Mad Men, maybe more than any other series on television, has always allowed the audience to feel the time period in which events are occurring.
The sharp suits, the haircuts, the constant drags off of cigarettes and many more details have been part of an escape to the 60s for many seasons.
Over the years, creator Matthew Weiner and company have done an amazing job at slowly but surely changing the style, the behavior and the essence of these characters to coincide with the passing time. The start of Mad Men Season 6 accelerated the changes, with everything a bit groovier - and "A Tale of Two Cities" hammered that fact home.
Los Angeles has always been so stylistically different than New York in life and on Mad Men, but Don and Roger's trip to L.A. only magnified the changes going on across the country. The overflow of hippies and overt drug use was a bit of a shock to the big city ad men, but it could be seen as merely an extension to the changes witnessed in New York over the course of this sixth season.
After all of Don's hookah hitting, and Roger's fight with Danny - excuse me, Daniel - Siegel, we were left with a man floating face down in a pool. Wait, that man was Don! Luckily he was saved, but given all of the hallucinating that was going on, I'm surprised passing out in a pool was the most life threatening thing Don was up to on that wild night.
When Don got back to NYC, he was not so pleasantly welcomed by a disgruntled Pete Campbell. The account man was livid over the events that took place at the new Sterling, Cooper & Partners and Don simply told him that if he doesn't like it maybe it's time for him to get out of the business.
So as Pete sat down in the creative room, and took his puff, it raised a couple of questions:
- Was that his way of accepting some of the changes?
- Or was that Pete Campbell giving up?
One of the events that helped set Pete off was the fact that the partners finally decided to give this new company a name. It's no longer SCDPCGC. Sterling, Cooper & Partners. Personally, I love it. It's a throwback to the original agency we started watching as viewers (Sterling Cooper).
Would I like it if I were one of the partners who were left off the name? No, but apparently Don, Ted and Jim were fine with it. Pete, however, was all kinds of upset.
Maybe it was the fact that he wanted his name to finally be in there... maybe he was still put off by Joan's earlier actions with Avon... or maybe it's the fact that other than his lengthy side burns he has not adjusted well to the changing of the times, but Pete Campbell seemed extremely defeated at that point.
Watching Joan do what she did was most interesting when thinking of how long Peggy has been a respected player in this game. I understand that accounts and creative are completely different animals, but it was intriguing to see Joan get treated like she didn't deserve a chance. Was it because she's a woman? Do they just not think she has the skill? A combination of the two? Maybe it was just Pete's ego getting in the way?
Whatever the case may be, you had to love Peggy coming to Joan's rescue by sending in an assistant with a fake phone call from Avon. It was quick thinking, it was creative, and it is exactly why Peggy made it in this business as a woman in the 60s. You can't deny talent and intelligence like that.
"A Tale of Two Cities" also gave the legendary Harry Hamlin a few moments to showcase his own skills. Cutler is not happy with the arrangement Ted worked up for him and their company, which was never more clear than when he blew up at Ginsberg in the creative room. Both Hamlin and Ben Feldman were perfect in that moment.
It's bigger than one fight, though. Against Ted's wishes, Cutler seems to be splitting SC&P up and is attempting persuade many of the former SCDP people over to the CGC side. This can only end badly for everybody, right?
Overall, it wasn't as great as last week's "The Better Half," but with only three episodes left now, "A Tale of Two Cities" took another step forward for Mad Men's somewhat struggling sixth season.
What did you all think of the hour? What were your favorite moments? What didn't you like about it? Did you like the trip out to La La Land? What did you think about Joan's moves this week? And how about that name, SC&P?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.