Mad Men Power Rankings, Week Eight: 'When You Don't Have Any Power, Delay'
After a couple of weeks in which Mad Men's plotting raced along like two drug-addled hippie grifters atop a John Deere Lawn Tractor, shredding toes and cold-cocking disillusioned ad men with reckless abandon, the show took a step back and offered the kind of slower, more deliberate episode that prompts comparison to "an entertaining wax museum" by some critics. Whatever. You can't hobble smarmy Brits and pop reds with horny hitchhikers every week, you know? Below, the Power Rankings for a quieter, gentler installment of Mad Men:
1. Don Draper (even) Last week: 1
It's almost like last week didn't happen, as Don seemed to shrug off those Job-like trials (an embarrassing shiner is sort of like a plague of boils, right?), tighten his momentarily tenuous grip on the top spot in the Power Rankings, and jet off to Rome to mix up his sex life a bit by schtupping the wife. In fact, things suddenly seemed so stable after the previous episode's world-rocking developments that no one even sat behind his desk as a subtle "f*ck you." (To be fair, Don didn't spend any time at the Sterling Cooper office. For all we know, Bert Cooper was kicking back in Don's chair while an still-resentful Roger was squatting over an open drawer to leave his rival a reminder of who's the boss.) But this unexpected placidity in Don's family and professional lives is almost certainly a misdirection; soon, Matthew Weiner will once again pull the rug out from under his protagonist's blindingly polished lace-ups, sending him sprawling to the floor after the long-gestating (if totally suburban-dad-cliche) fling with Miss Farrell is consummated and she turns to stalking Don, whispering things about how she's Sally's new Mommy in the girl's ear and sending her home with creepy finger-paintings in which she's replaced a hastily scribbled-out Betty in a family portrait. And when that happens, Don will figure out a way to turn it in his favor. Possibly by agreeing to make another baby for Carla to take care of.
Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Moderate
The scene: a cafe in Rome. Betty, fresh from an appointment where she used a combination of her conversational Italian, a photo of a screen icon torn from a magazine, and some clumsy pantomime involving buzzing and stinging to communicate she'd like to be outiftted as "a WASP Sophia Loren," is beset by a pair of swarthy locals as she waits for her husband to arrive for a little romantic role-playing. Don takes a seat near his stunning wife, and after enduring a few barbs delivered in the local tongue, places his hand on the table and asks her, "Translate something for these gentlemen, would you?" She nods, blushing her way through her translation. "Look, Vittorio and Silvio, or whatever your names are. I don't know this beautiful woman, but I know this. She'll be leaving with me. You see a vulnerable American having a cigarette alone, and you circle like the common vultures you are, hoping to leave nothing but some picked-over bones once you've had your way. I see a beautiful woman who's about to be ravished until daybreak in a room in the finest hotel in Rome by someone who sees her as more than simple prey. Now I want you to see something else. These two fingers. If you don't leave this lady alone right now, I'm going to bury them so deep inside the both of you that you'll be crying out to the Pope himself for help. Now that we understand each other, I'll wish you buona sera." They exit.