In tonight's episode of Mad Men, "Man With a Plan," the "mad merger" has actually taken effect and Cutler Gleason and Chaough is movin' on in to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's two-floor office. Yup, Peggy's back, along with Ted, who continues to be Don's foil in every way. He's selfless (he gives up his seat for a secretary in a meeting), he takes meetings with the creatives seriously (and takes Peggy seriously), and he can even fly a plane (so he and Don can take an impressive meeting with client Mohawk Airlines). Also, he can't hold his liquor during a one-on-one brainstorm with Don for Fleischmann's margarine. What a goody two shoes stand-up guy!
Nonetheless, Don's the real man with a plan. In addition to beguiling Ted and the newbies (except for Peggy, of course) with his charm and eloquence, he pulls a Fifty Shades of Grey-like strategy on Sylvia to see just how far his mistress will go for him ...
Calling him up after a fight with her husband, Arnold -- which Don happened to overhear when his elevator conveniently stopped at their floor on his way to the office -- Sylvia tells him she "needs him and nothing else will do." He gives in and meets her in a hotel in the middle of the work day. But then -- likely because he's freaked out that she's falling for him and is going to out them -- he flips a switch and begins acting in a wildly over-the-top way, ordering her to crawl on the floor for his shoes, telling her to get naked and stay in bed and be at his beck and call for 48 hours, delivering her a fitted designer red dress to wear and then strip out of, etc. Well, hello, Christian Grey!
But his motivation isn't to take their relationship to some new, BDSM-inspired level. Instead, it seems like he may have been scheming all along to push Sylvia to her breaking point -- literally, to make it seem like it was her idea to end the affair, which she does.
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So now is it back to try his hand at marital bliss with Megan? Not so fast. Don can't even seem to focus on what she's saying -- something about going on another trip to Hawaii. Then, Bobby Kennedy is shot (and ugh, side note: when Pete's aging mother, who is now living in his apartment, wakes him to tell him "that Kennedy boy" has been shot, and he thinks she's having a senior moment, it just sent chills up my spine ...). And as Megan sits crying, watching disturbing footage of the assassination on TV, a cold, distant Don offers no comfort.
Several episodes back, we thought Old Don would be back this season, but we were wrong. This isn't the drunk and/or depressed womanizer we've seen before. This is a whole new Don -- one who's self-centered, downright devious, quite possibly, at this point, without a soul.
What do you think about the scheme Don pulled on Sylvia?
Image via Michael Yarish/AMC