Mad Men "For Immediate Release" Review: Mergers and Acquisitions

Mad Men S06E06: "For Immediate Release"

There are two types of Mad Men episodes: episodes where nothing actually happens, but there's lots of subtext and symbolism to play with, and episodes that serve as keystones to an entire season, where the action is tangible and readily apparent. "For Immediate Release" falls into that latter group with its straightforward conflict and a concrete solution that will undoubtedly change the face of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for good... starting with what is certain to be a name change and a sudden client shakeup that leaves Jaguar and Vicks Chemical out and Chevrolet in. 

As Bert, Joan, and Pete worked to guide SCDP toward becoming a public company—which would double the size of the company and make them all some sweet, sweet profit—Roger seemed to return to his old ways, banging sexy airline lady Daisy and weaseling his way into the presence of potential clients by pulling strings and working his charm. Not only did he deliberately blow off a day at the office to woo Chevy, but he managed to win an audience with them and even seemed to enjoy himself. He got hammered in an airport with Don and apparently convinced Daisy to lose a rival agency's luggage. It was like the good old days.

Unfortunately, not everyone was in favor of going back to the way things were. Joan and Pete in particular were irate over the news that when an opportunity arose to mend fences with Herb from Jaguar after Don humiliated the guy in front of his superiors, Don severed ties with the lucrative company pretty much entirely because he hated Herb. Everyone hated Herb, but at that point, Jaguar was one of the most important clients in SCDP's stable—and the loss of the company as a client compromised the opportunity to take SCDP public. For Joan, the ease with which Don dismissed Herb and Jaguar was particularly upsetting, given her role in acquiring them in the first place. She sacrificed a great deal and yes, she benefited in a huge way professionally and financially by sleeping with Herb for the contract, but the private turmoil is certainly ongoing. I do think that at least part of Joan regrets what she did to get her partnership, though I don't think that she'd regret it quite so much if it wasn't essentially one of the office's worst-kept secrets. Regardless, it wasn't a decision easily made, unlike Don's cavalier choice to to call it quits with Herb. 

Time and again, Don has experienced difficulty seeing things from other people's point-of-view. Pete said that Don didn't have to care about the company because Don was already rich, and while part of that sentiment was certainly Pete Campbell bluster, you have to wonder if Don would've acted the same way if he had as much to gain from taking the firm public as Pete and Joan did. To be fair to Don, he didn't know about the public offering going into the meal with Herb, but to illustrate Joan and Pete's point, it's not like Don had a backup plan to fill the void left by Jaguar and ensure that the company experienced as few dire consequences as possible. 

Don alienating his coworkers isn't a new thing, but as Mad Men progresses and Don becomes increasingly irrelevant on the creative side of things, his inability to make rational business decisions by considering more than just his own wants and needs could become a real threat to his status and position at the firm, especially given the decision to merge Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce with Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough in order to win Chevrolet. 

In a bar in Detroit, Don and Ted Chaough had a weirdly civil conversation (for those two) when it became obvious that Chevy was playing them both in a repeat of their experience with Heinz Ketchup. Even if Chevy liked both of their ideas, the company would more than likely choose to work with a larger, more established agency rather than take a risk on either of the two smaller operations—but they would certainly take the good ideas presented by the smaller firms to the big boys for use. With Don kicking Jaguar to the curb, and a run-in between Pete and his father-in-law in a brothel back in New York leading to the departure of Vicks Chemical, SCDP desperately needed Chevy. But so did Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough. Diagnosed with cancer, Gleason was preparing to retire to concentrate on his health, and citing their partnership agreement, he would stand to make a hefty sum due to Cutler and Chaough's obligation to buy his part of the company. In preparation for chasing Chevy, Chaough had cut competitor Alfa Romeo out of the Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough Cavalcade of Stars, which left the firm in a vulnerable position if Chevy fell through... and obviously, Chevy was going to fall through. 

On the spot, Ted and Don decided to merge their companies—not just for Chevy, but for good. That this agreement was made with little to no input from other partners at their respective firms raises a few alarms, particularly for Don, given his recent clashes with Joan and Pete. At first glance, Ted and Don could complement one other quite nicely; we've seen their opposing pitches face one another on a few different occasions now, and each time, both have presented strong campaigns that take very different approaches to the subject matter. Don's work is often highly emotional, driven by wants and desires and the idea that something can be more than what it actually is. He is very good at making nothing look like something wonderful and desirable. Conversely, Ted's pitches tend to be more concrete. Ted's teams take what they're given and simply emphasize what is already known. Neither approach is necessarily superior to the other, but both can be seen as indicative of the two men in general. Don's entire life is a secret. The idea of one thing actually being another thing is something that he embodies and lives with every day. Ted, so far, has been portrayed as very direct and in the open when he does business and when he interacts with his employees. 

But when companies merge, it typically isn't as simple as sticking everyone in the same building. Positions overlap. When you have two of something that you only need one of, there is always the delicate matter of figuring out which—or in this case, who—to keep. If Don and Ted can continue to work well together, their combined approaches could prove to be a formidable force in the advertising field. After learning of Gleason's cancer diagnosis, Chaough lamented that Gleason's darker, more pessimistic outlook on things often balanced his own optimism nicely. Don is more than qualified to provide that darkness for Chaough, but given their now-former rivalry and past clashes, I'd say it's only a matter of time before they stop playing nice. 

Frankly, given Don's conflict with his co-partners lately, should he and Ted find themselves pitted against each other in the near future, I would be concerned about his place at the new company without many allies to back him. Pete and Joan certainly don't have much faith in Don's willingness or ability to put the company's needs before his own, or to plan ahead, or to even be a reliable figure in the office. Over at CGC, Peggy was visibly deflated when presented with the news that she would technically be returning to Don's employ very shortly. 

Don pitched the Chevy ad by saying, "The future is something you haven't even thought of yet." We have the privilege of knowing how Chevy's experimental new car ultimately fared in the course of history: XP-887 eventually became the infamous Chevy Vega, which is considered by many to be the "worst car ever built," but we can't have any inkling of where the combined forces of SCDP and CGC will be by the time their saving grace eventually hits the production line in the seventies. How do you think the merger will play out? Positive or negative? Who do you think will win here, and who do you think will lose? 


And most importantly, what are you own thoughts about "For Immediate Release"?



NOTES

– We need to talk about Bob Benson wanting to pay for Pete's hooker. WTF, Bob? 

– LOL at Megan's mom offering to give away her Mother's Day flowers. Marie is so horrible, <3 her. 

– For a moment there, I felt like I was watching a sitcom version of Mad Men when Pete flew off the handle at Don, fell down the stairs, and launched into his impassioned and grandiose speech. Ladies and gentlemen, Pete Campbell. 

– "I love puppies." —Don Draper

– Ted kissed Peggy. Peggy fantasized about Ted. Zappa Abe almost electrocuted himself, and Peggy hates their new apartment. This is going to get messy, isn't it?

– Speaking of Peggy's fantasy: Something by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

– What do you think the new firm should be called?

Comments (54)
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Peggy will end up writing copy for Don after first dropping her useless boyfriend.
Don will divorce his French-Canadian wife after her soap opera character gets killed..
Pete will move permanently into the city and find a female roommate.
Roger curtails his drinking and gets back on a rail with Joan who leaves her hubby.
Cooper will die with his shoes on.
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Again...i just hope Pete to die in the most horrible and absurd manner ...just the way he is: horrible and absurd
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Roger and Don are back. For now I just love that. Let's what's going to happen.
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Remember that time Peggy had a baby. Now that she is earning a decent wage, shouldn't she... take it back. or at least be an aunty to him or something. She's not 22 anymore.
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Has anyone understood the purpose of Bob Benson's character? He cannot be there just for comical release...
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Regarding the car being the Vega... I don't think the admen really care, to an extent. Getting the business is the biggest thing. Getting in with a monumental company is what really matters. From there come a multitude of opportunities. And, if I'm not mistaken, the Vega was initially received very well, but it wasn't until a couple years later that people started realizing it was actually an awful car (typical American car). By that point, our characters will already have gotten what they need from Chevy: their place among the top dogs.
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Yes I agree... the criticisms to the car (that started anyway a good 5 years after the scenes of this episode, and in 5 years many things can and will change) do not have any consequence at all on the ad-men, apart from being forced to invent better and better pitches
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Don Draper: You got anything on Vicks? Peggy Olson: Actually, it's Vick Chemical.
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ORCC, how's that for a name?
Not the merger firm, but the one Peggy will be starting, 'Olsen Rizzo Cosgrove and Crane'.
Highly unlikely, but one can dream.

But seriously, she didn't seem very pleased about working for Don again/with all the other people that got to know her as Don's secretary and assistant, so though I don't think she has the guts for it, I'd really wish she'd just dump them all and start her own firm.
(At the moment she probably doesn't have the funds either, as she just bought an apartment.
Also: I liked the dynamic of Pete's fall, because shortly before Peggy complained about poop on the stairs)

Does anyone else get tense every time Cooper is on screen?
I always expect him to die any second, so get the man his brandy! :(

I want the new firm, the merger firm, to be called "Project: Kill Machine".
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Boy, that Bob Benson sure is hilarious! I now know why he's on the show, to be a scene stealer.
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Am i the only one who thinks that Pete probably going to have a breakdown? His life is falling apart since quite some time now, he lost Vick, his wife totally hates him (more now than ever), he never was specially liked in the office and his professional life is uncertain without the only big account he used to manage ...and that sad grey apartment is quite foreshading -i only can imagine his reaction about the company´sp' new status-, I´m quite sure Pete is going to kill himself anytime soon...that would be most logic at this point, probably not like the other guy who hanged himself...but in a very Pete-like manner.
They always say in the thirth act usually a main character always dies and the show is almost there...i think that character is Pete Campbell.
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Pete's always having a breakdown. So is everyone else. It's just more noticeable with him because he doesn't have the charm or looks to pull it off.
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Maybe he dies with that rifle they talk about so much?
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Or maybe he is the falling man in the opening credits? Do the windows on the high rise office buildings even open?
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This Peggy/Ted attraction just seemed to come out of nowhere. Ted kissed her out of pure impulse and all of a sudden she's fantasizing about him. I don't know where they're going with that one.

If I was Joan I'd be pissed off too at Don.

Everybody seems to love Marie but I think she's a douche.

Roger is still the man.
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I beg to differ, I predicted Teggy weeks ago.
Though I still think some of those fantasies came from the paint fumes.
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Megan's parents are absolutely horrible.

Yeah, Peggy's attraction to Ted seemed to come out of nowhere. But I'm excited at where that might take the show. Is her attraction to her supposed to be symbolic of her gradual turn towards materialism and against the counterculture as she climbs the ladder?
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I didn't think Pggy's atraction for ted was so sudden, I actually saw that coming a few episodes ago (with him complimenting her and all), but I agree with you in all the rest. Megan's parents are awful (Marie is the worst, I think), and I do think her attraction is a part of a "bigger package".
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I would have to argue that Megan's father is worse than the jaded Marie. A crazy communist that appluaded the rioting following MLK's death.
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is this the end for stan? he told peggy about heinz behind don's back, and ted chaough know this. so if ted don't fire stan, he will perhaps tell don, who will fire him. if he stays, can he work together with peggy again, who betrayed his trust and their friendship.
I really hope he stays, and doesn't leave the series like we have seen with other great characters like salvatore romano, paul kinsey and fred rumsen.
and maybe some of these characters can come back, with the two companys expanding.
here's hoping for stan is staying, and fred rumsen will come back!
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Stan is going to hate working with Peggy again...
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Yeah, Stan was never exposed; he's safe on that. Although CGC could have someone better to replace him in the merger.
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I dont think Peggy actually said his name tho so I think hes safe.
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This was indeed a very action packed episode. Don acted wrong with jaguar and for once, I found him annoying as a character. Peg and Abe are moving towards a breakup. He's kind of irrelevant to her at this point and the fact that he talked her out of buying a great apartment to that dumb she just bought, will further add to that.
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Peggy does not seem to like the bohemian lifestyle at all. I think she's realizing she's attracted to the materialism that eveyone else on the show is into.
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Don's treatment of Jaguar was ridiculous considering all they went through to get it. After all they had to merge in order to replace it with another car company. I can't believe they wouldn't just continue to make Herb happy for at least a while longer until something better comes up.
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Jaguar is by no means the top dog in the auto industry... even less back then than it is now. It's a luxury brand, so it has prestige, but it doesn't bring in anywhere near the money of Chevrolet.
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Sure it was (at the time) but it must of been worth something significant if they went to that much trouble with it and considered it to be that beneficial to the firm. To throw something out like that quickly on a slight whim that you may be able to get Chevy is incredibly stupid.
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I just wanted to see more of Joan despising Herb before he was gone. I needed that :D
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What was up with Peggy's attraction to Young James Spader's doppelganger (ted chaough)? What kind of angle are they going for; what was the purpose of that? Is it suppose to represent Peggy's eventual possible rejection of the liberal idealism of her boyfriend for the materialism that often comes with success? Was it supposed to represent a contrast between her old boss (who she never felt anything towards) and her new boss (who apparently is more intellectual)? I hope they continue to pursue this.
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I hope Young James Spader's doppelganger (ted chaough) will stay on and not be forced out quickly. He's been a great addition to the show.
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Of course present day James Spader currently serves as a doppelganger of Tyne Daly.
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While i'm excited about the merger I'm somewhat disappointed as it seemed so obvious. I've been thinking about this happening for quite a while now. It's the same thing that always happens when someone leaves they go to another branch/agency; a merger usually happens and they always come back. (we've seen it in The Office with Stamford and The Michael Scott Paper Company and 24 with Jack going rogue with Bill and Chloe) This approach always seems to work so I am excited. I just also feel like it's way too predictable and it's obvious they had to do this in order not to just leave Peggy out there on a limb away from SCDP.
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Name Prediction: SCDCC Gleason is gone and so is Pryce
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A picture of Pete falling on the stairs belongs on the Christmas cards I hand out in December. Fantastic!
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I was wondering why Peggy decided to buy such a crappy apartment? Surely in a diverse neighborhood Hippie Abe wanted, there could have been a better one. Feel a little bad for Joan, but Don was against her doing Jaguar guy in the first place, so why should she be so mad at him? Drama...
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That's true but it was still pretty rude of Don considering what dignity she sacrificed. I'd like to know if Don really did put the firm in jeopardy or not. So much happened that it was hard to keep up. Both Don and Ted said they were dead at the end of the episode. It felt like they were exaggerating to a degree.
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"Feel a little bad for Joan, but Don was against her doing Jaguar guy in the first place, so why should she be so mad at him?"
Tho she kind of said it herslef in the episode, it was more the fact that she pretty much sold herself so that they could get a big account that could support the agency (seeing that they no longer had Lucky Strike) and Don threw it away, leaving the acency very unstable and prone to collapse (cuz they didnt know about Chevy at the time). And with him gone it made it so that she went through all that for nothing. He also ruined the possibility of them going puiblic and being appart of the stock market. Its also prob a build up of all the other things hes done in the past without consulting anyone (remember that letter he made against cigarette companies).
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If he had known about them going public, perhaps he wouldn't have been so hasty?
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Joan sacrificed dignity? Since episode ONE of this entire series, she's been about selling her looks. She told Peggy that point blank that women need to use what they've got to get ahead.
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Applying charm and good looks to win someone over (which people tend to do) and actually going through with sleeping with someone for financial gain are two things that are dramatically apart.
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New company name; Don & Ted's Excellent Adventure - No one else works here just us. It kind of blew my mind that this merger happened by a drunken bar conversation, but then again you are right Don seems to have his best ideas when his back is to the wall.
I still don't care about Peggy but I am interested to see how her working for Don will play out.
Speaking of Don, I am Pro Don always, until he makes Joan cry, then I curse his name. He was right though, he did to Herb what they should have done a long time ago. Looking forward to the drama and hilarity of this merger.
- Why didn't they tell Roger or Don about going public to begin with?
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awesome title, especially with the following subtitle.
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love that company name :D
Pete was going to tell Don over dinner but Don didn't want to go out with him. As for Roger um Pete hates him and he was also kind of off doing his own thing at the airport
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Yeah I get that, but why weren't they in the meeting to begin with? I hardly think the decision to take a company public and setting the price happens in a 12 hour period
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ummmm uhhhh.....idk
I think Don wasn't invited b/c they assumed he would be against it???? and they couldn't get a hold of Roger?
sure it could happen in 12 hrs if it means they 2x their size and all become rich! Come on that guy needed to look through what 20 papers? (maybe we need suspension of disbelief?)
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I'm having trouble believing that Don would want to go public considering that would require his life being put in constant public scrutiny. Yet he didn't seem to be against it. Go figure.
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During the fantasy I noticed the book and was wondering if Abe was reading something different. Did anyone catch it? Also I am a little disappointed that Peggy will be under Don again. She was pretty awesome running creative at CGC. This merger will probably be pretty rough. Side not I hope they fire Harry's assistant.

It was nice seeing Roger scheming again. He's been so depressing for a while now. It was nice having him back as that early Roger.

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I didn't like the fact that Peggy will work for don again, and that is why she wasn't so enthusiastic abou tthe merger.
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Staff
Sterling Cooper Draper Price Cutler Gleason Chaough = SDCPCGC, or CLUSTEREFF

This whole time I've been wondering why we should care about Peggy and her daily (boring) life, now it makes sense. I was excited to learn Draper+Peggy back together again. Could definitely feel the dread Peggy felt, lol, brutal.

I have been waiting for a pitch episode (a real pitch episode) where it takes us from the creative process, to Draper hating them, to art to pitch. Mad Men is obviously at its best here. Show the client pitch!

Hoping with the merger than Draper is inspired again to become the best copywriter ever. Knowing nothing will come close to "The Wheel" I'd sure at least like for him to be trying.

No Betty. We all win.
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By far the most entertaining episode of this season. And man do i want Sunday to come so I see how horrible the merge will be (everyones just going to be fighting for power, and no ones going to know who to answer to. Also how many partners are there now, like 9?).
I think the most entertaining part of this episode was Pete. His story had everything, him falling down the stairs (he really seems to get hurt the most at this new location), him fighting with his FIL, him fighing with Trudy and of course him flipping out at Don. Nothing ever works out for him which is prob why his blowing up at everything is so fun to watch. Also why no mention that his marrage is over now? (I hope that Brie will still be around tho). Side note: why would his FIL leave, he already knows that Pete backstabs people and would tell Trudy. unless he knew that Trudy would never believe Pete's story, thus breaking off the marrage? idk
As for Peggy, Its about time she realised that her situation with Abe is not good. Idk throught his run hes just become more and more unlikable. And I was kind of dissapointed that he didnt die when he got electricuted. I guess now that everyone is going to be together now her thing with Ted might get a bit messy. Why do I foresee a really akward incounter with them doing someing in an office and having someone else walk in on them (like Don, Joan, Pete, ect)
ALSO WHO IS BOB!!!!!! I actually yelled at my tv cuz he still has not been explained. And why was he following Pete everywhere. And why did he offer to pay for the prostitute? Who is this guy? Why would Pete take him along to the whore-house hes obviously just going to use the info against him. Is he just the coffee guy b/c i swear every episode hes been in hes offered someone coffee.
Fav part was watching Megan's mom at that diner table. her bored expression is the exact same one that I got while watching that part. I also have that expression whenever theres a story that involves Megan.
Things I want to see: Peggy and Stan back together (love those two), Peggy leaving Abe to run off with anyother guy (Ted, Stan, Pete, Ginsberg, ANYONE), a story line that really involves Joan and less Megan, and lastly something that explains who Bob is (also that old woman in creative)
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As soon as I saw that Matthew Weiner had written the episode himself I knew we were in for a great episode and a curve-ball or two - and he didn't disappoint!

Don always does his best work when his back is against the wall and perhaps that's what's been missing in his life. The dressing down he (deservedly) received from Joan coupled with the realization that they were just being used as an idea generator by Chevy (and Heinz before) got his creative juices flowing in a way that they haven't in a long while, replacing that lifeless look in his eyes with a sparkle we've not seen in some time.

How ironic that Pete went nuts over Don losing Jaguar and ruining the chances of taking the company public, when hours later he would learn that he did the exact same thing with Vicks by running into his father-in-law in a questionable locale. Even though it IS Pete we're talking about here, I was still surprised that Trudy's father would "press the button" and assure their mutual destruction, as it were. His daughter is apparently far more important to him than his wife, marriage or his own happiness. And just when Pete almost had won her back.... he's always prematurely celebrating.

Bob's a strange one, that's for sure! I'm surprised he didn't take the opportunity to further introduce his lips to Pete's bare keister, as firmly planted as they already are. He might have a crush!

It didn't take long for Peggy to start resenting Abe and regret the compromises she's made for him. How long before she and Ted do the horizontal mambo??

We are in for some exciting stuff coming up: how things shake out from the merging of the two companies; Peggy and Don working together again!; Peggy & Ted!!; the death of Bobby Kennedy in a week or so; how the failure of the Chevy Vega will affect the new company; what the new company will be called (I have no idea!); Don/Megan/Dr. Rosen and wife; Pete's continued downward spiral; Roger getting his groove back; and so on.
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Oh right Kennedy gets assasinated soon. Forgot about that. I can see Abe doing something stupid like celebrate in front of her. Also why would he tell her that Bobby Kennedy wouldnt be a good pres. she would obv. like him, heck she had a pic of JFK in her old appartment.
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You shouldn't be surprised still that Abe actually cares for Peggy's POVs , especially when it comes to politics.

And yup, that probably will happen like so. Maybe that would be the final blow.
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