[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: A rooster crows, a pitcher beads, Don and Teddy share a cocktail Roger and Burt say good-bye Peggy moves forward Don looks for his shoes.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
How's it going? I know you're all feeling the darkness here today. But there's no reason to give in. No matter what you've heard, these Power Rankings will not take years. In my heart I know we cannot be defeated because there IS an answer that will open the door. [Opens door, looks out, checks to make sure an elephant that shoots technicolor spears out of its trunk is not waiting to charge in, closes door.] There's a way around this system. This is a test of our patience and commitment. [Leaves room, spends five weeks in a mud-yurt in Mahopac, returns and picks up the thought.] One great idea can win someone over.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don takes an interest in puppies Teddy shows Peggy his gratitude Peggy writes some copy Roger flies Northwest Bert orders a drink Pete and his father-in-law have a heart-to-heart.]
Don Draper (last week: 1)
"It's morning. We know because we see the rooster crow. A farmer's wife sits pancakes on the kitchen table, she puts a pat of margarine on top, and sets the dish down next to the yellowest fried eggs, a loaf of homemade bread, and a beading pitcher of heavy cream. Syrup pours. A smile comes over their Dorothea Lange faces."
Now, we ask you: Is this the margarine pitch that wins the day, steamrolling over warm-up nonsense about the various Gilligan's Island equivalencies of the butter-substitute oligarchy, or is this utter horseshit served with a side of perfectly crisp toast and artisanal marmalade? We honestly don't know the answer; maybe it's both. But there is, as there always is, the unflinching confidence in the delivery, because if Don Draper is good at one thing, it's mesmerizing with his monotone while he paints the room around him sepia and then convinces you it's never been a different color. The worst part, of course, is that now we desperately want some breakfast. And to drench it in margarine, it really brings out the flavor. Just like grandma used to make.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don takes Bobby to the movies … Peggy and Abe look at real estate … Betty considers an old dress … Harry and Pete have a frank discussion on current events … Joan hugs a secretary.]
Don Draper (last week: 1)
"If you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation."
No, that's not right. It's a little too trite at this point to start with a catchphrase so good even Peggy's using it in pitches.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don and Sylvia talk about faith Peggy changes the conversation Harry Crane files his performance review Ted McGinley swings by Heinz Ketchup goes great on hot dogs.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
You learn a lot about a man in a time of crisis, and this week we learned that Don's the kind of guy who responds to tragedy by worrying about the whereabouts of his mistress, crawling into the bottle of Canadian Club on his nightstand, and, upon waking the next day, bathrobe-swaddled and stinking of last night's impromptu date with the forgetting-juice, taking the boy to the movies while the wife takes the other kids to a vigil. "What else are we gonna do?" he shrugs, ready to sit back down to the half-finished, rubbery awards-show chicken that is his life and pretend the world's not going up in flames around him. You can't really say any of this is particularly new information, but it's always riveting to watch how these scenarios play out, to pluck at the jet-black What Will Don Draper Do? rubber band on your wrist and feel the blunt sting of the results.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don and Sylvia eat Italian food Don listens to Bing Crosby Trudy and Pete have a heart-to-heart Kenny passes the ketchup.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
This was a week in which Don Draper hid in dark offices while working on top-secret projects, eavesdropped at a hotel suite, and lurked in the shadows of a television set. But Don Draper is not a spy; Don Draper is an adman. Don Draper smoked joints in a clandestine hot box, drooling over the exquisite squiggles of ketchup on an illustrated hot dog begging to be smothered in the delicious suicide sauce that would hasten its own demise. Don Draper pressed an ear to a closed door, trying to hear how a professional ambush resolved itself. Don Draper sat across from a pair of swingers and barely concealed his disgust at how comfortable they were with a lifestyle that made public what he likes to do in private. Don Draper showed up unannounced at his wife's place of work, desperate to observe his on-camera cuckolding at the hands of a pretty-boy actor, and to ensure that the verisimilitude of their pantomime lovemaking met his stringent husbandly tolerance standards. Don Draper made damn well sure his wife felt shitty about it. Don Draper shattered his own adultery land-speed record, going from crying-wife-in-her-dressing-room to penny-under-the-mistress's-doormat in under 10 seconds. Don Draper avoided the crucified Jesus's gaze as he got down to business, because even though there's no God in Don Draper's life besides Don Draper, he still didn't want his partner's lord and savior tsk-tsking along with every sinful thrust, because that is a real mood-killer.
Don Draper has had prouder weeks. Maybe not busier, but prouder.
[Production note: Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings, unless it was the one we skipped: Don has a hot tooth … No one wants Lane Pryce's office for some reason … The Ghost of Adam Whitman drops by for Bring Your Dead Sibling to Work Day … Megan books a commercial … Pete's mistress forgets about him.]
1. Don Draper
"What do I do?" the subject asked the photographer, unsure of how to behave in an office that had been temporarily rearranged to make a better backdrop for a shot, a better reflection of the brain behind the operation.
"Just do what you do," answered the photographer.
"Gimme a minute," said the subject, flicking open the lighter of a drunk soldier he'd helped to marry on a distant beach, which bore the inscription: IN LIFE WE OFTEN HAVE TO DO THINGS THAT JUST ARE NOT OUR BAG.
"What do you want?" asked the subject, now distracted and queasy from a flood of memories of the soldier from that beach, of the solider he once was.
[Production note: Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings A French-Canadian siren sings a very catchy song and eventually quits her advertising job Pete Campbell and Lane Pryce come to blows in a conference room Roger Sterling gets a blowie at an awards ceremony something about hobos from a long time ago an untouched glass of orange sherbet in an upstate HoJo's a $250,000 version of "Tomorrow Never Knows."
[Production note: Does it completely disorient you to watch a Thanksgiving episode in early May? And, to make it even more temporally upsetting, to watch a Thanksgiving episode on Mother's Day? Is it just us? Are we weak of constitution and fragile of mind? All we know is that we want some canned cranberry sauce right now, as these Rankings spill forth like so much rotten fruit from our overflowing mind-cornucopia. Shut up, it's late, we should be asleep. Next to a can of cranberry sauce. We're not letting that go until we get some.
Here's the thing about the weeks following those history-making, paradigm-shifting Rankings in which Don slips on the banana peel of Fate and momentarily stumbles into the second position: Order is always, always swiftly restored to the Draperverse; we're not sure what would happen if Our Hero weren't allowed to immediately scramble back to the top of the Power Pyramid, but we imagine that a theoretical second consecutive Monday morning of two-slottedness would involve so much grief-vomiting into a fedora that we'd require an intravenous drip of one part rye to three parts Four Loko just to get straight long enough to mash out a suicide note. (We take this show very seriously.) Thank Anna Draper in Heaven that the Creator (Matthew Weiner) allowed Don to scramble back to his feet after last week's existential knockout, even if he hasn't completely regained his footing (and probably never will).
In 1966, an alien crash-landed on Earth. He was an unlikely figure, even considering his cosmic origins: speaking English (if a little oddly) and draped in the trappings of counterculture. He admired the humans he encountered in New York City, though, and soon came to work among them. Thanks to his surprising abilities he was eventually accepted by the Earthmen, even if he could never truly be one of them.
It can’t be a coincidence that Matthew Weiner, Mad Men creator and control freak par excellence, introduced his own Martian, copywriter Michael Ginsberg, the same year Marvel Comics unveiled the Silver Surfer. Like Holocaust baby Ginsberg, the Surfer was an improbable survivor, the product of a desperate sacrifice, his still-beating heart a constant reminder of those left behind. Ginsberg feels like an alien, both to himself and to his new colleagues at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, yet he is eager to belong. As long as he keeps his voice down and his otherworldly skills focused on mundanities like cologne ads, his stranger-in-a-strange-land eccentricities (like understanding The Beatles) can be tolerated. Michael may call himself a spaceman, but inside the sturdy walls of a Manhattan office building, he’s really just another Other, not all that distinct from fellow outsider Dawn. Their differences are folded into the established culture easily enough because, when you get right down to it, they need their jobs more than their jobs need them.
[Production note: Do not recalibrate your Tele-Vision sets: Those vibrant blues and oranges on your screen were intentional. And they're the same hues we're splashing all over our homes in 2012! We are all Howard Johnson's bitches. He's won, he's finally won.
We've found no reliable way to extract Megan Draper's insidious French earworm from our ravaged auditory canals this morning; the best we've been able to manage is to merely replace it with the sound of the original version, by Gillian Hills, featured above. We realize this is a terrible solution to the problem (is it actually even a problem? OK, yes. Yes it is), but at least for the moment we've finally found something strong enough to drown out "Party Rock Anthem." Oh, and fully aware of "Zou Bisou Bisou"'s horrible, undeniable power, AMC dropped the song onto iTunes last night, and is also offering it on two different colors of vinyl, because: of course they did. Matthew Weiner will not rest until he's conquered the entire world. Get out of our minds, Matthew Weiner.