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'Mad Men' Recap: Monday Morning Coming Down

The Chevy account takes its toll on Don while the office tries a new prescription

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on 'Mad Men'
Jordin Althaus/AMC
May 20, 2013 8:00 AM ET

Cue Comic Book Guy voice: Worst drug trip ever.

Hell, I'm exhausted after that episode, and all I had today was a multivitamin. One thing is for certain: I never need to see Don Draper on drugs ever again – even if it was just a "complex vitamin superdose" administered at the hands of a doctor from Jim Cutler's Rolodex. I've had enough death, doorway and whores-are-mommies imagery to last me until Mad Men reaches the 1970s. If there was anything I learned from "The Crash" – other than Aaron Staton does a mean soft shoe – it was that I'd much rather watch Roger get high. At least he hallucinated fun stuff like the 1919 World Series and harlequin hair. Don, on the other hand, kept flashing back to Uncle Mack's Haven for Working Girls Whom Teenage Dick Whitman Keeps Mistaking for Maternal Figures.

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Under the guise of coming up with yet another ad campaign for Chevy (they've rejected the previous 37,000), a sweaty, wired Don – along with the rest of the SCDP/CGC crew – spends an entire weekend babbling his way through idea after idea. But all he's really trying to do is win back Sylvia following their ugly breakup. His selfishness catches up to him when he finally returns home to find Megan, Betty, Henry, Sally, Bobby, Gene and two police officers in his living room: While Don was off figuring out the perfect ad campaign to present to his mistress, his children were being terrorized by a deranged woman who managed to slip into the apartment and rob the Drapers of their valuables – all the while claiming to be the kids' grandmother (not an easy sell, considering she was African-American). But in true Don Draper fashion, come Monday morning, there's no remorse for his actions, only his usual "this never happened" attitude. He ignores Sylvia in the elevator. He tells Sally (whose book of choice these days is Rosemary's Baby) to forget about the intruder. He removes himself as a direct contributor to the Chevy account. When shit gets too real for him, he detaches from everyone.

I Want a New Drug
The initial exhilaration of landing the Chevy account has devolved into exasperation for the SCDP/CGC partners. No matter what they pitch, it's not good enough for Detroit, not to mention Ken is putting his life in danger every time he rolls with the Chevy execs. The opening scene has the unnerved accounts man joyriding in a car full of drunken bigwigs (please turn this into a short story, Mr. Algonquin), and upon his return to New York, he's got a bum leg and a cane as his newest accessory. So Jim Cutler brings in Dr. Shelly Hecht to infuse the staff with "24 to 72 hours of uninterrupted creative focus, energy and confidence." Honestly, they did better when they drank whiskey and smoked joints all day long.

When he wasn't challenging Jim to race him around the office, Stan was hooking up with late CGC partner Frank Gleason's hippie daughter Wendy – but that was only after Peggy spurned his advances (I hear she likes guys who wear dickeys). And all that vitamin injection did for Don was cause his head space to be occupied by his teenage memory of Ms. Swenson, the blonde hooker who had been making eyes at him from the day he moved into Uncle Mack's brothel, tending to him while he battled a nasty chest cold. So it's no wonder Don's perception of women is so skewed: The only female who had shown him any sort of maternal comfort up to that point was a prostitute. But Ms. Swenson resumed her duties as soon as young Dick's lungs cleared up, relieving him of his virginity and any hope that he could ever separate the idea of a mother figure from that of a whore, especially after Abigail beat his ass for sleeping with the merchandise (Uncle Mack gave Ms. Swenson her walking papers once the truth got out).

Props to music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas for pairing a vintage recording of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" during the Dick Gets His Cherry Popped scene with "Words of Love" for the closing credits. It was a clever nod to the Mamas and the Papas' cover version of "Dream" without it being overkill.

There have been subtle suggestions throughout the season that Don equated Sylvia with being a whore whenever he saw her in a bathrobe and head kerchief, but it was during this particular episode's flashback that we learn it went far beyond her penchant for brothel attire. Sylvia wears a beauty mark on her right cheek, just like the mothering Ms. Swenson did, and that image has stayed with Don since his childhood, right up to a late 1950s oatmeal ad that he did in the Sterling Cooper days, featuring a kerchiefed mother, complete with beauty mark (instead of coming up with Chevy tag lines, Don holed himself up in the archives digging out the ad). Sylvia is the representation of the mother figure Don has been searching for his entire life, but she knows he's toxic to her existence – and so does he. Come Monday morning, after an almost-wordless encounter with Sylvia in the elevator, Don arrives at the office to find Ted fuming over the weekend's pathetic lack of productivity: "Half of this work is gibberish. Chevy is spelled wrong." Again, someone needs to enlighten Jim Cutler on the creative benefits of alcohol and pot. Don doesn't offer Ted much solace as he announces going forward he will only evaluate the work on the account, not contribute to it. Fed up with what happened to Joan over Jaguar and the demons produced by toiling on the Chevy campaign, Don determines that "every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse."

Wrap-Up
She only appeared in two scenes, but not only has Betty tossed the Liz Taylor brunette look, she's slimmed down to a dress size last seen in Season Four. This is owing to Henry's decision to run for office a few episodes back, which evidently was the impetus for Betty to get serious about her figure. The sudden weight loss just goes to show how self-centered Betty still is: She "struggled" with her diet for a year and a half, but once the term "political wife" became within her reach, she managed to put down the Bugles and drop the pounds in a matter of two months. I have a sickening feeling Sally is about to get a crash course in eating disorders.

Previously: The Advertising Bunch

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