Mad Men Power Rankings, Episode 612: ‘The Quality of Mercy’

David T. Cole/Grantland illustration Mad Men Power Rankings

[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Sally visits Don at a neighbor’s apartment … Don learns about the Air National Guard … Teddy gets some juice … Peggy and Stan Rizzo both make new friends … Pete thinks about oral hygiene.]

1. Don Draper (last week: 2)

And just like that, Don Draper is back on top.

Well, maybe not “on top.” Curled up in the fetal position on his sofa is perhaps not the posture of winning. Arms splayed on the prow of a boat with the king-of-the-world wind in your face, or standing on a balcony above a teeming throng of worshipers, or even just leaning back in a desk chair with your feet propped on top of the desk so that your polished wingtips can blind your soon-to-be vanquished enemies, sure. All say “winner.” Knees-to-chin on your office couch, listening to your halting breath, not so much. At least he wasn’t sucking his thumb. Though who knows what happened after the cut to black; Don might have gotten his whole fist in there.

But he did, in his own small, petty, and vindictive way, get what he wanted. And that was to tie a rock to Teddy’s genitals and then toss that rock out of a Madison Avenue window. A high one. How dare Teddy make eyes at Don’s prot&eacutegé, the one to whom he gave everything but that one thing he gave to virtually every other female who worked for him, or lived near him, or otherwise crossed his path when the breeze was blowing a particular way? How dare he dream of a different life, one without kids or the wife who birthed them, where he was happily working on campaigns with the attractive phenom who so obviously returns his affections? Was there a little bit of jealousy on Don’s part? Heavens no! Don thinks only about the best interests of the firm at all times. He’d never let his own selfish desires get in the way of the business just so that he could string up a coworker in front of some clients, kick out the apple box beneath him, and watch him squirm. If there’s going to be anybody at Sterling Cooper & Partners thinking without his head, we all know who that’s going to be.

Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Last Idea

“Leave us alone.”

Don nods in her direction. Peggy retreats from the room, closing the conference room door behind her.

Teddy steps toward Don. Don gives no ground.

Their eyes meet. Teddy’s narrow.

Don raises an eyebrow. Teddy’s eyes narrow further still, slits obscuring a boiling rage.

Now Don draws closer. They are toe-to-toe; lace-up grazes loafer.

They are near enough to feel the heat of breath, count pores, see a pulse in their temples.

They lock eyes. Their gaze is a chemical bond neither can break.

Teddy begins to speak. But Don inhales sharply. Don’t.

And then Don’s hand is in Teddy’s pocket.

Teddy inhales sharply.


2. Peggy Olson (last week: 4)

Last week, Sally made Don feel like the ugly creature he so clearly is. This week, Peggy put a word to that feeling. Monster. A monster who killed Teddy, who killed the St. Joseph’s ad, who killed the Clio she could practically taste. A monster who hangs secretary pelts on his wall, who married one of them just so he could ruin her slowly, over time. She tried to escape him and was successfully free for a while. But eventually the monster returns to claim what he thinks is his. Even if that means tearing apart everything in his way. It’s what monsters do.

And we hate to say we told you so, but we feel like we have to point out we advised her to keep that spear handy.

3. Bob Benson (last week: 6)

Roberto Benson. Beloit. Wharton. Cuentas. Bueno, historia divertida. Ja, ja. Este Pete Campbell, él es un hijo de puta. Bastardo maleducado real. Hace demasiadas preguntas, recibe demasiadas respuestas. Sé que hemos hecho la cosa traducción antes, pero quédate conmigo, a veces hay que ir con lo que funciona y no pienses demasiado. Beloit? Tal vez no. Wharton? Les tomará un tiempo para revisar la totalidad de la Universidad de Pennsylvania, podría desvanecerse como vapor con esa ventaja. Pero es mejor decir la verdad cuando te pillan. Bobby Benson. Virginia Occidental. Los padres que no están relacionados. Brown Brothers Harriman, siervo de tres años y al menos un Queen Elizabeth crucero. Tres referencias, dos no de trabajo y uno para un tipo que piensa que se marchó con su sacapuntas eléctrico, que te puedo asegurar que fue un regalo de despedida. ¿Quién tomaría que de otro modo? ¿Quién me contrató? De alguna manera, todos ustedes hicieron. Usted felicita a la corbata de un hombre, le dan el mejor día de su vida y, a continuación, dejar de realizar la debida diligencia, así, la próxima cosa que usted sabe, hay un café caliente que se sienta en su escritorio cada mañana y una sonrisa, más que pueda buscavidas ofrenda a recoge la puta tan extraño y tal vez los cheques llamadas fondo caen un poco más abajo en la lista de tareas te amo el café, todo el mundo le encanta el café, así que vamos a tratar de nuevo: Bob Benson. Beloit. Wharton. Cuentas. Nuestro secreto. Sssh.”

4. Pete Campbell (last week: 8 )

When Pete asked Bob, “You didn’t profess your love to me?” the accusation seemed to contain more than a bit of hope. Not because Pete’s into it — he’s not — but because it would be nice if he could find a single person on the planet Earth who regarded him with anything but disdain.

So perhaps that’s what drove Pete’s decision not to have Bob frog-marched out of the office, as much as the delicious opportunity to convert the partners’ new favorite toy into an indentured servant beholden to him in Detroit and beyond — “Hey, this guy likes me. Sure, his ‘disease’ turns my stomach, but it might not be the worst thing in the world to have hot-and-cold-running coffee and toilet paper in Motown, courtesy of the rare someone whose stomach I don’t turn.” And a person who will clearly do anything to survive can’t be bad to have around to do whatever dirty work needs to be done. As long as the ground rules are established. (I.e., he’s “off limits,” at least until they’re nine bourbons in at the airport Ramada after Trudy tells him Tammy has started calling the gardener “papa.”)

5. Sally Draper (last week: 1)

If there were ever a “I learned it by watching you!” moment on this show, it was Sally hightailing it to boarding school to avoid ever having to see her philandering father again. Sure, she probably learned to smoke from watching Betty light up a Virginia Slim in a suburban bay window and stare blankly out at the life she was no longer living as gossamer menthol tendrils hung in the air next to her like a ghostly chorus laughing at her choices, but Sally has a clear disappearance model in Don. When the going gets tough, the tough break up their family, move to Manhattan, and marry somebody much younger.

At least at boarding school she’ll have a bunch of new friends who understand the clichéd broken-family dynamic. And who think she likes trouble because a guy who used to masturbate to a fistful of her mom’s stolen hair is just a phone call away.

6. Teddy Chaough (last week: 3)

In retrospect, it was kind of adorable that Teddy believed Don was capable of putting the weapons down. One too-meaningful glance in the middle of a Rosemary’s Baby–themed children’s aspirin pitch and Don turned a simple budget-planning meeting into masterful death-kabuki, gutting Teddy with innuendo and stepping in to save him only when it looked like his stunned partner was about to vomit up his flaming heart. Don Draper takes his cock-blocking very seriously.

7. Glen Bishop (last week: not ranked)

Remember when Glen used to be the creepy neighbor kid who abused himself while huffing Betty’s hair? Of course you do — we just brought it up two entries ago. Now he’s got boarding school girls like Millicent begging him to steal their tresses. It’s pretty amazing how quickly your fortunes can turn when your father is writing the show.

Anyway, Rolo may know how to roll ’em, but Big Daddy Glen knows how to close the deal.

8. Betty Francis (last week: not ranked)

Betty Francis: “Cool mom,” or “mom who’s just excited to have one less kid to take care of”? Discuss.

9. Kenny Cosgrove’s Eye Patch (last week: not ranked)

Kenny Cosgrove is not that psyched about the eye patch. It’s hard to be taken seriously as an accounts man when you look like a pirate. “How’s the Captain Morgan account coming, Kenny?” gets old after the 14th or so time.

But you know who’s very excited about the eye patch? Dave Algonquin. It’s just the thing his author photo needed. A little tweed, some elbow-suede, a tasteful swatch of leather obscuring the weeping buckshot wound he’ll constantly be dabbing with the corner of a handkerchief for the rest of his life. One day, he’ll tell his fans it’s hiding a cyborg vision-enhancer that lets him see into the parallel dimensions where his characters live. And they’ll believe him. The stories feel that real.

10. Travelers’ Checks for Hookers (last week: not ranked)

Wait, is that actually a thing?

Not ranked: Roger Sterling; Joan Harris; Jim Cutler; Harry Crane; Bert Cooper; Duck Phillips, P.I.; Manolo Colon; Dot Campbell; Paddy; Ray; Formula 44; the screwdriver; the guest bed; Rose Kennedy; Sunkist; Ocean Spray; crocodile tears; Annie; Rosemary Hall; the McDonald’s bag; the Japanese; the Jewish neighbor lady; the coven; Roman Polanski; Mrs. Beresford; Millicent and Mandy; the passport; Josephine; nice digs; Rolo’s sandals; the raft of shit; “They Killed Kenny” jokes; Teddy’s Kennedy impression; Sally’s future ambassadorship; waning admiration; surrender; $35,000 in residuals.

Filed Under: Mad Men, AMC, Christina Hendricks, Fingerbang Threat Level, Jessica Pare, Jon Hamm, Recaps, Vincent Kartheiser, Your Old Buddy Bob Benson, Mad Men Power Rankings, Mark Lisanti

Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

Archive @ marklisanti

More from Mark Lisanti

See all from Mark Lisanti

More Mad Men

See all Mad Men

More Hollywood Prospectus

See all Hollywood Prospectus