“Mad Men”: Episode 6, “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”


“One minute you’re on top of the world. The next minute some secretary is running you over with a lawn mower.”

This was quite possibly the most action-packed, darkly comic and confounding episodes of “Mad Men” yet. I’ve been trying to sort it out for two days now and I still don’t have many conclusions about “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency.” From the title on down, it’s a rip-snorter. But what does it all mean??

I know the story thread about Sally Draper and her need for a night light was symbolic of being afraid of the dark, or fear of the unknown. I know it wasn’t accidental that Joan’s big moment with her creepy husband came in the dark, after she fell asleep waiting for the bastard that she supports even after she calls him out for being drunk and for telling her an abject lie.

I know it had to be a conscious decision by scribes Robin Veith and Matthew Weiner (I noticed Veith got top billing) that this episode had more uses of the term “Mrs. Harris” than any other, as it to reinforce to Joan as she’s on her way out the door that she is no longer herself, but her husband’s wife.

I know that Harry Crane’s line “What just happened here?” after the board room coup instigated by the doomed Brit executive Guy was clearly meant to encapsulate the randomness of life in the business world and life in the cosmic scheme of things. It takes someone else to explain to Harry that he’s the only one who got an actual boost in responsibility in the reorg that was so cheerily and quickly detailed by Guy Smiley.

It took me longer than that to realize that the hierarchy laid out by the Brit emissaries not only leaves Roger Sterling out (duh?) but also essentially demotes Don as he would have had to work under share authority with Guy Mackendrick. Yes, I know Don’s crestfallen look should have made this clear but I can be a little Harry-ish at times, especially when engrossed in this show.

And then what happens next in this show is straight out of “The Twilight Zone.” The lawn mower that Ken Cosgrove so playfully rides into the office to illustrate his latest account snaring coup becomes the lethal weapon that takes Guy’s foot and kills his career, in the eyes of his corporate overseers. Office parties at Sterling Cooper are just plain dangerous. And of course, it would be Lola! Lois! Of course!

The scene in which Lois and the lawn mower go out of control was as jarring a scene of random violence as anything I’ve ever seen on TV.

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  1. A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

  2. It’s important to take responsibilities, because no one else is going to do it for you.

  3. JS says:

    Did anyone notice in the article’s featured picture that while Don and Joan sit on comfortable chairs in the emergency waiting room, that the African American woman is seating on a bench behind them while there is room for one more person in the chairs? Interesting reminder of 60’s separatism.

  4. JS says:

    As a man I was enamored with Joan’s obvious physical beauty, then her abilities as the office fixer (never seemingly flummoxed (the only one to act and not panic at the tractor accident in the office)), her multidimensional strength, but her sincere tenderness shown in the scene when her husband comes home to report his apparent failings, is so endearing, so attractive, so sensual, so desirable in a mate (too bad the husband doesn’t pick up on it and change his attitude)… It so displays Joan as more than just a outer beauty, but displays an inner beauty that makes (most) men want someone like her (her dark and her light) in their lives.
    Aside, I guess this show is so often about people having everything and not recognizing it and Joan’s husband’s failings are no exception. Well, if I’m so lucky to meet a Joan like person in my life …

  5. Billy says:

    I think what Weiner and co. were going for when Guy told Peggy he knew all about her, right after he sang the exact tune word for word to Pete, was that this man knew nothing about these people he was coming in to lead. That was how I read it, at least.

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