9:37pm: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is a man with a plan. This series must end in the near future, and Mr. Weiner is working devilishly to end it with Don as ruined as possible. The merger of SCDP and CG&C (Ted Chaough's agency) adds another creative mind directly in Don's own company, and Don's never been more aggressive than when his leadership is questioned. Ted Chaough is the man that Don never will be — a creative type with a business mind. It's inevitable that Ted takes the creative reins in the next few episodes, leaving Don with a pile of money and no one with whom he wants to share it.
The first six episodes of Season 6 were the reverse of Season 5. Last year, we had a lot of plot development early on without a lot of action. This year, the plot moves have been vast and unrealistic, all without any real character development. Don is still a womanizer, Pete is still creepy, and Roger and Bert have been just on the brink of the beyond since 1960. The only character who's really grown is Peggy, and she kissed her boss last week. When in doubt, devolve to the norm.
Our Mad Men live blog begins. Here we go!
9:46pm: For those of you not watching As Good As It Gets on AMC, the Maple Leafs are ahead of the Bruins in the 3rd period, 1-0. For background, these are both hockey teams. Ice hockey, specifically. If AMC had this on instead of As Good As It Gets, then Mad Men would be much healthier in the 18-34 male demo.
9:51pm: On AMC, Jack Nicholson just went to Helen Hunt's apartment to profess his love. Back in the NHL, Toronto just took a 2-0 lead on the Bruins. Both made me cry.
9:57pm: Jack Nicholson is giving it another shot with Helen Hunt. I bet he'll win her over.
9:58pm: Hey, look! Helen Hunt's love magically cured Jack Nicholson's OCD! Science.
9:59pm: Mad Men time! Here we go!
10:00pm: Most of the "previously on" dealt with business stuff, like the merger of SCDP and CG&C. Let's hope Peggy's new name for the merged agency is announced quickly so that I can stop typing all those capital letters.
10:01pm: Sylvia (Linda Cardellini) had a huge fight with the doctor, who talked about moving to Houston in last week's episode. Houston is better than Linda Cardellini. Apparently, Minnesota is also better than Linda Cardellini, as that's where the doctor is going.
10:02pm: Ted offers a quick retort to MICHAEL GINSBERG, who made a height-related joke. Note to readers: I do not like height-related jokes.
10:04pm: Joan hurt her hip somehow. I hear the Mad Men characters joking about her reserve supply.
10:05pm: Bert is going to say the new agency's name at some point. Right?
10:06pm: Pete comes in late to the merged partners' meeting and kicks Ted's secretary out of her chair. Ted responds by giving his secretary his chair. Ted is a good man.
10:07pm: Ted Chaough is a pilot, which is relevant to this partners' meeting. He's a young and beautiful Don Draper. We all know where this is going to end.
10:09pm: Pete Campbell's mother is senile and at his bachelor pad. To help restore her memory, Pete asks the building super to fix his mother a gin and tonic. Remedies sure were different in 1968.
10:10pm: Sylvia calls Don at work, because Don cannot control his relationships.
10:11pm: Sylvia to Don: "I need you, and nothing else will do." Sylvia is a wannabe copywriter!
10:12pm: Roger Sterling is taking joy in firing the CG&C head of accounts, who is the same guy Sterling Cooper fired back in the day. The guy's name is either Bert Peterson or Burt Peterson. I'm guessing Burt to avoid confusion.
10:13pm: Don is a busy business executive, which is why he's bailing out on work at midday to have an affair. The affair is with his one non-work friend's wife.
10:14pm: Is the amount of activity in this episode masking real plot development?
10:14pm: Ted is running a creative meeting. The CG&C guys are in shirt and tie, and they immediately start writing on notepads. Ted is an energetic version of Don Draper. We all know where this going.
10:15pm: Don to Sylvia: "You can talk about your kid all you want. I don't want you to talk about your husband." Well, that's not an exact quote. He then orders Sylvia to crawl on her hands and knees to find his shoes, because he's a monster.
10:17pm: Don is leaving Sylvia alone in the hotel room, exposed and expecting, because Don is a one-note man with power issues. He's trying to control Sylvia because he can't control Ted. Right? Am I right or what?
10:19pm: Commercial break! I've turned back to NESN just to see the Leafs win over the Bruins, 2-1. Game 7 is tomorrow night in Boston. And for background, yes, this is a discussion about ice hockey, with the skates and the sticks. It's a popular sport in many regions of the Mad Men universe, even during the time of the show. To learn more, search "ice hockey" in your favorite search engine.
10:21pm: Back to Mad Men. Don just ordered Peggy around, which angers Ted.
10:22pm: Ted is upset that Don bailed on a creative team meeting. Don responds by closing his door like a child, so Ted reciprocates by closing his door like a child.
10:23pm: Don orders Sylvia to wait in the hotel room until he comes back, but doesn't give a time that he'll return. He also orders her not answer the phone. Surely, Sylvia is self-respecting enough to leave this power trip charade. Oh, wait. This is Mad Men, so Sylvia actually derives pleasure from the emotional abuse. 1968 sure was a weird time for courtship.
10:24pm: Ted is not entirely comfortable with Don's obvious alcoholism. Ted has not watched Mad Men in the previous few seasons.
10:26pm: Pete's brother is upset that Pete didn't give him the SCDP IPO. OMG.
10:27pm: Ted is incredibly smart and substantially better than Don at Don's job. Ted is also a pilot. Don is trying to fight back by getting Ted drunk. As a result, Don is substantially better than Ted at Ted's job when everyone is six drinks in.
10:29pm: Sylvia is still trapped in the hotel. Don sends Sylvia a red gown from Saks Fifth Avenue. Don has unlimited wealth and an armada of willing women. Did we mention that he's also married to a television star?
10:30pm: Ted goes back into the creative office and is quite drunk. Don wins because he made Ted get drunk. Don wins by weakening everyone around him. Don is a horrible, horrible person.
10:31pm: Commercial break! I am extremely excited about The Killing's return for Season 3. It is an excellent show that provides a great background story on one unique crime. Absolutely.
10:33pm: Local commercial time! A local bank has a commercial about a dad giving his college-bound daughter what looks like a debit card. The note attached: "For emergencies, not shoes." I guess it's still 1968 somewhere.
10:34pm: Christina Hendricks is in the Johnnie Walker ad again. Her emotional depth in the ad about equals said depth in Mad Men.
10:35pm: Speaking of Christina Hendricks, we're back with Mad Men. Joan is with the Wharton MBA at the hospital, presumably because he needed a minimum number of lines this season to get his SAG credit. I have no idea how SAG credits work, but I really don't like his character.
10:37pm: The Wharton MBA makes up a lie about Joan swallowing furniture polish. It's another win for graduate business education.
10:38pm: Don to Sylvia: "You exist in this room for my pleasure." Why oh WHY does this woman not stand up for herself? Why? I know it's 1968, but come on. This is just unrealistic. What exactly does she get out of this type of emotionally abusive relationship? She's married to a doctor! Her life is pretty good! Get out of this relationship, Sylvia!
10:40pm: Ted is at the hospital with his cancer-stricken CG&C partner. Ted: "He doesn't talk for long stretches, but then he's incredibly eloquent." Note: Ted is coming off a hangover when he comes up with this thought.
10:41pm: Ted's CG&C partner has passed. No, not really. He's fine, just sleeping.
10:42pm: Pete lies to his senile mother about St. Patrick's Day. Perhaps there's a connection to Ted's inability to hold his alcohol. I'm assuming that Ted is Irish. Regardless, I'm offended.
10:43pm: Commercial break! There's a surreal Oreo commercial out now about the Big Bad Wolf. I want an Oreo.
10:47pm: Back to Mad Men. Peggy is yelling at Don for trying to get Ted drunk. Ted is a perfect human being who cannot hold his alcohol. Maybe that's what makes him perfect.
10:48pm: Harry Crane…did he put on some padding in the last few episodes? It's been maybe two months in the show's timeline, at most, since we've last seen him.
10:49pm: Don is imprisoning Sylvia for the duration of his trip to Mohawk. He's also taken away her only form of entertainment (the novel she was reading). That is the only form of entertainment she can think of, right?
10:50pm: Ted and Don are in a teeny little plane which is getting smacked around by the storm. Ted is a teeny little pilot of a teeny little plane!
10:51pm: The Wharton MBA visits a convalescing Joan and gives her a red-white-and-blue football. It doesn't look like an old AFL football, but maybe it's a promotional football.
10:53pm: Pete to his secretary: "My mother can go to hell. Ted Chaough can fly her there." There's a bit of back story there about Pete's senile mother nearly burning down his apartment, but that's such a great line that it thrives without background.
10:54pm: Commercial break! A reminder here: the show go until 11:04pm, so we'll be here until 11:04pm.
10:56pm: This is an extra-long commerical break. We're going to need to move quickly to resolve all these plot lines. Will Don leave Sylvia imprisoned until next week's episode?
10:57pm: Back to Mad Men. Don to Sylvia, re: its imprisonment: "It's over when I say it's over."
10:58pm: Sylvia tells Don that it's time to "really go home." This means she's breaking up with him. It's amazing how imprisoning a person for days on end could sour them on a relationship.
10:59pm: Don literally begs Sylvia to stay in her hotel room prison cell. She quietly says, "let's go," and she leaves the Saks Fifth Avenue red dress behind. Sad, appropriate, and a day late.
11:01pm: Back, briefly, at the office. Joan saves the Wharton MBA's job when his name comes up on the merger consolidation list. Looks like buying the football worked out! Moral of the story: buy gifts for everyone.
11:02pm: We're ending the episode with the RFK assassination. Megan is upset, and she's Canadian!
11:03pm: Episode over. The RFK news is underscored with a peppy pop beat, which is completely inappropriate even for irony.
11:04pm: Ted Chaough looks like he has a black eye in the next episode preview. But he's so perfect just the way he is!
Final score: Ted Chaough wins the night! He's already much more interesting, funny, and confident than Don. He's also better at both the creative and the business parts of the advertising business. I would watch a Mad Men spinoff that focused on Ted Chaough. He's charming, smart, and a pilot! He's the 1968 Renaissance Man.
Don Draper's power game with Sylvia seems forced. Maybe Don's forcing it naturally to cope with Ted's intrusion into his workplace. Maybe Matthew Weiner's just looking to accelerate Don's downward spiral. Is the remainder of this season going to be Breaking Bad, with a rapid acceleration of events at the expense of character development? Or is Mr. Weiner the man with the plan, perhaps a way to have Mad Men without Don Draper? I'd take the old SCDP with Ted Chaough at the helm, running actual pitch meetings and leading the company's business development. Ted Chaough in Season 6 is a smarter version of Don Draper in Season 1, and Don Draper in Season 1 was the most compelling television I'd seen in years. I want more Ted. I really hope we get more Ted and less Don as this season concludes.
Thanks for reading along for this week's Mad Men live blog! See you next week!