Mad Men Thread: Duck and Cover


The Suitcase featured a rareMad Men “action” sequence as well as frequent puglistic references. It was set on the day of the Ali-Liston rematch; neither fight was very good nor lasted very long. Ali (still called Clay by the gang at SCDP) kicked Liston’s ass in 90 second and a drunken Duck Philips jumped on an equally shitfaced Don Draper but not much happened after Duck sat on Don’s chest. Duck was lucky that Don didn’t upchuck on him before Peggy broke it up and sent the loathsome Duck on his way. I didn’t notice if he did the duck walk when Peggy hustled him out of there but he’s no Chuck Berry…

It was an episode full of milestones: a misguided surprise party thrown by Peggy’s nebbish boy friend Mark led to their breaking up. Peggy was expecting a “romantic dinner” but the nebbish invited the entire Olson clan. Big mistake, dude: I would rather swim with piranhas than have dinner with Mrs. Olson. She puts the o in virago. For his part, Don spends the evening ducking a phone call from Anna Draper’s niece telling him that the only person who really knew Dick/Don was dead. Don got stinking drunk, blew chunks, re-bonded with Peggy and looked like his old self the next day. But will it last? Pass the whiskey…

Jon Hamm was *spectacular* in this episode as he showed us every aspect of Don’s complex persona. It was great to see Peggy tell Don some things that have been eating at her; especially Don’s taking all the credit for the Clio winning floor wax ad. I’m not sure if their exchange of confidences will bring them closer but I was relieved that Don didn’t hit on Peggy. The last thing either of them needs is to share bodily fluids with one another.

The episode dealt with the growing generation gap in a pretty nifty way. Don is old school: he bet on Liston and dismissed the idea of using Joe Namath in the Samsonite ad campaign.Why? Ali is too mouthy, too ethnic and Namath hadn’t played a pro game yet. Don seemed to reconsider Ali by the end of the episode and he *really* should change his tune on Namath who, in a matter of months, will be the hottest celebrity in the country. I don’t know about y’all but I thought that the ad acted out by Peggy and company was pretty good. Maybe not a Clio winner but not as bad as Don said it was.

Finally, I cannot conclude this post without mentioning the divinely incompetent Miss Blankenship. It turns out that she’s a Sterling Cooper lifer because she used to be Bert Cooper’s mistress. Her presence as Don’s secretary is Joan’s crafty way of punishing him for shtupping and driving away the lovely and clever Allison.

The title of episode-7 has given me a raging earworm so I thought I’d share it. Listen to a bit of Badfinger while leaving a comment:

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9 thoughts on “Mad Men Thread: Duck and Cover

  1. To quote Draper: “Let’s go someplace darker.”
    Best episode of the season, maybe best episode ever. Hamm and Moss were over-the-top good, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco good. And the writing and cinematography were at their level.
    I liked the various characters’ evolving relationship with booze: recovering alcoholics, unaware alcoholics, heavy drinkers, teetotalers, and the younger set, whose choice of alcohol is Budweiser. (It looks like they’re headed for a collision with Joan next week, and I have a feeling she’s not going to be able to dispatch the odious Joey as easily as she has her other nemeses.)
    Don doesn’t seem to be able to drink any beverage but liquor any more. Early in the episode he took a swig of coffee and grimaced; at the diner, he sipped a glass of water and said, with disgust, “I don’t wantwater.”
    Loved it so much I watched it twice and saw whole new things the second time.

  2. P.S. I also worked in an office where a fired employee broke in and committed Duck’s Revenge for real. At the time I thought it was a one-off thing to do, but now I’m wondering how common it is. It sure beats shooting up a workplace…

  3. There was a guy who did that in an old office of mine as well. At least, we assume it was a guy. They called him the Mad Shitter.
    Miss Blankenship: The Queen of Perversions! It sounds like an Amanda Palmer album.
    I don’t see Don hitting on Peggy. I think if anybody was to make that move it’d have to be her. He guards these people, Peggy and Anna, who really get him, who see him and unsettle him, and he keeps himself away from them. He had to get unspeakably blind drunk to even talk kindly to her.
    Don and Peggy break my heart most of the time anyway, because she’s so great, she’s so steady and sure and he’s been pushing her away all season, pushing and pushing because he can’t stand what she sees when she looks at him now. Yet there she still is, reminding him he could still be who he was. That’s more important than a lover. That’s a good friend.
    Also I love the boys giving Peggy a hard time, and her giving it right back. That’s the only way you win with people like that.

  4. Re: Ali and Broadway Joe, it’s funny to see Don Draper as being, well, out of touch.
    He’s also not part of the World War II generation (Duck, Roger Sterling), but instead is caught in the middle, a veteran of the forgotten war…well, until MASH, but MASH used Korea for convenience.

  5. Heh. A copy clerk at a law office I worked at used to fantasize about “laying down a big poo” on the senior partner’s desk just before quitting. The senior partner was a complete ass.
    This past episode was great indeed. I would call it Peggy’s episode. Don is a freakin’ mess and it’s not going to get any better, either. I tell you what, this season my liver gets queasy by the end of each episode! The puking this time, though. Woof.

  6. Peggy is now officially my fictional heroine. She really rocked this episode and hopefully ushered Duck out of her life as well as the office.
    President Barlett’s kid has turned out very well indeed.

  7. Cassius Clay was still using that name when he fought and beat Liston. It was in all the headlines. He didn’t start going as Ali until after his victory.
    Sounds like a great episode. Draper is definitely a man in the middle even as his business is transforming. Peggy is younger. She knows her generation.
    Now, all the show needs is a Mad Magazine reference. After all, a lot of Mad Magazine artists were working ad men. I’ve got my bets on Danny.

  8. I thought it was the best Mad Men episode ever, and also especially loved the line, “Let’s go someplace darker.”
    The season has beendark. That’s the word that keeps coming up in our Monday office discussions about Don’s drift towards some kind of bottom, his ghetto apartment, his losing time or, worse, pretending to have lost time, the humiliation of Miss Blankenship, his slipping relevance. This episode was like a cleansing bender, even neatening some elements all the way back to the first season. Fabulous.
    Watching Peggy with Don and Duck, I couldn’t help but see the codependent in the middle of the dance of the drunks, managing everything.

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