'Mad Men' Review: "A Tale of Two Cities"

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Mad Men’ season 6 pitches its 10th episode of the season, “A Tale of Two Cities,” as Don and Roger share a unique California experience in pitching a new client, while Joan attempts to land an Avon account without Pete or Peggy's interference.

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode, “The Better Half,” saw Don reliving old times between he and Betty at Bobby’s camp outing, while Peggy struggled to adjust to her uneasy situations at work and home, and Roger spent the day with his grandson. So what will the newest episode bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ season 6 episode 10, “A Tale of Two Cities”!

With the Democratic National Convention on TV, Megan bids Don adieu for his upcoming trip to California. The next morning in a partners' meeting, the agency still uncertain of its name, the group worries about their upcoming business with both Manischewitz and Chevy. A short while later on a plane, Don attempts to prepare for the California Carnation meeting, but Roger urges him to relax and think of themselves as big New York conquistadors.

Cutler enters the creative room to find Stan and Ginsberg upset about the lack of war protest at the Democratic convention, for which Cutler and Ginsberg get in an argument about their political beliefs. Bob Benson intervenes, but Cutler storms off in a huff, asking Ted for permission to clean house of the SCDP employees. Elsewhere, Joan has lunch with a rep from Avon under the assumption of a date, but the man quickly expresses an interest in switching his advertising agency.

Back at SCDP, Cutler offers Bob Benson the opportunity to partake in the Manischewitz meeting, while Joan returns and tells Peggy of her good news. Peggy suggests they take the news to Ted, though Ted advises putting Pete on the account rather than letting Joan handle her own account. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Don, Harry and Roger arrive to their hotel in a convertible and make plans before heading to an industry party in the Hills.

Separately, Joan and Don watch news of a riot in Chicago, before Megan calls Don in worry for his safety. The next morning, Peggy arrives for brunch with Joan and the Avon representative, learning that Joan intentionally scheduled the meeting to exclude Pete. Though somewhat awkward, Joan manages to convince the representative he seeks a fresh voice for their product given the changing times.

Don, Harry and Roger meet with the Carnation executives, though the more liberal of the two bemoans their previous dealings with New York businessmen. Roger quickly smooths the situation over, while back in New York Peggy insists to Joan that her actions were wrong. Joan asserts she needed to take a different path to success than Peggy’s controlled ascent, though Peggy worries about what Pete will say of her brash actions.

On Stan’s urging, Bob Benson confronts an agitated Ginsburg to go through with the Manischewitz  meeting, but downplays any of Ginsberg’s questions about his sexuality. Meanwhile in California, Roger, Don and Harry arrive to the industry party, finding former employee Danny Siegel now a producer with his hippie friend “Lotus.” After a short while, Don enters a room of youths smoking hashish and decides to partake at the sight of a pretty young girl.

Later, Roger talks to a tripping Lotus, before once again coming into conflict with Danny. Roger makes threats, before Danny promptly punches him below the belt, and walks off with a laughing Lotus. Meanwhile, Don finds his kiss with the hashish girl interrupted by the sudden appearance of a hippie-garbed Megan, who claims to be pregnant. Soon, Megan is replaced by a one-armed Private Dinkins from Hawaii, before Don sees a vision of a man drowning in the pool, realizing it to be himself, as he promptly wakes to find Roger administering him CPR.

Back in New York, Ted relays his good fortune with Chevy to Cutler, before Bob Benson interrupts and explains that Manischewitz plans to place them under review. Ted and Cutler offer to place Bob on Chevy as a reward for his service, while Don and Roger endure the flight home, Roger downplaying their failure in California.

Pete brings Joan into the conference room with knowledge of her Avon betrayal, calling Ted in to corroborate his consternation as well. Peggy listens through the conference room speaker as Joan admits her actions, but Peggy sends Meredith in with a phony note from Avon asking for Joan to break up the meeting. Afterward, Joan and Peggy listen as Ted tells Pete to let Joan keep the account, and Peggy hopes that Avon calls Joan for real.

Don and Roger return from California, at which point the partners gather in Don’s office to announce a compromise on their name, calling the agency “Sterling-Cooper & Partners,” an equal insult to them all. Only Pete protests, while Don urges him to relax, and Pete ventures to the creative room to steal one of Stan’s joints.

Lending no credence to the rampant Megan Draper theories of the past week, "A Tale of Two Cities offered a nice return to business as usual after last week's episode shook off the delirium of "The Crash." We question the choice to put Don through yet another existential drug trip, though the return to California offered a nice window through which to glimpse Don, Roger and Harry's current states, throwing in a Danny cameo for good measure.

Most satisfying was the catharsis between Peggy and Joan, given their best scenes to date in defining the differing path through which both women have risen to their own levels of success. Naturally, a buxom cartoonishly figured Joan has her own set of obstacles in her journey to be taken seriously, and the interactions between the pair offer a wonderful advancement of the mutual respect and envy between the two women. Joan and Peggy have found themselves at odds from the very first season, and it's wonderful to see that relationship kept fresh well into the series' twilight years.

Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s  episode “The Better Half”? Check out all our other ‘Mad Men’ season 6 coverage here, and preview next week’s episode of ‘Mad Men’ season 6, “Favors,” below!

http://youtu.be/7qPouEmrL9I

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