Other reviewers of the sixth episode of the sixth season of Mad Men have cautioned against getting caught up in Don Draper’s power play to merge his and Ted Chaough’s agencies to get a Chevrolet—rightly so. This season, which begins with The Inferno (which Matthew Weiner reads, weirdly, as a midlife crisis), haunts Don with the lighter of a doomed soldier, puts Don in his mistress’s bed to the soundtrack of the Tet offensive, reveals Megan’s miscarriage and Don’s hesitation on his threshold to enter his own apartment, pushes Don into a self-righteous and hypocritical fight with Megan about
Peggy beating him with his own words Megan’s acting in love scenes, takes Don to an award ceremony where the only people nominated for awards from his agency no longer work there, and shoots Martin Luther King, Jr., as Pete put it so emphatically, “in the face.” That’s not even an exhaustive list of how much this season has lifted Don Draper’s curtain to show the dust, mildew, and cobwebs behind it.
Enter “For Immediate Release,” which seemingly turns the season 180 degrees to look at Don reinvigorated, firing Herb and Jaguar from the company, fucking Megan with purpose, and marching to Detroit for a shot at a Chevrolet. But I wouldn’t believe Don’s turnaround—or the season’s—for a second. One reason not to trust the tone is history: Robert Kennedy has yet to be killed and Richard Nixon has yet to win election—the world will get worse, and SCDP won’t be able to escape it. Another reason in the title. “For Immediate Release” isn’t just the opening of the press release Peggy writes at the end, it’s also a definition of the episode—a catharsis from all the despair. But as the season seems to be pitting the series’s (and Don’s) preoccupation with starting over against motherhood (both failed, in Megan’s miscarriage, and unhappy, in Don’s stepmother), there is no good reason to think the catharsis birthed with this new ad agency is anything but temporary.