Home Culture Mad Men Recap, Ep. 4: Sex Scenes & Ketchup Conspiracy

Mad Men Recap, Ep. 4: Sex Scenes & Ketchup Conspiracy

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Linda Sue Strong is the founder of entertainment blog TerribleTelevision.com and an occasional attorney. Her life has not yet been turned into a reality television show. Follow her at @themisslinda.

Pete Campbell is in his sad little studio apartment, hosting a secret meeting with Ketchup and Don. Ketchup guarantees that Baked Beans won’t find out that SCDP is pitching Ketchup, but Don decides to keep the team small just to be on the safe side. The creative team will consist of Don and Stan, and they will meet in a secret room labeled “PRIVATE,” for maximum sleuthiness. In this secret room, Don and Stan smoke weed and order lunch to quell the munchies.

Don meets his mistress, Sylvia, in the elevator. He presses the emergency switch, she presses his buttons, and then she makes plans for later. The signal is, appropriately, a penny. If she leaves one under her doormat, it means her husband is away.

Joan’s mother is getting a Mary Kay makeover from Katie, one of Joan’s old friends.

She is in town to meet with Avon since she has found it difficult to rise up any farther at Mary Kay. Joan’s mother gushes over Joan’s partnership at the ad agency, which is a nice change of pace for that relationship.

Megan is moving up in the world of soap operas and has been written into a love affair. One of the other women on the show, Arlene, explains that Don is probably going to have a problem with the sex scenes. To smooth things over, Arlene suggests that Megan and Don go to dinner with Arlene and her husband, who is one of the writers. I’m getting a real key party vibe from Arlene….When Megan breaks the news to Don about the sex scenes, he’s tense but really, what kind of leg does he have to stand on here? “I can tolerate this, but I can’t encourage it,” is the best that Don can do.

Harry and Ken meet with executives from Dow about some bad press they’ve been receiving from that whole war thing. Harry’s solution is to put Joe Namath in a musical production with Julie Andrews and John Wayne, “brought to you by Dow Chemical, family products for the American family.” Problem solved [sweeps chemical warfare under rug].

There’s a showdown between Joan in a peacock blue dress, and Scarlet in a bright orange miniskirt (with white patent leather these-boots-are-made-for-walking-boots). Scarlet is totally busted for leaving her desk early the day before, and then she implicates Don’s secretary, Dawn, who punched Scarlet’s time card even though she wasn’t at work. Joan takes charge and fires Scarlet while tossing Dawn an “I’ll deal with you later.”

When Harry finds out that Joan fired his secretary, he insists that Joan apologize. Silly man. It’s almost like he’s never met Joan. She saunters into a partners’ meeting (knowing that Harry is not welcomed) and starts talking business. Then, Harry bursts into the meeting to defend himself, giving the group an “it’s me or her” ultimatum. Harry wants some recognition for bringing in all of that sweet television revenue and nearly calls Joan a whore in the process. “Just keep talking to her because she’s a partner. You know what, I’m sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can’t be given the same rewards….The next time this group is called to order, I expect to be sitting at this table. I’ve actually earned it.” Ultimately, the boys decide to keep both Scarlet and Dawn. In other words, Joan’s partnership is more silent than she bargained for.

Later that day, Roger and Bert call Harry into the office and give him a $23,000 check (which amounts to a year’s salary for Harry) to cover his commission on the Joe Namath television spot and tell him that he’s not getting a partnership. He takes the money but says that he has also earned the partnership and hopes that another firm doesn’t figure that out first. In true Roger fashion, he asks Bert if they can fire him before he cashes the check.

The Drapers go out do dinner with the soap opera people, and Megan is chastised for smoking because “the wrinkles.” The best-dressed people in Manhattan are at this table, and Megan’s their queen. She’s got a little bit of geometric glitz happening with her quilted shift dress, and it seems like her hair gets higher every episode. Speaking of higher, the husband invites the Drapers back to their place to “smoke grass.” And then Arlene strokes Megan’s hand and purrs, “We like Megan, and we like you, and we’d like to be friends.” Don looks like he just smelled a weeks-old tuna sandwich and deftly deploys the “I have to get up early” excuse. The Drapers have a good laugh afterwards, but Megan worries that this was the reason she got the extra scenes.

Don’s pitch to Ketchup is, “Pass the Heinz.” That’s it. Just a giant burger with three words dangling in the air, confounding the client and not quite solving their problem. Ketchup agrees that it’s bold work, but he still needs to see the bottle in the ad. On their way out of the meeting, Peggy and her team are waiting to pitch Ketchup, too. Don looks stunned and listens in at the door while Peggy says, “I always say, if you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.” That’s Don’s line, and he stalks away, disgruntled.

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Don, Pete and Stan go to a bar to regroup, and Peggy’s team meets up with them afterwards to break the bad news that a bigger agency got the account. Cosgrove arrives to berate Don and Pete for pitching to Ketchup, which made them lose Baked Beans. Then, on his way out of the bar, Stan gives Peggy the finger for tipping her agency off about Ketchup.

Dawn tries to talk to Joan about the Scarlet situation and somehow ends up with the keys to the supply closet and the time cards as a strange type of punishment. I think Joan’s torch has just been passed, or at least now that the keys are gone, Joan gets to feel a tiny bit less like the secretary.

Megan shoots her sex scene with Don watching in the wings, and Arlene shows up just in time to notice that Don likes to watch. Afterwards, Don is angry with Megan for enjoying it and says the worst thing he can think to say, which is, “You kiss people for money. You know who does that?” Well, he should know. On his way home, Don finds a penny under the doormat and gives it to his mistress, who is wearing a very unsexy beige sweater set.

Next week, more of the same, but extra Peggy and a pink and gold dress for Megan.


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