Paul Dooley as Bob Spano; Marc Levy as Gus Hennessy; Richard Cummings Jr. as Mark Harriton; Robin Morse as Secretary; David Clennon as Miles Drentell
Michael is approached by Minnesota Brands to engineer a hostile takeover of D.A.A. with the understanding that he will be made president once Miles is gone.
Miles invites Michael along to New York to meet with Bob Spano and other big names from Minnesota Brands. They have a meeting about a contract with Flex Athletics and Elliot assures Miles that Tommy Lydecker is locked up for the spokesman. Miles drops the bomb that another company stole Lydecker and uses it to publicly decimate Elliot. Michael calls Miles on it in private and Miles calls Elliot to apologize, somewhat pointlessly. That night, Michael confesses to Hope that Elliot is indeed slacking.
Michael and Miles go to New York and Michael hits it off with Bob Spano, relating to his business philosophy of relating to people. Michael is called down to the bar later by Gus Hennessy, Spano's right hand man, and they talk. Elliot tells Nancy that work isn't fun anyore and even seems to be considering leaving after her second look surgery. While stuck in a cab, Miles mumbles that Elliot is unhappy and someone might try to turn him, little realizing it is Michael he should be concerned about. Gus calls to Philadelphia and asks Michael to come out to Minneapolis. Michael meets with Bob, and Bob quite plainly lets it out that Minnesota Brands wants to take over D.A.A.
Miles holds a meeting with Mark and Elliot where he says he's breaking up one of the creative teams, so Elliot objects and says that he's wrong. It becomes obvious that Miles thinks Elliot and Michael were together too long and Elliot is the weaker person. Michael returns to the office to find Elliot and Miles in a huge, ugly, public fight because Miles is taking Elliot off the Flex account and giving it to Hollis and Angel. Michael does nothing to stand up for Elliot.
Michael delivers the friendly message that Spano would like to buy the company, but Miles rejects the proposal. Miles then tells Michael to fire Elliot. Elliot is in a horrible mood and storms out before Michael can talk to him. That night, Elliot is agonizing over his job, seeing if they can afford to get private insurance for Nancy if he were to quit. Nancy is supportive and tells him to do what is right.
Spano shows up in the D.A.A. parking garage and asks Michael to talk with him inside the limousine. Elliot apologizes to Michael for yelling at him, then (rather emotionally) tells him he's quitting. Michael slowly begins to reveal that Minnesota Brands is going to take over. Elliot becomes excited and asks how they start, to which Michael replies, "You're fired." Michael goes to meet with Miles, tells him that Elliot has been fired, and they begin business as usual for the day. "End of Part 1."
Michael drinks black coffee The crack on Hope's bedroom wall is growing Bob Spano sent Michael's pool table Nancy's second look surgery is in a few months Michael has a new desk, not Draconis' The Spingeri campaign for 1990 is shown (that was Michael and Elliot's first project at DAA) Stock footage used for the Spingeri commercial provided by Dreamlight Images, Inc.
Elliot wears a jacket pin. Hope's pink nightgown has a faint pattern of white cactuses on it, which is reminiscent of the southwest (as in, the previous episode "arizona"). Later, Hope wears Michael's blue bathrobe while he's in New York.
"That's an awfully dirty laugh for a pregnant woman." --Michael
"This is too Byzantine, even for you, Miles." --Michael
"Revenge is a decidedly middle class pursuit." --Miles
"He was just trying to figure out how far outside the solar system Miles' home planet is." --Michael
That is indeed part of a line from Babbitt, which I have read; in fact, I actually included it in one of my undergrad theses! (I was both a journalism and literature major.) To elaborate, many of Lewis' works characterize a "professional" man trying to escape a repressive environment that is not at all what he expected it to be, a place that thwarts his ideals. Lewis, like John Updike, a contemporary of his (although Lewis peaked earlier, Babbitt was written in 1922, I believe) and whom Joseph Dougherty apparently idolizes, mocks hypocrisy and conforming to a narrow-minded pretense of what society--or the workplace--should be. As you all can tell by now, it isn't hard to see that this is exactly the conundrum Michael is in, how he feels about his "false" power at D.A.A. and Miles being the tyrranical dictator, and that's why he so earnestly and eagerly grabs hold of the Minnesota Brands/Bob Spano hostile takeover plan. (By the way, isn't Michael's look priceless when he "fires" Elliot?)
In addition, we can examine the definition of "zenith" itself: this isn't Webster's, mind you, but a zenith is basically a celestial point immediately above you or the culminating point of wealth and morality and all things good. So, technically, literally, you can't have a TOWER of zenith at all, because it's already the summit. I could be stretching this (because as I once wrote in my analysis of "guns and roses," I can find symbolism in practically anything) but perhaps Miles--who, as we all know, is successful in business but extremely unsuccessful as a human being--represents the "zenith" that has become clouded for Michael, and in overthrowing him, he believes he can topple the "tower" of the company, the industry and society as he knows it to make a change for the better--i.e., the classic struggle of good vs. evil.
"The leitmotif is very reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells - the recurring theme in The Exorcist. Interesting, given the battle for Michael Steadman's soul and frequent references to Miles Drentel as the devil on his shoulder."
Zenith is the name of the town in Babbit. I took "Towers" to be a reference to rivaling powers, such as Michael and Miles, or Minnesota Brands and D.A.A. So you have a power struggle in the setting of Sinclair Lewis' satire about American values.