Does Don Draper Work the Slide Ruler? (A "Mad Men" Recap)

Does Don Draper Work the Slide Ruler? (A "Mad Men" Recap)

Which characters on Mad Men masturbate? Or, to quote Kenny Cosgrove, sci-fi writer, "work the slide ruler?"

Last night's episode "For Immediate Release," the sixth of the season, had sex on the brain like a middle school boy with a dial-up connection. All it took was one glimpse of stewardess underbutt (Danielle Panabaker's, to be precise) early in the episode. Mad Men has never shied away from sex, but the shot of Daisy, Roger's latest partner and informant, as she climbed back into bed for more Sterling's Gold felt more gratuitous than anything we've seen before. Then again, perhaps it's just a sign of the times. Dresses are mighty short these days.

 

There are these things called brothels, and they're great—except for when you run into your father-in-law on the premises. Then things can get weird.

 

So, does Roger masturbate? Nah. Unless recording your own one-liners counts.

How about Pete Campbell? He's feeling rather frustrated lately. He's trying to patch things up with Trudy in the wake of his affair, and for Pete, patching is code for inserting his dick into a thing. Spooning Trudy in bed, he lets his desire be known, but Trudy's only interested in keeping up appearances. Since no one has their bedroom staked out, there's no need to fuck to maintain the lie of a healthy relationship. But let Pete tell it, sex is the most important part. Might this be a summary of the entire episode?

Still, he probably doesn't masturbate. After all, there are these things called brothels, and they're great—except for when you run into your father-in-law on the premises. Then things can get weird.

Which brings us to the "working the slide ruler" bit. Pete goes to Ken to seek his advice about how to deal with this predicament. Cosgrove is all jokes, comparing the situation to Mutually Assured Destruction—neither party will say anything because it'll only ruin them both. To prove his point, Kenny unfolds a charming tale about watching a movie about child creation with a teacher. You know, for material to work the ol' slide ruler to.

We know that Peggy cultivates a rich fantasy life, and that she has, in fact, self-pleasured on the show. (It's just another sign that the women of Mad Men will inherit the world these buttoned-up white men are loosing their grip on.) Peggy and Abe are living out this Desperate Characters/A Meaningful Life-type adventure where they're fixing up a place in a rough neighborhood (hot jazz, shit on the stairwell). Unlike the characters in those novels, Abe seems to understand what he's getting himself into. Peggy's showing signs of stress; fortunately, she can fantasize about Ted, her boss, reading Something by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a perennial spank bank favorite.

There's a third bedfellow in the Peggy and Ted affair that must be mentioned: Don Draper. Yes, in the evening's big development, SCDP and Cutler Gleason and Chaough (where Peggy currently works), will be merging. A late-night meeting at the bar—could a lasting partnership begin any other way?—sent sparks flying between Don and Ted. They decided to join forces to pitch Chevrolet. And it worked. The sixth season has toyed with swinging and unconventional sex, and now the payoff: polyamory in the form of a merger. Be still my beating heart!

As the episode closes, we hear Peggy in voiceover as she drafts a release for the momentous event. Up until now, we've only encountered voiceover via Don. This is just another way of linking the two characters, and also, I think, foreshadowing the upcoming change of the guard. Who runs the world? Girls. Don tells her to draft up a release about the firm she'd want to work for. It's Peggy Olson's world, we're just living in it (and hoping that she doesn't turn into Don Draper 2.0 and lose everything.)

And in case you were wondering, Don would never masturbate. Obviously.

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Written by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)

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Tags: mad-men, mad-men-season-6-recap, for-immediate-release
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