While Mad Men was busy sweeping the Emmy Awards last night, I was busy watching… Mad Men. Yes, the show continues to move like artful molasses, but no worries! I like where this is going.
It all begins with the British invasion. The folks at Sterling Cooper are told three fellas from PPL (Saint-John Powell, Harold Ford and Guy Mackendrick) will be in town for a two-day visit/observation that involves presentations from everyone. This is extra annoying on account of it falling right before the 4th of July holiday and Joan Harris’s (née: Holloway) last day. Those inconsiderate Brits!
Everyone’s growing concerned about the visit, particularly Pete Campbell, who has to watch as Ken Cosgrove rides around the office on a lawnmower. Cosgrove recently pulled in ANOTHER account: John Deere.
Meanwhile, Bertram Cooper tells Don Draper he thinks the Brits have been eyeing him - his “particular American genius” - which could mean a role in London. Don seems intrigued (hey! Another opportunity to obscure his true identity), and when he runs it by Betty later back at home, she, too, is excited. It seems everyone is eager for a change.
Also back at home: Sally is unhappy with the presence of Baby Gene. She’s unwilling to enter any room he’s in or even approach him, and is having trouble sleeping. Betty attempts to quell the situation by giving Sally a new Barbie doll “from” Baby Gene - something which is so completely creepy and out of touch, it doesn’t fool Sally for one second. At least Betty’s trying though, right?
Joan is prepping to leave Sterling Cooper to pursue her new life as a doctor’s wife. One definitely gets the sense that she’s more than a little freaked out. She is, after all, an authority at Sterling Cooper, and we’ve def caught glimpses of Doctor Greg’s career being less promising than we had first imagined (remember the botched surgery?). These thoughts are only further fueled when Joan falls asleep on the couch waiting for Doctor Greg, only to wake to him coming home totally drunk after a day drowning his sorrows at the bar. It seems that not only did he not get the Chief Resident position, but he was told he’d never be a surgeon, at least not in New York. Joan is extremely understanding and gentle with him, even when he coldly announces she’ll have to go back to work. What to do?!?! Tomorrow is her last day!
It’s also the day the Brits have their big reorganization meeting. Under the new reign, young Cambridge/London School of Economics whipper-snapper Guy McKendrick is put in charge of the office with Don and Cooper, while Roger Sterling is accidentally left off the org chart. Oops! Do we smell a smidge of foreshadowing? It also seems Don won’t be going to London after all and - huh? - they want to send Lane Pryce to work his magic at the India office.
The higher-ups leave the meeting a bit confused by the new reign, but join in an office-wide champagne toast to Joan. Surprise! It’s a going-away party for Joan! The girls wheel out a cake and Joan bursts into tears - pretty out of character for her. She’s clearly crying not out of reverence to her memories at Sterling Cooper, but for her dim future.
Also out of character: Peggy Olson gets all sentimental on Joan, telling her she listened to her, that she appreciated her but, well, “it’s just we can’t all be you.” Kinda echoes Peggy’s chat with Don last week, no? I never saw any comparison between Don and Joan until now, but it seems pretty clear - always put together, always the authority, always something to hide. Ah, yes. Joan tells Peggy she takes some credit for her success. Good exchange.
While everyone’s toasting to Joan and letting loose, Don gets a mysterious call from Conrad Hilton asking for a meeting. Don leaves the going away party to meet with the hotel tycoon, who turns out to be the gentleman he met at Roger Sterling’s Kentucky Derby party a few weeks back. It seems “Connie” wants Don’s opinion on his next ad campaign. Don gives him a taste of an opinion, but tells him he’d rather take him on as a client instead. The meeting is cut short by a frantic call from back at the office.
Because back at the party - GET THIS! - goofball secretary Lois rides the John Deere truck right over wonderboy Guy McKendrick’s foot, splashing everyone with blood. Peggy faints at the sight, falling into Pete’s arms (OoooOOooh!), and Joan rushes into to Guy’s side and making a tourniquet (she’d make a great doctor!). Guy is rushed to the hospital!
Don meets Joan at the hospital and they have a sweet exchange. “One minute you’re on top of the world, the next some secretary’s running you over with a lawn mower,” Joan says, and she and Don start laughing. See? They are similar! Her dreams of the good life crushed, while his hopes for a new start in London stilted. They say a sweet goodbye.
But it’s poor Guy McKendrick who has it worst off. He’s going to lose his foot and, with that, his role at Sterling Cooper. He can’t even play golf; he’s totally useless. Pryce has been reinstated as head of the company.
At the end of the ep, Don comes home to find Sally’s bribey Barbie on the front lawn - she’s clearly throw it out the window. He carefully places it in her room, only to be met by screams mere minutes later. Don and Betty rush in to see what’s the matter and while Betty gets annoyed and just wants Sally to get over it, Don actually steps up to the daddy plate, cradles the girl, and asks her what’s the matter. His efforts at being a good husband/father have been more than apparent lately, and he’s been particularly good on the father front.
It seems Sally’s freaked out that Baby Gene lives in deceased Grandpa Gene’s room, looks like him, seemingly is him. Don reassures her there are no such thing as ghosts, and tells her, regarding Baby Gene, “We don’t know who he is yet or who he’s going to be. And that is a wonderful thing.”
And he really seems to mean it. I couldn’t help but think Don was a bit envious of Baby Gene - the child is a complete blank slate, with a past yet unwritten. It’s helluv hard constantly running from who you are, eh, Dick Whitman?
What will happen to Joan? Is Don a changed man? Is Sterling Cooper in trouble? And was anyone else as taken aback by the foot-gore as I was? Answers, please!
Can’t wait ’til next week. I smell build up.