The title of this episode, “For Immediate Release” figuratively implies action before contemplation and stubbornness. Mad Men’s characters show this throughout the episode, such as in Don and Ted merging the companies on the spot, Don snapping and breaking the Jaguar commitment, Pete and Trudy’s father dropping nukes on each other, Arthur quitting his job or Peggy kissing her boss.
When Pete tells Ken about catching his father in law at the whore house, Ken’s “mutually assured destruction” is built on the assumption both have a marriage to lose. Of course, Pete is already a cheater to Trudy, the leap from which to prostitute customer is hardly earth shattering. Thus with a marriage and life already in the wreck, he has much less to lose than the father-in-law and the rules of mutual destruction doesn’t apply to him. So boom goes the dynamite.
Peggy increasingly is becoming more suited for an upper-class and Ted & Don like life, that Abe cannot provide. Ted has to live with a weight of expectations and live a balancing act, that is foreign at home with Abe. At the same time Ted is not Don or Pete. He is honest and truthful. Ted appeals to what Peggy wants to be. Successful and powerful, but not Don. But it’s this integrity which also makes him naive enough to jump into bed with Don immediately with the merger, instead of running it by Peggy first. Both Peggy and Joan are angry at the decisions Ted and Don made without them, but it’s in their power to for right or wrong and that is what stings them.
Speaking of power, Megan’s mother continues to have an unfortunate power over her. Megan has much reasons to be proud of herself and her career, but whether under her mother or Don, has fragile enough confidence to be bent into a subservient position.
Despite his deeds, Don still sees himself in the right to take a moral high-ground against Jaguar’s Herb for what he did to Joan. A real hero in Arthur quits the hospital for them lacking his idealism in favor of transplants. Yet one can argue Don’s moral high-ground may have been more selfless, if Arthur at least partly wants to transplant a heart for personal recognition.
“For Immediate Release” is a fast-paced and full episode, but this season continues to feel off its mark to me. Perhaps the problem is how Don has snapped back into a form seen years before. While failure to progress is part of his flaw, I do not find it as interesting as a Don progressing somewhere.
By Julien Rodger