Mad Men Season 6, Episode 3: Thanks, Clearasil

I admire Matthew Weiner’s daring. No other show I can think of jumps around so much from place to place and character to character, disorienting the audience with unclearly presented flashbacks and sudden references to minor details from early seasons.

One of the main story lines in “The Collaborators” was the next phase of Peggy’s five-year-and-counting transformation from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader. We see her trying, and failing, to achieve the status of Respected Superior without crossing over into Ridiculed Tyrant territory, and contemplating using a friend’s confidence against him. Both these things keep her working late which, we can only assume, will take a toll on her relationship with Abe, a relationship which, in turn, has damaged her already fragile relationship with her family. (I sure hope we haven’t seen the last of Ma Olson. I wonder how she feels about this whole Copy Chief thing. Probably not good. Also, are we ever gonna talk about the baby again? Please tell me he ends up in school with Gene Draper or something. How does everybody feel about a “Mad Men: The New Class” style spin-off that takes place in the 70’s? I can totally see teenage Sally and Creepy Glen hanging out in Eric Foreman’s basement.)

ANYWAY, amid all the hubbub over at Peggy’s new job, did you notice that subtle reference to the fact that they represent Clearasil? What do you think this is all about? An Easter Egg for Mad Men nerds who will get a chuckle out of Pete Campbell’s Epic Failure at Everything? A planted seed to remember for a later episode in which Pete puts on his best bitchface at the realization that Peggy got something he lost? Or better yet, a face-to-face meeting between Peggy and Trudy’s dad? Or is it simply the fact that the writers have created this world so perfectly down to the last detail that they had long ago decided Clearasil had gone to Ted Chaough and the reference to the account was just conversational filler?

This is the stuff that makes the show endlessly re-watchable. You can watch every episode as many time as there are characters and focus on a different point of view each time and find something that you missed before.

What are your thoughts? Will Peggy betray Stan? Does she care that she has the account that Pete should have or has she turned Draper enough that it doesn’t even occur to her? Are Don and Megan gonna have a baby? If they do, will it come out with really funny teeth? Which characters are the most sympathetic this season?

Embracing the madness,

Jane

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