Happiness is rarely an option for characters in Mad Men and this episode didn’t offer much sign that things will be improving for any of them anytime soon.
Obviously Don Draper‘s life is a complicated mess, as it always has been, and Collaborators sees him finding out that Megan has had a miscarriage, continuing his affair with the wife of his doctor friend and having flashbacks to his teenage years living in a brothel as Dick Whitman.
While his personal life is all about betrayal and self indulgence, at work he still tries to be both successful and moral, refusing to betray a client to get Heinz Ketchup on board and then sticking it to sleazy Herb from Jaguar on behalf of Joan (who, of course, had to accept his indecent proposal last season) by sabotaging a self-serving new radio campaign. Roger’s facial expression in that ‘pitch’ was priceless, as was Joan’s barbed comment to Herb when he tried to schmooze her.
At one point early on, I was marvelling at how well things seemed to be going for Pete in his country lifestyle, with women seemingly hanging off him, but unfortunately when one shows up at his door with a bloodied nose, it all falls apart. It turned out Trudie knew exactly what he was up to and was only allowing it as long as he was discreet.
Now it’s all over and he’s no doubt heading for another nose dive. His scene with the creepy Bob Benson at the end was a perfect summation of Mad Men’s characters and the artifice of success they put up. Quite what purpose Benson will serve remains a mystery, but he’s definitely trying too hard to be nice to everyone.
Peggy‘s new job remains a source of frustration for her, with sexist jokes going round the office about her (has she really come that far?) from her staff, while her friendly chats with Stan put her in an uncomfortable position when he spills the beans (ahem) to her about the Ketchup saga. When she innocently (or not?) tells Ted about it, he obviously wants to take advantage of the slip by their ‘enemies’. Was Peggy really so innocent in it all? Hmm.
Collaborators only gave us flashes of Joan (who we need to see more of soon) and Roger (who we always need to see lots of) and nothing of the Francis-Drapers, but there was plenty to chew on from this Jon Hamm-directed episode. Pete’s already in trouble and you sense Don is also heading that way. As usual with Mad Men, picking up on the signposts is never easy, so we’ll just have to wait and see where things are going to end up. But you can bet no-one’s going to end up happy.