'Mad Men' Recap: Of Mergers and Mind Games

Facing a power struggle at the office, Don Draper exerts his control over Sylvia.

Jon Hamm plays Don Draper in 'Mad Men.'
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In an episode titled "Man With a Plan," Don has a plan, and that is to play mind games with his newfound business partner and his romantic interest so he can brandish his control.

The merger between CGC and SCDP is in full effect at the agency as power struggles galore play out in the firm's halls. Lesser employees worry their jobs may be on the chopping block while Ted Chaough and Don Draper battle it out for who will lead the creative team.

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Ted scolds Don for showing up 40 minutes late to a brainstorming session – the agency is working on a campaign for a new margarine client (and appear to be on the verge of an "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" breakthrough). Don offers Ted an olive branch in the form of a stiff drink. Soon enough, Ted – who, Peggy kiss aside, appears to lead a squeaky clean life style – gets drunk and embarrasses himself in front of the rest of the creative team.

As Don fights to exert his power within his agency, he turns to his affair with his neighbor Sylvia to feel like he is charge. Don overhears Sylvia and her husband fighting, and it is only a matter of time that Don is sweeping her off her feet – literally – and taking her to bed.

"I need you and nothing else will do," she begs him, and Don instructs her to meet him at a Manhattan hotel. There, he fashions her to be a willing sex slave of sorts. He demands the usually upright Sylvia to get on her hands and knees for him (Is Matt Weiner a "Girls" fan?), he forbids her from leaving the hotel room and even snatches away her precious reading material, the racy novel "The Last Picture Show."

"Why would you think you're going anywhere?" he tells her. "You are for me. You exist in this room for my pleasure."

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By the end of the episode, it is clear that both Ted and Sylvia will put up with Don's games for only so long. "He's mysterious but I can't tell if he is putting it on," Ted tells Frank Gleason, his business partner who is sick with cancer.

"If I wait impatiently by the river the body of my enemy will float by," Frank advises Ted, quoting Chinese military general Sun Tzu, and adds, "Give him the early rounds. He'll tire himself out."

But Ted gets right back into the ring, showing up Don as he pilots a plane to visit one of their clients. "Sometimes when you're flying you think you're right side up, but you're really upside down," he lectures Don, who is clearly anxious about the flight and maybe even his alpha dog status at the agency.

When Don returns from the flight, Sylvia tells him she is done with the affair, and now it is Don begging her, "Please."

Even Peggy, Don's protégé, is putting him down. "When you told me about the merger, I hoped he would rub off on you. Not the other way around," she says, confronting Don for getting Ted drunk.

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Peggy has her own struggles to overcome. Minutes into her return to the agency, a prankster has renamed her the "coffee chief" with a sign on her office door, illustrating the resentment that Peggy, once just a secretary, will face as the copy chief.

"Everything keeps changing out here but everything is the same in there," says Joan, referring to her office, but she might as well be talking about the sexism the two women continue to face as they climb the ladder.

In addition to sexism, Joan is dealing with excruciating pain caused by an ovarian cyst. Bob Benson escorts her to the hospital and tells some white lies to get her in with a doctor quickly. Maybe he is just a nice guy, maybe he has a crush on Joan or maybe (and most likely) he recognizes the power Joan wields in the office. Either way, his act of kindness is rewarded and Joan saves him his job.

The anxiety Pete is feeling about his position at the firm isn't resolved so neatly. He fears he no longer has a seat at the table – literally, at a partner meeting (but he doesn't think twice about taking the seat of Ted's secretary). Adding to his troubles, his mother, who appears to be suffering from dementia, is now crashing at his place (her own apartment has gone by way of "Grey Gardens").