Mad Men: “The Quality of Mercy” Season 6 Episode 12 Review

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Mad Men season six is wrapping up and that means big things for just about everyone on the show.

For me this episode encapsulated everything that season six is about. Death, experimentation, progression, and a dash of nostalgia. It was such a season six episode, and that’s a great thing.

You have to admire how far certain characters have come and where the show has taken them. Look at Pete Campbell for instance. This season he has had just about everything taken away from him, and now he has a wonderful opportunity, but first he had to jump the hurdle he couldn’t way back in season one.

First off, I didn’t think that Ken Cosgrove’s accident would lead to such a benefit for Pete. With all the talk of death lately, those 15 minutes without a sign of Ken after getting shot were brutal. The phone kept ringing and it kept being about something else. He turns up in New York with a blood spattered face and an eye patch saying he can’t stay in Detroit anymore.

There’s a glimmer in Pete’s eye. But a challenge comes when he is told that Bob Benson will be joining him Detroit. They argue, after last week’s knee rub, and Pete calls him “sick”. As if we didn’t hate Pete enough already. But things stayed interesting as Pete tried to get rid of Bob, and found out that he has a very sketchy history.

He recalls dealing with Don’s past, something we saw play out in our first year with this series. I believe Cooper says something to the effect of “Who cares?”. How rewarding to see Pete essentially have the same conversation with Bob. It was clearly a warning, of sorts, but he did say “Where you are and who you are are not my concern.” Little Pete Campbell has certainly come a long way from tattling all those years ago.

It was another reminder of just how few shows are this good this late in the game.

Now look at Sally. After seeing her father with Sylvia last week, she wants to go to boarding school. “I want to be a grown up but I know how important my education is,” she says to her mother. Simple and to the point, another classic line showing Sally’s simultaneous maturity and childlike demeanor. Every kid wants to be a grown up.

While interviewing for the school, she stays over with a few girls looking to spice up their life. And who’s spicier than Glen? Sally really needs to get away from this kid. Although he’s more like a brother to her than Don is like a father. She gets offered alcohol, weed, and even a boy. But she’s not ready, and at least she’s mature enough to realize it.

It’s sad that she has to resort to going to boarding school, but with parents like Don and Betty (seriously, who offers their daughter a cigarette?!), it may actually be the best option.

Earlier this season, Pete was horrible to his mother on the episode that aired on Mother’s Day. Tonight, Father’s Day, Sally utters the phrase “My father has never given me anything.” Isn’t Mad Men just so nice? Maybe season seven can air around Christmas and Betty can shoot down Santa’s sleigh!

While Pete and Sally, the kids of the show, saw some serious growth tonight, Don continues to flounder. The Sunkist/Ocean Spray war clearly ended tonight with Don hearing from Sunkist that they want to do a TV ad. Ted invades and comes up with something that he thinks will win Peggy a Cleo.

Side note: here’s a Vine of Don Draper’s “Wah! Wah!”.

In a meeting with Sunkist to try and up the budget for the commercial, Don says the reasoning is personal for Ted. He glances at Peggy, after watching them flirt throughout the entire hour. He says it was the last idea Frank, Ted’s late partner, had before succumbing to cancer. Ted is naturally furious, but Don says, “You’re not thinking with your head.” He has a point…

Peggy storms into his office, being the only one who can really say anything to Don. She calls him a monster and we fade to black. Such a melancholy ending as we head into the finale.  With such a bleak season, there’s no way everything can get wrapped up with a neat little bow next week. But man, I can’t wait to see how this fantastic season sends us off to summer.

With such significant moves for Pete and Sally, this was one of the best of the season. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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