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The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps: ‘For Immediate Release’

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) - Mad Men

This week's Mad Men was the "Immediate Release" some critics needed from this season's slow burn. Reviewers noted that Don and his rival merged their firms over a car that will turn out to be a lemon. A few were repulsed by the return of Pete's vile antics, though all rejoiced at his fall down the stairs. Many relished in Peggy's sublimely funny Ted fantasy, but mourned that closing shot of our heroine at a typewriter. Grab some spirit of elderflower, because here's your weekly recap of the recaps. 

* "Don has the luxury of being able to take chances, but once you’re in a position of such power and privilege, it’s all too easy to forget that not everybody else has that luxury like you do. There are men who make their own destinies, like Don, and there are men who wish to make their own destinies but keep losing hold of the vines, like Pete. And then there’s everybody else, forced to live in the same world as these men and watch as they continually shake up the board and rewrite the rules to their own advantage. The more men like Don shake that board, the more those around him question why he gets to hold the board in the first place. Welcome to 1968.” —A.V. Club

* "It's Peggy Olson's world, we're just living in it (and hoping that she doesn't turn into Don Draper 2.0 and loose everything.)" —Complex

* "Who knew Roger even drank water?" —Entertainment Weekly

* "Don is basically the Jerry Seinfeld of the Mad Men universe: Everything always evens out for him. If he kills a major car account for the firm, Roger Sterling stumbles into a conference room and drops a new one in his lap.” —Esquire

* "The merger had better be more valuable than the account that led to it, given that the XP-887 will...turn out to be the Vega, which was not only a lemon but a car that Chevy struggled to market. I can certainly imagine a final episode of the series taking place at the dawn of 1970, with a newly-permed Don Draper convincing himself that the new decade will be better than the old one, and that this car is going to be a huge hit for him and the agency.” —HitFix

* "So, this whole time, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has harbored a secret cell that has been working to take the company public? And the Mod Squad consist of Bert, Joan and Pete? Don't get me wrong, I get why those three would end up in the same boat: They all have reason to feel excluded, marginalized and unappreciated, but we didn't have the slightest clue that those three were really traveling in the same orbit, let alone hatching complex and important schemes that would majorly affect many characters' futures.” —Huffington Post

* "The firms of Margaret Olson and This Is Some Bullshit would like to announce that it would've been nice if SOMEONE had consulted her about her new boss shacking up with the self-destructive human tire-fire of a mentor she finally found the courage to leave, hoping to make her own name in the world.” —Grantland

* "It’s always exciting when you can actually see a show evolving to better capitalize on the talent of a cast member, and that’s my takeaway from 'For Immediate Release.' Has the show ever been more broadly comedic than the moment when Peggy imagines Teddy, reading 'Something' by Emerson,  in place of her sanctimonious, soon-to-be ex boyfriend, Abe? I’m sure some will grumble about the writing, which is not exactly subtle, but it’s kept perfectly in check by Moss’ delivery of the line 'I love Bobby Kennedy.' Hilarious, sad and combative all at once, these seven short syllables encapsulate everything that’s wrong with her current relationship.” —Los Angeles Times

* "The first batch of episodes has felt like a CliffsNotes for the era. This episode is still mirroring the times; it’s just not explaining its metaphors every two minutes in overt dialogue. And it gave fans plenty to love: Pete’s spill down the stairs, Joan’s outrageous dresses, Megan in Cleopatra regalia, actual pleasurable sex, Abe’s anachronistic musculature (dude looks positively CrossFit) and the return of Trudy’s insane nightwear. This all could have been accomplished much sooner, but now this uneven season seems like it might be righted: Coach Weiner has thrown the rock to his bigs — Roger, Don, Pete and Peggy — in an episode that reminds us that this series (which has never been terribly brilliant about civil rights or the Vietnam War) is often a thrilling, hilarious document of how American creative business got big, and at what cost.” —New York Times

* "When Mad Men is slow, it's really slow. Then when it gets moving but good, it's like Ocean's Eleven, with the jazzy score and the jaunty angles and the wisecracking. The last episode so purely of this kind was the third season finale, 'Shut the Door. Have a Seat.' In fact, in a direct callback, early on, this episode — called 'For Immediate Release,' which has precisely as many meanings as your tolerance for double entendre will tolerate — included Roger, deep into agency intrigue, saying to Don, 'Shut the door.' We should have known. We should have known!” —NPR

* "Whenever Bert Cooper makes an appearance on Mad Men, his presence tends to be both transitory and everlasting. His witty remarks come off as comic relief, but in reality, they're harbingers of the show's themes and plot lines, loudly echoing in viewers' ears long after they're made. In the case of 'For Immediate Release,' in which Don and SCDP landed the ultimate advertising brass ring (Chevy!), I kept thinking about Bert's offhand comment last season about how Jaguars are 'lemons. They never start.' I'm just waiting for Bert to make the same kind of observation about this new, unnamed Chevrolet vehicle Don, Roger and the SCDP creative team are creaming themselves over, because it's my understanding that the XP-887 turned out to be a pretty unreliable car." —Rolling Stone

* "Other men could've chosen differently, of course. Trudy would make the perfect happy-fake wife for Don. But Pete can't be fake (which is a little strange, for an account executive), and his assessments about what's wrong with the world around him are usually accurate. (Last week's 'It's shameful!' was one clue to that.) It remains to be seen whether this flaw/quality will be Pete's undoing, or save him from the much darker fate that awaits the pretenders in his midst." —Salon

* "Keeper of impeccable accounting. Wrangler of peacocking men. Mother of a baby we haven’t seen in awhile. Joan remains the kind of woman who’s the best woman in the world, especially after a drink or two. And yet. This week her ostentatious charm bracelet rattled like chains, as she learned just how tied she is to Don’s fortunes." —Time

Photo: Michael Yarish/AMC