Mad Men Power Rankings, Week Four: 'I Want To Give You A Piece Of Advice'

Unafraid of the holiday weekend that scared his premium-cable competition into reruns, Don Draper uncapped a virgin bottle of bourbon and made us all a fresh round of old-fashioneds on Sunday, shaming the diminutive, over-enunciating vampires and generously beschlonged man-whores who took the night off. Join us as we undertake our weekly examination of who's up and who's down in the Sterling Cooperverse with our Mad Men Power Rankings:

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1. Don Draper (even) Last week's rank: 1

Was Don's reluctance to enable Horace Cook Jr.'s million-dollar jai alai pipe-dream another example of his situationally flexible moral code getting in the way of business, or just a calculated move to protect himself and Bertram Cooper from the wrath of the boss's rich buddy when he discovered his friend's firm was shaking down his idiot son? No matter the motive, Don's big moment this week came at the restaurant sit-down with young Ho Ho, when Don had sniveling wingman Pete Campbell remove his greedy fingers from their mark's expensive trousers long enough to deliver this warning: "I want to give you a piece of advice. I've been doing this for a while and I applaud your enthusiasm. But I think you should take this decision a little more seriously. You have a great fortune and that's not just money, that's the future. We will take all of your money, I promise you. But I think you should revaluate this particular obsession. You can do better." With those words, Weasly Pete squirmed in his chair, snapped out of a daydream in which he was shaking the monied dullard by the ankles on the edge of Sterling Cooper's roof while another Pete Campbell stood on the sidewalk, frantically collecting the hundred-dollar bills fluttering down to the ground in his upturned cesta. Of course, Don's "friendly advice" couldn't dissuade young Ho Ho from chasing his crazy dream, nor did his last-ditch meeting with Bert and Horace Cook Sr. convince the exasperated father to call off the ill-conceived deal; indeed, Big Ho Ho gave the Sterling Cooper gang his blessing to smash open his spoiled progeny's Fabergé piggy bank, sneering at Junior's clueless aspirations, "Are you drunk? It's like Polish handball." A little later, Don, his ass now fully covered by Cooper and the grudging Grandfather of Jai Alai, would shatter Lane Pryce's beloved ant farm with a misguided ball, quipping, "Bill it to the kid."

Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Very high.

At the aforementioned sit-down, cocky young Ho Ho responded to Draper's recommendation to find a shallower pit into which to carelessly toss his trust fund thusly: "Let's keep one thing straight. If jai alai fails, it's your fault. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is." Across the table, we could see Don's digits tighten around his whiskey glass, quivering slightly as they warmed up from cool flesh-tones to red-hot in an instant; within seconds, they'd be ready to administer the fingerbanging of a lifetime to the mouthy punk if he uttered just one more ill-chosen word. Unfortunately, he held his tongue, denying us the chance to watch the grimacing Ho Ho clutch the table for dear life as his nether regions were roughly penetrated again and again by Draper's merciless claw, then laugh as the camera cuts to an old lady in a nearby booth croaking to a waiter, "I'll have what he's having! You know, that handsome, angry man's fingers all up in my neglected ladybusiness. So hot."

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2. Peggy Olson (even) Last week: 2

It's time, finally, for Peggy to move to Manhattan and become a full-fledged city girl, removing the tedious commute that steals precious time from her newfound pursuit of recreational drugs and no-strings-attached sexual encounters. So how can she make her dreams of freedom a reality? Step One: Post an ad for a roommate so joyless that she's prank-called by her giggling coworkers and rewritten by Joan. (Check.) Step Two: Resubmit new Holloway-approved ad and meet hot new Swedish roomie from a family weirdly prejudiced against Norwegians. (Check.) Step Three: Break the news to Ma Olson that you're moving to the Big City with a transparently extravagant gesture that helps demonstrate your success and independence, like buying her a new TV. (Check.) Step Four: Ignore Ma's overprotective guarantee of daily rape on the stoop of your new apartment building and get ready to move anyway. (Check!)

Congratulations, Peggy, you're a City Girl now!

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3. Pete Campbell (up) Last week: 4

If closing the Big Jai Alai Deal had required it, Pete would've waited for Don to excuse himself to the restroom, then climbed underneath that restaurant table and polished Young Ho Ho's pelottas to a gleaming shine. That's exactly the kind of killer instinct that has Pete climbing up the Power Rankings while complacent co-Head of Accounts Ken Cosgrove is languishing in the unranked section.

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4. Roger Sterling (down) Last week: 3

Why did that Patio Bye Bye Birdie commercial fall so flat, even though Sterling Cooper delivered exactly what they promised? "It's not Ann-Margaret," diagnosed Roger, who almost certainly once had sex with Ann-Margaret on the couch in his office, and thus exuded the necessary authority to dismiss the competent, if ultimately insufficient, impression given by the poor look-a-like delivering their soft-drink jingle.

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5. Sally Draper (up) (tie) Last week: 9

Are the Drapers, through their neglect, raising an outlaw, or a sociopath? True, enabling, demented Gene is gone now, but it's not that hard to imagine Sally graduating from petty larceny and unlicensed joyriding to donning Grandpa's blood-stained Prussian war helmet, grabbing a kitchen knife, and carving up her indifferent parents while Bobby quietly laps up a puddle of paste in the other room. OK, maybe that's a bit dark. But isn't stealing a dead guy's identity and starting a new life a little dark, too? Darkness is in her DNA. And who knows what might possess little Sally if she defies Dad by parading around in an obviously cursed dead man's hat?

Next week: Sally, way ahead of her time, cooks up some meth in the Draper basement.

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6. Salvatore Romano (up) Last week: unranked

In perhaps the most heartwrenching scene of this new season, beautiful, long-suffering, denial-blanketed Kitty, while watching Sal run through the steps of his musical Patio routine with a little too much panache, finally realized why their sex life has all but disappeared: she has unknowingly married Ann-Margaret.

But hey, Sal's a commercial director now! So things aren't all gloom in the Romano household, at least until Sal gets a feature directing gig in Hollywood and a second home in Palm Springs.

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7. Joan (down) Last week: 5

Referencing Ibsen Stage Directions is the new Playing a Red Accordion. Joan only slides a couple of spots because of a lack of screen time.

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8. Betty (down) Last week: 6

Is there anything sadder than Betty having to pick up her own kids from school? I mean, the nerve of those little brats! Why did Sally bother to learn how to drive at the top of the show if she was still going to make Mommy go all the way down there every day? Sssh, sssh. Yes, Mommy knows Grandpa died. But be quiet for a minute and let her stare wistfully out the window while finishing her cigarette, OK?

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9. Horace "Ho Ho" Clark Jr. (up) Last week: unranked

Ho Ho taught us this week's most important lesson: If you're lucky enough to come from an overly indulgent family with an assload of money, don't shit your entire trust fund into a hook-shaped wicker basket and fling it into the wind. It'll make Daddy sad he raised such a spoiled knucklehead. A well-tanned knucklehead, but a knucklehead nonetheless.

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10. Ma Olson (up) Last week: unranked

Is she a little overprotective? Maybe. But she just had Peggy's best interests at heart when she matter-of-factly told her daughter, who'd just tried to buy her off with a television, "You'll get raped. You know that." Oh, Ma.

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Departing: Grandpa Gene

We knew it was over when he took a spoonful of ice cream right from that carton and asked a bewildered Sally, "Tastes like chocolate, but smells like oranges. You smell that?" No, Gene. It tastes like chocolate and smells like the Grim Reaper's new cologne, "Death in Line at the A&P, Clutching A Bag of Peaches." Happy trails, old soldier.

Not ranked this week: Ken Cosgrove, Paul Kinsey, Harry, Bertram Cooper, Bobby Draper, the HJAA, five hundred dead ants.



Comments

  • julie says:

    I love this column....it's the best thing on this site.

  • Fontenelli says:

    Sociopath Sally? Yep. Not sure if MM intended a parallel, but a key scene in "American Pastoral" by Philip Roth is when 11 or 12 year old Merry Levov, daugher of the lead character, Seymour "Swede" Levov, watches that same self-immolating monk in 1963 (the one Sally saw on TV). Merry is horrified by what she sees and that adults, in her mind, don't care. Flash forward 5 years (1968), and teenage Merry sets off a bomb to protest America's involvement in the Vietnam war. Plus Merry had a hyper-critical ex-beauty queen mother. Totally plausible that little Sally Draper has stopped mixing cocktails and is tossing Molotov cocktails instead by 1968.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    Lordy this column cracked me UP today. I'm ashamed to report how much I've been enjoying throwing around the phrase "fingerbang threat level," but now I have the name of the Grim Reaper's new cologne to try and fit into casual conversation, too. Yay.

  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    Sally is going to shank Don to be number one by the end of this season. Mark my words.

  • James says:

    How absolutely awful! Roger deserved to drop further on the scale than a measley point. He was barely in the episode! Joan at least got two scenes: the epic putdown/friendly gesture to Peggy and the brief one where she sprayed those ants with Raid.

  • Academy Screamer says:

    Not to rain on Matt Weiner's parade, but the Poles play an excellent game of handball. Just sayin'.

  • I'll admit, I was in tears by the time I got to the "I'll have what he's having" bit. You crazy cats! The Fingerbang Threat Level is the scene, man.

  • Justin says:

    Hi. I'm the guy that points out the one error you made in your otherwise fantastic column.
    The ant farm is Bert Cooper's, not Lane Pryce's. For some reason, Coop likes to store it in Bert Peterson's old office. (Joan mentions something to this effect in the first episode of the season.)

  • Ryan McKee says:

    This is the best Mad Men column around. Keep up the stellar work.

  • Leigh says:

    I don't think Sally will be a psychopath. However, by 1969 she's insisting on calling herself "Moonflower" and keeps talking about running away to San Francisco.

  • terebi says:

    Oh, more than one error - and one I grow weary of - it's ANN-MARGRET. Can we finish that now?

  • Scotter says:

    I'd like to offer the idea that perhaps Grandpa Gene is not done yet. Sally has been changed by Grandpa Gene's instruction this season, and think of the scene where he tries to give Bobby the German helmet--he was trying to leave his imprint on Don's kids, and he may have done it.
    Sally is definitely gaining power, and part of that might be Gene controlling her from the dead due to the influence he had over her. Maybe Sally's ranking in future episodes should be judged based on whether she would have made those power grabs with or without grandpas influence.
    I wouldn't be surprised if Sally (or even Betty) do something that gets Grandpa back on the top 10.

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