#MadMen Recap: 50 Shades of Don

Power.

Powerlessness.

This episode shows the cast in various ebbs and flows of power and being powerless.

We now have a merger of two competing companies. As can be expected, this causes some excitement and tension. Staff has to be trimmed down and so do clients.

Sylvia was gone for a couple of weeks. The episode starts with her throwing the doctor out because he is apparently on his way to Minnesota (having quit his job in the last episode). My first hope was that she not be here. Frankly, the break from her the last two episodes has been sublime. But her reappearance shows a unique side of Don.

Don is becoming powerless at work. The partner’s meeting starts without him. Ted’s creative meeting goes on without him. He and Ted are very different characters with different styles and in the late 1960s, Ted’s style is the winner. He gets a call from Sylvia telling him that she needs him and nothing else will do. This presents him something in his life which he can control.

Don then becomes this creepy dominant figure over Sylvia. Like something he witnessed at the whorehouse where he grew up.

At first, you can tell she likes being the submissive. But by the end of the episode, she begins to see this power dynamic for what it is…abusive. Don’s last grip of control in his life has slipped away as she ends the affair. Again, the 1950s Don that could get away with having women crawl to him on his knees and inflate his ego is fading and becoming less relevant.

Pete is also going through feeling powerless. But he is powerless both in his workplace, as the merger has cast doubts on his importance, and in his personal life, as his mother comes to live at his apartment. Pete is torn though because him focusing on his family leads to less power at work.

Joan has a medical emergency that causes her to think about what happens to her son if she is gone. She has nobody and realizes that her power at work is tempered at best. She wasn’t consulted about the merger. She wasn’t consulted about Jaguar. Enter Bob Benson who helps her with her emergency and is rewarded by avoiding the cutting block at the new yet-to-be-named agency.

Finally, as Don goes home and Pete grapples with his new roommate, news flashes that Bobby Kennedy has been killed. It has the feel of being powerless. Maybe there is some predestination and no matter what we do…power is something that we can never control.

Season Six Mad Men Recaps:

Season Premiere

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

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#MadMen Recap

In our season premiere episode recap, we found Don Draper and company in what seemed to be a foreshadowing of grim despair. Episode two is a little lighter, but you get the feel[...]