‘Mad Men’ Review: “Favors”
‘Mad Men’ season 6 pitches its 11th episode of the season, “Favors,” as Don looks to find Sylvia's son, Mitchell, a means to avoid the draft, while Sally discovers a shocking secret and Pete grows wary of his mother's relationship with her new nurse.
Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode, “A Tale of Two Cities,” saw Don and Roger sharing a unique California experience in pitching a new client, while Joan attempted to land an Avon account without Pete or Peggy’s interference. 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 11, “Favors”!
As Peggy flees her apartment at the sight of a rat, Don arrives to find Roger waiting in his office, boasting over an apparent victory with Sunkist. Upstairs, Pete dotes on his mother’s charming nurse Manolo, while Peggy shares awkward conversation with the woman, who believes her to be Trudy and gushes about Manolo’s “physical satisfaction." Over in Rye, Betty refuses to let Sally stay in a hotel with boys for an upcoming Model UN trip, and reluctantly allows her to stay at Don’s.
Don arrives home to find Megan sitting with Sylvia and Arnold’s young son Mitchell, who quickly dismisses himself as Megan explains the boy will soon be drafted, and was hoping for advice on fleeing to Canada. Elsewhere, Pete, Ted and Peggy share a raucous evening of drinks, during which Pete confirms to Peggy that Ted returns her feelings for him. Peggy, in turn, reveals the bizarre conversation she shared with his mother, though he laughs off the implications with Manolo.
Arnold arrives to Don's apartment looking to apologize for his son, before Don takes Arnold out for drinks to get his mind off things. Don reasons that as one of the country’s top surgeons, Arnold could potentially know someone to help his son, though Arnold isn’t sure if he should, even with the war’s amorality. Elsewhere, Ted returns home to his wife to find her upset he values his work life more than his home life.
The next morning, Don asks Pete if his old Department of Defense contact could potentially help, but Pete points out that Don will be dining with GM that night, who have much more pull than his friend. Just then, Ted arrives and explains their courtship of Ocean Spray to be going well, though none of them had communicated enough to realize the conflict between Ocean Spray and Sunkist. Ted retreats to his office as Cutler follows, Ted expressing his fatigue at continually fighting Don Draper.
As Mitchell waits downstairs, Sally and her friend Julie arrive to the building, making moon-eyed smalltalk with the boy before Sylvia appears and drags Mitchell off. Elsewhere, Manolo drops Pete’s mother off at his apartment and says his goodbyes, allowing Pete to question his mother about her new companion. Pete’s mother indeed insists them to be in a romantic relationship, as Pete resolves to fire him and his mother storms out in protest. Meanwhile, Don and the other executives share dinner with GM reps, during which Don attempts to fish for solutions to Mitchell’s enlistment, bringing down the mood of the evening to Teddy’s indignation.
That night, Sally and Julie gossip about Mitchell, before Megan urges them to go to sleep. In her own apartment, Peggy awakes to find the rat from earlier fell into her trap, but survived and continues dragging blood around the house. She calls Stan for assistance, even offering to "make it worth his while," but Stan sees through her flirtation and declines. The following morning during breakfast, Julie takes out the trash but secretly sneaks downstairs.
Ted bursts into Don’s office angered by the scene at dinner, and their general relationship since the merger. Ted reveals that he knows someone who could likely get Mitchell into the Air National Guard if only Don had come to him first, but only agrees to help if Don drops Sunkist, and agrees to stop fighting him at every turn. After shaking hands, Don calls the Rosens to deliver his good news, but only finds Sylvia on the other end, who cries in gratitude and explains she had only been frustrated with him in breaking up previously.
Upstairs, Pete fumes at Bob Benson for setting them up with Manolo, but Bob insists that Pete’s mother must simply be confused about the arrangement. Suggesting that Manolo wouldn’t be interested in his mother anyway, Bob delivers a heartfelt plea that sometimes love can come from unexpected places, and moves his knee to touch Pete’s. After a moment, Pete recoils but agrees to keep Manolo around for another month, and Bob departs somewhat distraught.
Sally and Julie study in the cab on their way to the UN, though Julie reveals she signed Sally’s name on their paper admiring Mitchell, and slipped it under his door to move things along. Mortified, Sally returns home and cons the doorman into giving her his ring of keys as before. Upstairs, Sally enters the Rosens’ apartment to retrieve the letter, but instead finds her father on top of Sylvia. After Sally flees, Don races both upstairs and down looking for his daughter, but finds he missed her leaving the building, and dejectedly saunters out.
That night, Pete arrives home in distress, while Peggy sits with her new cat, and Don drinks away his sorrows. Returning home to find Megan, Julie and Sally at dinner, Don and the group are soon interrupted by Arnold and Mitchell arriving to thank Don for his actions. Megan lovingly praises Don for helping Mitchell, to which Sally screams at her father and flees to her room. Don insists on talking to her, explaining that he only meant to comfort Mrs. Rosen in a complicated, adult way, which Sally reluctantly accepts, without opening her door.
So, the mystery of Bob Benson...solved? We're not entirely sure how to read his scene with Pete, or if we should all suspect that Pete might, on some level, return his affections, but its certainly much more to go on with Bob than we've had all season. If nothing else, "Favors" offers some wonderful colors for Pete to display, particularly in his heartfelt conversation with Peggy, which offered up a wonderful reminiscence of their relationship akin to Joan and Peggy's last week. That relatively small scene gave us one of the biggest smiles we've had in several seasons, a lighthearted awareness of just how far these characters have come.
Elsewhere, Sally's life continues to become horribly soiled with each subsequent stay at her father's. We're hoping for some major developments between the Drapers and the Rosens in the final two episodes, if only to bring some consequence to the sins Don has committed since the premiere, and those he'd hurt in the process. Certainly, one could read his insistence on helping Mitchell as some kind of penance for his actions, or perhaps a deeper conflict that stems back to his own issues with military service that created his Don Draper identity in the first place.
It was nice to see into Ted Chaough's home life a bit as well, even if "Favors" afforded less development between he and Peggy than the "previously on" segment might have led us to believe. Peggy's story with the rat offered up a few laughs as well, and darn if it didn't feel good for Stan to stand up to Peggy's flirtatious manipulation. Hopefully 'Mad Men' has shaken off its drug hazes from earlier in the season, and will develop a clearer focus for the final two episodes of the season.
Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s episode “Favors”? Check out all our other ‘Mad Men’ season 6 coverage here, and preview next week’s episode of ‘Mad Men’ season 6, “The Quality of Mercy,” below!