There is a good deal of criticism and dark depression surrounding this season of AMC’s Mad Men. It’s been the most insane season yet: with a sad fat Betty, Don dreaming of murder, a Roger Sterling acid trip, and a fantastically sexy zu bisou dance by Megan. But the hits just keep on coming!
Pete Campbell has just turned into an even bigger creep with each episode and this time he’s hit an all new low. When he and Ken meet with a prospective Jaguar client, they find out that he is aching for a one on one with hot redhead Joan Holloway. If SCDP doesn’t agree to this tête-à-tête, then he won’t give his final vote to join with the agency and Jaguar will be a no-go. Why can’t we have some brutal Game Of Thrones justice for Pete Campbell with an ax to his back or something?
Because Pete is a massive pile of crap with little-to-no redeemable qualities at this point, he actually has the cajones to approach Joan with this idea. She is shocked, appalled, and annoyed that Pete would even suggest it. But after a talk with the other partners, things change. When Pete brings it up with the men, Don walks out enraged. Roger is uncomfortable with the idea, but when Pete tells him that Joan may consider it, he goes along quietly. This was disappointing to witness.
Lane is also disgusted, but because he is in debt up to his eyeballs he needs Jaguar to sign with SCDP and so he suggests to Joanie to become a partner and claim 5% rather than taking the $50,000 that Pete originally offered her for the deed. Joan is in a delicate place because she lives with her insane mother, can’t be at home with her baby, and has recently divorced her rapist husband. Even though Joan is an uncannily intelligent business woman, she is always noticed for her sexuality before she ever opens her mouth to speak. We’ve all questioned why she has avoided help from her baby daddy Roger Sterling, but after seeing him talk about her in the partner’s meeting we might be seeing why she has avoided his monetary control.
So Joan does the unthinkable and she goes to the hotel room of the Jaguar fat ass. Don hears that Joan is considering giving herself to become a partner and rushes to her apartment, but the audience finds out later that Don was too late. His plead with her to keep her dignity and forget Jaguar proves that Don does indeed have a soul and that Joan would not have made this choice if she knew she was supported by even just one man. Namely, a man that was not interested in her for her body. Now we truly understand the reason for their intimate and personal connection last episode.
Beyond Joanie’s terribly heart wrenching decision, Don is dealing with Megan’s acting career and the prospect of her leaving for a few months if she gets a broadway role. He has been as understanding as possible because he doesn’t want Megan to become a bitter Betty, but the man is dependent on his strong women. He has been taking Peggy for granted at work and has been letting Ginsberg take the reigns on ideas. After Peggy meets with a rival agency and they offer her more than she asks in salary as well as a position as Chief Copy Editor, she is out of SCDP.
Peggy and Joan are the two most strong power women on the show, but they are yin to one another’s yang. Where Joan is always judged by her sex appeal before her mind, Peggy is always being undercut because she represents brains over beauty. When Peggy tries to look pretty it’s uncomfortable to watch. She is most amazing when she drinks and jokes with the men or pitches the perfect tagline. After being completely ignored by Don for far too long she leaves and watching them part ways may have been one of the most painful moments of the season, if it wasn’t for Joan’s pleading look of humiliation in the new partner’s meeting.
Now that Megan is beyond done with SCDP and Peggy is gone from the agency, who knows how long Don will last. All the strong women in his life have wavered in their resiliency, which doesn’t mean good things for our lead ad man. On the bright side, the acting in this series and especially in this episode by Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss was just off the charts amazing. Hence, the reason this show has claimed many Emmys already.