Huffpost Entertainment
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Samantha Zalaznick Headshot

Mad Men Recap: Award Night

Posted: Updated:

Before I begin, a couple things about last night's Emmy's:

First of all--Congratulations to Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and to the whole cast and crew for their third straight win for Outstanding Drama Series!! It was more than deserved. Jon, Elizabeth, Christina, John--you were robbed.

Even though we already knew this I just have to say Jon Hamm is such a star. He was so adorable last night in the opening scene. Who knew he could sing and dance? Hello triple threat. I loved him dancing with Betty White and I love his obvious friendship with Tina Fey. His fun and playful personality is so not Draper that you realize what a fantastic actor he is.
Jon- I've never wanted you more.

Now, January's dress? She's beautiful but the blue Versace dress was definitely debatable, but interesting. It felt like in an effort to not look like Betty, she went futuristic. It was actually kind of GAGA.

Kiernan Shipka (aka Sally Draper) looked so cute on stage. And very Mad Men with her up-do.

Other comments on our Mad Men cast's performance last night?

____________________________________________________________________________________________

On to the show...

On TV's big award night, Matthew Weiner staged his own award show for the Mad Men characters--you know, so they didn't feel left out. Even though Jon didn't take home the award, luckily Don Draper got to win an award of his own--a Clio for his GloCoat ad, for the category "Cleansers, Waxes and Polishes" (haha). A solid back up plan. It was a big win for the rest of SCDP as well, but Don took all the credit, forgetting to thank those who helped him along the way.

Last night's episode "Waldorf Stories" was about awards and how you get there. Opening with a young kid interviewing/begging for a job, with a book that consists of five of the same cliché ad, it takes us back to when Don was just a kid begging for a job. In this episode, we see the power struggle of all the stages of a career, centering around Don who's finally back on top. There's Roger, who's feeling old and looking for credit for making Don's career, Peggy who works so hard for Don and just wants to be acknowledged for her work. The GloCoat ad was mostly her idea after all (no surprise there). And then there's the interviewee, who just wants a shot. And in this mix of power struggles--the Cosgrove/Campbell power struggle is back on.

Let's start with Roger. He's entertainingly writing his memoirs--truly begging for attention, calling his secretary into his office for the random detail. His best line of the episode: "I always liked chocolate ice cream but my mother made us eat vanilla because it didn't stain anything." Poor Roger. He can only think of childhood memories--he can't remember any work stories because he's been blackout drunk the whole time!

As Roger jealously watches Don basking in his post-win glory, he tells Joan they don't give awards for what he does, for finding guys like Don. Digging into his past for the memoirs and watching Don at the awards, throughout the episode Roger recalls the sequence of events back when he found Don. The flashbacks are fabulous, filling in a gap we've had for some time. We knew Roger found Don selling coats, but now we get the whole story (and coincidentally Don's now winning for selling GloCoat, well played MW). This was back when Roger was top of the heap, back when he had Joan, when he was just courting her, buying her a mink stole. Back when, as Don told him, he was "a very important man in a very important agency." Those were his glory days.

Lets go through the whole first interaction. They meet in the fur store. Don's the salesman, recommends the mink stole, and Roger notices their ad on the wall. "Why wait for a man to buy you a fur coat?" Rogers says "that's a dumb question," but he notices it. Don explains he does their ads, "it's an interest of mine and they let me do it." And look! Betty's the model in the ad! Is this how they met? Or were they already together and he put her in his ad? (If so, despite all their problems, it's pretty cute she loved him when he was no one.) Then we see the fur is for Joan. Ambitious Don snuck his work into the box. Roger throws it away. Strike one. Don's next move, he presumptuously shows up in the lobby of the office. Roger's been ignoring his messages and condescendingly acknowledges him, "Oh the fur guy, " but Don charms him, "weren't you trying to get a break once?" No, actually he wasn't because it was his father's company. But he still gives in and Don hits on his weakness--says he'll do anything to buy him a drink. They go out, they talk and drink, Don doesn't get anywhere. Strike two. But, aha, Roger gets so drunk that Don sees an opening. He puts him in a cab, and then shows up for work the next morning and tells Roger he hired him at lunch. "You said welcome aboard." He realized Roger was too drunk to remember not hiring him, so he pretends he did. Roger just looks confused and they get into the elevator together. And that's how the famous Don Draper got his start. How perfect. In true Don Draper fashion, it was self-created, made up, another lie.

So, in fact, Roger doesn't deserve any kind of award for finding Don. If it had been up to him, Don would still be selling coats! It was all Don. So now he's selling GloCoat. But in the end, Roger demands, and deserves, a thank you. Don drunkenly left his Clio at the bar and Roger took it home. He won't give it back until Don thanks him. Don happily complies, sorry he had forgotten. Even though Roger isn't exactly the one to thank for Don getting the job, he does deserve a thank you for making his career. They've been together a long time and he should be acknowledged. As should Peggy. Who else forgot a thank you last night?

Now, look how far Don's come. He's a partner, he's become a major success, he wins a Clio. Notice what's going on with him and Joan at the awards (where, by the way, a drunken Duck resurfaces. I bet Peggy would've liked to see that!) When their category comes up, Joan holds Rogers hand. Then Don asks her how he looks--she tells him great--and he takes her hand. Understandable--they all work together, they're a team and Joan has always been the support. (Poor Pete, no one's holding his hand). Then as they win and Don gets up to accept the award, he kisses Joan on the lips!! Probably nothing, but it's worth noting. In this passing of the torch from Roger to Don, to the day when Roger was on top to today when Don's on top, maybe Joan can be seen as another piece of what comes along with it. Roger used to have Joan, now Don kissed her. It was most probably just a friendly congratulatory kiss, but still. I've never considered them having an affair before, but now that I think about it, they would be awesome--and beautiful--together. She's too strong for him though, too much of a real person. He would have to majorly improve his game to score Joan at this point. She was much more innocent when Roger got her.

So now, Roger, or perhaps you could say the industry, has turned Don into a drunk himself. He only mildly embarrasses himself when he drunkenly asks Faye to go home with him. He's taking cues from their flirtation last week, but takes it too far and is way too aggressive in his drunken state. It's definitely not off the table, but she would never go for it when he's so sloppy. But he does make one interesting comment. Don says he'd feel the same if he had just lost. She says, "That's very healthy. Award or no award, you're still Don Draper." And he replies, "whatever that means."

But then, a woman finally hits on Don! I believe this is the first time Don's successfully had sex this season without paying for it! And he obviously is also pretty excited about it, because he just keeps going. It's unclear what actually happened that he woke up two days later with a different girl in his bed, but presumably it went something like this: After he and the girl from the party were done/ woke up the next morning, they stumbled to a diner, ate at least three orders of fries, continued drinking, pretended that the girl from the party was his sister? (maybe she was into it), then she left, and Don continued to party with the waitress and whoever else was around and went home with the waitress and passed out until the next day. WHOA, Don parties hard. Most interestingly, the waitress calls him Dick! He got drunk enough to tell someone his real name. Or maybe, for the first time, he was feeling confident enough post-win to really be himself. Earlier he questioned his identity as Don, "whoever that is," to Faye, and now later, and drunker, he introduced himself as Dick. Perhaps now that he got the validation he needed from the award, he's wanting to claim the fame for his real self, for Dick, who's really been inside him all along. Or perhaps if Anna's gone, he's looking for someone else to be himself in front of. Or maybe she was just a working class girl that he felt more comfortable around? It's not possible he got so drunk he forgot and used his real name, is it? It's unclear why he got up the nerve to tell this inconsequential waitress he'll never see again his real name. But it's an interesting step. It looks like he's starting to feel inclined to come out as himself, but will that ever be possible? He can't exactly just tell people he's been lying about his name the whole time and from now on he'll be Dick...

Anyway...

Betty is the one who wakes him up with a phone call. He was supposed to watch the kids. I'm coming on Sunday...It is Sunday. His family life is still a complete disaster. Then, appropriately, it's Peggy who shows up at his apartment and snaps him back to reality. He's been totally out of commission for two days and no one's known where he's been. She comes to tell him that the tagline he sold to Life was the kid's, "the cure for the common cereal." He doesn't remember changing it in the meeting. He doesn't remember ordering Peggy to work all weekend with Stan in the hotel room. It's ridiculous she has to follow his belligerent orders. He knows Peggy's right and calls the kid in, and ends up being forced to hire him. Hiring this kid mimics the way Don was hired. Don got a job because Roger got too drunk (to remember not hiring him), and this kid got a job because Don got too drunk (and used his slogan). This kid's way in was actually more legit because they used his line. Also--this kid is tiny--he's smaller than Peggy!

Which brings us back to Peggy. Poor Peggy. All she wants is some recognition for her work, for GloCoat, since we found out it was her idea. In the 'previously seen' scenes we're reminded Don says he's hard on her because he sees her as an extension of himself. He is incredibly hard on her, and he's not giving her the credit she deserves. She urges him in the beginning to say something, saying she's excited about GloCoat, "I look at GloCoat and see how far everything's come. You know, my work." His response is the closest he comes to giving her credit, "you finish something, you find out everyone loves it, right around the time it feels like someone else did it," which is hardly giving her credit, more like bitterly admitting it wasn't all him. And she's upset that Joan gets to go to the awards instead of her.

We see real character development in the way she handles Stan Rizzo, the new art director. He thinks he's a nudist and lectures Peggy on being stuck up, that she needs to realize the nude state is natural and beautiful. She's fed up with all the men in this office ignoring her and pushing her around, so she calls his bluff. She takes off her clothes and says "I can work like this. Lets get liberated." (Her new friends are obviously having an influence. I'd like to see them again.) She challenges him to take off his clothes. They start working naked, she's perfectly calm and comfortable, but he can't quite handle it. Peggy keeps making fun of his erection, he gets angry, calls her a smug bitch, and runs off to the bathroom, while she calmly gets dressed and asks if he wants any food. She wins. After they move past all this tension and anger, will he maybe turn into a love interest for Peggy?

And lastly, Cosgrove and Campbell. They're bringing in Ken and Pete's angry about it. He's super sensitive and acting like a baby because he's still upset that Lane chose Ken over him for Head of Accounts at Sterling Cooper. Ken would actually be a welcome addition to SCDP and Pete agrees. He just wants to make sure Ken knows they're not at Sterling Cooper anymore and it's not going to be the same. He's a partner now and Ken will be, in effect, working for him. Their competitive dynamic will surely bring comical conflict to the office in future episodes. I'm enjoying Pete's little lines of shock: last week, "Christ on a cracker!" this week "Judas Priest!"

Harry Crane has a minimal but, as always, entertaining cameo. As the TV rep, he gives a shout-out to the Emmys. "I was late for the Emmy's last year and Red Skelton gave away my seat," a story Lane finally finds noteworthy. He's always eager to impress with his TV knowledge, later telling the Life guys what's going to happen on Peyton Place, and jumping in, "we could build a Saturday morning TV show around a whole Quaker Oats Family."

Overall, it was an outstanding episode for the outstanding drama series. Matthew Weiner was commenting on the Emmy's, smugly showing us he expected to win. He must be pretty angry they cut him off last night.