Review of Mad Men ‘Collaborators’ – Season 6, episode 3
This series blog is following the Sky Atlantic broadcast schedule of ‘Mad Men’ in the UK
Despite an opening scene that amusingly felt as if it was mere seconds away from descending into some kind of suburban swingers party, this week’s slice of Mad Men very much picked up where the ominous tone of the last one left off.
Considering the series opened with a mammoth two-hour double episode, in which the new lie of the land was very much fleshed out, it was unsurprising that this week’s instalment saw proceedings undergo a considerable slowing of the pace.
This may sound a bit like a euphemism for the fact that not a huge amount happened, and indeed the curse of too many series is the dreaded filler episode – serving little purpose but to string things along for another week – but this is not really the case with Mad Men.
Something is definitely happening, bubbling menacingly below the surface, it’s just not abundantly clear quite what it is yet. Perhaps at the heart of the episode are the diametric concepts of loyalty and deception which crop up in various guises throughout. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Don, who on the one hand is engaged in an affair that is deceiving and disloyal not only to his wife but also to his neighbour Dr Rosen, seemingly the closest thing he has to an actual friend.
However on the other hand we see that when it comes to his work, he is suddenly bound by a strict set of ethics, refusing to abandon Heinz beans for the vastly more lucrative ketchup account because in his own words “Sometimes you have to dance with the one who brought you” – a statement that is ludicrously ironic given that in his private life he is very much ‘dancing’ elsewhere.
The title of this week’s episode is The Collaborators and this is therefore unsurprisingly also a concept that drives the episode. Collaboration is everywhere, and in many cases hanging over things in a foreboding manner. The reappearance of Herb is a reminder of the sordid lengths that Joan had to go to in order to build their company’s foundations and the part that they all played in letting it happen, which while almost jokingly referred to as ‘Munich’ by Roger, is clearly no laughing matter.
Trudy too we learn has attempted her own unsuccessful policy of appeasement with Pete by turning a blind eye to his affairs, even sanctioning his flat in the city – although this, as seems to be the way with appeasement, ends spectacularly badly and violently.
Pete, tail firmly between his legs following his verbal destruction by Trudy, does perhaps deliver the best line of the episode to the über keen newbie Bob Benson when he says “It’s all about what it looks like.”
This not only applies to him but also very much to Don, who briefly towards the end of the episode appears to have rediscovered his work mojo, expertly sabotaging Herb’s wishes for the Jaguar campaign, to the amusingly barely disguised glee of Roger. It is perhaps telling though that it is with the same skill that he normally proposes ideas that he is in this case destroying one.
However for all his mastery of client manipulation in the boardroom, completed in this case with a deliberate and fantastically gloating handshake, by the end of the episode he is slumped sitting on the floor outside his apartment, unable to face his personal life behind the door. If it’s ‘all about what it looks like’, then it’s not looking too good for Don.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @thesportsfoxTagged in: Betty, Christina Hendricks, Don Draper, January Jones, Joan, Jon Hamm, Mad Men, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
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