Mad Men recap: Coups de Grace

Season 6's penultimate episode finds Don alienating himself even further, while Bob Benson's secret is finally confirmed
Ep. 12 | Aired Jun 16, 2013

ORANGE YOU GLAD?: Don gets a call from West Coast Harry, who tells him the Sunkist folks want to give them business.

AMC

Is Pete's truce with Bob an act of mercy or is it simply Pete separating the personal from the professional? In either case, it's something Don is incapable of. The scene in which Pete confronts Bob is probably my favorite of the episode. These are two hungry, ambitious men circling each other like sharks, each a mirror version of the other. Bob reveals that Pete unwittingly hired him: "You walked in, complimented my tie, and walked out. It was the best day of my life." He asks for a day's head-start, clearly intending to disappear once again, but Pete surprises him and us. He recognizes Bob's drive and talent because he's seen it before in Don, and he's smart enough to ally himself with it rather than against it. "You're certainly better at it than I am at am at whatever I do," he tells him.

Pete has gotten his groove back. While Don Draper lies curled-up on the couch, Pete's about to take over the world, armed with a big account and a trusty sidekick. He was on the ropes earlier this season, beaten, bruised and disheartened, but Pete Campbell doesn't go down easy. He's got the eye of the tiger. Now he's managed to recoup his confidence and step back into the ring with a man in his corner: Bob Benson, his gay con-man Burgess Meredith.

Sally, too, makes a bit of a bounce-back. We should have known that all that worrying last week about her state of mind was unnecessary. Catching her father in flagrante delicto was traumatizing, to be sure, but after this week it's clear the girl will probably be fine. While staying over at the boarding school with a couple of hazing prep girls, she invites Glen, who arrives dressed in an army jacket covered with a constellation of protest buttons, and his joint-rolling friend Rolo, to hang with them. When Rolo gets fresh, she interrupts Glen's make-out session and tells him that he was forcing himself on her. The lines here are a little grey, but Glen gives her the reaction she was looking for, defending her honor by punching his friend, and ride home, in the face. Her father may have let her down, but that doesn't mean every man in her life will.

Of course, that little smile she has while Glen is whaling away is a little unnerving. It's also 100 percent Betty Draper. Everybody has a favorite parent when they're young. For many, it's the one that's the most lenient, the one that lets you have ice cream for dinner and then says, "Don't tell Mom." But that usually changes as one grows old enough to see past the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine and realize that the parent you argue with the most is often the one you're most similar to. Betty's not exactly a model mother, but it seems that she's been trying harder than usual lately. Sally has long given her the brunt of her teenage outrage, but seeing her father as he really is has given her new insight into the woman who raised her. It's nice to see Betty being depicted as something other than a villain or a joke in a fat suit. "My father's never given me anything," Sally bitterly confesses, as both she and her mother puff on a cigarette, two women disappointed by the same man.

STRAY THOUGHTS

Ginsberg says cran-prune sounds like "a glass of diarrhea." Now that's a billboard idea.

When Megan picks up the phone and it's Harry, she looks so utterly displeased it's hilarious. To be fair, I imagine even Harry's mother makes a similar face when he calls.

Ken kind of looks fantastic in that eyepatch. He'd probably sell a ton of sci-fi novels with that author photo.

Bob calling Pete an "hijo de puta" was definitely a highlight.

"Now get me a cigarette and give me some details." This is a really good season for Betty.

Follow Keith on Twitter: @Staskijiwczejcz

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