'Mad Men' Review: "The Collaborators"

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Mad Men’ season 6 pitches its second episode of the season “The Collaborators,” as Don continues his relationship with Sylvia (Linda Cardellini) while dealing with an unruly client request, Pete takes on another affair that quickly blows up in his face, and Peggy worries that her staff doesn't take her seriously.

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ premiere “The Doorway” saw Don having a unique experience in Hawaii on business, Roger dealing with a death in the family, Betty searching for a lost family friend, and Peggy finding an ad campaign at her new job in jeopardy, 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 3, “The Collaborators!”

Hosting a dinner party for their neighbors, Pete offers his neighbor’s wife Brenda (Collette Wolfe) theatre tickets, slyly suggesting they meet in the city to hand them over. The next morning, Don catches an elevator ride with Dr. Rosen, but the sight of Sylvia leads Don to fake forgetting his cigarettes, and ride the elevator right back up to her. As he arrives at her door, Don flashes back to the day he and his mother moved in with her sister at a brothel. After their morning quickie, the pair worry about their upcoming dinner together before Don leaves Sylvia money that she’d asked from her husband.

Over at Peggy’s new job, her secretary brings the young copywriters in, urging Peggy to be a bit more encouraging to them. Heeding the woman’s advice, Peggy awkwardly explains that she values the employees, even if she maintains high standards about the work she needs from them. Elsewhere, Pete welcomes his neighbor’s wife Brenda into his Manhattan apartment, promptly putting the moves on her.

Raymond from Heinz beans introduces Don and the others to Timmy, the head of Heinz ketchup, though the young man isn’t quite ready to leave his current agency yet. Once he leaves the room however, Raymond explains that he only brought Timmy as a courtesy to the arrogant upstart, but forbids Don and the others from doing any actual business with the young man. Kenny bemoans to Don that ketchup would go far for them, but Don resigns to stay loyal to Raymond.

While Pete rudely urges Brenda to hurry things along in leaving, Megan chews out her and Don’s maid, ultimately firing the hapless woman. Sylvia observes Megan’s stress, and the pair head upstairs for drinks, wherein Megan bluntly reveals that she had a miscarriage two days prior. More-so than the grief however, Megan worries that she shouldn’t start a family so early into her acting career, when Don returns home. Still shocked, Sylvia quietly excuses herself.

Herb from Jaguar greets Joan in her office, the reminder of which sends her running into Don’s office for a drink. During their meeting, Herb rudely suggests that SDCP reduce their national campaign, focusing more on getting foot traffic in Herb’s dealership with local ads, without putting any additional money into the account. Don balks at the idea, especially when Herb suggests they present the idea to Jaguar as their own.

That night over the phone, Stan tells Peggy about the incident with Heinz, laughing at Kenneth’s disappointment with the situation, before Teddy interrupts Peggy in her office. Assuring her not to be bashful of personal calls, Teddy takes interest in Heinz ketchup’s apparent interest in a new agency. Meanwhile, Don arrives home to prepare for dinner with Dr. Rosen and Sylvia, but Megan fakes sick and urges him to go anyway.

Pete and Trudy are startled by frantic knocking at their door, finding a bloodied Brenda fleeing from her husband. Pete worries about leaving Brenda alone with Trudy, making calls to Brenda’s family to find her a place to stay. Pete flatly rejects her desire to be with him in the city, before learning of vacancy at a nearby hotel. Trudy offers to drive Brenda to the hotel, leaving Pete further uneasy as they leave.

Back in the city Don meets with Sylvia and Dr. Rosen for dinner, briefly discussing the war, before Dr. Rosen is predictably called away for surgery. Increasingly snippy, Sylvia expresses trepidation about the two sharing dinner while others watch, but Don accuses her of feeling guilt for their affair right up until they fall into bed. Don assures Sylvia what they have is real, as we inter-cut with scenes of the pair inevitably falling into bed once more that night. When don returns home, Megan confesses her miscarriage, as Don assures her he’d be happy to discuss starting a family whenever she likes

Trudy returns home while Pete sleeps, showing a clear disdain in her eyes. The following morning, Trudy expresses her disgust with Pete for flaunting an affair with someone who lives in their own neighborhood, though Pete insists she has no proof. Rather than threaten a divorce however, Trudy ends the relationship by demanding Pete stay in his Manhattan apartment unless she needs something from him, threatening to "destroy him" if he comes near their house uninvited.

Peggy finds Teddy waiting in her office, as Teddy puts her on the case of landing Heinz ketchup. Peggy balks at the thought of betraying Stan’s confidence like that, but Teddy reminds her that she needs to be that ruthless in business, to be successful. Over at SDCP, Pete pitches Herb’s idea to Herb and the foreign Jaguar representatives, doing his best to sell the apprehensive men on the idea. Don too sells the idea, but in a manner that highlights the type of image the foreign executives won’t want for their brand. The executives reject the idea despite Herb and Pete’s genuine pitch, and Roger expresses his admiration of Don’s subtle tactics.

That night, Bob Benson displays his usual friendliness to a distraught Pete staying in the office, while Don quietly greets Sylvia at the back entrance to her apartment. Don flashes back to a night he spied on his pregnant mother and "Uncle" Mack at the brothel through a peephole, before one of the prostitutes he’d earlier admired chides him for it. Back at the present, Don arrives at his front door, but instead sits down against the hallway wall.

'Mad Men' can be a difficult show to review on a weekly basis, as an episode's value often remains unclear until later in, or perhaps after the season. After the surprise of seeing Don once again an adulterer in last week's premiere, we gain a bit more insight into his bond with Sylvia, though not in a way that clarifies Don's distance from Megan. The brief flashbacks don't exactly clarify matters, but do offer a bit of insight into Don/Dick's unique outlook on and dissociation from sex. Megan herself is given a good bit of spotlight, particularly with her troubling miscarriage revelation, but Don's infidelity does seem to overshadow her role.

Meanwhile, Pete remains as grimy and insufferable as ever, and it'll be interesting to see what becomes of the character now that Trudy has firmly (and fantastically) thrown him out of the house. Their relationship has long been one of the more interesting 'Mad Men' pairings to follow, even without our unabashed love for Alison Brie, so we hope the marriage's dissolution isn't quite so set in stone. Also interesting to follow was Don's treatment of different clients with troubling requests, and how Don's loss could play into an opportunity for Peggy. The environment and overall purpose of Peggy's new job could do with a bit more fleshing out, so perhaps Heinz ketchup will be our ticket into an actual storyline, rather than keeping things confined to Peggy's cramped office.

Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama?  What did you think about tonight's  episode “The Collaborators?” Check out all our other ‘Mad Men’ season 6 coverage, and join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’ season 6′s latest episode “To Have and to Hold” on AMC!

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