“For Immediate Release” is about mergers. The two rival agencies, SCDP and CDG, merge to get the General Motors account and bring the show’s anchors, Peggy and Don, back to the same place. The episode parallels this with mergers occurring in the marital bedroom. Both, through Mad Men’s vision, are about survival and salesmanship (see: Mother’s Day).
As per usual, Don and Pete mirror each other. Both act broadly and unilaterally on their own behalf. Both fail, but in different ways.
Pete believes it is all figured out. He’s spearheading a public offering for the firm that will make him a millionaire. He’s rebuilding his marriage. Invincible, he makes a half-hearted attempt at Joan. He later ends up at a whorehouse, where he spots his father-in-law. Shocker, it does not work out.
Don dismissing Jaguar foils his public offering. Father-in-law eschews the “mutually assured destruction” principle for his daughter’s sake. He pulls his business from Pete, refuses to reinstate it and leaves Pete with an ambiguous instruction to “do the right thing.” Pete tells Trudy what her father was doing to get back at him. Marriage terminated.
As we see through the rest of the episode, though, not even Don has Don’s tact anymore. He’s a hallow caricature of Don Draper in this episode.
He’s having exuberant sex, shoving Megan up against a wall and receiving blowjobs. But it’s not the powerful “Don the Lothario.” It’s the pathetic “Don getting manipulated by his wife who thinks she needs to do this to connect with him.”
Don gives Jaguar Herb his comeuppance. But the righteous stand is not for Joan or anyone else. He’s sick of Herb committing the true crime, intruding into his creative field. He acts rashly and cancels the account. When he arrives at work, he tries selling the move. Joan cuts him off by pointing out those whose lives are materially affected by this are forced to “root him on from the sidelines.” (another football reference)
Roger bails Don out with the Chevy chance. Which permits Don to return to “creative general” mode to nail the pitch. Faced with inevitably losing that, he thinks up the merger. This saves the firm, from a dilemma Don created. Ted, faced with his own issue, goes along. Either Don no longer can picture how he affects others, or he has become too complacent of a salesman.
* More out the window imagery with Megan telling Don she wants him to “jump off the balcony and fly to work like Superman.”
* The eager Bob Benson storyline has to be going somewhere, right?
* Probably a bit late on this, but just realized Pete’s father-in-law is the dad in Clarissa Explains It All.