“Mad Men” Power Rankings: Episode 401, “Public Relations”
Production note: The Power Rankings will now run on this Tumblr, which means they may publish later, more incomplete, or more half-assed than in their previous incarnation. But hey, fun logo!
Mad Men’s fourth season has begun. These are your first week Power Rankings: (Last season’s Power Rankings can be found here.)
1. Don Draper (Last week: n/a)
So this is where we find Don Draper at the onset of Season Four, circa Thanksgiving, 1964: The Reluctant Face of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce; outflanked by a one-legged, Korean War vet Ad Age reporter with a likely termite problem; unable to close the deal with the kind of wide-eyed twentysomething he once used to floss his teeth between more substantial trysts; the creative force behind history’s most critically acclaimed advertising campaign about premium floor wax.
“Who is Don Draper?” asks Pegleg Pete The Unimpressed Reporter. A man who goes along with it when his date orders the fucking Chicken Kiev. (Seriously, Don. Leave the bib-based foreplay to Duck Phillips. You are above this kind of thing.) A man who pays for sex-turkey on Thanksgiving. A man who drives the Jantzen Prudes from the office because they refuse to admit that their wholesome two-piece is actually nothing more than a common whorekini. Given the above, it would be fair to say that Don has lost a bit of his mojo. So much is now riding on the Draper Touch that he’s tensing up, lashing out, digging in. This is the same guy who not long ago was the picture of Brylcreem-hardened stillness in the face of adversity, who’d toss back a glass of rye and say the perfect thing at the perfect time. But then again, that was before he starting paying hookers to slap him around.
Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Reverse fingerbang alert!
“Good. Now tell me I’m a shell of a man who lets his wife stay in his house way past the mutually agreed-upon vacating date.”
“You’re a shell of a man who lets his wife stay in his house way past the mutually agreed-upon vacating date.”
“Oh, then slap me again. Twice.”
“Look, I know you like things your way, but this is getting a little old.”
“That’s what I said.”
“Then do exactly what I tell you. And it’s going to get weird, fast.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“Listen carefully. Take my hand. Grasp my index finger and middle finger with your hand.”
“Very good. Grab them nice and firm, around the base. Right, just like that.”
“Now I’m going to flip over. And you’re going to take those two fingers and you’re going to…thrust them.”
“I think you know where.”
“I’m not doing that.”
“Oh, but you are doing that.”
“No, I’m not.”
“That’s a hundred-dollar thrust. And you’re doing it.”
“A hundred dollars, just for that.”
“I’ve been bad.”
“Yes, you have.”
[He moans deeply.]
“The turkey is stuffed.”
2. Roger Sterling
Real Roger Sterling Line* Or Something I Made Up?
1. “They’re so cheap they can’t even afford a whole reporter.”
2. “I love how they act like choirboys. You know one of them leaves New York with VD.”
3. “Come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her.”
4. “You turned all the sizzle from Glo-Coat into a wet fart.”
5. “Maybe you should’ve violated Pegleg Pete with his hard-oak hobble-stick.”
6. “How are your balls?”
[*Transcription accuracy not guaranteed.]
Answer key: Sterling: 1, 2, 3, 4. Made-up and inferior to actual line: 5. Roger line obviously given to Don’s divorce lawyer: 6.
3. Bert Cooper
His name is still on the wall. And he’s still the lovable old coot whose old-cootin’-around we still love, like when he tells Don that’s he’s failed at his job because he couldn’t snow a hack from a trade.
4. Peggy Olson
We like the haircut. We like the mouth. And, most of all, we like the moxie that leads to a couple of old bags pretending to fight to the death over a Sugarberry ham, even if that’s just going to get her shouted down by Don in front of her “fiance,” just because of a regrettable stunt-planning oversight involving bail money. “It was going great, until it wasn’t.” Words to live by. (We don’t like Marc, or “Joey,” the new office lapdog, who probably yearns to slip inside her while breathing “Marsha!” in her ear. We lost Sal and K-Coz and Paul for that guy?)
5. Pete Campbell
Pete Campbell’s Expense Report (Partial)
*Whores (easily impressed), $300 (charge to Jai Alai account)
*Whores (fighting), $50 (charge to Sugarberry Ham account)
*Whores (male, discreet), $1,000 (charge to Lucky Strike account)
6. Sally Draper
Look at how quickly our little Sally is growing up! It seems like only yesterday that she was roaming the Draper home late at night, clutching a pair of scissors, wondering if it were finally time to kill Daddy. But now, clearly, her murderous sights have shifted to Mommy. “Don’t you like the food, dear?” asks Mommy, trying to feed her a marshmallow from the sweet potatoes at the Francis’ Thanksgiving table. Sally gags. Why is Mommy trying to poison me? Mommy must go. Soon. Then I can marry Bobby* and move in with Miss Farrell, her hair smells so good.
[*There is no hard evidence of any matrimonial intentions towards her little brother. Yet. We will be monitoring the situation, closely.]
7. Betty Draper
The two darkest thoughts re: Betty Draper Francis, i.e., The Worst Parent in the World , that arose during last night’s episode:
i) When Don arrived to take the kids and asked about Baby Gene’s whereabouts, Betty would be cagey about the answer, admitting, “I traded him for a pack of menthol Pall Malls!” only after her ex-husband shook it out of her.
ii) When Don returned the children to the house to discover that Betty and Henry weren’t home, that he would eventually check the garage, discovering that the couple had died of carbon monoxide poisoning during their impromptu, front-seat makeout session. We may or may not have secretly rooted for this outcome. (For the kids, of course.)
Anyway: Terrible parent. Just terrible.
Bonus: You know who else likes to smoke? Everybody:
(video by Joe Sabia)
8. Henry Francis’ Mom
While Hammering Hank himself did not crack this week’s Power Rankings - a fact at least partly attributable to Don’s deliciously acid “Believe me, Henry, everyone thinks this is temporary” retort - his mother, dripping with disappointment like a too-full gravy boat sloshing towards a dry turkey, stormed into the eighth spot. Anyone who will openly refer to her loose-donged son’s relationship as “living in that man’s dirt,” while also noting he could’ve gotten what he wanted without putting a ring on it, has more than earned her spot on the list.
9. Harry Crane
Hey, dude, nice tan!
[Slaps him hard on sun-ravaged back, coughs We should’ve taken Kinsey instead! into fist, shuts door in his face as he stammers something about a jai alai special.]
10. The Sugarberry Ham-Fighters
Here’s the thing about actresses: You can’t pay them 25 bucks each to battle over a ham and think that once the gig’s over, everything’s going to be cool between them. They’ve been inhabiting these characters; they eat, sleep, and breathe ham-fighting now, so if you put them in an office together, they are going to fuck each other up. Massive bouffant wreckage will ensue. Bail will be needed. And you’ll be lucky if one of them - the less-committed artist, naturally - doesn’t wind up bludgeoned to death with a tin of premium meat. Don was as angry about this tragic lack of foresight as he was about the chintziness of the stunt.
Missing the cut: Joan Holloway (nice office, three lines), Bobby Draper (possible bedwetter?), Henry Francis (see above), Lane Pryce (maybe next week? Why so cold to Don, Lane?).
Not ranked: Joey, Bethany, the Jantzen Prudes, the Sugarberry ham, the conference table, Celia, Chicken Kiev, Allison, Ho Ho, Duck Phillips, Ken Cosgrove, the Glo-Coat kid, Paul Kinsey, Sal Romano, Lois.
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