9:30pm: Tonight's Mad Men features Don Draper right where we like him: in a fresh affair, running through ad pitches to big companies, and drinking himself slowly into the grave. Episode 603 is titled "The Collaborators," and Don's collaborators continue to ignore him as he starts his downward spiral. The finances of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce have never been better, so why should his colleagues care if he ruined a pitch by advocating suicide? Megan's career has never been hotter, so why should she care that Don's having another affair? The only one in the world that could understand and help Don is Peggy, and she's too busy building her career with Ted Chaough.
On the bright side, it's time for more compelling minor storylines tonight. We're hopefully clear of Betty and Megan for a while — Betty's put in her time in the storyline with a bore de force in Episodes 601 and 602, while Megan was a lot more interesting when she was failing to build a career. The Internet rumors state that Alison Brie is coming back tonight as Trudy Campbell, so we'l hopefully learn how Pete Campbell's separate apartment in Manhattan is working out. My guess is that he'll keep trying to match Don in more ways than one.
See you all in a few minutes!
9:49pm: I am reviewing last week's episode through On Demand. It's a great feeling to fast-forward through the Betty scenes.
9:55pm: As an AMC loyalist, I am committed to watching The Italian Job, tonight's lead-in to Mad Men. No Game of Thrones for me. Nor the MTV movie awards. Nor Sunday Night Baseball. There is King of the Hill on Cartoon Network, though…
9:57pm: I thought that Edward Norton was the hero of The Italian Job. Marky Mark didn't deserve the gold.
9:59pm: And The Italian Job ends with Seth Green causing permanent hearing damage to a model. Box office gold. Mad Men time!
10:00pm: Alison Brie is in tonight's episode, and Jon Hamm's directing!
10:01pm: Partygoer at Pete Campbell's party: "You must see Hair." Pete's hairline agrees.
10:02pm: Did Pete and Trudy just host a key party?
10:03pm: Meanwhile, back at Don Draper's apartment, the good doctor is having an argument with his wife. For some reason, Don (the emotional, interesting Don) is friends with the most boring doctor in the world. No amount of innuendo can make that man interesting.
10:04pm: Flashback time! We're with 13-year-old Dick Whitman and his mother at a brothel. Maybe Mad Men is more like Game of Thrones than I thought.
10:05pm: Flashback over. Don is in bed with the doctor's wife.
10:06pm: Don to the doctor's wife, re: the affair: "This didn't happen." He then gives her a wad of cash. They seem to end on pleasant terms.
10:09pm: At Peggy's office. Peggy is terrorizing her junior employees. She then attempts to make it better by telling them that it's not their fault that their work sucks. Does that motivational strategy work?
10:10pm: At Pete's surprisingly small Manhattan apartment, where he is attempting to seduce the Hair woman. She seems strikingly unintelligent, which should make Pete angry. Right? Doesn't Pete want an intelligent affair? Don has a doctor's wife.
10:12pm: The boys from Heinz are in from Pittsburgh! The head of Heinz's ketchup department wants Don Draper to do for ketchup what he did for baked beans. However, the head of baked beans (old, angry, drunk) wants Don to stay away from the ketchup head (young, attractive, drunk). Ken Cosgrove wants Don to go after the ketchup man given his higher potential, but Don loves loyalty and hates conflict, so he wants to let the ketchup man slide.
10:13pm: The last scene was excellent and full of potential discussion points, so thankfully, Jon Hamm follows that up with a scene of Pete's latest conquest in her undergarments. Nothing says desperation like a balding Pete Campbell. Anyway, the Hair girl that Pete just mated with would like to see him again, so some clinginess is certain to come.
10:16pm: Commercial break! It's a Bing commercial based in San Francisco, or what the Bingers call "Google's backyard." Every single tech company in the free world bases itself in the Bay Area. Since the commercial takes place in San Francisco, the real backyard that Google and Bing should both concern themselves with more in Twitter.
10:18pm: Back to Mad Men! Megan is in the laundry room with her maid, who she has just fired for not washing her clothes correctly. The doctor's wife walks in mid-firing, so they go back to Don's apartment and smoke.
10:19pm: The doctor's wife: "I just wish watching TV during the day didn't make me feel so guilty."
10:20pm: Megan had a miscarriage, which should make me feel bad. Unfortunately, she's switching into her Quebecois accent, and it's difficult to take her seriously.
10:23pm: There's some miscarriage talk going on and Megan's blaming herself, but it bums me out, so I'm going to focus on the age of the doctor's wife. Linda Cardellini, the actress playing the doctor's wife, is 37 in real life, and looks like she's 30 on the show. Her character has a kid at Michigan, so how old was she when she had the kid? If she's 37 on the show (an assumption), she must have had the kid when she was 18-20 years old. Her husband looks like he's 50. So…it's time to become a doctor!
10:24pm: Herb, the Jaguar dealer who gave SCDP the Jaguar account, is back to see Joan. From last year, remember that Joan received her partnership for spending a night with Herb. Herb is happy to see Joan. Joan is not happy to see Herb. But who gained more from that night?
10:26pm: Herb is meeting with Don and Pete, and wants SCDP to change the campaign structure of Jaguar's national buy. The Wharton MBA is in this meeting, too, but he's sitting back and waiting to be spoken too. Good MBA!
10:27pm: Commercial break! Observation: this week has a lot more ad business going on. Excellent! It's been a while since advertising has come on this show about an ad agency.
10:32pm: We're back! Peggy and Stan are on the phone again. Stan's beard is meant to be cherished. However, Peggy gets caught by Ted Chaough talking with Stan. Ted notes that Stan makes Peggy laugh. Ted also notices that SCDP won't go after the Heinz ketchup guy. Hmm…
10:34pm: Back at Don's apartment. Megan says she's not feeling well, but that Don should still go to the dinner with the doctor and the doctor's wife.
10:35pm: We're in the Nutmeg State! Pete's Hair ticket girl comes to the Campbell house beat up and bleeding, most likely because her husband discovered that she slept with Pete. Trudy is helping her get cleaned up, oblivious for now.
10:36pm: We're at dinner wtih the doctor, the doctor's wife, and Don as the third wheel. The doctor noted the oddity of North Korea's military moves. Another modern-day parallel.
10:37pm: The doctor gets called away at dinner, which will likely leave Don with the doctor's wife. Will Don pay for dinner, or will she use part of the wad of cash Don gave her earlier?
10:38pm: Back at Pete and Trudy's house. The Hair ticket girl, beat up and bloodied, wants to be with Pete. Clearly, she is confused. Also confusingly, she says nothing to Trudy. Are you kidding me, Hair ticket girl?
10:39pm: Commercial break! Ryan Gosling is in a movie, and he's dreamy, yet incomprehensible. Why do movie directors insist on giving actors lines to read? Canada.
10:41pm: Commercial break, continued! It's more Christina Hendricks for Johnny Walker, using the sales techniques that earned Joan her SCDP partnership. We have evolved as a society.
10:43pm: We're back! The doctor must attend to an Important Medical Emergency, so he leaves his wife in the care of Don. Don and the doctor's wife are arguing about what to eat. The doctor's wife appears to have some actual remorse, but this is Mad Men, so of course she's actually into Don's emotional abuse.
10:44pm: Don to the doctor's wife: "You want to feel sh**ty, right up until the point where I take your dress off." This is now a flash forward to the bedroom. Note to readers: Jon Hamm is directing.
10:45pm: The doctor's wife orders Don a steak diablo. Because Don is a diablo. Then, a flash forward to the bedroom.
10:46pm: Pete is back at his home in Connecticut, where Trudy is knowing and angry. Also, something about Vietnam.
10:47pm: Don returns home to Megan, absent any signs or scents indicating that he was just with the doctor's wife. Megan is depressed about her miscarriage, and Don is depressed about needing to listen to Megan's complaining.
10:49pm: It's morning in Connecticut. Trudy is waiting for Pete at the breakfast nook. Trudy's anger is more about Pete's lack of discretion than Pete's cheating.
10:50pm: Trudy has created a fifty-mile zone around the Campbell estate, in which Pete cannot cheat. It's like the TMZ (not TMZ).
10:51pm: Back at Peggy's office. Ted wants Peggy to go after the Heinz ketchup account. Peggy has emotions briefly about betraying Stan's trust, but then relents. As she should. Who's yelling at Stan for betraying SCDP's trust?
10:52pm: Commercial break! It's that great Microsoft Surface Pro commercial, in which colleagues trade keyboards without a thought for the shared germs. My kingdom for hand sanitizer.
10:54pm: Commercial break, continued! We're going until 11:04 tonight, helping the Nielsen ratings for the 11:04 repeat of Mad Men.
10:56pm: Back to the show. We're at SCDP, where the Jaguar dealer is back for a local media pitch. The future of advertising is local. Remember that.
10:57pm: Side note: Lane Pryce was SCDP's first connection to Jaguar. There are now three Jaguar employees in this meeting, at least one of which is British. Will anyone mention the fact that Lane, their fellow Brit and first contact, committed suicide?
10:58pm: Don sabotaged the Jaguar meeting to satisfy the Jaguar execs and not Herb, the creept Jaguar dealer. Is this some weird defense of Joan?
11:00pm: Pete is sulking in his office, when the Wharton MBA comes in to offer some consolation and advice. Everyone loves unsolicited advice from a Wharton MBA.
11:01pm: Flashback time! Dick Whitman is watching through a peephole as his mother mates with the brothel's head man. Yet again, Mad Men proves itself to be more like Game of Thrones than I'd figured.
11:04pm: Next week's preview: Stan Rizzo looks like he's just been fired, which would be understandable given that he told Peggy about SCDP's business with Heinz.
Final Score: Don wins the night! It's amazing how that happens on a night that Jon Hamm directs the episode. Don gets the doctor's wife, gets shirtless, and gets to peep on his mother. It's a psychologist's dream. Stan Rizzo finishes in a close second for his bountiful beard, especially since he's likely to get fired in next week's episode. Peggy will be down a friend, but up a client, which is the outcome she really covets anyway.
Pete and Trudy Campbell had the bulk of the "B" storyline, and it was well worth it. Pete is settling into a life of cheating and watching television, while Trudy is settling into a life of regret and punishment. Worst of all, the Whalers are years away from moving to Hartford, so there's nothing to distract the Campbells from each other. An unleashed Pete Campbell in New York City would be interesting to watch, though. Let's just hope that Trudy lets him live through the rest of the season.
Thanks for joining the live blog! See you next week.