Mad Men S07E04 – The Monolith

The world of Mad Men got a shakeup last week as Sterling Cooper Bell Biv Devoe & Partners seemed to welcome Don Draper back into the fold, but with a slew of stipulations and rules that Don shockingly agreed to. Would he continue to adhere to them in “The Monolith”? Let’s go…..

-We open with Pete and his girlfriend Bonnie out to dinner at a place called Burger Chef, which is supposed to be a fast-food restaurant, but it looks pretty fancy for a greasy joint. He notices a guy named George, who used to work for Vicks, which was run by Pete’s father-in-law, Tom. George tells Pete that Tom had a heart attack, which is news to him, so obviously he and Trudy don’t talk that much. Don’t they have a kid together? Shouldn’t they talk more? Either way, Pete ends up getting the agency a meeting with Burger Chef.

-Don steps off the elevator and he seemingly has been back at work for a while now. The agency is finally receiving the computer Harry wanted, but there is going to be construction and the writers’ lounge will be now gone. Roger said the new computer will “do all sorts of magical things, like make Harry Crane seem important”. This bodes well for the episode. We need snarky Roger, who then asks Don to catch a drink in the office, but that is against the rules.

-Ginsberg isn’t happy about the lounge being crushed for the computer, while Stan compares it to the Mona Lisa in that it will revolutionize the game. Ginsberg asks Don to move a couch and then freaks out because it will likely be too big for his office. This is the Ginsberg I was used to: railing against the man as he sees his job being swallowed up and yelling about couches being full of farts. He started off the season a little soft.

-On a conference call with New York, Pete tells the partners that Burger Chef wants to bump their advertising, and New York wants Ted to move back, which Ted isn’t feeling at all since he left N.Y. with his tail between his legs. He suggests Peggy, I’m assuming to get on her good side, but I doubt Don will quit smoking before that happens. Don is brought up to lead the campaign, but everyone is skeptical and we find that out he has been doing nothing for the last three weeks. Lou says on the call that Don is a valuable piece of talent, but says to Jim (when Roger leaves) that Don will implode. Could Lou BE any more deplorable? I can’t wait for this to blow up in his face.

-Roger gets word from his ex-wife Mona and his son-in-law Brooks that Margaret has gone to a commune of some sort, Mona says a cult. That’s what the consensus theory seemed to be. She came out apologizing in episode #1 or #2, and that is unlike Margaret. Something had to be up. Mona blames it on Roger, of course. She might not be wrong. Roger has never struck me as the “take your kid to soccer practice” kind of father.

-Don is sitting in his office, smoking relentlessly and reading the paper. He is dying in there. He overhears Harry talking to Lloyd, the computer guy, rather loudly, about Tim Conway playing a TV character that tries to kill himself for an entire episode of a show. Don says, “he was trying to get out of his contract”. Sound familiar? Anyway, Harry starts talking all over Don and he has been pretty douchey since he was passed over for partner for Joan. I can foresee this not working out in his favor.

-Don and Lloyd start talking about the new computer, which I figure is the inspiration for the title of the episode, and Lloyd says computers are a metaphor for what people are thinking, which is that computers are going to take their job; the battle between man and technology.

-Peggy slides by Don’s office and into Lou’s, where she gets a raise of $100 a week and the Burger Chef account, but with it comes a caveat: she has to take Don. Lou is not only an asshole, but he is a coward as well. We kinda saw that with the way he handled Sally Draper in the second episode. Peggy won’t even go into Don’s office when she gets the news….is she really about that life when it comes to her mentor?

-Instead, she gets her secretary to bring Don to her, along with some Mathis cat I don’t think we’ve seen before. This is my favorite scene of the episode: Peggy tells Don and Mathis that they’re working under her for Burger Chef, and she needs 50 taglines for the campaign because that is how Lou does it. The look on Don’s face is just priceless. I might have to find the picture and make a “Are you fucking kidding me?” meme. It was even better the second time I watched it. Peggy was so proud of herself, while Don threw his typewriter into a window, which didn’t break somehow. Then he peaces the fuck out and Lane’s Mets banner is back on the wall where it always was.

-Side note: how long until Don has sex with Peggy’s secretary out of spite?

-Don returns from the weekend and he has work to do now with a bunch of research on Burger Chef. Roger follows right behind him to make sure he is there, because he wants him to do well. Roger put his ass on the line for this, too.

-However, he has his own issues as Mona called to say that Brooks is in jail in Kingston, which I assume is close to where Margaret is. Road trip!

-Peggy calls a meeting to receive the taglines and Don skips it because, well, he doesn’t want to. I see his point, but you gotta play the game, Don. I hate seeing him like this. As much of a fuckup as he is, Don is great at advertising. But instead of disciplining him, Peggy just postpones the meeting because she’s a slight coward, which I can understand in this situation.

-Roger and Mona are on the worst road trip ever. Mona blames herself for Margaret’s problems and she is getting advice from Life magazine, which sounds like a solid plan. All I glean from this is that Roger and Mona weren’t the best parents, but they do indeed love their daughter.

-Side note: Jon Hamm is in a Disney movie about finding cricket players in India and turning them into baseball stars? That might stink like a garbage strike in the summer.

-Don is reading in his office when Lloyd the computer guy wants advertising advice, which Don sees as an opportunity for the agency. We see a glimpse of the old Don back in action, and with Roger gone for the day, he takes this information to Bert, who shoots him down like shit. Was Bert always a douche? Did I miss something over the first six seasons? Why the hell is Don even here? No one seems to know. So what does Don do? Steal a bottle of booze from Roger’s office. This should go well.

-Roger and Mona get to the hippy house, where Margaret is now marigold, everyone looks like they smell like patchouli and funk. As Mona describes them, these people “are lost and on drugs and have venereal diseases”. She is right on for at least two. Mona then blows up at Margaret’s explanation (she is sick of regular society, basically), Roger gives her the keys to go back to the city and he’ll deal with Margaret. 

-Don is hammered in his office, where he has put the Mets banner on the ceiling now, which makes him want to see a ball game. He calls Freddie, whom he has been feeding ideas to, and Freddie also pissed himself at work a few seasons ago. Is Don asking for help in a really roundabout way?

-Back on the farm, Roger is peeling potatoes with the hippies, smoking weed and such because we all know Roger likes to party sometimes. He doesn’t seem too out of place with the crew, but you get the idea that this won’t last.

-Freddie sneaks into the office and tries to gather Don up and get him out of there. When Freddie is telling you to get it together, you know you’re fuckin’ up. But before they leave, Don sees Lloyd and spouts some stuff off about Lloyd not being who he says he is, and Lloyd has to be like, “Damn, you smell like vodka, bruh”. Don then says, “you don’t need a campaign; you’ve got the best campaign since the dawn of time”. What does that even mean? A way to getting computers to take jobs from humans? Freddie is like, “dude, we need to BOUNCE”.

-Freddie tells Peggy he is taking Don for the day, and she doesn’t bat an eye. Joan stops by her office and Peggy exhales, telling her that Lou dropped Don on her. Joan calls him a coward because that is what he is, but she also tells Peggy about the Don Rules, not specifically, but that they are there. Either way, ANY Joan is good Joan, even though she’s plottin’ on Don.

-Roger and Margaret are sleeping in the barn, and they are getting along swell until Margaret leaves to go have the sex with ol’ boy who runs the commune. In the morning, Roger is like, “enough of this, we’re out” and tries to drag Margaret out, and they end up in a mud puddle. Then Margaret unloads on Roger, who tries to guilt her for leaving her son and she basically tells him he did the same thing, getting his secretary to send birthday presents. After Margaret hits him with that ether, he has no choice but to leave.

-Meanwhile, Freddie had taken Don home; there was no ball game. He tells Don that he is pissing away his chance to get back into the fold, whereas Don thought he was going to stroll back into his old job (Bert told him that, but in a far more douchey manner, especially from someone who was Don’s friend, it seemed). Basically, be a good soldier and man the fuck up. Freddie also gives him a cup of coffee “as black and strong as Jack Johnson”, the great boxer. Oh, Mad Men, you’re such a treat sometimes. I groaned and snickered at the same damn time.

-So, Don walks into the office and goes straight to work on the taglines Peggy wanted, walking past this GIANT computer (as I write this on a Thinkpad that is massive by today’s standards) which is supposed to change the game. I think Don sees this as a challenge; not only will I not give the partners the benefit of kicking me out, but this computer won’t take my job either, because computers can’t read people (or potential clients) the way other people can. He tells her she’ll have them by lunch, when Peggy came in expecting a fight. He looks like he has a slight case of the shakes, because, DON DRAPER.

We are getting all kinds of mixed signals about Don’s future at the office, but Freddie’s advice should at least get him back in the good graces of the partners, although Lou is still going to be waiting for him to slip up. With three episodes left until the midseason break, the pace is starting to pick up with Mad Men.

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