of chaos and gaping employees until Joan pushes the men into the conference room to figure out what's what." -- TV Line

"I'd be interested to know if that was originally in the script or if Vincent Kartheiser accidentally fell in the course of rushing down the stairs to confront Don in the scene, and then he just played it off as if it were meant to happen?" -- Uproxx

"Vincent Kartheiser continued his alacrity with physical comedy as he gracefully plummeted down the office stairs before unleashing his wrath." -- Rolling Stone

"I have to steal from critic Alan Sepinwall, who, when he really loves an episode of television, invokes the word 'dayenu.' 'Dayenu, for the gentiles among you,' Sepinwall once wrote, 'is a song sung around the Passover seder table listing all the things we have to be thankful for in the Exodus story: if God had only freed us from slavery, Dayenu (translate, 'it would have been enough'); if God had freed us from slavery and taken us out of Egypt, Dayenu; if he had only taken us out of Egypt and fed us manna, Dayenu; etc' ... If we had just watched Pete fall down the stairs, dayenu for all time." -- Huffington Post

Joan also gets mad at Don for dumping Jaguar because of what she she had to do to win them in the first place.

"What was the point of it all if Don is allowed to claim the moral high ground? 'If I could deal with him, you could deal with him,' she says. She's not wrong, but I'm still glad to see the last of gross Herb. She's also not wrong that Don doesn't really ever think of himself as a 'we.'" -- EW

"But Joan is the most hurt...One minute the reward for an evening of prostitution with Herb is a million 1968 dollars; the next Draper has screwed it up again." -- Slate

"Don fired Jaguar as a client after enduring one indignity too many from the loathsome Herb, and a long-suffering Joan ferociously and gorgeously read Don the riot act in front of half the company." -- Huffington Post

SDCP merges with Peggy's agency, Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough.

"[Don and Ted] realize that the presence of both of their firms -- small agencies with strong creative teams - is a mutually assured destruction of sorts...Chevy will likely take their ideas and use a bigger firm to implement them. (One can assume this is what happened with the Ketchup account they both lost earlier this season). Thus the idea to merge the two agencies is born, and Chevy bites." -- US News

"As fortune would have it Ted Chaough's firm is also pitching Chevy. We learn one of his partners has cancer. In the universe of this television show it suddenly becomes obvious that SCDP and Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough must merge. It's a neat solution to a lot of dramatic constraints that were created by sending Peggy away from Don." -- Slate

"I wholly loved how [Peggy] gave those two men some serious side eye as she exited Ted's office. I'm sure she was wondering how the hell those two massive egos would co-exist at one agency. Sure, it's all joy and celebration and confusion now, but what would the day-to-day workings of the business really be like? Peggy was excited, terrified and resigned all at once. (She instantly knows she'll have to do a whole lot of mediating between those two men.)" -- Huffington Post

"By the end of the episode, the agencies had agreed to merge. The last scene was Peggy typing out a press release announcing the deal. What? Huh? Oh, okay, fine. Awesome." -- Vulture

"The merger of SCDP and CGC could be seen a mile (or at least 40 minutes) away, but at the very least it shakes up what was already becoming a tired season of 'Mad Men.'" -- US News

Roger is in this episode more, thank god.

"This was a great Roger episode that proved that Rat Pack-ish, host-of-every-party attitude could benefit the firm. Everyone's constantly making jokes about Roger's disengagement from the daily life if SCDP, and he is disengaged. At the same time, though, Roger's got skills that nobody else at the firm could dream of having, and he put them to use here...Roger could sell heating oil to Satan." -- Vulture

"Roger decided not to phone it in for once, and he actually closed. Boo-yah!" -- Huffington Post

"Enter Roger, like a silver fox knight." -- US News

"There were so many little ways in which we were reminded that these people actually know what they're doing: Roger didn't actually hit the sauce when he was trying to win over the Chevy guy, and just before they got on the plane, he did what a good accounts man would do in that situation -- he assured Don everything was fine back at SCDP, even when it surely wasn't. And that's on top of the moxie he showed in pumping (ahem) the airline employee for information about potential clients. He even knew to dump the spare copies of "Sterling's Gold" before heading to the airport -- maybe he can get rid of the extras by giving one to every Chevy executive in Detroit." -- Huffington Post

"Who knew Roger even drank water?" -- EW

"The scene of Roger leaving for the airport was just wonderful: the hat, the travel bag, the copies of his book, the way he left the room and then came back in. Charming as hell." -- Vulture

"If we had just seen Roger actually get off his ass and reel in a big potential client like Chevy while romancing a hot stewardess, dayenu." -- Huffington Post

Trudy and Pete are finally done because, unlike Don, Pete insists on bringing everything to the surface.

"Trudy's expression after Pete told her what he saw in the whorehouse was devastating. She acted as if she were more offended by Pete's disclosure than by the act itself, but you could tell that it destroyed her. Nobody likes to picture their father in circumstances like that, and as justifiably furious as Pete was, I wish he hadn't told her." -- Vulture

"Pete would have happily salvaged his marriage, but he blew it up instead." -- Huffington Post

"Trudy and Pete may actually be soul mates; the only difference between them is that Trudy wants to pretend to have the perfect life, whereas Pete can't pretend anything. 'Couldn't we just pretend?' Trudy asked him when his dalliance with their neighbor was revealed in this season's second episode. 'I let you have that apartment! All I wanted was for you to be discreet.' But Pete is anything but discreet; he has no self-control. "Don't you dare criticize my father," Trudy warns him, not wanting to know a thing, but he tells her about catching her dad at a whorehouse anyway. 'He left me no choice,' Pete says. 'You had lots of choices, Peter,' Trudy replies. 'We're done, get your things.'"  -- Salon

"Other men could've chosen differently, of course. Trudy would make the perfect happy-fake wife for Don. But Pete can't be fake (which is a little strange, for an account executive), and his assessments about what's wrong with the world around him are usually accurate. (Last week's 'It's shameful!' was one clue to that.) It remains to be seen whether this flaw/quality will be Pete's undoing, or save him from the much darker fate that awaits the pretenders in his midst. -- Salon

Megan's mom tells Megan to save her marriage by dressing more seductively (like she was wearing a burlap sack around the house prior to this?) and to realize that her success as a soap star must be intimidating to Don. 

"At her mother's urging, Megan plays into Don's hero complex. 'I love you like this,' she says. 'Desperate and scared?' he asks, joking but also revealing his core self. 'Fearless,' she replies, feeding him her fantasy so he can play his part dutifully. She says she wants him to feel just like Superman.  -- Salon

"That was one fabulous dress on Megan. She may have gotten Don worked up that night, but Marie's not wrong about how he probably feels about Megan's status right now: She's ascending the ladder of success a little too quickly for Don's taste. Like just about every other relationship in this episode, Don's marriage is by no means on stable ground." -- Huffington Post

"Megan took her mother's advice and has been igniting Don's libido as the way back into his heart, down playing her own self and success to make him happy, which again feels like a season or two ago (and I can't imagine will last)." -- Collider

Peggy has the hots for her boss.

"Peggy finds Ted on his office floor trying to watch TV. He's clearly spooked by the weight of the knowledge of his partner's illness and the amount riding on this Chevy account. After getting in her face and begging her not to call him nice, he kisses her -- and ugh, I've been sort of waiting for this to happen all season. Peggy doesn't pull away but Ted quickly does and apologizes." -- EW

"I feel like I'm cheating on Stan's beard by saying this, but I'm a fan of Peggy's new crush. Unlike Abe, at least Ted wouldn't try to convince Peggy that her Terrible Apartment is not terrible (raise your hand if every scene set in that flat gave you flashbacks to your worst-ever living situation, one that you always hoped would get better and just never did). I have been hoping that Peggy would take Stan to be her lovah, but Ted and Peggy also make sense together: They're both driven, creative perfectionists who don't have to explain to each other why their work matters to them (Peggy works because she defines who she is through her job; Stan works because his paycheck allows him to buy weed)." -- Huffington Post

"I could easily die laughing at the fact that, in Peggy's sex fantasy, Ted's on her bed reading a book titled 'SOMETHING' by Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Though it's easy to see why that fantasy exists: Abe's a pill, and if Stan ever ended up in Peggy's bed, he'd probably be really stoned, wearing a stained shirt and most likely asleep)." -- Huffington Post

"Peggy goes into a reverie that involves changing undershirt-wearing Abe to a turtleneck-wearing Ted reading the mythical book Something by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Take from this what you will. Or go back and read your copy of Sterling's Gold. She kisses dream Ted passionately. Oh, Peggy." -- EW

Peggy and Abe move into a sketchy apartment on the Upper West Side. Peggy is miserable.

"Now [Don's] back in Peggy's as well, appearing at Ted's office like a David Lynch phantom and trying to make the merger sound like a great opportunity for Peggy while congratulating her on buying a sketchy apartment with Abe on Manhattan's Upper West Side." -- Vulture

"Poor Abe is a sweet man, but he talked Peggy into a living situation that's already making her unhappy, and he's just not enough of a star to be her equal; at various times this seems to have bothered both of them. This new work situation is going to cause all sorts of trouble for her, romantically as well as professionally." -- Vulture

"Peggy arrives home to explain about the poop on the stairs, probably from their junkie tenant upstairs. This leads me to believe that she has bought an entire brownstone and I don't need my inflation calculator to know that this is a very good investment. But for now, Peggy seems a little freaked out about how much more shabby than chic her home is." -- EW

"Peggy and Abe are living out this Desperate Characters/A Meaningful Life-type adventure where they're fixing up a place in a rough neighborhood (hot jazz, shit on the stairwell). Unlike the characters in those novels, Abe seems to understand what he's getting himself into. Peggy's showing signs of stress; fortunately, she can fantasize about Ted, her boss, reading Something by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a perennial spank bank favorite." -- Complex

Was it a good episode?

"Watching "For Immediate Release" is like riding a rickety old wooden roller coaster that thrills you with its seemingly unsafe twists and turns and leaves you feeling sore for a couple of days...The firm was up, it was down, and then it was up again maybe." -- Vulture

But when "Mad Men" decides to truly go for it, in terms of s*** getting real, it's really hard to top, often because it layers so much humor and observational perfection into all the conflicts, confrontations, meetings and incongruous alliances. -- Huffington Post

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