Mad Men, “Red in the Face”: #2 ranked episode of Mad Men season 1 – three on a match!

mad men - red in the face

Game, set, and match to Mr. Draper. But at what cost?

Mad Men Season 1 Rankings: where did “Red in the Face” rank?

Mad Men’s “Red in the Face” came in as the #2 ranked episode of Mad Men’s 13 Season 1 episodes! Find more Mad Men rankings here.

Here’s why “Red in the Face” was ranked as the #2 episode of 13 Mad Men Season 1 episodes.

Mad Men
GENRE – Drama, Period Show, Relationship Drama, Office Culture
EPISODE – “Red in the Face”
BEING RANKED FOR – Mad Men Season 1
RANK – #2 of Mad Men’s 13 Season 1 episodes

Mad Men, “Red in the Face” (S0107) review

Two men in expensive gray suits trek up many flights of stairs. They have been out having a liquid lunch replete with a bottomless fountain of martinis and platters of oysters besides. One, Roger Sterling, is a little bit older and slows down during the ascent. The younger one, Don Draper, feigns concern but is internally plotting the endgame of an exquisitely plotted revenge against his boss and friend.

Roger is compelled to keep going as he pants and gasps for air –s Richard Nixon’s campaign staff is waiting for them up on the 23rd floor of the Sterling Cooper building along with Bert Cooper. Don makes breezy little comments such as, “Maybe we can get them to come down and have the presentation on the 8th floor landing, there’s plenty of seats,” to make it clear that he is having no trouble at all.

At Floor 20, Roger bends over and falsely claims that he needs to search for his tie clip (a terribly thin excuse for the normally resourceful Mr. Sterling), which allows Don to propel ahead and get to the office lobby first, where Bert, Pete Campbell, and the Nixon people are waiting. By the time Roger staggers in, all he can manage to do is violently throw up in front of everyone.

Game, set, and match to Mr. Draper.

It’s thrilling and wildly entertaining television, but it’s important to note the dark underbelly of motivation at work here. Roger had (very) drunkenly hit on wife Betty earlier in the episode (notice a theme?), and while Roger and Don had ostensibly patched things up, Don Draper is not one to be trifled with.

While the arrival of Adam Whitman in “5G” posed a threat to Don’s true identity (Dick Whitman), we see a metaphorical assault on Don Draper’s manhood and standing at home and office for the first time here. Don and Roger are friends and colleagues but are also highly competitive alpha males within the executive ranks of Sterling Cooper.

And perhaps most importantly, Don’s ego – the ego of a Master of the Universe as conjured by Dick – can never allow such an emotional chink in his armor to go unchecked. In other words, if Mad Men were a 1980s political thriller, Don Draper’s DEFCON was lowered by a few levels.

While punishing Betty at home with a cold attitude (without any real cause), Don looked for the appropriate means to get back at Roger at the office. A payoff to Hollis the elevator operator, umpteen martinis, and a 23-floor schlep up the stairs later, and Don got the payback he was seeking.

In so doing, Roger was yanked back into his place (his little speech about how everyone “parks in the wrong garage once in while didn’t go over as well as intended, it seems) and shows off a Don that’s ready to play in the big leagues, poised to do what it takes to move onto the next levels of power and influence on the professional front.

And/but it also reveals a Don Draper/Dick Whitman at his most vein, manipulative, and even cruel.

This review was originally published on TV Geek Army.

Mad Men, “Red in the Face”: episode and cast info

Air date – August 30, 2007
Mad Men creator – Matthew Weiner
Directed by – Tim Hunter
Writing credits – Matthew Weiner, Bridget Bedard


Jon Hamm – Don Draper
Elisabeth Moss – Peggy Olson
Vincent Kartheiser – Pete Campbell
January Jones – Betty Draper
Christina Hendricks – Joan Holloway
Bryan Batt – Salvatore Romano
Michael Gladis – Paul Kinsey
Aaron Staton – Ken Cosgrove
Rich Sommer – Harry Crane
Maggie Siff – Rachel Menken
Robert Morse – Bertram Cooper
Anne Dudek – Francine Hanson