Mad Men Power Rankings, Episode 608: ‘The Crash’David T. Cole/Grantland illustration
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: A rooster crows, a pitcher beads, Don and Teddy share a cocktail … Roger and Burt say good-bye … Peggy moves forward … Don looks for his shoes.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
How’s it going? I know you’re all feeling the darkness here today. But there’s no reason to give in. No matter what you’ve heard, these Power Rankings will not take years. In my heart I know we cannot be defeated because there IS an answer that will open the door. [Opens door, looks out, checks to make sure an elephant that shoots technicolor spears out of its trunk is not waiting to charge in, closes door.] There’s a way around this system. This is a test of our patience and commitment. [Leaves room, spends five weeks in a mud-yurt in Mahopac, returns and picks up the thought.] One great idea can win someone over.
All you have to do is get me in the room so I can look them in the eye. [Starts shouting in the wrong end of a megaphone.] The timmmmbrrreee of my voice is AS IMPORTANT AS the conTENT. [Drops megaphone, kicks it into a window.] I don’t know whether I’ll be forceful or submissive, a sledgehammer made of diamonds or a feather duster made of faerie dreams, but I will be there, and WILL SOMEONE GET ME MY FUCKING SHOES ALREADY? I asked for them a week ago. I have no shoes. I can’t be expected to get anything accomplished without shoes on. [Looks down at shoes, notices he is wearing three shoes on each foot.] Where are my shoes? [Looks down at shoes, notices he is barefoot but with a separate stick of margarine between each of his toes.] I should be wearing shoes. Get me those shoes. They’re right over there.
I don’t want you to shut this door. Just let me say a few things you and I both know. Just listen. [Opens the door again, sees an elephant waiting patiently with a spear curled gently in the end of its trunk.] Remember this work? It says it all. It really does. I’ve got this great message, and it has to do with what holds people together. What is that thing that draws them? Is it shoes? [Looks down at shoes, which are covered in cigarette butts and pennies.] It’s a history. And it may not even be with that person, but it’s, it’s like, well, it’s bigger that that. It may not make them buy a car. If this strategy is successful, it’s way bigger than a car. It’s EVERYTHING. [Draws an infinity symbol in the air with a hankie soaked in consumptive discharge.] I keep thinking of the basic principle of advertising. It’s entertainment, and then you stick the ad right in the middle of the entertainment like it’s the cream filling in an Oreo, and then you realize that the ad is really the delicious part, so you twist off the entertainment and throw it away, scraping your teeth to the throbbing roots trying to get all the ad-cream, because what the hell is the cookie part made of? Ash and death? There’s life in the middle, if you just take the bargain. [Eats his tie from the tip to the knot.] But what if you don’t take the bargain at all? What if you’re suddenly bored by the ashy death, and don’t eat any of the cookie?
You get your cherry taken for five dollars. And your house robbed by your children’s secret grandmother. And a brand-new “Shevvy” to drive to your own sparsely attended funeral.
[Turns to beautiful woman next to him in elevator, realizes he’ll never have her again, faints. Wakes up surrounded by New York City policemen, Depression-era whores, and 14 bowls of oatmeal.]
I told you it’s EVERYTHING.
Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Vitamin D
“I don’t even know what I’m doing here.”
Don leans forward on his elbows. The doctor is behind him. He can feel his breath on the back of his neck, though when he cranes his head around to see what’s happening, the doctor’s nowhere near it.
“No one told you about this?”
“It’s an energy serum. It goes in the glutes.”
Don’s belt buckle loosens. His pants fall to the ground. There’s a sudden chill in the room, like a ghost just arrived late for a meeting.
“A complex vitamin superdose. It will give you 24 to 72 hours of uninterrupted creative focus, energy, and confidence.”
“I don’t know about this.”
“Just relax. So, hey, what are you gonna call this place? Ess Cee Dee Pee Cee Gee Cee is a real mouthful, ya know?”
Don clenches. He can feel the doctor’s forearm on his back, bracing for leverage. The shot is coming.
But Don pulls away, spins on the doctor.
Don grabs the hand holding the syringe.
Don guides the hand with the needle toward his own hand.
“Do the finger.”
Don holds up his index finger. The doctor smiles.
Don closes his eyes.
It’s over in a second. A pinch. Warmth.
“Now do them all.”
2. Drugs! (last week: not ranked; biding their time to arrive at the perfect moment and change everything for the better)
3. Dr. Hecht (last week: not ranked; preparing drugs)
He brought the drugs!
4. Jim Cutler (last week: not ranked)
He paid for the drugs!
He also brought his dead friend’s hippie libertine daughter to the office, preferring that she unleash the force of her grief-enhanced sexuality on her colleagues instead of an unsuspecting Greenwich Village.
Jim Cutler knows how to party.
Roger Sterling had better watch his back.
5. Kenny Cosgrove (last week: not ranked)
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason Chaough (current employer)
Primary client: Chevy
- Take them to dinner at 80 miles per hour
- Stop a mile from the restaurant so they can have five pounds of crab legs and three bottles of beer apiece
- And then go get prime rib
- Go hunting so they can fire their guns an inch from my ear
- Laugh when that startles me
- Dance a jig like it’s my job
- Use cane for flourishes during in-office jigs
- Be favorite human toy of insane automobile-fabricating rich people
- Compose and publish short-form work of speculative fiction in which a mild-mannered account executive turns the tables on his client-side tormentors, hunting them for sport with a spiked cow-catcher affixed to the front of a Corvette Stingray; working title: “It’s My Job”
6. Stan Rizzo (last week: not ranked)
If there are drugs in the office, Stan Rizzo is taking those drugs. It’s always been a part of his creative process. One can’t be expected to draw the world’s most enticing frankfurter, mouth-wateringly adorned with the cherry-crimson squiggles of high-end tomato sauce, or generate 666 discrete ways to ask a parent to buy you a car, without the aid of neurochemical supplements. And one certainly can’t be expected to perform to the apex of his abilities when locked in an office with 10 other uptight ad people under the extreme deadline pressure imposed by an implacable monolith of a client. Especially not when one’s quietly grieving for a 20-year-old cousin lost in Vietnam.
Peggy, however, believes that drugs and sex will not get you through the pain of loss. You have to let yourself feel it, like an X-Acto knife through the forearm when it’s your turn to stand beneath the apple in Copywriter William Tell.
But who’s to say which is the right method for coping with grief and heartache? Another way to go with it is to nail a recently deceased partner’s daughter while another partner watches. You know, while on drugs.
To each his own. (Drugs.)
7. Peggy Olson (last week: 4)
It seems that Peggy abstained from Dr. Hecht’s Old-Tyme Vitamin Superdose Remedy, and she suffered for it. It’s no fun to be the only adult (besides Ginsberg) in the room, especially when everyone else is doing fun stuff like the Interoffice Tweaked As Balls Olympics, or throwing knives at each other while standing underneath a drawing of an apple, or sweating profusely and jabbering incoherently about the mysteries of the universe one’s unlocked by staring at vintage oatmeal ads.
No one likes a killjoy, missy. You’re just one little gluteal injection away from being cool again.
8. Sylvia Rosen (last week: 5)
“Stay in this hotel room and wait to be ravaged in indeterminate time” was a much sexier request for submission than “sweep my ground-up cigarette butts in the hallway.” It’s not hard to see why Sylvia’s done with the affair; if she’d allowed it to continue, before long she’d have to pretend to be turned on by demands to “play the radio louder when I’m pressing an ear to your door” or “make your husband knock a few dollars off my co-pay.”
9. Tie: Grandma Ida and the Young Drapers (last week: not ranked)
Call us crazy, but we were sincerely hoping that Ida was going to turn out to be the Draper kids’ real surrogate grandmother. They could really use another responsible adult in their lives when they stay in Manhattan, and they could assist Grandma in running heists in other luxury high-rises on the nights when Megan’s networking with producers and Don’s deciphering the secret of life.
Sally’s already proven herself to have an appetite for nice things, it wouldn’t be hard to trick Bobby into believing Ida’s a blood relation in need of help, and Baby Gene makes for a great decoy; there’s something here that works for everybody. And, of course, if a job ever went south, you know you could count on Sally to shiv whomever needed to be taken out. She might be eager to prove she’s not a kid, but being a minor’s a great way to beat a lifetime murder rap.
10. Bob Benson (last week: 6)
“Top of the morning there, Mr. Cutler! Bob Benson. Accounts. Beloit, Wharton — you don’t need my résumé right now, I’m happy to furnish you with one at a later date as you familiarize yourself with our half of the agency. It’ll be the one underneath a delicious cheese Danish, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that you’re injecting the creatives with some kind of quote vitamin supplement unquote to boost their productivity. Now, I’d hate to be too forward, but do you think it would be possible for me to get in on some of that action? The energy really flags after you go up and down these stairs 40 or 50 times a day, so this could be a real boon for the clients I service. You want to give them the best possible accounts man you can. They can inject me in the rear, between my toes, right in the eyeball, whatever works for them. What do you say? Bob Benson on drugs? I think we could have a real winner here, Mr. Cutler. No? Another night of selling myself for a little taste of heroin behind the coffee shop it is! On my own time, of course. Those aren’t billable hours. See you tomorrow, sir. Look for the Danish.”
Not ranked: Megan Draper; Teddy Chaough; Joan Harris; Roger Sterling; Pete Campbell; Bert Cooper; Harry Crane; Betty Francis; Henry Francis; Wendy Gleason; Dawn; Mikey O’Brien; someone please tell us the name of the new copywriter, still no idea; tuna sandwiches; Pinocchio; Don’s telephone; the handkerchief; the Cheshire cat; the secret soup account; the mole; the system; the door; Abigail Whitman; Aimee; consumption.