Mad Men Review: "Blowing Smoke"

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This all feels a little too familiar. 

Didn't last season end with the company being in trouble, only for it to be saved at the very end?  In season three, it was starting a whole new agency, and unless some crazy twist comes along, season four's finale will be highlighted by some big company saving SCDP from going under.

SDCP Partners

"Blowing Smoke" was actually a pretty sad episode. On many accounts, I just felt really bad for the characters of Mad Men.  At the forefront were the many employees at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. 

Because of the recent problems of SCDP, no new clients are ready to commit to the struggling agency.  After the partners went through so much trouble to get this new agency put together at the end of last season, it was tough to watch them see it fall apart only a year later.

While the partners had many sacrifices to overcome, many of the lower level employees were told to hit the road.  As little as we knew some of these guys, it was still moving to see them walk out the door.  Danny was a wack-o, but I still liked him.

I really felt sad for Pete until Don took control of the situation and paid his share to keep the company alive.  Pete has put so much effort into this company, and has had so many opportunities to leave with Ted Chow-guh-guh, that for him to then have to put up 50 grand, was truly unfortunate  The silent moment between Don and Pete after Lane admitted that Don paid Pete's share?  Well worth it.

I felt terrible for Don.  Not only are all of the same problems at SCDP happening to Don, but he's got more piling up on him.  That prank phone call from Teddy Chow-guh-guh.  The partners are upset with him for writing the anti-tobacco ad in the paper.  And his lady situation seems more difficult than ever.

Of course I felt bad for Sally.  The girl is improving her mental health, and is becoming friendlier with Creepy Glen, but Betty ruins everything for her... as usual.  The mean mother prevents her from hanging out with Glen and then suggests the family moves out of the only place Sally has known as home.  Just when she was making great strides in psychology sessions, things have taken a turn for the worse.

Speaking of Betty, how great is it that she insists Sally keep up with her therapy because she herself needs to keep seeing the child psychologist?  Still a child at heart, Betty convinces the doctor to keep the sessions going.  Will she ever grow up and act like an adult?  This probably won't help.

To Heroin!

Last, and, maybe least, I also felt a bit sad for Midge.  I was never a big fan of hers when she was Don's mistress back in season one, but she really let her life spiral out of control.  She's now addicted to heroin, and is seeking out Don to swindle him out of some money?  Once Don figures out what is going on, he gives her a handout, but obviously is disgusted by what she has become.

So while all of these terrible things went down this week, what positives will come in the season four finale next Sunday?  Will SCDP be saved by a new client?  Will Don be on his way to being married within a year, as Faye predicted earlier in the season?  Did Bert really quit his own company?

Other thoughts:

  • After the initial partners' meeting of the episode, there was that strange montage of one-on-one chats.  It seemed really out of place for this series.  An odd move by director John Slattery.
  • I loved Sally's thoughts on the Land O Lakes butter box.
  • The voiceover came back for Don's ad regarding quitting tobacco.  Glad to have it back?
  • Teddy Chow-guh-guh had both Don and myself with the Bobby Kennedy prank call.  I was so proud of Don for getting that phone call from the senator.  So mean.
  • Don didn't seem to care about anyone's opinion on his letter in the paper, other than Peggy's of course. I wasn't surprised.

Blowing Smoke Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (21 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Mad Men Season 4 Episode 12 Quotes

It's been a pleasure working with you all. I wish you the best of luck.


Well, I gotta go learn a bunch of people's names before I fire them.