"Mad Men" recap: 10 best moments

Jon Hamm in the second episode of season 6 of AMC's "Mad Men." Michael Yarish/AMC

Sunday night's second episode of season 6 had a strong theme of regrettable sex and adultery on many levels.

The night of sexual regret opened up strong, when we were confronted by sleazy Herb from Jaguar, with whom Joan made the ultimate sacrifice and paid a hefty price of her dignity to help win as a client for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Though, the minute she hit him (literally) below the belt with the line, "And I know there's a part of you you haven't seen in years," we felt just a little bit better about the torrid affair.

In addition to Joan's regrettable foray with Herb, Pete has a regrettable affair with a neighbor for which he gets caught by wife, Trudy (the always-fabulous Alison Brie); Megan suffers a miscarriage from a pregnancy, which she had mixed feelings about anyway; Don's lover seems to be suffering from guilt from their affair, and we learn that all of Don's troubles began in a den of regrettable sex and adultery: a brothel. Turns out that the awkward teen Don was brought up in a hot bed of sin.

Below are the ten best moments from the episode, and most fall under the category of adultery and regret, in some form or another.

1) Alison Brie is back. Hurray. And she certainly knows how to handle Pete. Upon finding out that he's chosen to have an affair with a woman who lives just down the street (Collette Wolfe) -- even though she had granted him his own Manhattan sex-pad -- she explains with icy fervor: "I refuse to be a failure." Trudy tells Pete that she's the one in charge now and he better get used to it. "I'm drawing a 50-mile radius around this house, and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you," she said. Welcome back, Trudy, welcome back.

2) And speaking of handling, one of my favorite lines of the night was when Don told Pete: "I wish you'd handle the clients as well as you're handling me." Well said, Don. Sometimes he's got to be reminded who's really on top.

3) The entire night, we saw just how skilled Don is at compartmentalizing the many facets of his life. He can switch from one woman to the next, without the slightest tinge of guilt, regret, or awkwardness. He is such a great actor, that it's as if there is no real Don, there's just his many facades. This was best exemplified when he comes home to find Megan talking alone with Sylvia and crying. He slaps on an impossibly neutral face, knowing that he's treading on very thin ice, and said as cool as a cucumber, "Oh...hello," all the while trying to figure out exactly what's been said between the two women. His coolness is further exemplified when he said to Sylvia on her way out, "See you tomorrow." To which Sylvia, shockingly and guiltily replies, "Excuse me?" "For dinner," said Don. It's all just too easy for Don.

4) Turns out, Megan had just confessed to Don's lover that she had become pregnant while on vacation in Hawaii, and had recently suffered a miscarriage. This confession carried with it a lot of weight. First off, it showed us just how serious Megan is about her career, as she said that had she not suffered a miscarriage, she was contemplating getting an abortion. After hearing the news, Sylvia was quite "judgy." It may be the free-wheeling '60s, and she may be having an affair with Megan's husband, but that doesn't stop Sylvia from getting on her high-horse when it comes to Catholic affairs of the heart (a.k.a "her upbringing") and the controversial practice of abortion. It's also another marker of the times, as this was five years before Roe v. Wade.

5) The revelation that Don spent his formative teen (and surprisingly geeky) years living in a brothel with a terrible man, who has sex with his pregnant mother (or mother figure?). This certainly explains a lot, and is sure to come up frequently in future episodes.

6) There's another black character! Peggy has a secretary who she is actually nice to. It's clear from the way Phyllis freely offers up advice to her boss that they have a good working relationship, and something close to a friendship. Which takes us to one of the next best moments of Sunday's episode...

7) The realization that Peggy's staff of young men is afraid of her. The apple does not fall far from the tree, and she learned from the best when it comes to harsh critiques. Don Draper rarely showed her any positive reinforcement, so she's doing the same with her team. When she does attempt to offer a motivational speech, it falls hilariously flat and results in humiliation for her. Her inferiors announce their displeasure by leaving a joke campaign for Quest Feminine Hygiene Powder on her desk.

8) Jon Hamm directed this episode, in which he freely makes his character fully lacking in feelings or regret for his cheating behaviors. He also paid a nice homage to Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight," with the splicing of sex scenes between him and Sylvia throughout their tense one-on-one dinner together.

9) Ketchup and baked beans. The rivalry between the two condiments was hysterical, a note which was capped off perfectly when Ken Cosgrove calls Ketchup the "Coca-Cola of condiments."

10) The song choice at the end of the episode, "Just a Gigolo." Well played.

Tell us: What did we miss? What were your favorite moments of Sunday's episode?

  • Lesley Savage

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