9:44pm: For everyone interested, The Killing has debuted tonight on AMC. This is a new killing, not last season's killing.
9:53pm: Why is AMC's watermark so bold tonight? I feel like it's usually either (a) more translucent or (b) an outline. Matthew Weiner wouldn't stand for such an attention-stealing watermark on his show.
9:57pm: Jon Hamm was just on the NHL Western Conference Final. Well, on a Mercedes commercial. But, still, Jon Hamm!
9:59pm: The episode flashbacks feature the Wharton MBA. More brown-nosing tonight!
10:00pm: It's on!
10:01pm: We're opening up with the disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Megan notes that no one will vote for Humphrey.
10:02pm: Megan to Don: "Stay away from actresses." Don to Megan: "You could have told me that two seasons ago."
10:03pm: Pete Campbell asks to see Chevy. The partners refuse to let Pete smell Chevy.
10:04pm: Harry Hamlin: "SCDP/CG[&]C is a mouthful." Side note: Harry Hamlin! He's too big a name for this role.
10:05pm: The naming discussion ends without a decision. It's not like they're branding experts or anything.
10:06pm: Roger and Don are on a plane, in which Roger refers to Ted Chaough as his "underling." Roger has not paid attention to the last few episodes.
10:06pm: Roger is nailing it during this entire flight scene. That's what happens with John Slattery directs the episode!
10:07pm: Harry Hamlin would like people at the agency to do their work. MICHAEL GINSBERG would rather listen to the DNC. MICHAEL GINSBERG flips out at Harry Hamlin for suggesting that he, you know, do his work.
10:08pm: Harry Hamlin yells at the Wharton MBA! Thank goodness.
10:08pm: Harry Hamlin then mildly suggests to Ted Chaough that they fire all the SCDP staff.
10:09pm: Ted Chaough, regarding MICHAEL GINSBERG: "He's lightning in a bottle!"
10:10pm: Joan Harris is at dinner with someone I should remember (the new head of marketing at Avon). He asks her what exactly her job is at SCDP/CG&C. Her answer: she preempts clients' needs, just like Roger Sterling.
10:11pm: Harry Hamlin assigned the Wharton MBA to the same client presentation as MICHAEL GINSBERG. Is Harry Hamlin trying to sabotage the presentation and justify firing all the SCDP staff? Probably.
10:13pm: Pete Campbell is assigned to Joan's lead at Avon, then tries to kick Joan out of the presentation.
10:14pm: Pete to Joan, re: his hijacking of Avon: "Don't worry. You'll get all the credit." Oh, Joan, they'll never give you the respect you deserve.
10:15pm: Don, Roger, and Harry Crane are at a hotel in LA. Harry to Roger: "It's a dry heat." Roger to Harry: "More like a dry heave!" Roger Sterling, everyone!
10:16pm: Commercial break! I'm seeing a lot of complaints on Twitter about how Game of Thrones went tonight. I suggest that everyone with issues read the source material.
10:19pm: We're back! Work Joan has a very different personal style than Home Joan.
10:21pm: Joan, Don, and Megan are watching the riots outside of the 1968 DNC. Don is making light of the violence, while Megan breaks down. Maybe the Sharon Tate linkage is true.
10:22pm: The characters are still watching the DNC riots. We're watching TV of people watching TV. Let's move on.
10:23pm: Joan doesn't invite Pete to the meeting with the Avon marketing head. Peggy, who Joan did invite, is shocked, which is completely unrealistic because Peggy would totally pull and endorse that power move if she were in Joan's position.
10:25pm: Pitch meetings are usually so exciting. Joan is getting there.
10:26pm: Roger starts up the pitch meeting in LA with a casual conversation about Richard Nixon's patriotism. Now that's a pitch meeting!
10:28pm: Roger, as the LA pitch meeting turns south: "We're sorry your last girlfriend hurt you." Roger Sterling, everyone!
10:29pm: Commercial break! Perrelli Optical is your solution for Cambridge/Watertown/Belmont eyewear.
10:32pm: We're back!
10:33pm: Joan to Peggy, re: her usurpation of the Avon meeting: "This is the only way I could do it." That's probably true.
10:34pm: MICHAEL GINSBERG is nervous about the Manischewitz meeting. Bob Benson to MICHAEL GINSBERG: "It's not fear of failure. It's fear of opportunity." MICHAEL GINSBERG cites the Vietnam War. I'd still rather go into a presentation with MICHAEL GINSBERG.
10:36pm: Roger to Don, re: the long road back with their LA clients: "Big clients require a golf and dining offensive."
10:37pm: Harry Crane takes Roger and Don to a Hollywood party. There's some stuff going on at the party, but it seems tacky, and I'm really hoping they get back to New York quickly.
10:39pm: Don Draper is going to smoke hashish, because he is the consummate professional. I am not a fan of these LA scenes and I hope they get back to New York quickly.
10:42pm: Commercial break! Boy, they really back load these commercial breaks, huh?
10:44pm: Still in commercial.
10:45pm: Back in LA. Roger gets hit square in the honor code by Danny, one of the least efficient employees in SCDP history. Doesn't help. These scenes need to end. This was a great episode until it became Californication.
10:48pm: Don is at the LA party, stoned, and imagining that Megan is in LA, catches him cheating, is cool with it, and is pregnant.
10:49pm: Megan morphs into PFC Dinkins, from the first episode of the season.
10:50pm: Bob Benson informs Ted and Harry Hamlin that the Manischewitz meeting went horribly. As a reward for tanking the meeting, Harry Hamlin puts Bob on the Chevy account, theoretically with Ken Cosgrove.
10:52pm: Don and Roger are on the plane back to New York, where Roger refers to New York as the center of the universe.
10:53pm: Commercial break!
10:54pm: Commercial break.
10:55pm: Promo for The Killing.
10:56pm: Commercial break…broken.
10:57pm: Back to the show. Joan's about to get yelled at by Pete. As a side note, she's wearing a sort of gift-wrapped dress.
10:58pm: Pete yells at Joan. Pete then gets Ted, because Pete is a spoiled brat.
11:00pm: Ted is totally OK with Joan taking Avon from Pete because (a) Ted is practical and (b) no one likes Pete. Of course, Avon may not be SCDP/CG&C, anyway, since Peggy made up a call from the client.
11:01pm: Harry Hamlin and Ted Chaough propose renaming the agency SC&P (Sterling Cooper & Partners). That's perfectly reasonable. Unfortunate.
11:03pm: Pete complains to Don about the name change and how disrespected he feels. Don tells him to quit if he doesn't like it. So, Pete responds by smoking up with Stan Rizzo.
11:04pm: The episode ends on a contemplative Pete Campbell, who was barely in this episode in any emotional way. Why?
11:05pm: From the next episode preview, it looks like (a) Peggy and Ted at least get drinks together, and maybe more; (b) Megan is still around.
Final score: Harry Hamlin wins the night! Finally, he's in the plot in a major way. He is absolutely crafting a master plan to remove Don, Pete, and maybe even Roger from the firm. The firm's new name of "Sterling Cooper and Partners" will allow Harry Hamlin to retain all the brand equity of the Sterling Cooper name after he someone engineers the rest of the SCDP gang out.
Don Draper's downward descent took a night off. Instead, Roger received tonight's great lines, great plot development, and even a punch to the pride bucket. Roger's development has never moved the series, though, which is why something drastic needs to happen to Don in the next episode. We all know he's going to crash, but there needs to be a logical reason why. Let's hope he just doesn't fade away like any other addict.
Thanks for reading! See you next week for another Mad Men episode.