Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.7: “Man With A Plan”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

Teyonah Parris walks in beauty like the night...which is probably why she wasn't on Mad Men this week.
Teyonah Parris walks in beauty like the night…which is probably why she wasn’t on Mad Men this week.

Since Tami, Womanist Musings’ and Fangs for the Fantasy’s Renee Martin, and I noticed the dearth of Black folks and other people of color in the episode, we had to compensate with the above photo of actor Teyonah Parris, who plays Dawn on Mad Men. In the meantime, we chat about Don’s continued dick-swinging and its bad aim. So y’all know how this goes: Spoilers and thangs.

Tami: Sooo…since we’ve passed the King assassination, I suppose we’re done showing black people on Mad Men?

Am I wrong or did I hear this dialog when the creative team was waiting for Don?

Peggy: I spoke to Dawn?

Ted: Black or white?


Andrea: I guess so. Again, this is a world that mitigates how marginalized groups enter its world. Dr. King’s assassination was such a galvanizing event that to not address it would’ve been too strange. In other words, for how much the show may not deal with race and racism, Dr. King is the Black man that they had to deal with.

But, damn, where was Dawn–meaning Don’s executive assistant–at? I do miss her. And have we beheld the splendiferousness of Teyonah Parris’ natural-haired self? If I make a flick about Shakespeare’s “Dark Mistress,” it would have to be her in that role.

Tami: It’s official. I like Ted Chaough. When we first “met” him it was through Don’s biased eyes. And I think it has become clear, though this episode, that Don is threatened by Ted and his more modern approach to working and relating to people. He is caring toward his dying partner. And he would never throw dollar bills in Peggy’s face. I just hope that smooch he shared with Peggy was a momentary lapse and he (and Peggy) is not a cheater.

Mad Men's Studly Dude of the Week: Ted Chaough,.
Mad Men‘s Studly Dude of the Week: Ted Chaough,.

You rock those aviators, Ted!

Andrea: He was full of “unf” in that piloting scene, even though, every other time I see him, he reminds me of a slightly dissolute, more wide-eyed James Spader.

Tami: Speaking of Don…he really is a terribly damaged and awful man, who ultimately hates women or, at least, is mistrustful of them. I knew the deal when he bought Sylvia that red dress (‘cause, like Joe, I, too, read Tom & Lorenzo). Don is all about the Madonna/whore complex. And while Don may choose strong and smart women for his dalliances, ultimately he views them as whores for being with him. His little dominance play was not just a harmless sex game, as Sylvia first thought when his barked orders that led her to a little pre-Hitachi self-pleasure. She eventually saw his sickness and to her credit decided to exit stage left.

Andrea: All I could think of is who on Weiner’s staff had 9 ½ Weeks on repeat while writing the script for this ep? At the same time, I thought that, once again, there’s an insididous conflation about BDSM-ish sex games and abuse. From Don, the domme-ish role really came off as abusive, and Sylvia made it into a consensual sex game. The more subtle message is that women are responsible for making abuse acceptable in relationships.

 Renee: That scene with Don was all about him needing to express power.  Even the he was central to the merger between the two companies it left him feeling lost and he didn’t know where he stood in the power structure. He knew exactly what kind of woman Sylvia is and so his power games help to alleviate his anxiety about not knowing exactly where he stands.  In the end the fact that begged her to stay says a lot about who he is.

Tami: I think Don is mistaken if he thinks the Peggy that is returning to the office is the same on that left. He’s going to need to “move forward” or else.

Andrea: Don needs to take Peggy’s advice and apply it to all the parts of his life, bless his heart.

Tami: Of course, Don is no more fond of strong men that he views as competition. Ted isn’t the first victim of his “drink him under the table to show him who’s boss” gambit. Roger has been at the wrong end of that one twice. Thing is, in this new post-Rat Pack era, manhood isn’t gauged by how much scotch one can hold.

Don Draper is a weak man under a hyper-alpha facade.

Renee: What I don’t understand is why Ted fell for it.  He sat there saying that he needed to eat and yet he continued to drink.

Tami: Did someone say weak man? Hello, Pete Campbell! He did have one of the best lines of the episode: “My mother can go to hell and Ted Chaough can fly her there!”

Maybe in the ultimate episode of Mad Men, Don and Pete will jump off the building holding hands.

"Don, in the immortal words of CeCe Peniston, you can just keep on walking."
“Don, in the immortal words of CeCe Peniston, you can just keep on walking.”

Andrea: I think he fell for it, Renee, because he wanted to bond with Don over some display of manliness just as much as not wanting to lose to Don.

You know, Tami, I never thought of Pete as the shadow self of Don, but I think you’re onto something, sis.

Tami: Okay, since Mad Men officially ends next season, might I suggest a new show for Matt Weiner and crew? It involves Roger Sterling firing people each week.

Andrea: Then taking a nap and waking up with bed hair.

Renee: Okay, that actually had me cracking up, but I did feel a little bit sorry for the man who was fired. I feel like Roger has been brought back from the brink of being irrelevant in the last few episodes, and it is certainly a good thing.  The morose troubled Roger that we have been seeing is boring, though it advances his character.

Tami: Could it be that Bob Benson is one of the very few decent men at SCDPCGCXYZ? (Sidenote: Did we ever find out the name of the new agency?)

I hope he’s not some spy or other sinister character because Joan might be sweet on him, and it’s about time for Joan to have someone sweet in her life.

Renee: I think it was telling that Joan warned that he just wanted to keep his job safe and, in the end, she saved his job.  It would however be nice to see Joan end up with a man who actually cares about her for a change.  She has been disposable for far too long. In fact the two characters I want to see have a happy ending are Joan and Peggy.

Tami: Is anyone surprised that RFK’s assassination was just a coda to the episode? I suppose it’s not advisable to craft two whole episodes around high-profile murders. I think I may be okay with it.

Andrea: At the same time, RFK’s assassination fills out the trinity of political murders that galvanized the country and heralded the end of the 60s youthful zeitgeist.

Renee: I have to admit that I was a bit because of how they treated the death of JFK. Everyone was overcome and Don was actually forced to parent his kids and get them away from the television for awhile.  I don’t think we can say for sure about the fallout until the next episode though.


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