As per the episode's title, "Favors," Sunday's "Mad Men" was all about favors, or really, the underlying motives behind every apparent act of kindness. Don arranges for Sylvia and Arnie's son to tiptoe around going to Vietnam, setting him up to be a pilot in the Air National Guard. But Don does so not out of friendship to Arnie or because he is a father himself, but because of his love for Sylvia. He openly admits such to Sylvia, and the two rekindle their affair.
Ted helps Don secure the deal for the Rosens' son in exchange for Don not challenging him at the office, something epitomized by the war over their two juice clients, SunKist and Ocean Spray. Sally will be keeping Don's affair with Sylvia a secret for now – a favor she will no doubt call in at some point.
Manolo, Pete's mother's nurse, is so exceptional in his services for Mrs. Campbell that Pete treats it like a favor, tipping him extra. But at least to Mrs. Campbell, Manolo's treatment of her seems to be an act of love.
Perhaps Betty put it best when she was fretting about Sally going into the city for Model UN. "Like everything else in this country, diplomacy club is just another excuse to make out," she says.
Some of the crazy theories rolling around the Internet last week were addressed in "Favors." Megan is still alive – but still wearing a lot of red, if that's worth reading into. In his come-on to Pete, it appears that Bob Benson is gay, if not bisexual, shedding some light on the favor he did for Pete, setting up his mother with a nurse. It turns out Pete isn't "unlovable" – as his mother calls him – after all.
As has been the theme for most of the series, the men of "Mad Men" are torn between their suburban families and lives they lead as flashy ad men. Ted's wife confronts him about his absence – both physical and emotional – from the home. "I just wish you liked being here more," she pleads with him.
Even though Ted has vowed to stay faithful to his wife, his heart is still with Peggy, something that is clear to everyone around him.
Pete has already lost his family, a loss made clear when he doesn't even have enough cereal to make himself dinner.
And Don is coming dangerously close to losing his. He has been juggling his mistress, his second wife and his family for some time now (something suggested by Roger's orange-juggling trick at the beginning of the episode). But once Sally walked in on him and Sylvia, that all came crashing down. While everyone else thinks Don is a saint for what he did for the Rosens, Sally knows he is a sinner. Will the scorn of his daughter be enough for Don to change his ways? Judging by the way he was able to walk away from Sally's door once he knew she would not blow his cover, not likely.
The home-versus-work bargain is a little different for the women rising through the ranks on "Mad Men." Peggy has effectively given up being a conventional mother and wife – when just episodes ago it seemed that she just might pull off having it all. She has lost Abe, but is stuck in the crummy, rat-infested apartment he made her get. Her work-husband Ted is so close, yet so far. Even her work-boyfriend, Stan, won't answer her pleas to come over to help her kill a rat.
The potential family she has sacrificed is alluded to at the beginning of the episode in her exchange with Pete's mom. "I'm glad you both swallowed your pride, if nothing else, for the good of the child you have together," Mrs. Campbell tells Peggy, confusing her for Trudy in her dementia. But it is a reminder that Peggy and Pete did have a child together when she first started at Sterling Cooper, a child she chose to put up for adoption.
But unlike the men, by choosing work over a family, Peggy has been able to reap some honest success. "At least one of us ended up important," Pete, who is stuck in a professional rut, tells Peggy.