Mad Men Season Three: The Power Rankings
Now that Mad Men's much-anticipated premiere has come and gone, leaving us as conflictingly ravished as a freshly fingerbanged comedian's wife in the bittersweet, panting moments after a lantern-jawed, emotionally detached ad man has had his way with us, Movieline would like to pause to reflect upon the happenings of last night's Season Three kick-off episode before we all return in earnest to our lives of quiet desperation. (I.e., toiling in workplaces which discourage hard-won alcoholism by cruelly refusing to provide well-stocked, in-office bars.) As everyone's favorite newly corporatized advertising agency is a place where one's status is always rising and falling, we thought it appropriate to take an inventory of where each of our Sterling Cooper Repertory Players stand following the premiere's developments, and thus are born our Mad Men Power Rankings.
1. Don Draper (up)
In the first season, we learned that Don Draper was an identity-pilfering Korean war vet named Dick Whitman, a small-town man desperate to reinvent himself in the big city. In the Season Three premiere, we discovered that Dick Whitman's callous father, perhaps angered at his wife's inability to produce anything but stillborn daughters, knocked up a whore willing to accept 85 cents ($10.45 in 2009 dollars) for an unprotected roll in the hay and whose idea of responsible contraception is threatening to "cut off your dick and boil it in hog fat." (It is possible she learned this baby-prevention method, as we did, in Catholic school health class.) This prostitute, it turns out, is Dick's biological mom, and the penis-boiling threat the inspiration for his name--if things had broken differently, he easily could've been named Hogfat Whitman. Don Draper's fortunes are falling.
Roughly six months after the turbulent events of last season, Don seems to be making another go at a happy, picture-perfect home life with Betty and the kids, a commitment he honors by improvising another new identity for himself (a G-man/accountant on the trail of Jimmy Hoffa) and promptly banging the first horny stewardess who makes eyes at him while on a trip. Professionally, Don, the "face of the business," reassures skittish London Fog executives worried sick about possible raincoat market-oversaturation, "There will be fat years and there will be lean years. But it is going to rain." This is the Don Draper -- the masterful liar, the priapic skirt-chaser, the advertising wunderkind -- we all love to cheer on as he tries to screw his way out of his existential angst. Fortunes way, way up!
Bonus Don Draper fun fact: His second toe is longer than his big toe, believed to be a sign of intelligence. Or sexual prowess. Royalty? One of those, probably.
2. Lane Pryce (up)
The conquering corporate overlord from across the pond took no time making his presence felt at Sterling Cooper, ingeniously pitting Ken Cosgrove and Weasly Pete Campbell against each other as co-Heads of Accounts shortly after terminating unlucky schlub Burt Peterson, touching off what is sure to be a season-long Limey Vs. Yankee Culture War. He will be a force to be reckoned with.
3. Pete Campbell (up) (tie)
3. Ken Cosgrove (up) (tie)
Perhaps the premiere's best scene trapped Ken and Pete shoulder-to-shoulder and smug-smirk-to-shit-eating-grin together in an elevator after each had been armed with the top-secret knowledge that his hard work/B-movie villainy had just been rewarded with a promotion to Head of Accounts, then showed the two rivals each insincerely flattering his new subordinate. The second- and third-best scenes involved Shitweasel Pete's premature victory dance and Petulant Pete's white-collar whine after discovering the true executive arrangement, "Why can't I get everything good all at once?" Fortunes for both up, as we build to the mid-season deathmatch in which Pryce locks them in Sterling's office with a variety of blunt-force weapons with the instructions, "Two Heads of Accounts enter, one Head of Accounts leaves!" (Prediction: Pete emerges carrying what's left of Ken's caved-in head after tricking him with the old "Hey, is that the president of Utz banging your mom over there?" gambit.)
4. Joan (even)
As an awkward lobby conversation between Joan and Peggy regarding the former's potential fear about getting diamond-ring-jacked on the subway reveals, the curvaceous Queen of the Secretarial Pool is still affianced to the scoundrel who raped her last season. But she exerts her power elsewhere, putting chatty Peggy in her place during their small talk and setting up John Moneypenny Hooker to have his ears boxed by his boss after installing him in an empty office. Small victories like these are what her empire's built upon.
5. Sal (up)
Oh, Sal! We realize it's the '60s, and you're in one of the era's most dick-swinging, conservatively ultra-macho vocations, but we want so badly for you to stop living the hetero lie. We were teased you'd finally get a piece when you, sweat-slicked and agitated from faulty hotel air-conditioning, ordered up the handjob-happy bellhop like an overpriced room-service chicken cordon bleu. And wouldn't you know it, just as that bellhop reached for Little Salvatore, the fire alarm sounded, sending you scrambling in blue-balled agony to the sidewalk with all the other evacuated guests. "Limit your exposure," Don seemed to pitch as a dual campaign for both you and London Fog, knowing what your not totally unexpected accompaniment by a shirtless sex-concierge meant about your personal life.
6. Roger Sterling (even)
Barely had anything to do besides show up fashionably late to Burt's execution. But still our favorite.
7. John "Moneypenny" Hooker (even)
Lane Pryce's officious man-cretary demands that Joan and the girls refer to him as Mr. Hooker, a request we thought might get him strung up in the supply closet, gagged with one of her imposing foundation garments, until he learned a lesson about his place in the Sterling Cooper pecking order. Instead, Joan calculatedly set a trap for the uppity Brit lapdog, luring him into the empty office where Pryce would chide him for his tone-deaf overreaching. (The Brits had, after all, just cut a bloody swath through their new advertising colony's workforce.) Next week: Joan slips Ex-Lax into Moneypenny's tea after he lingers a moment too long on her magnificent decolletage -- that view, of course, is not for glorified Man Fridays.
8. Bertram Cooper (down)
Seems dejected and powerless after selling the firm. On the other hand, he appears quite proud of the high-end Japanese octoporn hanging in his office, which subtly depicts Sterling Cooper's tentacle-rape by their British colonizers.
9. Betty (even)
Still preggers! What could possibly go wrong in her idyllic suburban home life?
10. Peggy (down)
Too busy with work to have anything to do this episode. If the sad-face emoticon had been invented, she's be typing it over and over on her new Underwood.
Departing: Burt Peterson
The just-executed Head of Accounts exits in a Jerry Maguire moment, if Jerry Maguire had smashed open an aquarium with a stapler and speared a defenseless goldfish with his 10th-anniversary-gift letter opener while delivering a rousing, disillusioned speech on his way out the door.
Not ranked this week: Harry, Paul, Lola the Secretary, the Draper kids, Duck Phillips, a London Fog raincoat, the geisha being penetrated by the pornopus, Little Salvatore.