Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A | 6 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
A Lucky Strike

Sal goes to pop some aspirin with his drink as the buzzer rings and Peggy announces that someone named "Greta" is there to see Don. Sal snarks that they get to hear from their "man in research," and then the door opens to reveal that Greta is a severe-looking German woman who enters and stridently tells the boys that they're looking more relaxed than she expected with the big meeting coming up. (I didn't mention it in that recap, but Greta reappears in "Babylon.") Don tells her he understands that the idea of including medical testimony is dead, and Greta says that's an apt choice of words. However, her department's research has provided a solution -- telling people that despite the risks, cigarettes are simply too good to give up. The men pooh-pooh the idea of brazenly acknowledging that cigarettes are as good as death, but Greta says that before the war, she studied with Adler in Vienna, and they postulated that what Freud termed the death wish is as powerful a driver as reproduction and physical sustenance. And then they tested their theory by playing Russian roulette after picnicking and having each other for dessert on the banks of the Danube. Greta, you name-dropping, death-defying tart, you! Don is insecurely dismissive, again, and Sal queenily opines that people living one way and thinking the exact opposite is ridiculous. I've said it before (after?) and I'll say it again: Be as on-the-nose as you want with this character, and I'll still laugh. Don takes the long way around Lake Condescension to get to a valid point, which is that his concern isn't getting people to smoke, but getting them to smoke Lucky Strikes in particular. After some bickering about the health hazards of smoking, Greta hands over her report, which Don tosses into the wastebasket while commenting that he finds her whole approach "perverse." This from the man who owns a t-shirt that reads, "I'm an iconoclast! Don't ask me how!" Greta rises and wishes Don good luck at the meeting. "I'm sure it will be a quick one." Heh. When she's gone, Don tells Sal he'll take that drink now. Well, at least he waited until 10:05.

Sometime later, Don lies down on his couch. He regards a fly crawling behind the translucent panel in the ceiling before closing his eyes. We hear the faint sound of bombs exploding, which is a nice, quick touch that I had completely forgotten about, before Peggy insistently whispers his name offscreen. Don slowly opens his eyes, and Peggy tells him that Pete is outside. At least she stopped him from barging in. Don's relieved to learn that Pete doesn't know about his little nap, and then asks Peggy who she is. She introduces herself ("Olson" is her surname), and Don gets to his feet and asks her to go entertain Pete. In front of the entire office? Peggy asks if she really has to, and Don wryly acknowledges her unspoken point that Pete is a douchebag; Peggy then gives Don some aspirin and water, and Don steels himself and tells her to send Pete in, which is just as well, because Pete opens the door himself and comments, "You look like a hundred bucks." Okay, I just got over that expression. It's pretty clear from the get-go that Pete is trying to bond with Don as an equal, and it's even clearer that Don is so very much not having it. Pete then gets disgusting with Peggy; after learning that she went to a very good secretarial school, he gets her to tell him she's from Brooklyn, and then suggests she show off her legs and pull her waist in. Peggy asks Don if that's all she needs, but Pete cuts in that he's not done. "I'm workin' my way up." There are many ways that comment can be read, each grosser than the last. When you get to the one involving Pete Jr., it's time to throw up and move on. Don gives Peggy leave to go, apologizing for Pete to boot, and Peggy tells him it's time for the Menken meeting.

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Mad Men

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