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“Mad Men” recap: “Power plus design equals adventure!”

After last week's Very Special (and very tone-deaf) "Mad Men" episode on MLK Jr's assassination, "For Immediate Release" was exactly the sort of release we were craving. So much action, so much madness, so many dramatic changes afoot! Instead of impotently crouched over their radios, TV screens and telephones, waiting for the latest word on how the world is crumbling around them, Roger, Don, Peggy and Joan are conquering new horizons – or at the very least, taking on dangerous new challenges.

We begin with Bert and Pete scheming with Joan to take the company public, and Pete even has the gall to hit on Joan. (She says no, loud and clear, and then tells him, "I hope Clara reminded you tomorrow's Mother's Day." I love how she has become the moral center of the office – or at least the center of restraint and discretion.) Meanwhile, Roger ditches his inherited shoe-shine kit (which signals his reckoning with death) to rush off to the airport to romance not his stewardess lover, but an executive from Chevy. Instead of mourning his eventual demise, Roger is thinking about his legacy – which we can see from the fact that he takes three copies of his autobiography out of his travel bag, but leaves the last one in. This idea of making your mark before you die is scattered throughout the episode, along with lots of talk of death (Roger says, of Jaguar, "This could be fatal"; Ted finds out his art director is dying of pancreatic cancer; Rosen says he has a heart and a kid who needs a heart and both are dead.) Everyone in this episode is looking for salvation, redemption, delivery from history's dustbin – but are they kidding themselves? Is their bravery in the face of absurd obstacles just another way of running away from the specter of death? Is their passion for work meaningful, or is it just a distraction that keeps them from facing the truth about themselves?

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