* Maybe every episode should begin in medias res with Ken Cosgrove being forced at gunpoint to drive a carful of drunken Chevy execs down a dark road at 80mph. I truly thought he might have died.
* Don standing around smoking outside Sylvia’s apartment. Not taking this well, I see.
* Chevy is turning out to be a poisoned chalice. Everyone’s exhausted, and Don’s tearing into Kenny like he’s Pete.
* Even before I knew what he meant, I heard Jim Cutler say “I’m gonna get everybody fixed up” and thought “Cutler, you magnificent bastard.” A lot of the best Mad Men lines are the best because they have a recognizable emotional or narrative tone even though you haven’t been able to locate the context yet. (Cf. last season’s “Far Away Places,” which produced this phenomenon by showing events out of order.)
* I haven’t been crazy about Linda Cardellini as Sylvia, to be honest. I suppose I see what she represents to Don — age, experience, a housewife rather than a budding celebrity; perhaps even her ability to experience guilt and therefore the taboo are appealing — but as a performance…I don’t know, kind of…not a lot of zest to it? That changed last night, during her teary, desperate phone call with Don. Don’s looking for a big romantic moment, but Sylvia’s willing and able to boil their bad romance down to a growled “KNOCK IT OFF!”
* And Don is totally powerless before it. Seeing him in his mighty, Olympian office, hanging on the telephone because he can’t bring himself to hang up, a master of all he surveys except this one thing…it’s rough.
* Coughing fits. “Your face looks like a bag of walnuts.” Yeah, it’s rough on the guy alright.
* Betty’s blonde again. Okay.
* Poor Dawn. Her skill at Don management (Donagement?) is both a blessing and a curse.
* Ted Chaough on Frank Gleason: “He’s a piece that cannot be replaced.” Don, of course, was just replaced.
* A conversation between Roger and Stan! Alright!
* Cutler’s a cold customer, as it turns out. Doesn’t really care about Frank. Didn’t see that coming, frankly. Not that I saw the opposite coming mind you — just that it’s revealing of his character.
* I loved all the build-up to the doctor. They’re talking about him like he’s Col. Kurtz. Turns out he’s Dr. Robert.
* Mad Men excels at build-up, though, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I liked how the nature and effects of the drug were doled out in installments as well: Cutler leaping merrily around, then Cutler and Stan racing, then Don zoning out/zoning in, and so on.
* Don sees Peggy taking care of Ted and then flashes back to a sequence in which his mother failed to take care of him. Hm.
* “Do we know each other?” Hoo boy. “I meant from somewhere other than from this moment.” Zooms. Bells. It’s a drug episode! Hold all my calls!
* “Some kinda love transaction between a parent and a child and the greatest gift of all: a Chevy.” Ginsberg: straightedge by nature, messianic in his approach to crafting ad copy.
* “I hate how dying makes saints out of people.” Solid, true line, but I prefer the way it reveals the complexity of the workplace. Frank’s been painted as the perfect friend/partner by Ted, so to learn he was a dick to his underlings reminds us that everyone’s story has different heroes and villains.
* “I wanna write stuff down so it looks like I’m working.” Ginsberg nails it.
* “I’ll have 15 campaigns for you by then but you have to get me in a room so I can look them in the eye. The timbre of my voice is as important as the content. I don’t know whether I’ll be forceful or submissive, but I must be there in the flesh.” “You understand that I have no power whatsoever….I’m their favorite toy.” My first thought upon hearing this Don-Ken exchange: This drug transforms your subtext into text!
* “I know you’re all feeling the darkness here today, but there’s no reason to give in. No matter what you’ve heard, this process will not take years. In my heart, I know we cannot be defeated, because there is an answer that will open the door. There is a way around this system. This is a test of our patience and commitment. One great idea can win someone over.” I feel like that first sentence should be written on an anonymous notecard and pinned above Don’s hospital bed someday, Tony Soprano-style.
* Soup! Don’s looking for chicken soup for the soul.
* Whoa, it’s the next day, suddenly. That came as a shock.
* “Her name is Wendy.” I thought we were going to push the age limit for Don’s thing for brunettes, but he’s not feeling it, and in retrospect it’s easy to see why: He’s crafting the ultimate Draper Pitch, his product is Don Draper himself, and he’s got a target audience of one in mind.
* “I’ve got six hundred and sixty-six ideas!” HAIL STAN
* Complaints about Mad Men trying too hard or being too obvious or god help us being on the nose miss the point because that is the point. Symbolist TV. It’s all right there, dredged to the surface. If it’s obvious, well, aren’t we all, when that happens? Case in point: Wendy the would-be psychic, wearing a stethoscope while telling Don he wants to know if someone loves him. “I wanna hear your heart. Oh — I think it’s broken.” “You can hear that?!” “I can’t hear anything. I think it’s broken.” I mean, the show’s making a joke of it. This is not Matthew Weiner trying to be subtle but screwing it up.
* “You’re on TV every day. Don’t they know that?” Bobby Draper gives Megan the validation Don Draper can’t deliver.
* The old William Tell trick!
* “You’re pretentious, you know that? I love that.” Again, this is not Matthew Weiner making a mistake.
* “But you hate him!” “…I hate apples more.” Ginsberg’s great in this episode.
* Jesus, Don, not at Sylvia’s again!. Then an endless, immobile closeup of his head against her door. “Out of my head over you.”
* Doors: Don knows the perfect idea can open the door. His ultimate Draper Pitch involves telling Sylvia not to shut the door. He tells Ginsberg he’s got it when Ginsberg says he has to get his foot in the door. He tells Sally it’s all his fault since he left the door open.
* “You’re lucky I don’t like beards.” “Women say that, but they don’t act like it.” YESSSSSSSSS, PEGGY AND STAN / YESSSSSSSSS, BEARDS
* “You’ve got a great ass.” “Thank you.” is this generation’s “I love you.” “I know.”
* Sally’s reading Rosemary’s Baby. Girl, you’ll be a woman soon.
* Whoa, who is this lady? Grandma Ida? It was clear she was robbing the joint, but when she asked “Your daddy Mr. Donald Draper, or not?” I thought she was trying to rip off a very different Don Draper. That was a creepy moment.
* “Because you know what he needs.” And thus begins a game of connect the dots with beauty marks, from Amy the prostitute to the oatmeal mom to Sylvia.
* “Do you wanna know what all the fuss is about?” “No.” Famous last words, Don.
* Don’s first is a blonde. He marries a blonde, but spends his free time chasing brunettes like the mother who badly beat him for having sex while screaming at him that he’s filth. So there you go.
* “Are we negroes?”
* Don’s ultimate Draper Pitch uses history to attract its audience, even while Don’s lack of history is being used to bamboozle Sally and Bobby into giving up the goods to the world’s kindliest catburglar.
* “Have you been working on Chevy at all?” And that was the moment I finally realized what he was preparing to sell.
* Don finally opens the door, and walks into a nightmare tableau of broken domesticity — his ex, the wife he’s cheating on, his replacement, his abandoned kids, a cop. Lights out.
* That elevator ride. I was happy for both of them when it ended.
* Woof, Wendy was Frank’s daughter. Cutler is Roger if Roger were a sociopath rather than merely a nihilist.
* “Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse.” The door into Don Draper is shut.