Mad Men Power Rankings: Episode 507, ‘At the Codfish Ball’

David T. Cole/Grantland illustration Mad Men Power Rankings

[Production note: This one’s pretty straightforward, if you’re prepared for the sheer amount of blow job jokes that await. Strap yourself in: You don’t want to slide out of that leather chair halfway through.

Last week’s Power Rankings can be found here.]

1. Don Draper (last week: 1)

Remember when we told you that Don would drop to no. 2 this week? Well, we lied. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate; with no foreknowledge of what challenges this week’s episode would bring to the Draperverse, there’s no way we could make any kind of valid promise about his position, even if the Madmetricians might have suspected Don’s hegemony to continue based on two previous seasons’ worth of data. So here Mr. Whitman sits again, atop a writhing pile of his inferiors, absently stirring an old-fashioned with his middle finger. The Power Rankings are a bitch like that.

Still, Don had to learn a hard truth about the business in which he’s made a name: While you’re busy biting the hand that feeds, the other one is probably about to crash into the side of your head, hoping to cave in your smug, untrustworthy face with the award they’ve just given you. Hey, no hard feelings, they admire the work, but no one wants to risk another full-page ad in the New York Times. So, in the end, Don’s reluctance to use the award as a rainmaking device was academic, another irrelevant line in the Draper Code; these tar-lunged fuckos will never hire him, anyway. Yes, that’s a disappointment, but any night he escapes alive after telling Sally to take off the whore paint and go-go boots is a good night, even if his new wife’s having her happiness poisoned by her commie dad and his libertine mother-in-law is giving Roger a half-Blankenship in the other room.

Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Some Things Never Change
They’re firing us, she’d warned, and Don could feel the hot red rush of blood to his head, the rage commingling with rising bile. But now he was seated back at the table, watching the squirrelly Raymond across from him, wondering if the old bastard would have the stones to drop that bomb now or wait to do it at the office. He’ll probably wait for the office, the old coward.

“Tell them about last night,” she says, reading Raymond’s face. Yes, it was time to force the issue.

“You know, Raymond, just last night we had three generations under one roof — her parents, us, my kids — and Megan was ladling up a spoon of your truly fucking disgusting beans.”


“Delicious. I meant delicious, of course. Anyway, that gave me an idea. It’ll be a series of one-shot little movies.” He looks at Raymond: indifferent, at best. This was going to require a novel approach, he knew it instantly. Underneath the table, a foot quietly shuffles off an expensive shoe.

“Go on,” he says, though it’s unclear if he’s humoring them or he’s opened the door just a crack.

“One mother starting in the prehistoric caves, serving beans to a shaggy little boy by the fire.” Don reads Raymond’s face. Stony, but vulnerable. A toe wriggles its way toward a widening hole in the tip of his sock.

“Then a Greek woman in a toga with a little shepherd boy.” Raymond’s giving him nothing; maybe ancient Hellenic culture isn’t his thing. The foot, its big toe now fully unsheathed, makes its way toward the target on the opposite side of the table. It brushes against a suited shin and collides with a chair leg.

“Then Marie Antoinette with a little prince, Calamity Jane with a pioneer boy.” The foot creeps its way ever upward. “Through the gay ’90s to today, to a kitchen like yours.”

Raymond swallows hard. The foot is now in his lap. “Would it all be the same mother and child?” he asks, with a slight crack in his voice.

“We hadn’t thought of that! But that might work!” Don says almost too excitedly, knowing his foot had found purchase in his target’s crotch, poised for attack.

“Tell him the rest of it.” Megan is so good at this. A pro, really.

“Well, it goes past the present day to the future, to a little lunar kitchen with Earth off in a window, futuristic clothing, interesting bowls, yada yada, the kid takes off his space helmet as he takes a warm bite.” A single bead of sweat forms on Raymond’s temple, breaks free and rolls down a flushed cheek. Don locks eyes with him, then sends a mental command down through his leg, to the obedient toe encroaching behind enemy lines. Wiggle.

Raymond gulps, hard.

“Heinz beans: Some things never change.” Wiggle, wiggle.

Raymond yelps, recovers. “The future … it’s, uhhh, all I ever wanted.”

“Pull the trigger,” she whispers in his ear.

Across the table, Don sends the final command.


2. Roger Sterling (last week: 3)

So that’s all it took for Roger to reclaim his mojo? All he had to do was throw open the doors of perception, step boldly through them, and emerge on the other side, mind clear and balls engorged? Why didn’t anyone tell him to drop acid like five episodes ago? It was great to see the Old Rog looking to make some rain with his people, Cancer and Tobacco People, ready to work the room and collect a child’s purseful of business cards. Eye of the tiger. Eye of the super-horny, revitalized, Francophone-wife-despoiling tiger. And we’re happy that Matthew Weiner allowed Roger to have this unqualified, if unsavory, victory (psychic damage to the impressionable date who walked in on him notwithstanding); our hearts would have broken had Pete Campbell wandered in, thanked Roger for handling the oral account, then took Sterling’s place in the chair. Luckily, Pete was busy fellating Emile back at the dinner table to demonstrate what he does all day at work.

Roger needed this one pretty badly. So did we all, really. Sad Roger is no one’s favorite thing.

3. Megan Calvet Draper (last week: 2)

It’s a tough week when you single-handedly save the Heinz account (yes, we’re giving her all the credit here, even if Don ultimately executed the pitch) and still drop a spot in the Rankings. So Megan’s discovered yet another Don Draper aphrodisiac, besides dirty floors, locked offices, and reproductive talk: professional competence. Just a week after almost blowing up the entire relationship by stubbornly refusing to give in to Don’s sherbet-enjoying demands, things seem like they’ve never been better in their marriage, with Don’s priapic affection now bolstered by a new appreciation for her creative mind. Everyone wins, let’s screw in the car! Well, everyone wins until her father decides to rather bluntly disclose his disappointment in the bourgeois abandonment of her dreams and the unearned shortcut she’s taken to wealth and status. In an episode marked with so many instances of people propping one another up in their various successes, Papa Calvet went the kick-out-the-legs-from-underneath route. Yeah, we know, his wife was blowing Roger in the other room. But still. Pretend to be happy for your daughter. She’s taming Don Draper! That’s got to count for something.

4. Peggy Olson (last week: 4)

Speaking of poisonous relationships with one’s parents, wow. Though Peggy and Abe had to know an overprotective, overreligious anti-Semite, one who wasn’t exactly thrilled about her daughter’s move to the big city some seasons back, wasn’t going to take the news they were formalizing their sinful, giving-away-the-milk-for-free arrangement too well. Though Katherine left in a huff, maybe it went as well as it could have, all things considered; we bet that cake she took back wasn’t any good.

And back at the office, Peggy reacted a lot more charitably to the news that Megan had cracked the Heinz pitch wide open; while Stan and Ginsberg bitched and destroyed old, suddenly useless storyboards, the Pegster went out of her way to express her support by attempting a rough Canadian version of “Who’s on First?”

“I don’t know what the Canadian equivalent of baseball is, but this is a home run!”
“We have baseball.”
“Score! Hockey goal, am I right?”
“No, home run works, really.”
“Timberrrrrrrrr! You chopped that big ol’ maple down so good! Get out of the way of your toppling success, Mrs. Lumberjack Games!”
“And I Don’t Know is on third base.”
“Sorry, big baseball fan, we have it.”
“This is as good as it gets! Savor it!”

And so on.

5. Sally Draper (last week: not ranked)

Like Don, we’re not at all comfortable with Sally’s maturation. What’s this now? She’s calling up Creepy Glen at boarding school, getting tarted up like Nancy Sinatra on her way to a Laugh-In* after-orgy, and dating Roger Sterling? She’s not ready for any of that! Need proof? Take her show-capping phone call to Glen:

“I like it when you call, people think you’re my girlfriend.”
“I’m not.”
“How’s the city?”
[You have to stick around for the post-credits tag, like in all those Marvel lead-up movies to The Avengers, to get this part.]
“I think I saw Megan’s mommy biting off Roger Sterling’s penis!”
“Oh man, that’s so gross!”
“I know! He didn’t even scream.”
“I hope no one ever bites off my penis! That sounds terrible.”
“Yeah. Dirty city.”

[*Laugh-In wouldn’t debut until 1968, but you understand the aesthetic. Please, no one mail any slashed-up go-go boots to the Grantland office in outrage.]

6. Joan Holloway (last week: not ranked)

From the moment Joan talked Peggy out of the fear that Abe’s last-minute dinner invite could only mean an imminent dumping, instantly substituting a new fear that she was going to have to break the guy’s heart, it became pretty clear an impromptu betrothal was not forthcoming. (This show never follows a path that direct.) Regardless, Joan’s advice, as always, was pretty solid: You don’t want to bring a butter knife to a ring fight. So Peggy arrived at Minetta Tavern looking terrified, in need of an instant cocktail to help deliver her “I’m not ready” rebuttal to a Tiffany’s box. And then, of course, all cohabitating hell broke loose — sure, she’s ready for that! That sounds like exactly the arrangement for the modern, upwardly mobile woman who occasionally likes to act out in the form of anonymous movie-theater hand jobs.

But this is Joan’s section, not Peggy’s. When Pegs returns to the office to update her life coach on the situation, she gets support, agreement about the unimportance of paper (Greg’s Army papers ultimately superseded Joan’s marriage license, and isn’t everyone thankful about that?), and a nice hug. “I think you’re brave. I think it’s a beautiful statement,” Joanie spins, charitably, probably a little shocked and disappointed she read this situation incorrectly. Then again, Joan’s just like anyone else.

7. Dr. Emile and Mrs. Marie Calvet (last week: not ranked)

Toxic bickering sounds so much classier en francaise, doesn’t it?

“Chaque fille doit se rendre à voir son père comme un succès!”
“Vous ne serez pas heureux jusqu’à ce que je suis mort!”
“Est-ce que cet étudiant putain Claudette organiser votre enterrement, vous tricher, amère vieil homme?”
“Je ne vous comprends pas, je pense que votre bouche est pleine de brillants un capitaliste aux cheveux d’argent, l’or plaqué bouton!”
“Attendez une minute, n’ont-ils pas faire ce truc la traduction la semaine dernière?”
“Je crois qu’ils ont fait! Incroyable!”
“Le manque d’originalité est stupéfiant. Comment peut-il être dur de trouver du nouveau matériel sur les deux époux se disputent fellations et l’infidélité?”
“Très difficile, apparemment.”
“Je refuse de participer à ce hack faible d’esprit. Je vais au lit. Je t’aime, ma chérie.”
“Et Je t’aime. Essayez de ne pas faire sauter tous les hommes d’annonces sur votre chemin vers la chambre à coucher.”
“Fair enough.”

8. Pete Campbell (last week: 10)

Oh, so that’s what Pete Campbell does all day! And here we thought his main responsibility was sitting in his office, staring intently at a wall, and using whatever 1966’s version of The Secret was to manifest himself more success he can never enjoy. But the insincere, table-side blowies probably keep him pretty busy, too. They don’t call the gig “head” of accounts for nothing. [Ed. note: Self-inflicted gunshot. Eh, make it two gunshots, just to be safe.]

9. Katherine Olson (last week: not ranked)

The Mad Men Episode 507 Shitty Parent Power Rankings:

1. Emile and Marie Calvet
At least they’re entertaining. And Marie gave us one of the best scenes of the season. Solid shitty-parenting effort all around.

2. Katherine Olson
She’s just the worst. The worst! We don’t even want to talk about this miserable old bag anymore. She’ll be dead of a misery-inflicted heart attack in three weeks. Next.

3. Ed, Kenny Cosgrove’s Father-in-Law
At least he had the decency to let Don know he had about as good a chance at fingerbanging blood from a stone as he did getting the business of anyone in the room. Yeah, he’s a little smarmy, but what do you expect?

4. Don Draper
He handled the Sally-growing-up-too-fast thing about as well as could be expected. There will be time for makeup and go-go boots soon enough, Sal.

10. Interesting Bowls (last week: not ranked)

What do bowls look like … in the future? We bet they’re square. And silver, with an orange lightning bolt etched in the side. And they fit snugly in the palm of your hand and have notches to hold your spoon, so that if you’re suddenly under attack by an angry Moon Man, you have one hand free for operating your ray-gun. No unnecessary bean spillage, ever!

Not ranked: Abe Drexler, Raymond Geiger, Alice Geiger, Creepy Glen, Kenny Cosgrove, Stan Rizzo, Michael Ginsberg, Bert Cooper, Dawn Chambers, Sally’s codfish, futuristic clothing, Claudette, Grandma Pauline, Bobby Draper, Fat Betty Francis, Henry Francis, sexy bras for old ladies, old-lady bras for young people, Abe’s portable typewriter, Sal Romano, Chinese food, spaghetti, spaceships, buckets being lowered into a gold mine, Jesus, the Loaves and Fishes Account, Canadian baseball.

Filed Under: Mad Men, Fingerbang Threat Level, AMC, Jon Hamm, Vincent Kartheiser, Mad Men Power Rankings, Mark Lisanti, elisabeth moss

Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

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