|By Clay N. Ferno|
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and CG&C have merged to handle the Chevrolet account and bring the forces of both firms together.
Not everyone is able to keep their jobs as the union comes with some redundancies. In this episode we marvel at how the higher ups at the company deal with the power shifts in the workplace and at home.
All the while, those at the bottom of the totem pole scramble to prove their worth and save their own jobs.
The story opens with the recurring elevator scene in Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) building. On his way in to the new company’s first day, the elevator door opens to Sylvia’s (Linda Cardellini) floor. We hear her argue with husband Doctor Arnold Rosen (Brian Markinson) who is leaving his practice and headed to Minnesota. Don closes the door, just before the doctor turns the corner for the lift.
At Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the as yet unnamed amalgamation of the two firms is physically taking place. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is shown to her new office by a put upon Joan (Christina Hendricks). Joan assigns new offices to the salesmen and the secretaries.
The first board meeting divides the client base among reps. Ted Chaough shows an assertive and clear headed side.
Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), the last to the meeting and temporarily without a seat is called away to deal with his senile mother. This accompanies the theme of any self-imposed punishment he’s carved out for himself these past weeks. He is, in his own way, compassionate toward his mother, and puts her up in his stag apartment, offering her the bed.
Don leaves the partner meeting for a different calling. He and Sylvia have a hotel quickie that devolves into a master/slave BSDM power play. It’s clear that while she plays along, this is Don’s game, not her as he demands she stay naked waiting for him to be done with work.
After blowing off a meeting with the creative department and Ted about Fleischmann’s Margarine to have his affair, Don returns to the office. Ted dresses him down about the tardiness, and Don slams the door on Ted.
In a power play, Don visits Ted’s office with a full bottle of Canadian Club. Not being as much of a drinker as Don, Ted is quickly hammered and unable to do any more work. They visit the creative suite in the middle of the offices where Peggy, Stan and Ginsberg are still meeting.
Ted passes out, with Don assuring everyone that Ted will “Sleep it off”. The move to embarrass the new partner gets Peggy irked, and she says as much to Don later in the episode.
Our new pal, Bob Benson (James Wolk), the man who has been sticking his nose in everyone’s business, but in a friendly ass-kissing sort of way has moments with Joan that redeem the character in the eyes of the viewer. Joan is not only dealing with the merger of the two companies, but is doing so under incredible pain. Bob takes her to the hospital and is able to use his sideways smirk to get her immediate treatment for what turns out to be an ovarian cyst. When it comes time for Joan, Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) and Pete to fire redundant employees, Joan saves Benson.
What mysterious reveals about Bob will we see in the second half of the season? He is certainly having many people talking about him and some important allies in the office (Ted and Joan).
Don has imposed an imprisonment for Sylvia as he leaves with Ted in a two-seater plane to deal with the Mohawk plane account upstate. In this instance, Ted has the upper hand, being a pilot and identifying more closely with the client, trumping Don’s history with the client.
When Don returns to the hotel to boss Sylvia around and get kinky, she is about to leave and calls off the affair. She realizes that she needs to end the whole thing, and Don protests. In the end, that’s where it leaves off. Drenched from a downpour, Sylvia returns home on to the floor below Don’s, departing the elevator without a word. Don returns home, and Megan (Jessica Paré) fixes him a drink.
Megan asks Don to go on vacation with her, but Don can hardly focus on her words. His world seems to be falling apart. Can he reinvent himself again?
Pete’s mom awakes him to tell him the news of the RFK assassination, but also that he is going to be late for school at 6AM. Chalking this up to her senility, Pete returns to sleep on the couch in his apartment. A grown man who is also powerless, though in a different way that Don.
The story ends with Don staring into space as Megan cries, touched by the loss of Bobby Kennedy.
In a world where freedom rings, there is a sense of unknown powerlessness. Don has lost some control of his business and creativity and his mistress. Is he losing control of everything? Time will tell.
What do we have to look forward to in episode 8 from the teaser?
Furrowed brows, a reaction to the RFK shooting, tired partners and the return of Ken Cosgrove from the midwest with what seems like dire news. Is this merger a success? We’ll see in the long-tail, this new super agency doesn’t have a name yet!