The merger of SCDP and CGC could be seen a mile (or at least 40 minutes) away, but at the very least it shakes up what was already becoming a tired season of "Mad Men." It also solves the problem of how to reunite Peggy and Don, with the added ingredient of Ted, for what will be an interesting ménage à trois of their creative genius. But before the two agencies come together, everything appears to be falling apart for SCDP.
In a dinner that is supposed patch up the bad blood between Don and Herb, the obnoxious Jaguar dealer, Don instead dumps him as a client. (Adding to the fireworks of the dinner is the open indignation of Megan's mother Marie, who attends it thinking she will get a chance to flirt with Roger — a no-show as he is doing some professional flirting of his own). The loss of the Jaguar account inspires a truly embarrassing Pete Campbell tantrum. And his problems are only going to get worse. He runs into his father-in-law — also the head of Vicks, an SCDP client — at a whorehouse. Ken assures Pete that his father-in-law won't make anything over the encounter for the same reason the Soviets won't drop an atomic bomb on the United States: mutually assured destruction. But he is wrong, and Vicks does drop SCDP. The loss of two major accounts couldn't come at a worse time for SCDP, as the partners are contemplating a public offering.
Enter Roger, like a silver fox knight. Doing some reconnaissance through a flight attendant he has seduced, Roger woos a Chevrolet exec on a flight (hence his absence at the Jaguar dinner) and has scored the agency a pitch meeting for GM's newest car. Though SCDP would then have hadto drop Jaguar anyway, that doesn't make Pete any less angry at Don for going rogue on the account. Joan is upset too– even as Don thinks he has done Joan a favor (she was forced to sleep with Herb in exchange for a partnership at the firm). "Just once I would like to hear the word 'we,' because we are all rooting for you from the sidelines, hoping you'll decide whatever you think is right for our lives," she fumes.
As a foil to Don is Ted, who in the next scene confesses to Peggy he is terrified by the news that one of this partners has cancer. "It's Frank's agency too, Peggy. And I have been counting on his paint brush and his negativity to balance me out for years," he tells Peggy, before kissing her briefly. His devotion to being a team player is refreshing against Don's reckless, Tarzan (as Pete calls him) mentality. Ted's insecurities also play against the newfound confidence Don displays with the Chevy opportunity. (Don's enthusiasm is particularly vibrant given the melancholic fog he has carried over most of the season.)
Megan is trying to jump start her relationship with Don, confessing to her mother that she knows things are off (sadly she doesn't realize that Don's infidelity is what is creating the distance she senses). Marie comforts, "I knew something was wrong, we have not had a fight" -- a perfect summation of what it means to be a mother on am episode taking place over Mother's Day — and suggests Megan plays up her sexuality.
Megan follows her advice, playing sex doll to Don, and the two engage in the physical intimacies missing from the their marriage for most of the season. "I want to do whatever I can to make sure you do not fail. Then you can jump off the balcony and fly to work, like Superman," Megan tells Don, her rhetoric particularly stirring considering the series' opening sequence.
With the revival of Megan and Don's sexual relationship, Sylvia, his mistress, is notably missing from the episode. Her husband, Dr. Rosen appears twice — first to borrow wrapping paper for Sylvia's Mother's Day gift. He later tells Don in the elevator that he is quitting his job because his hospital denied him the opportunity to perform the first American heart transplant. "Fate hasn't chosen me," he complains. Don won't indulge his sorrows, responding, "I don't cut people open and I don't believe in fate. You make your own opportunities."
Trudy echoes that sentiment when Pete tries to confront her about seeing her father at the whorehouse and losing the Vick's account. "You've had lots of choices Peter," she tells him, giving him the final heave-ho.
Meanwhile, at the bar -- which appears to be at the London Chop House -- in Detroit, Don runs into Ted, whose agency is also being considered by Chevrolet. They realize that the presence of both of their firms — small agencies with strong creative teams – is a mutually assured destruction of sorts. "We're both dead," says Ted, explaining that Chevy will likely take their ideas and use a bigger firm to implement them. (One can assume this is what happened with the Ketchup account they both lost earlier this season). Thus the idea to merge the two agencies is born, and Chevy bites.
In a season dominated by "Mad Men's" female characters' ability to change and grow, the men finally show a willingness to do so as well, particularly with the game-changing merger. But the episode, titled "For Immediate Release" ends with a single shot of Peggy typing just that. Don and Ted have instructed her to write up a press release announcing the new firm, Don telling her, "Make it sound like the agency you want to work for." It appears "Mad Men's" women are still leading the charge.