Mad Men "Favors" Review: All the Lonely People

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Jun 10, 2013

Mad Men S06E11: "Favors"

I feel like Mad Men is starting to repeat itself with its seemingly endless reaffirmations that Don Draper is an awful person. "Favors" showcased the Way of the Don fairly well in his willingness to lose everything—even things that aren't entirely his to throw away—in his pursuit of Sylvia. The alarms started blaring as soon as the shaggy-haired kid moping in Don and Megan's apartment was revealed to be Sylvia and Arnie's recently drafted son, and they only got louder as Don gave his all to get Mitchell a cushy National Guard gig. At one point, Don even went as far as to declare the war in Vietnam "wrong," which didn't sit right with me, not because I always thought Don would be for the war, but because I just don't think Don cared either way until it immediately affected him... or, more precisely, his love life.

So Don saved Mitchell—with some indispensable help from Ted—after almost ruining things with Chevy for the entire firm by steering the light dinner conversation into much darker subject matter. Sylvia rewarded his good deed by welcoming him back into her home and her pants... only for Sally to walk in on guilty sexy funtimes. Poor Sally. Between Betty's BOYS ARE BAD, SEX IS BAD, DON'T BE SLUTTY stance, Roger's "betrayal" of her affections during last season's "At the Codfish Ball," and now Don—it's no wonder she's incapable of talking to boys.

Don tried to talk to Sally, but his entire conversation with her smacked of desperation and fear that she would tattle to Megan, Arnie, Mitchell, and maybe even Betty—though I'm sure at this point Betty couldn't care less. Don's a selfish guy and because of his selfishness, he ended up brooding alone at the end of "Favors." It's standard Don Draper operating procedure. It's also becoming standard Sally operating procedure because like-father-like-offspring and all that.

The turmoil at the Draper home was in direct contrast to the situation at the Chaoughs'. Ted and his wife have been having issues all season long and while Ted isn't perfect—still making googly eyes at Peggy, still making it his life's mission to best Don at anything—Ted clearly has a vastly different approach to his family and children than Don does. Ted may pine for Peggy, but other than that one kiss, he hasn't acted on his feelings. And when his wife complained about him never being home, he made an effort to come home. Of course, the Chaoughs' issues go much deeper than that, and Ted's decision not to wake his wife with the surprise that he'd returned at a respectable hour confirmed that it will take much more than eating dinner with the fam to fix their problems, but Ted's presence made his kids happy, which currently gives him a better track record than Don on that front.

In addition to Don and Sally, there were quite a few lonely people going to bed in Mad Men's New York at the end of "Favors." Peggy took her first step toward growing up to be a cat lady when Stan refused to come over in the middle of the night to dispose of a rat in Peggy's apartment. Peggy's attempt to barter a favor backfired because Stan knows her too well. When he refused on grounds of not being her boyfriend, Peggy promised to make it worth his while. "No, you won't," Stan grumbled and hung up.

And Pete didn't fare much better in an episode that featured quite a few Peggy/Pete throwbacks to earlier seasons—notably, Momma Campbell mistaking Peggy for Trudy and getting all awkward about "the baby," and Pete mentioning his father's death in a plane crash. In a way, their positions of power within the firm's new structure have reversed. Pete picked up on it himself when he lamented that at least one of them ended up being important—and he wasn't talking about himself. The current Pete has grown up to the point that if he could build a time machine and try to redo things with Season 1 Peggy... it might actually work. He's more mature and insightful, less entitled, and a little more genuine. He's still obsessed with his status, but he's also more accepting of where he falls on the social and corporate ladder. That doesn't mean he likes where he is, but he seems to understand it. I can't image the current Pete ever trying to blackmail Don the way his Season 1 characterization did. In an argument with his mother about Manolo the Nurse, the Momma Campbell told Pete that he was a sour child who grew into a sour man and that he'd always been "unlovable" (that's just COLD, Mrs. C). Season 1 Pete would have argued with the point and secretly obsessed over it in private, but our current Pete just seemed to accept it. He thinks that he's unlovable too.

Pete's story in "Favors" peaked with the big "reveal" regarding Bob Benson and cemented the cynicism that permeated everyone's little and not-so-little favors when we found out the Nicest Guy Ever miiiiight not be so nice after all. First there was the lie about Manolo nursing his father back to health that conflicted with his initial story about his father being dead. I'm willing to drop the Bob Benson: Serial Killer theory, but it breaks my little grinch heart to think that the only reason Bob has been SO FREAKING PLEASANT to everyone is that he simply wanted to get in Pete's pants. I'm anxious—and worried—about when we'll next see Bob again because while Pete was definitely more generous to Bob than Don was to Sal when Don found out about Sal's sexuality, he still wasn't exactly kind.

Still, Bob's friendliness hasn't always been directly associated with Pete—it's also been the key to his continued employment at SC&D—and now that know Bob's interest in Joan wasn't romantic in the slightest, I really just want them to go on more adventures at the beach as platonic BFFs. I suspect there will be some awkwardness between Bob and Pete in the future—due to Pete's self-consciousness more than anything else—but Bob has proven himself time and again to be the utmost professional in his job sooo... mostly I just really like Bob and don't want him to go the way of Sal, okay? Okay.

I always feel a little weird when I don't love a Mad Men episode because Mad Men should always be flawless, but despite the Bob Benson revelation (which, admittedly, after all of the amazing internet theories, was kind of a letdown), "Favors" did a lot of wheel-spinning. Don and Sylvia make me go "UGH," and Don compromising client relationships for his own gain or amusement is nothing new; at this point, it's more than a little frustrating to watch because other than Ted yelling at him, there's no consequence and he just keeps doing it.

But hey, Peggy got a cat!


NOTES

– WTFLOL Mad Men moment: Roger juggling oranges!

– Megan Draper Death Watch: Who else thinks the Drapers' doorman is kind of flaky? Like, he's super friendly and accommodating, which is awesome for his tenants, but as far as being the front line of security for the building, he seems a bit lacking—and not just because he forked his keys over to Sally like eight times. (Okay, two, but still.) He just really spent a lot of time absent from his post, you know?

– "He can't spend the rest of his life on the run." Not that Don would know anything about that...

– During the conversation with Arnie about how 18/19-year-old soldiers have no sense of their own mortality—or, as Don pointed out, anyone else's—did you get the feeling at all that Don was momentarily regretting stealing the real Don Draper's identity? Or even in general, do you think he ever feels slightly bad about it?

– What will Peggy name her cat? I can honestly see her just calling it "Cat."

What'd you think of "Favors"?

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  • efonsecajr Jun 17, 2013

    Peggy's cat should be named "Mickey" as in the mouse. This ep was so average. Bob Benson revelation was a bit of a letdown.

  • EmelyanovaMas Jun 13, 2013

    The OMG moment for me in this episode was Bob Benson's brushing against Pete's knee - that really looked pretty creepy. I don't know what that guy is up to, but I don't really trust him either. Pete was surely upset, but considering his depression lately i might suspect there is a chance of him actually responding to Bob's advances in a positive way. And that would really be scary :P On the other hand, I wouldn't like him starting anything with Peggy again, that is old and lost, although they did seem cute together, but only as old pals. I really see an interesting story evolving between Peggy and Ted, on the other hand, it is new and has potential, to my mind. Because Ted is married, he is trying to be the good guy (that he initially is, I believe) and fight his feelings for Peggy, but I really hope this story will get a chance, because it will also work towards Peggy's self-esteem in her love life (which is now non-exhistent) and which she needs desperately. Moving on, the new Manolo nanny for Pete's mom is most definately gay and it seems that the old woman is imagining things. Poor Sally, I hope she will be able to grow up to be an adult with a healthy psyche and not follow in the steps of her lost and unhappy parents. Don has really sank to yet another low (if that was even possible) and yes, his flaw here is mostly, how it was already mentioned on here before, that he is not looking fabulous anymore doing the nasty things that he is doing. That he compromised his work only to get into bed with Sylvia is disgusting (but somehow I'm still hoping that he also did it for "his only friend" - the surgeon). Somehow I do remember a few moments when Don did the right thing and tryed to be a good person and maybe I'm still hoping that not all is lost for him, although that hope is probably in vain. And yes, that affair is really getting old and I genuinly dislike that Sylvia character, she is just awful.. It is doomed to come out one way or another (still two episodes to go) and it won't be pretty..

  • QMargo Jun 12, 2013

    I really loved how they set up this whole situation with Sally and Don this week...starting off with Betty's "Your father is a hero" ironic comment ....btw I also would not have allowed my teenage daughter to go and stay with a bunch of boys girls for this MUN thing if there was a 25 chick supposedly keeping an eye on them...and taking into account what a creep troublemaker Julie is....Betty was right, even though some people call her horrible, she was the most of the parent she could be in this situation...and she was totally right about saying that leaving Sally to stay with Don is like leaving her with no one...anyway, then you have the whole crush on hippy kid Mitchell...that letter the girls wrote and then Julie ends up signing it (which seems like an innocent prank) but OMG what a horrible one given what Sally saw. Its not even the fact that she caught them cheating...but what is worse that everyone is thanking Don in the end and Megan is all "oh you are the best"- and Sally now knows her father is not the hero that supports her dreams......its sad really....Sally has such a difficult relationship with her mother...but hopefully now she will start to question her father more and maybe understand that her mother was not the only parent at fault....her father was 90% of the failure of that marriage.......because I really want Betty and Sally to improve their relationship like at the end of last season because I believe in that. Not to say that Sally should hate her father from now on, but just understand that he is not perfect either.

    P.S. Loved the whole "why are you using you sexy voice" convo.

    P.P.S Bob Benson..ugh

  • MollyPoppy Jun 11, 2013

    Most people on this forum surprise me. I do not understand why everyone's opinion of Don has changed so abruptly. Don has always been a cheater. He has always been iffy at work. Is it because people on the show are seeing the real Don that everyone in the forum are hating on him?
    Don is a screwed-up individual. We see it during his daily life and his flashbacks. He sabotages everything good for him. He does not know how to be happy. That's sad.
    Sally was wrong for breaking into someone else's home. When you do that you get what you deserve. Sally will be OK in her adult life. Once she learns she's not her family's clone, caretaker, or ambassador.
    I loved the Pete-Peggy moments. They were fun together.
    I feel Pete has always been an OK guy he just has a crazy, maybe unlovable, way of doing things. He always abhorred people's racist comments, he always took his work seriously, and he always felt something whenever people teased Peggy. Unfortunately for Pete keeping up appearances was drilled into him.
    Bob is cute but inside a horrible person. Did anyone see his smirk after that uncomfortable exchange he imitated with Pete? Bob is a up to no-good opportunist. Plain and simple.

  • Gilda Jun 12, 2013

    I don't hate Don Im just not as interested in his life as much as I was in the beginning. I think part of it is because he just keeps acting the same way throughout the whole show and also b/c we have pretty much seen all of the key events from his lifetime so the mystery behind him is fading away.
    Maybe for other people they don't like the fact that he has no feelings towards his children. B/c in the early seasons you can clearly see that he was a family man and enjoyed spending time at home (when he was there) and I guess learning that he was just going through the motions is something people don't like? idk

  • LeaveComments Jun 12, 2013

    I agree. Don has been nothing but vile, no morals, selfish, and a perverted kind of person, from day one. I have watched this character and just loathed him. I have been waiting for his complete implosion.
    I am hoping for that.

  • Gilda Jun 12, 2013

    the only time I ever found him vile and perverted was in the episode were he was hitting on Anna's niece. Idk what he was thinking but that was just too much for me. However him being with all the other women hasn't really bugged me

  • hashimkb Jun 11, 2013

    I think Don pretends to be a lot of things he knows he's not: a loving husband, a war hero, a composed businessman. But perhaps the only things Don knew and liked about himself was that he was his children's hero. Even Betty realizes how much the children, Sally in particular, idolized Don.

    But in that rare moment of self reflection in the elevator, Don knew that he has forever lost the respect of his daughter. Whatever self respect or admiration Don had for himself certainly disappeared the second he saw THAT look on Sallly's face.

  • TylerA46 Jun 11, 2013

    The season is almost over and nothing worth remembering happened yet.

  • JelloJim12 Jun 11, 2013

    Next episode: Pete's Rifle Returns!

    ...Is it bad that was the part that stuck with me the most?

    This is probably my own craziness, but a part of me wondered if Bob wasn't necessarily gay, but just...playing Pete. I don't know why that would make sense at all, though...

  • Bear_TV_Lover Jun 11, 2013

    Of course Bob Benson is gay. I personally am gay as Sunday brunch with Ryan Seacrest. Brunch is gayest of all the meals. Even though that is true, I would sleep with Joan, just to find out what is under that big bea hive of a hairdo.

    As for Peggy and her cat, it will be dead before she has a chance to name it. She will forget to feed it, a rat will get it, or she will mistakenly stab it and it will choose to leave her.

    Mama Campbell is definitely NOT sleeping with the nurse. Sunday Brunch is his most important meal of the week as well, so even if he was a wrinkle chaser he would be after Robert Morse to sing Showtunes to him before he ever thought about touching her.

    I think that big changes are on the way for Pete, he seems to be more comfortable and accepting of his life and might make a little progress into being a human being. Maybe he and Bob get to be friends, even though Pete thinks of him as a degenerate.

    So who will kill Megan? Creepy kid next door, jealous surgeon/father/husband, doorman, some crazed fan of the soap opera, or Peggy stabs her when she thinks she is an intruder?

  • J_Pip Jun 11, 2013

    Do not fret, being gay is just a part of "Bob Benson's" (if that is his real name) cover identity. He only said it to take suspicion off of his FBI partner Manolo and to keep him in the Campbell household. I think he was also trying to imply that Manolo wouldn't have sexy time with your mom because he's also gay.
    I will say it again, does anyone else think Ted has a multiple personality disorder? He's just all over the place. And I have no idea what is up with his infatuation with Don. "He did Sunkist directly to huuurrrt meeeee." I will have to say that if Don Draper does something to hurt you he does it to your face to prove he is superior. Lastly, I don't get why they had Sally walk in on Don and Sylvia, or even why they brought Sylvia back. I thought that story line was over but apparently her husband is going to find out and he's going to kill Megan.

  • LeaveComments Jun 12, 2013

    I agree, Don is way to self absorbed to plot out conflict with Ted. That is not even Don's style.

  • Gilda Jun 11, 2013

    wait so why would the FBI so interested in Pete Campbell?

    And yeah there's something off about Ted. Hes got multiple personalities or bipolar disorder (idk he kind of ranges from hyperactive to depressed) and hes def got OCD when it comes to Don

  • mrjimmyjames Jun 10, 2013

    It was hard to believe Bob wasn't gay after he apparently broke things off with Joan.

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