"Mad Men" Christmas Comes But Once a Year (TV Episode 2010) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The Christmas season is in full swing, but that only compounds the problems for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Feeling the company still financially insolvent, Lane will only allow a meager office Christmas party, with no spouses or partners. Roger makes a unilateral decision to change that directive from Lane to keep their one major client, Lee Garner Jr. of Lucky Strike, happy. Roger wants the company to appear cheerful and busy to those in the outside world that matter. The company's fortune may change for the better when ex-Sterling Cooper fired employee Freddy Rumsen, now clean and sober for sixteen months, walks through their doors, he who brings with him a lucrative contract with Pond's cold cream. One of his two major stipulations is that he comes with the contract. Peggy, who has been Freddy's biggest supporter in the past, may regret what she wished for as she and Freddy butt heads over the concept for Pond's. Also to assist in improving the company's fortunes, Bertram enlists the help of an old friend, the head of marketing research company, to provide their services, which doesn't sit well with Don for personal reasons. Don in general isn't feeling much in the Christmas mood, he who has been drinking more than usual over the thought of not spending Christmas with his kids. He looks for female companionship wherever he can find it, which may end up not being in his best interest or that of the women involved. Sally, too, is feeling sad not only over not seeing her father more, but by still living in the family home with his memory. Her old friend, Glen Bishop, takes unilateral action to help her out with this problem. And Peggy, in a developing relationship with Mark Kerney, isn't totally forthright with him about her past concerning their future. Peggy's actions are in light of both her short and long term wants, the short being primarily not to be alone on New Year's Eve.

  • It's Christmas-time and business is still tight at SCD&P. Lane Pryce has ordered strict expenditure controls and as a result, the Christmas party isn't going to be much of an affair this year. That is until their biggest client, the head of Lucky Strike that provides over two-thirds of their income, announces he wants to attend and is expecting a big bash. Don is faced with a tricky situation the day after the party. Don walks out of a presentation by a marketing firm that thinks they can improve the agency's performance; Don thinks it's all nonsense. When one-time colleague Freddie Rumson walks in with a $2 million account for Ponds cold cream, he's back on board. He's assigned to work with Peggy Olson but his old fashioned ways don't sit well with her. Sally's friend Glen leaves a special present for her at the house.

  • Freddy returns with a valuable new client, the firm reluctantly throws a Christmas party for its most important client, and Don prepares for his first Christmas away from his children.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Previously on...: Don told us (and Betty) about his dad and his mother, who was a prostitute. He also talked about the firms reliance on Lucky Strike, as did Lane. Peggy hooked up with Duck, and Don asked Betty to move out of their house.

    It is Christmas 1964 and Henry took the family shopping. Glen, the kid who once had a crush on Betty, talked to Sally and Bobby about how they ignored him when they walked into the Christmas tree lot. He works there and brandishes a knife for cutting twine. Attached to the knife was a lanyard he said he made himself. Sally liked it.

    At the office, Don gets a letter addressed to Santa Claus. It was from Sally, who addressed the letter to him in an effort to keep up the Santa ruse for Bobby. It had a list of their Christmas wish list, which his assistant read to him. Sally said she most wished Don would be there to give them their gifts, but she knew he couldnt be. He gave his assistant money to buy the gifts, then told her she couldn't bring a guest to the firm's party because they were tightening their belts. In the office Joan beckons a tall young clerk, Megan.

    Freddy Rumsen paid a visit to Roger, saying he left JWT with a $2 million account (Ponds Cold Cream). He said he was clean and sober now and told Roger that if he went wrong, the new firm could keep the account. Freddys only request was that Pete Campbell not touch the account. I was surprised you took him along, Freddy said. Rogers response, with a handshake: No comment.

    Peggy was happy to see Freddy, who shared the history of Ponds. Don offered Freddy a drink and he passed. Pete wanted to ask the question on everyones mind, and Roger interjected, asking Freddy if he could play Santa at the Christmas party.

    Glen called the Draper house to talk to Sally, using a fake name (Stanley). He wanted to know why Sally hadn't moved. She said she didn't know, but she hates it there. Glen told Sally her parents wouldn't get back together, especially now that " she's [Betty] doing it with somebody else". Sally doesn't understand the comment.

    Bert brought an old friend to the firm to give a presentation on his consumer research group, and brought with him a woman named Faye, who came up with the indelible marketing image feminine hygiene: the carefree gal in white pants. Faye presented the group with a test the group gives to potential customers. The first question, How would you describe your father? threw Don for a bit of a loop. Faye said the answer, regardless of what it is, provides a level of intimacy for the next question: Who makes decisions in your household. Don got up and left, saying he had an appointment. Faye noticed.

    That night, Don was awoken by the hammering of Christmas decorations across the hall. It was a nurse named Phoebe who was decorating for her party, and she invited Don, telling him not to pretend he hadn't noticed her.

    Roger came back from a lunch meeting with Freddy's contact at Ponds, and he was drunk. Freddy was concerned, called Calvin (the Ponds guy) and told him to meet up with him at a nearby church.

    Roger got a call from the Lucky Strike client, Lee Garner Jr., who was offended he wasn't invited the Christmas party. Roger told Lane they had to throw a real party with Lee in attendance. Roger said that if Lee wants Three Wise Men flown in from Jerusalem they'd have to manage it. Roger and Joan made the plans and flirted a bit. Well, Roger did, with Joan telling him to stop.

    Peggy's boyfriend Mark came over and pressured her to have sex, saying he wanted to be her first. She asked him to go home. He kissed her once more, then left. Don staggered to his apartment and Phoebe was in the hall decorating again. They made small talk about Christmas. She helped him open the door to his place, then let herself in. She got him into bed, took off his shoes, then left, wishing him a good night.

    As the office was abuzz with preparation for the party, Freddy and Peggy talked strategy for Ponds. Freddy wanted an older woman, Broadway actress Talullah Bankhead, to be the face of Ponds and Peggy wanted to sell it to younger women. They argued and Peggy told Freddy he was old-fashioned after he suggested that all young women want to get married. Freddy left.

    Glen tried to call the Draper house and no one answered. Meanwhile, the party was hopping in the office and everyone was making small talk while Roger wondered where Lee was. Lee arrived and everyone made him feel like the guest of honor. Back at the Draper house, Glen broke in with a friend and trashed the kitchen.

    Back at the party, everyone was having a good time until things got a little tense when Lee demanded that Roger dress up as Santa. Henry, Sally and the kids got back to the house to see the mess and worried there was something serious afoot. Back at the party, Roger came out with the Santa suit and Lee continued to humiliate Roger, joking about him having another heart attack and pulling Roger's young wife close to his side.

    At the house, Sally discovered that every room but her's had been messed with, then she noticed Glens lanyard on her pillow.

    Faye went into Don's office to have a chat. She said she wanted to make sure there were no problem, having noticed that Don walked out of her presentation. She told him she found out all she could about him, and she hoped he would have wanted to learn about her work. She said her job was focused, ultimately, on helping people resolve their greatest conflict: What I want versus whats expected of me. Don agreed with the premise and asked her to dinner. She declined, but said, Apology accepted. She then told him not to worry about being bummed over the holidays and said hed be married again in a year. She then apologized for trying to fit him into a type.

    Don went back to his apartment, but realized hed forgotten his keys. He called his secretary Alison who found the keys on the floor in his office. One of the young ad guys said Don was pathetic. She brought him the keys, let him in and as Don started to kiss her she said, Don't. He continued, and she got into it.

    Sally went to sleep holding Glen's lanyard while Don was in his apartment getting it on with his assistant. When they were done, she left to meet her friends at a bar. Sheb was all smiles as she left, cheerily saying, See you tomorrow, and giving him a kiss goodbye.

    The next morning, Freddy was in Peggy's office. He told her he didnt come to the party because he anticipated there'd be a bottle in the pocket of the Santa suit. She apologized for calling him old-fashioned. He apologized for telling her she wanted to get married. She started telling him about her boyfriend, saying he won't leave me alone. Freddy said he was the same way with Violet and Peggy said she didn't want to talk about it any longer. She then said she didn't want to be alone on New Years Eve. Freddy told her that if she wanted to marry the guy, she shouldn't do anything, or else he wont respect you. Then he told her not to lead him on, either. That is physically very uncomfortable -- its not a joke.

    Don got to work and had the slightly awkward moment with Alison, who'd bought and wrapped all the gifts for his kids. He thanked her for bringing his keys and said he'd probably taken advantage of her kindness too often. He then handed her a Christmas bonus. She was a bit mortified as she left his office. She read the card, in which Don thanked her for her hard work and included $100 cash. She had tears in her eyes as she started typing.

    Peggy laid in bed with Mark, who asked if she was alright and asked if she felt different. She kissed him and rested her head on his chest. Back at the dark and empty office, Don gathered the gifts and left.

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