Mad Men Recap: The Other Woman

So, the last two episodes of Mad Men were good – because, after all, it is Mad Men, but they were just kinda “eh” in terms of plot development.

Well, Matt Weiner and company really crammed a lot in this episode – it’s making me want to cheat and find out what happens at the end of the season.

Before I go on, I’d like to say – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Because Joan’s been pretty MIA during this season, it was a pretty fantastic Joan-centered episode. It’s pretty rough being a single working mom, with a deadbeat hubby off in ‘Nam.

Pete’s been extra weasely and he has to approach Joan with a proposition from an exec of Jaguar: a night of sex. Yes, folks, apparently, Pete’s new role at the office is office-pimp. Our Joanie’s rightly offended.

But Pete being Pete brings the offer to Roger, Don, Lane and Bert. For once the men on Mad Men act like decent guys and are offended by Pete’s idea: but this being Mad Men, they still manage to allow for Pete to put together some sort of proposal to bring in front of Joan; she’s not stupid and demands a 5% stake in the business. That’s right folks, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has a woman partner – and it ain’t Peggy (speaking of Peggy, we’ll get to her in a bit).

Even though Roger and Bert aren’t thrilled with the idea of Joan hooking for accounts, Don’s pissed at the idea – not only is his talent offended, but his genuine affection and regard for Joan have him angry at the idea. He insists that there will be no need for a late night tryst between Joan and the fucker from Jaguar because he’s justthat good.

The scene where Joan and the gross Jaguar exec have sex is disturbing; almost as disturbing as the season a couple seasons ago when Greg rapes her in Don’s office. Joan taking a bullet for the team (as well as ensuring her kid’s future) is a depressing low of the show, and seeing this beautiful, smart woman debased this way is crushing. I hated Pete with a renewed passion after this.

Don, meanwhile, predictably kills it at the meeting with Jaguar. He’s sure the account’s in the bag, so he dashes to Joan’s little apartment after the fact and lets her know that there’s no need for Pete’s plan. Joan, covering up her melancholy (as well as her cocktail dress with a silk robe), merely nods and agrees with him, not letting him know that the deed’s been done.

At the office, everyone waits for Jaguar’s response. The competing agencies are all getting their no’s, so Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s waiting for its yes. The partners are all called into the office. Don’s surprised (and disappointed) that Joan strolls into the office as well. He realizes that Joan did take one for the team. His sadness is palpable – his friendship with Joan is one of his healthiest with a woman. And the answer: drum roll please: yes. Pete’s happy, Roger’s thrilled, Joan’s happy, and Don, well now Don isn’t sure if they won the account because of his awesome idea or because of Joan.

Instead of celebrating with everyone he decides to see Peggy who has requested a meeting with him.

So, now onto Peggy. So far in this season, Peggy seemed to have coasted a bit – she wasn’t the dynamo of the past. Well, it’s interesting that she was able to save an account over the phone – it was like first season Peggy – the idea came out a dangerous spot when the exec from a cologne company was looking to the agency for a shot in its arm. Sales were slowing down and the agency was called on to figure out how women would be convinced to buy the cologne. On a conference call, Peggy pulls a fantastic idea out of thin air. It was awesome to see her backed up against the wall, and being able to save the day.

Don acts like a heel and throws money at Peggy when she balks at the idea of Mike Ginzberg going to Paris instead of she. She marches out of the room and spurns a conciliatory Ken Gosgrove. After a soulful talk with Freddy Rumsfeld, Peggy is wooed by a rival agency. The guy really wants Peggy and asks for her quote. She writes down a figure, but it’s rejected. For a larger sum. And she would be chief copywriter.

Back at the office after Jaguar says yes, the office erupts in joy, but Peggy and Don don’t join the party, instead they go into his office. It’s an ominous meeting and Don’s kind of a dick at first. He thinks Peggy’s going for more money, and to be fair, he’s willing to talk to Peggy. But it’s not money. And that’s what’s so sad about the whole affair: Peggy’s no longer a good fit for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce – she’s too good for the company, but will always be Don’s lap dog.

With tears in her eyes, she gives her notice. Don’s crushed. Thanks to Jon Hamm’s brilliant talent, he’s able to go from conceited, annoyed, terrified, pissed and finallydevastated. Elisabeth Moss is his equal. Peggy thanks Don for everything, but rightly insists that it’s time for her to move on – she’s gotten too big for the agency at this point and Don’s unable to handle it.

Peggy holds out her hand for a decent, “no hard feelings” handshake. Instead, Don takes Peggy’s hand and kisses it. It was heartbreaking.

Peggy walks out – and of course because it’s Peggy, it’s cute. She’s gathering her stuff from her office, and her arms are loaded (she doesn’t grab a banker’s box). She trudges out of the office arms laden, with her big-ass Thermos under arm. Joan spots Peggy leaving.

So, now I’m wondering – I heard rumors that an actor would be cut due to budget requests from AMC. I assumed it would’ve been January Jones – I would’ve been okay with that. I liked Betty at times and despite what loads of people say, Jones can be a fantastic actress when given tough direction. It might be Moss though, who’s about to leave, as Peggy’s departure from the firm may signal little screen time for Miss Olsen.

Oh, and Don’s also dealing with Megan’s thespian aspirations. She’s off to an audition – if she gets the part, it means a tour and being away from home for about 3 months. Of course Don’s not pleased and forbids Megan. Let’s take a pause to laugh. Don’s no longer calling all the shots, and Megan’s waaaay too sharp for his crap and refuses to kowtow to his demands. Unfortunately, the audition turns out to be a casting couch sort of thing.

It’s interesting to see Don’s relationship with women this season – specifically Megan and Peggy – the two most consistent women in his life. Both have “betrayed” him in some way: Megan by not being enamored by the life Don created for the two of them; Peggy by being more than just his protegé. They both leave Don, at least in a professional setting, but he cannot seem to separate his professional life from his personal live – instead, he allows for the two to mix, and his self-loathing causes him to place too much importance on certain people in his work world – namely Peggy.

Lane’s finances and his embezzlement will be interesting to see how it plays out – I’m awaiting the eventual shit storm that’ll rage through the office.

Joan’s a partner now – that’ll be interesting, too. I wonder if she’s going to be given more duties.

I miss Sally Draper and hope next week, she makes an appearance – Kirenan Shipka is a Emmy-worthy actress and needs to be honored, by the way.

I also miss Betty – we need to see more of her.

So, what do you make of Peggy’s departure? Is she destined to come back in season five, or has Elisabeth Moss, like Peggy, moved on to greener pastures? Or will she come back to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce with tail between her legs? Or will Don manage to get her to come back – remember, back at the end of the third season, Don promised Peggy that even if she left him, he’d still speak to her because he would be trying to hire her everyday. Don usually gets what he wants – I wonder if he’ll pull some crap to get his star copywriter back.

I’m not happy that we’re nearing the end, because I’ve really loved this season. The writing’s been awesome.

Your thoughts about “The Other Woman.”

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