Friday, February 26, 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – Mad Men Episode Summary 1.1

Don Draper smokes a cigarSynopsis: Don Draper, the creative director of Sterling Cooper, is having trouble finding a solution that would rescue their client Lucky Strike from the current tobacco crisis. His anxiety at having to compete against young ad executives like Pete Campbell adds to his worry. Meanwhile, office manager Joan Holloway shows Don’s new secretary Peggy Olson around the office, and provides her with bits of both professional and personal advice. Also, the mad men at Sterling Cooper throws Pete Campbell a bachelor party.

Episode Summary: In a crowded, smoky bar, Don Draper sits alone at his table scribbling on a napkin when a waiter interrupts his frustrated scrawling. It was a break he welcomed thinking that a smoke would help clear his mind. He asks the man for a light. Always an ad man, Don quickly recognizes that the brand of cigarettes the unassuming waiter uses is that of their competitor. Seizing the opportunity to glean information from a potential convert, he initiates a conversation with the man hoping to find valuable insight. Their chat proved to be worthwhile with the man’s simple, but telling statement – I love smoking. His job is done, and everything suddenly became clear. He scans the bar, and finds that the people around him are just like him only they are spending their evening having a good time, while he could think of nothing else but work. Continue reading...

Don Draper finds refuge at the house of the carefree artist Midge. With his mind still preoccupied with work, he finds that his frustration is deeply rooted to the fear of being a has-been. The ad man who once averted the disastrous claim that smoking leads to death could not find a solution to the problem that had returned to haunt him. Midge does her best to fulfill her role as the woman to soothe his ego, and the one to take his mind away from his problems even for just a few hours. That is exactly who she is, a temporary solution not that she yearns for anything more. Morning came, and the escape from reality is over. Don only has nine hours left to prove once again what a great ad man he is, and he has nothing. He worries that his greatness would soon end, and the young executives who could not wait to replace him will finally get what they have long desired.

The young mad men in their crisp dark suits, and fedoras board the elevator that would lead them to their posh office. Young, successful, and cocky, Ken Cosgrove wastes no time to hit on the new girl. Mousy Peggy Olson is the newest addition to the secretarial pool. The voluptuous office manager Joan Holloway shows her around providing bits of advice on how to survive the work place. Experienced and insightful her advice goes beyond the office. She knows very well how to serve their masters hinting that their services sometimes extend to the bedroom. It is, as it seems, the way to reach her goal of marrying an ad man, and not having to work at all. Pete Campbell seems to be making a young woman’s dream come true as he is engaged to be married. However, unlike the secretaries who dream of marrying an ad executive, the young woman he is to marry comes from money. His colleagues who could not wait to throw him a bachelor party make a note of this fact.

Peggy Olson’s boss Don Draper and named partner Roger Sterling arrive. Roger appears to have a knack at reading people, and he has come to know Don quite well. The frustration that came with the troubles of the tobacco account has taken its toll on Don, and Roger points this out with subtlety trying his best to provide a sense of trust on the man who is to rescue them from their current dilemma. Time is ticking, and he still has nothing. Art director Salvatore Romano comes down to show him his proposed artwork more pleased at having his buffed neighbor pose for him than the idea they are trying to convey. The approach as it appears is to provide a subliminal message to those alarmed by the current health claims to relax. It did nothing to appease Don Draper’s mind, and it, as he knows it won’t work with their client and customers alike. The meeting from Greta Guttman, head of research, only annoyed him even more. The woman’s findings acknowledged the fact that smoking is dangerous, but it is for this exact reason that people smoke. Furious with the disagreeable conclusion that obviously would not play well with the client, Mr. Draper throws the report in the trash.

Don Draper notices a fly trapped inside a light fixture, and it reminds him of his current situation. He falls asleep staring at it until the voice of Peggy Olson wakes him. The stress of the tobacco account prevented him from officially meeting his new secretary who ready with an aspirin, a glass of water, and unafraid to speak her mind already starts to prove worthy of her job. Waiting outside is Pete Campbell who impatiently barges in, and like his young, chauvinist colleagues, wastes no time to harass the new girl. Leave it to Mr. Draper to apologize for the young man’s behavior. This unpleasant episode with Pete Campbell and Peggy Olson provided reassurance to Don who had been worrying about the onset of young competitors. He, nevertheless, gives the boy who obviously is nipping at his ankles a piece of advice. Chauvinism will get him nowhere.

Even the class act Don Draper is not immune to some form of prejudice. This he realizes when he meets the client from the Menken’s Department Store who happens to be a woman. His blunder is even more emphasized when he fails to recognize a colleague, and extends his hand to him mistaking him for their client. The reason for his confusion is that Roger hell-bent in finding a Jewish employee to help impress their Jewish client ends up having someone from the mailroom pretend to be a member of the art department. The meeting was a disaster from its inception. Don Draper ends up walking out of the meeting after having an argument with their client who has a completely different approach on advertising. Pete Campbell, in an attempt to get on Don’s good side resorts to fawning, but fails miserably.

Peggy Olson as per Joan Holloway’s recommendation pays a visit to a gynecologist whose behavior is closer to a pimp than a doctor. Judging her appearance, the doctor is quite surprised at the young, unmarried woman’s request for contraceptives. The visit was anything, but pleasant. Peggy, however, keeps this to herself. Her training resumes with a visit to what Joan refers to as the nerve center – the switchboard. Bearing gifts, and maintaining her amiable attitude, she quickly gains favor from them. An important lesson the previous secretary overlooked.

The daunting tobacco meeting with Lucky Strike has finally commenced. Given the government’s sudden interest on the health claims made by tobacco companies, and the concern at losing customers because of this investigation, the client turns to Don Draper to help them with the crisis. However, Don is uncharacteristically silent even paralyzed when put on the spot. Pete Campbell makes the move to take the spotlight from him. He pitches an idea born out of Dr. Greta Guttman’s research, and just as Don suspected it enrages their client. Disappointed at the lack of viable solution from the ad men, the men of Lucky Strike headed by Lee, Jr. and his father prepare to leave when Don Draper is struck with an idea following a comment from the heir. He declares that advertising is based on happiness. Instead of focusing on the grim health concerns of smoking, he proposes a new line of ads that would divert the public’s attention from it. The inspired, and innovative approach that sells the brand rather than the product pleases Lucky Strike, and they themselves leave with a reassurance that their business will survive.

Don Draper once again shows off his advertising prowess, which accentuates the stark contrast between him and Pete Campbell. Despite the humiliation at presenting Dr. Guttman’s doubtful findings, Pete stands by her research. He also puts their differences aside, and persuades Don to come to his bachelor party. The older politely refuses, but wishes him the best. It was a bright ending to a day that started dreadfully, but it was the opposite for Peggy Olson. The poor, young woman misreads the insinuations from co-workers, and makes a mistake at making a pass at her boss. Don Draper firmly puts her in her place, and scolds the new secretary for allowing Pete Campbell go through his trash. Perturbed, Peggy tries her best to speak in her defense to mend the blunders she made. Fortunately, Don though firm is also considerate, and he provides some reassurance that all these will be forgotten come tomorrow.

The night is young, and the mad men are at a strip club celebrating Pete’s last days as a bachelor. Women join them at their table, and Pete wastes no time to make an impudent move on the young woman who sat beside him. His boorish behavior only stops when the woman suggests that she and her friends better leave. With his ego bruised, Pete Campbell runs to the one person he believes won’t refuse him – Peggy Olson. He was right.

Meanwhile, Don Draper misses the night out with the boys to repair his agency’s relationship with the owner of Menken’s Department Store. Though their meeting is purely business, it is in the conversation that got personal where Don Draper manages to save the account. Hearing Mr. Draper’s view on love and life made Rachel Menken see how similar their situations are. She sees him as an outsider just like herself, and it is because of this that she decided to give Sterling Copper another go. After a very long and eventful day at work, Don Draper takes the train to the suburb, and finally comes home to his wife, and kids.


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Anonymous said...

great experience, dude! thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful report.

comprehensive episode guides said...

you're welcome, man! any time.