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the recap recap

The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps: ‘Favors’

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men _ Season 6, Episode 11 _ 'Favors' - Photo Credit: Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

In this week's Mad Men, Pete had a knee-jerk reaction to Bob's advances, Sally suffered irreparable emotional trauma at the hands of her adulterous father, and Peggy got a cat. The critics speculated whether the government-spy conspiracy theories might finally be put to rest and wondered how many years one character might need in therapy. They criticized the juice-thirsty Ted and called Pete Campbell "one of the richest and most complex characters on TV." Your recap of the recaps, like everything else in this country, is just another excuse to make out. 

* "Serial dramas have us trained to look at Bob Benson and see a corporate spy. The unlocked doors in the Draper residence scream impending Manson. That’s probably what happens when a violent season full of deadly omens results in a suicide many predicted. But when I think about the big surprises on Mad Men — things like Sal getting fired in 'Wee Small Hours,' the SCDP coup in 'Shut The Door. Have A Seat,' and the Jaguar-Chevy swap and subsequent CGC merger in 'For Immediate Release' — there’s no teasing involved. Things just have a way of suddenly escalating on Mad Men. And that’s what happens in 'Favors.' Bob Benson is just a red herring." — A.V. Club

* "Sally witnessing that act also paralleled Don peeping at the brothel to see his “Uncle Mac” and step-mother having sex.  It was clearly a traumatic moment for him that has haunted him all of his life, and as if Sally wasn’t already destined for a lifetime of therapy, that act certainly sealed the deal." — Collider

* "Mark Lindsay reference! For all you conspiracy theorists out there, Lindsay actually lived at 10050 Cielo Drive, the site of the Manson murders, the year before Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate moved in. [Best Robert Stack impression] Coincidence?" — Entertainment Weekly

* "Favors," constantly placed its characters in triangular relationships in which a third party often intruded on the intimacy shared by the other two. We saw it in the hubbub over Sterling Cooper & Partners — wow, look how easily we've adapted to the new name — and its conflicting interests in both Oceanspray and Sunkist. We saw it when Ted and Peggy were acting all flirty in the presence of third-wheel Pete, then saw it again when that whole exchange tipped and turned Ted into the outsider suddenly incapable of understanding Peggy's and Pete's inside jokes and long, bumpy history...We saw it in the divided attentions Ted gave to his family vs. his job...And of course, most significantly, the triangle dynamic played out when Sally Draper walked in on her father getting it on with Sylvia Rosen, whose iciness toward Don quickly defrosted once she realized what he had done to save her son from a trip to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” — Esquire

* “We've seen Don Draper scared before. We've seen Don Draper angry before. We've seen Don Draper be a little kid before. But we've never seen... this. We've never seen Don Draper with absolutely no idea what to do next. We've never seen Don Draper pacing back and forth the way he does in the lobby of his building, exploring a series of equally unappetizing possibilities ... And that moment of Don being at a complete loss stands out — and is among the single best things I've ever seen Hamm do on this show — not only because he usually has some answer (even if it's to run away), but because of the nature of the betrayal that puts him in this unhinged place.” — HitFix

* "In an episode I thought would be a routine set-up for the season's endgame, 'Mad Men' unleashed a kick right to the gut, just when I thought there weren't any more people Don could let down. (Next season: Don somehow destroys baby Gene's will to live)." — Huffington Post

* "Pete's secondhand embarrassment that his mother mistook service work heavy on the emotional labor quotient for genuine affection sure would have been useful back when he forced himself on Gudrun the au pair. Sometimes plastering on that big fake service-work smile isn't really worth the wage it earns you, and there's no telling how much damage faking it off the clock out of habit will do. Other times, faking it at first can turn into really feeling it, like when Ted takes Nan's warning and makes himself interact with his sons instead of just checking out." — Grantland 

*"But the rodent escapades serve a more serious purpose: reminding us how far Peggy has come over the years. This point is underscored when Mrs. Campbell mistakes her for Trudy, dredging up the very deeply repressed memory of her secret love child. With “Mad Men” heading into its final season, the biggest question I have — after Don’s fate, of course — is how the Peggy-Pete storyline will be resolved." — Los Angeles Times

* "He’s a gay opportunist. I think it gives him depth. Not the nature of the secret, but that it exists. It explains why he’s always on the wrong floor, why he’s working outside Pete’s office, why he was eager to help Pete’s mother, why he’s a good ear for Joan. Mostly it explains that irritatingly uncrackable all-American patina, like he signed up to be a certain kind of man the way Dick Whitman signed up to be a certain kind of man." — New York Times

* "Now that she's single and Ted is more interested in repairing his relationships within his own family, she's alone in a rat-infested apartment and can't even get Stan to come over to dispose of the trapped rat's bloody trail (who else thought of Annie Hall during that scene?). By the end of the episode, she was sitting alone on her couch, watching TV – with a cat by her side. Sure, she probably got the cat to take care of the mice, but it was eerily reminiscent of her mother's warning from last season when she advised Peggy against moving in with Abe: 'If you’re lonely, get a cat.'" — Rolling Stone

* "[Pete’s] prudish attitude about his mom points directly to the trouble in his marriage with Trudy, of course: The second she became a mother, she was desexualized for him, and he started treating her like a hostile stranger ... Pete is deathly accurate about so much of what’s going on around him (naturally he would be the first to notice that Ted and Peggy are in love), but his closed-mindedness clouds his vision about anything that’s too close to home. He may be the most disgusted and the most outspoken when he feels some injustice is in the mix (he had the strongest reaction to JFK and MLK assassinations), but he’s also unexpectedly rigid and old-fashioned." — Salon 

* "[Sally] expertly wields both her father’s slow-burn stare and her mother’s icy avoidance, and thus is the most powerful person in all of New York City." - Time

Photo: Jaimie Trueblood/AMC