MAD MEN: “A Tale of Two Cities” S6E10 (recap)

The firm is still quibbling over naming rights as some partners go for business trips and Joan (Christina Hendricks) expands her horizons at the office with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) as a companion and accomplice.

Will Bob Benson’s (James Wolk) enthusiasm and inserting himself into every situation finally give him the leg up he’s been waiting for? 

We open to a partner’s meeting that Don arrives at the end of. The merged firm’s name “Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason & Chaough” or “SCDPCG&C” is agreed to be a mouthful, but the subject is tabled as Ted (Kevin Rahm) leaves for Detroit to handle Chevy and Don and Roger head to L.A.

In this John Slattery (Roger) directed episode we’re treated to a bit more color—from the wardrobes of the stars as they visit California—to the color television set coverage of the Chicago riots at the Democratic National Convention, 1968. National television and Hollywood take center stage as Don (Jon Hamm) and Roger visit Los Angeles to woo West Coast clients.

Slattery shines on the plane with Hamm as the two go back and for the about the trip. Roger wants Don to be the self-assured east coast business man that he knows he is, and not to be an over-prepared worry wart. Roger knows that the New York confidence and swagger will get the job done, not reading about Carnation Instant Breakfast and Sunkist on the flight.

Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) is aplomb as he dons a scarf and sunglasses to check Don and Roger into the hotel.  Roger heads to the Sunset Strip for a Steak, Don orders room service in the hotel and sees the riots on TV. He gets a phone call from Megan, who, as we are reminded of, cannot vote in the election because of her Canadian citizenship.

When Joan’s friend Kate was visiting, she made the connection with Avon Cosmetics to Joan directly. Looking to expand her role or define herself as a partner, Joan takes a meeting with the Avon executive, on the pretense that it was a date.

Joan returns to the office (having picked up the tab) with a hot lead on the company and tells Peggy. Ted is excited but takes Joan off as the contact and assigns partner Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) to the job, frustrating Joan.

In an act of defiance and claiming her own stake in the company, Joan takes the next meeting with Avon without inviting Pete. Peggy is along for the breakfast meeting, and Joan leans on her for the heavy questions. Joan handles the meeting well but deals with the consequences later. Back at the office, Peggy is convinced that Joan has made a mistake by breaking protocol, but Joan firmly explains herself and asks for support.

What about Bob Benson, you may ask? He may be found listening to “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” on phonograph in his office, or breaking the tension between former Air Force officer Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) and Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman). Cutler puts Bob to the test as Roger is out of town to take care of the Manischewitz account. The account puts the firm under review, so Benson had best give that record another spin.

Out in Beverly Hills, Harry, Don and Roger hit up a pool party with hot men and women, no shortage of dope and they run into an old friend, Danny Siegel (Danny Strong). Danny is a failed copywriter and former employee of SCDP. Roger jabs at Danny’s height and tries to steal his girl, Lotus. Lotus is tripping and high as a kite, but as we know, Roger is ‘experienced’.

Don makes his way to the restroom but is distracted by beautiful ladies smoking hashish out of a hookah. When the stuff hits him, it’s bad news. He hallucinates a pregnant Megan stalking him, and Private Dinkins visiting him from Vietnam, missing an arm. Cut to Don being fished out of the pool by Roger. Never trust a hookah nipple from a stranger!

Back at the firm, Joan’s secret Avon meeting is exposed to Pete and Ted. As she’s asked to repent for her crimes, and Pete is dressing her down, Peggy saves the day by lobbing a fake phone message into the conference room by way of her secretary. The Avon rep is calling for Joan, so Ted demands she take the call. Where Peggy did not agree with how Joan took her piece of the pie, the women stick together to change are changing the sexist workplace environment together.  Gender roles are expanding and now Joan has an account she is responsible for. Since Lane’s suicide, Joan’s partnership has been purely as a figurehead.

All partners except for Joan meet in Don’s office upon everyone’s return. Ted is excited that Chevy’s approvals will come easier now, Don and Roger’s trip may or may not bear fruit, and Manischewitz goes away. 

Jim Cutler and Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) reveal the company name to be reduced to Sterling, Cooper & Partners. Jim says this is the only way because it is equally offensive to members of both firms. Don and Ted drop the fight about the name and all agree that SC&P will look good on the stationary. The partner with the most to say about the change is the resistant Pete, to whom Don invites to leave if he doesn’t like it. Pete storms out of Don’s office to steal a joint from Stan’s mouth and mellows out on the couch.

What can we expect from the preview of next week’s episode?

Megan’s got a surprise visitor or two, Peggy and Ted have more than a drink together, Betty returns and Don pays Pete a visit to his desperate bachelor pad. We’re also reminded of the countdown. There are only three episodes left this season before we see the summer of love in 1969.