Mad Men – Recap & Review – The Collaborators

photo: amc

photo: amc

Mad Men
The Collaborators

Original Air Date: Apr 14, 2013

Ryan O – Staff Writer

Getting along with your collaborators can be difficult at times. This is true both with professional partners and personal ones. How you deal with your collaborators will define how those people think of you.

Don has to deal with a plethora of collaborators: Megan, Sylvia, Pete, and Herb — the slimy creep from Jaguar who forced his way into sleeping with Joan. Pete and Peggy also have problems with collaborations.

The events of early 1968 are creeping into the edges of the characters’ lives. News of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam is on the radio and TV in the background in a number of scenes. The taking of the USS Pueblo by North Korea on January 23 is also featured. NBC even delays the start of Johnny Carson for a news update. The times are getting tense and getting tenser.


First, and notably, Peggy has an African-American secretary. They seem to like and respect each other, which is nice. The secretary tries to encourage Peggy to go easy on her underlings, but she doesn’t get it quite right and comes across instead as very corny. Later, Peggy finds a feminine hygiene product on her desk with the notes that it “kills overly critical bacteria.”

Stan and Peggy share another evening work phone call. Stan relates a funny story about the Heinz guy that bugged Peggy endlessly last season. Peggy relates the story to Ted, her boss, before she realizes the story contains sensitive information that shouldn’t have been shared. Later, Ted brings her work based on that information. Peggy initially refuses, since she doesn’t want to jeopardize Stan’s standing or her friendship with him. Ted insists she take it since it’s war and Stan is now the enemy. Peggy takes it, feeling as if she doesn’t have a lot of choice.

Peggy doesn’t have a lot of friends. She has Abe, her boyfriend, and Stan and that’s all we ever see. Losing Stan will be a huge blow. He’s someone who understands her and her job and that isn’t a small thing.


Pete and Trudy are hosting two new couples at a dinner party. The two wives are flirting with Pete while at the other end of the living room the husbands are flirting with Trudy. Trudy is fending the men off as best she can; Pete is encouraging the women as best he can.

I’m going to stop here for a moment. Vincent Kartheiser plays Pete Campbell. He’s never struck me as all that attractive, especially for TV. However, that hasn’t stopped him from being tremendously successful with women, including one of the wives who shows up with him at his Manhattan apartment. They have sex and he’s such a turd about it afterward, basically just shooing her out when they’re done.

After work, there’s some banging on the Campbell’s backdoor and some shouting. The wife’s face is covered in blood and you can hear the husband say that she’s Pete’s problem now. Trudy and Pete hustle her inside, try to comfort her and get her cleaned up. Pete’s worried about what she’ll say to Trudy and doesn’t want to leave them alone. But, unfortunately, Trudy drives her to a motel. The next morning, Trudy goes nuclear. She is done with Pete. She won’t divorce him because she’s not going to look like a failure but he will be at the house only when she allows it. Pete never tries to apologize. Instead, he tries to stand up to her but no, that doesn’t work.

But, if Pete is trying to become Don, well, breaking up with your wife is part of that journey.


Megan is in the building’s laundry room. She finds a number of things wrong that the maid has done and fires the woman on the spot. Sylvia Rosen (that’s Linda Cardellini’s character’s name) sees it and sees Megan start to cry. Megan says she’s not okay. They go upstairs to talk. Megan fills Sylvia in on some plot points about the soap. Then, Megan drops the bombshell: she had a miscarriage. She got a little sloppy with birth control while in Hawaii and she got pregnant.

There’s a moment of really intense eye contact where I almost thought the silence was saying Megan had an (illegal, at that point) abortion. But, Megan goes on to say she didn’t want to get pregnant and didn’t know what to do. As a result, Megan feels guilty for feeling relieved that the miscarriage happened. She tells Sylvia she hasn’t told Don about it yet.

Megan continues to explain how she feels to Sylvia, especially being raised Catholic, that she feels [word for crappy] about it. Sylvia, who was also raised Catholic, knows part of the sadness that Megan feels, but not the relief part and doesn’t go out of her way to make Megan feel better about how she’s feeling.

Megan does tell Don a day later. Don is concerned for her and supportive. They talk about talking about whether they want children together.


Don has a lot going on. First, he’s still sleeping with Sylvia. Second, there’s Herb, the slime from Jaguar, who has ideas about how to run the campaign. Third, there’s Megan.

Don ends up at dinner alone with Sylvia when her husband is called away to the hospital and Megan isn’t feeling well enough to go. Sylvia is pretty cold and Don calls her on it, telling her “You just want to feel [crappy] about it until the moment I rip off your dress.” Sylvia orders dinner, no appetizers.

After Don comes home from sleeping with Sylvia is when Megan tells him about the miscarriage.

At SCDP, Joan comes into Don’s office and informs him Herb is there. This is after Herb was in Joan’s office “flirting” with her. Joan was having none of it.

(As an aside, I do wonder if Joan and Roger ever talked about that incident. Roger has become a lot more open with his feelings and might have wanted to express his regret about what happened to her.)

Herb tells Don, Pete, and Bob how he wants the money allocated for radio ads for local Jaguar dealers. Don thinks this is dumb, but manages not to say that in so many words. Herb says SCDP will bring up the idea at the next meeting.

During the next meeting Pete brings up the idea and Herb is strongly in favor of it but the two other guys from Jaguar are not. Don chimes in and while saying words that sound like they’re supporting the idea actually torpedoes it. Roger enjoys watching it. After the meeting, Pete’s pretty mad. Don explains that they can’t give Herb an inch or he’ll take a mile (Don and Roger use the Munich agreement as an example of what happens when you let that happen).

Don got what he wanted out of that meeting but managed to make Herb and Pete angry, which may matter down the road.

Other stuff

All throughout the episode were flashback scenes to when Don was young. Don and his pregnant stepmother are taken in at a whore house. Don is told to mind his own business but at the end, Don is peeping through a keyhole as a man mounts his pregnant stepmother.

Don was told, again, that he needs to stop smoking. Smoking was prominent the whole episode, with cigarettes being lit, talk of the maid smoking in a room, and a few other times.

The pool that Trudy wanted and Pete was worried about? Got built.

Bob continues to hang around and brown nose. He’s very much Pete 2.0.

Best Lines:

“It’s the Coca-Cola of condiments!” Ken about Heinz ketchup

“And I know there’s a part of you you haven’t seen in years.” Joan to the very portly Herb

“I’m drawing a 50-mile radius around this house and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I’ll destroy you.” Trudy letting Pete have it

Best Shot:

The over-Megan’s-shoulder shot of Linda Cardellini was just full of unspoken meaning.

Song over the end credits:

“Just a Gigolo” sung by Bing Crosby in 1931

What do you expect to happen in the coming weeks? Let’s hear your Two Cents!

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