On the night that MAD MEN won its third consecutive Emmy as outstanding drama series, the episode dealt with Don winning a Cleo award for his Glow Coat campaign — and celebrating just a little too hard.
Don (Jon Hamm) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) began by interviewing Danny (Danny Strong, “superstar” Jonathan from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), a punk with no resume, no skill (all his ads were variations “The cure for the common…”) and no prospects — except that he’s Jane’s cousin, which put Roger (John Slattery) in his corner. When Don laughed about how unqualified the kid was, it prompted Roger to flash back to his first meeting with Don. Roger was buying a fur coat for Joan (Christina Hendricks) at a place called Heller’s, and Don was the salesman! Don also handled the advertising for the shop, and wanted to get in the game for real. Roger was dismissive, so Don slipped his portfolio into the box. Roger was disgusted when he found it.
Peggy was far more excited about the Cleos than Don was; perhaps because they distracted her from clashing with Stanley Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson), yet another completely boorish co-worker. Only Stanley was open about his disdain for and objectification of, women. He cared more about scolding Peggy for being “repressed” than doing much work. Or, more likely, she was furious that Don wasn’t giving her credit for her contributions to the Glow Coat campaign. Later, Don, Roger, Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) and Joan headed over the the Waldorf hotel for the pre-ceremony cocktail party, where they proceeded to get pretty well-lubricated. Kenny Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) came by with advertiser Clarence Birdseye, who hinted that Kenny and Pete would soon be a team again. The ceremony (hosted by DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ John Aniston as Wallace) got under way before Pete could completely melt down. When Don’s category came up, both he and Roger held Joan’s hands under the table. And SCDP won! There were no speeches at the Cleos, so Don simply collected his statue, posed for a picture, and returned to his table, where he got word came that the people from Life cereal were waiting at the office.
Back at SCDP, Harry (Rich Sommer) was regaling the Life people with spoilers about upcoming episodes of PEYTON PLACE (Yes, a soap opera!), when Don and Roger arrived. Though he was thoroughly toasted, Don insisted on winging the presentation. When the Life people asked for more slogan ideas, Don rattled a chain of them, stream of consciousness-style. The one Life liked? “The cure for the common breakfast.”
Peggy recognized the problem, but the soused Don did not, ordering Peggy and Stanley sequestered in a hotel room until they can come up with a campaign for Vick’s cough drops. In the hotel, Peggy tried to work while Stanley flipped through an issue of Playboy. Furious, Peggy stripped down and challenged him: “Let’s go” They both got naked, and tried to work. Peggy said. “Let’s talk cough drops” Exposed as all-talk, Stanley snarled that she wins the award for “smuggest bitch in the world.” Back at SCDP, Pete confronted Lane (Jared Harris), who said he wants to bring in Kenny. Pete denied approval because he’s a partner too, but Lane played on Pete’s vanity: “We can’t have you pulling the cart by yourself.” Pete contented himself with making Kenny kiss his ring — which Pete enjoyed perhaps a little more than he should have.
Roger, Joan and Don decided to continue their celebration at a bar, where Don spotted Faye (Cara Buono) and once again failed to pick her up. “Award or no award, you’re still Don Draper,” she noted. (Is he, Faye? Is he really?) “Whatever that means,” Don snarked in reply. Roger was jealous of Don, and griped to Joan that he should get an award for discovering Don. He flashed back to being approached by young Don again: “I think you’re a very important man at an important agency,” Don gushed, before offering to buy Roger lunch — and by lunch he meant drinks, and because it was just 10 a.m. Roger
turned him down took him up on it and got soused. Back in the present, Joan pointed Alice (Amy Motta) in Don’s direction, and he closed the deal with her. One moment he was enjoying Alice’s company in bed, and the next thing we knew, the phone was ringing. Don awoke to realize it was Sunday, he’d missed an appointment to babysit his kids — and he was in bed with an entirely different woman, Doris (Becky Wahlstrom); who called him “Dick.” He passed out again, and later that night Peggy came by and awoke him to explain that he sold, “The cure for the common breakfast” as a pitch, which technically belonged to that kid Danny. She insisted he fix it.
The next morning, Stanley took credit for the Vick’s campaign when showing it to Joey (Matt Long), and “smug” Peggy just let him. (Where was the righteous anger? Oh, right, characters are slow to learn on MAD MEN.) Don summoned Danny, and offered him $50 to buy the idea. But Danny preferred a job. So Don hired him, enraging Peggy — which may have been his true intention. Don had left his Cleo at the bar, but Roger rescued it. In exchange for returning it, he wanted to hear Don thank him by saying “you couldn’t do it without me.” As he watched the hotshot leave, Roger remembered how Don essentially hired himself, when the drunk Roger told him, “Welcome aboard.”
Which is perfectly in keeping with the idea of Don as the ultimate “self-made man.” He adopted a name, made up a background, chose a career and then made it happen by hiring himself. He not only “sold” himself to Roger, he created his own job. Talk about selling the sizzle, not the steak! What could be more “Don Draper”?