Mad Men Power Rankings, Week Two: 'If You Don't Like What's Being Said, Change the Conversation'
Join us, if you will, for another leisurely stroll around the Sterling Cooper offices to see who's up, who's down, and who's running in place, pausing occasionally to chat with the gals in the secretarial pool or to press a highball glass against a closed door to get some insight into what's actually going on. Without further ado, your Mad Men Power Rankings for Week Two:
1. Don Draper (even) Last week's rank: 1
Though Don managed to make it through an entire episode without stumbling penis-first into the welcoming lap of a stewardess, cigarette girl, or other sexually available service industry professional and setting back his commitment to wholesome family life further still, the Face of the Business was, overall, in fine form. Called in to save the Madison Square Garden account after a bout of ill-timed, if totally predictable, self-righteousness by suspected Communist Paul Kinsey threatens to run off Penn Station's despoilers, Draper effortlessly run through the impressive soft-shoe routine that is his trademark. "Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy. A tantrum that says, 'I want it the way it was.' Or a dance that says, 'Look, something new.'" Well said, Donnie boy! Then, in one of those moments that screams THIS IS IMPORTANT, PAY ATTENTION, THEMATIC STUFF HAPPENING (like last week's "Limit your exposure" tagline), he continues, "If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation." And like a silver-tongued Sioux using every part of the bullshit buffalo, Draper finishes off the impressive run by turning last season's adventure out West into part of his pitch: "I was in California. Everything was new, and it's clean. The people were filled with hope. New York City is in decay. but Madison Square Garden is the beginning of a new city on a hill." This man could sell soul contracts to the Devil himself.
On the home front, Don grabs a difficult situation by the throat, intimidating Betty's squirrelly, greedy brother William into giving up his designs on the family home while agreeing to allow his wife's demented dad to live under the Draper roof. Don's "You will walk into the other room and pretend all of this was your idea" order to his brother-in-law played like a Jedi Mind Trick, but with the value-add of having a Chivas bottle broken over his head should William not immediately comply with his wishes.
Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Low; none of the episode's females ventured close enough into his orbit to risk a digital insertion, but some blades of grass were gently grazed by his lethal fingertips as Draper watched with a mixture of wistfulness and predatory lust as his daughter's comely teacher frolicked around the Maypole. Consider that brief bit of turf foreplay a warning, Teach.
Bonus Eyewear Tie-In: Yeah, you noticed Don's cool sunglasses in the Maypole scene, too? We bet they're gonna sell.
2. Roger Sterling (up) Last week: 6
Old Rog -- the hard-drinking, iceberg-wedge-ordering, myocardial-infarction-tempting scamp -- is back with a vengeance. After a week spent mostly on the season premiere's sidelines, Sterling was all over the second episode as he girded for battle with the ex for control of their daughter's wedding. (The apple of daddy's eye, it seems, is less than thrilled about the prospect of her father flaunting his dewy, homewrecking girlfriend on her big day.) The competitive Roger, of course, could care less about seating arrangements and chateau briand: "All the sudden I could give two craps about that wedding. All I want to do is win."
Other stock-boosting Roger moments: To the preggers Mrs. Draper: "Princess Grace swallowed a basketball!" To new boss Pryce on the suit of armor (!) in his office; "You ever get three sheets to the wind and try that thing on?" Rog is back. So very back.
3. Peggy (up) Last week: 10
Creator Matthew Weiner sat Peggy in the corner without much to do in the season premiere, but last night returned her to center stage. We see Sad Peggy (washing her foundation garments in the sink, impersonating Ann-Margaret in the mirror while alone at home) and You Still Have So Much To Learn Peggy (Draper condescendingly chides her about her disappointment with the bimbocentric tenor of the Patio campaign,"I know you understand how this works: men want her, women want to be her...sorry if that makes you uncomfortable," before really breaking it down for her: "You're not an artist Peggy, you solve problems.") But most importantly, we see Jesus Christ, I Haven't Been Laid In, Like, Forever Peggy, who sets out solo to a bar, targets the first attractive, uninteresting dumdum she can find, works her way to his couch, and, after making an unsuccessful pitch to land the Trojan account, tries to sneak off in the middle of the night following some panties-on fun. The 60s are happening, everybody! Free love is a-comin', and Suddenly Empowered Peggy is going to be front-and-center for it.
4. Ken Cosgrove (down) (tie) Last week: 3
What new Co-Head of Accounts Ken Cosgrove lacked in screen time, he made up for in not being Weasly Pete Campbell.
5. Lane Pryce (down) Last week: 2
Is the savvy British puppetmaster who bound Pete and Ken's left wrists together while pressing switchblades into their right hands a week ago suddenly a bumbler? You don't call in the Face of the Business to salvage the MSG account and then a few short scenes later tell that same Face of the Business that a conflict arising with the London office means you now have to let that freshly saved account go. That is just not done. You will either wind up gasping and fingerbanged on the corner of your desk, or you will get this dressing-down from your incensed star pitchman: "Who's running this place? Why the hell did you buy us in he first place?" To which you can only respond, "I don't know," as you avoid thinking about what the brave knight who once wore that suit of armor would think of your cravenness. (He would not approve. And he also would have counseled you to opt for the less-humiliating fingerbanging option.)
6. Pete Campbell (down) Last week: 3
Having Pete Campbell oversee a delicate account is like sending a Tourette's sufferer with delirium tremens to defuse a bomb. After allowing Red Paul Kinsey to sneer at the MSG people and potentially torpedo the entire account, Scowly Pete spits, "Do you ever listen to yourself?" at his self-serving explanation. Oh, delicious irony!
7. Betty (up) Last week: 9
Even though she considered a business meal with the Pryces the stinky cherry on her shit-sundae of a day (to paraphrase her own metaphor), Betty is still the best dinner companion a man could hope to have, charming Don's new boss and his NY-hating wife. But let's face it: setting up a situation where Don was forced by his occasionally burdensome (if conveniently situational) sense of decency to invite her mentally deteriorating father to live with them is going to create some problems. Like when, in a fit of dementia, he pours all of Don's cherished booze down the sink, thinking the speakeasy's being raided. Not cool, Betty.
8. Joan (down) Last week: 4
Hey, Joan, nice subway joke! Oh, you don't actually ride the subway because your man won't let you, possibly fearing that...what, you might get raped? Interesting. See you next week, when you have things to do.
9. Bertram Cooper (down) Last week: 8
Cooper's increasingly disillusioned with the realities of losing control. He carps when Pryce bothers him with the prospect of some lost business; the ad game, after all, is all about spinning the revolving door of clients and focusing on who walks in, not on who's strolling out. Instead of complaining, he should've shown Pryce another meaningful piece of art he just picked up, perhaps something depicting British colonizers being disemboweled by angry natives. Or another rapey octopus. Whatever.
10: Paul Kinsey (up) Last week: unranked
Screen time! Ah, sweet screen time on an ensemble show. But those precious minutes, naturally, are a double-edged sword. Your character might get serviced, but during that servicing you might be painted a Commie and sabotage a seemingly huge piece of business with your snobbery. Be a little more careful next week or you might find yourself getting Burt Peterson'd.
Departing: The MSG account.
Not ranked this week: Salvatore, Harry, the Maypole, the hot teacher, Ann-Margaret.