'Mad Men' Season 5, Episode 11 Recap - 'The Other Woman' and Whoring Joan
Women have never been treated particularly well by the characters in "Mad Men," but this episode really kicked things up a notch. Let's take a look at what happened with our big three:
Megan didn't have much screen time this episode, but still managed to get in yet another fight with Don. This time, it was due to Don's reaction to Megan's callback for a role, which would have her moving to Boston for three months for the run of the show.
The two make up by the end of the episode, especially since Megan doesn't get the part. Her audition is oddly objectifying: she's asked to "turn around" by the three men staring at her from the couch. It fits in with this episode in theme, but lacks the punch that those moments usually have in this show. After all, actors should be used to objectification. It's part of the job.
Pete and Cosgrove get an interesting request from Herb, one of the Jaguar clients, at a dinner with him: he was smitten with Joan, and wants to spend the night with her. Pete is, of course, totally on board with this, because he's Pete and he's the worst. He pops into Joan's office and ever so tactlessly asks her to whore herself out for the good of the company. Joan is rightfully and thankfully outraged.
Then Pete calls a meeting with the partners to discuss the matter. Don is disgusted enough to leave the room, while Lane is flustered at the very idea of it. Roger is surprisingly quiet about it, but he and Bert eventually agree to let Joan decide for herself. They agree that an offer of $50,000 should do the trick. Gross.
Lane gets arguably grosser with things, as the extra cash would mean his much-needed bonus would go away. He's so desperate to get the money that he convinces Joan that, should she agree, she should ask for partnership and a 5% stake in the company. Joan agrees to those terms with Pete, who offers the world's most awkward handshake.
A nice use of the time jump technique that we've seen from "Mad Men" recently reveals Joan's decision in an interesting way: we see a scene between her and Don where Don seemingly catches her before she goes out and tells her that she doesn't have to go through with it. "You're a good one, aren't you?" She says. Is he?
But the reveal later, intercut with Don's very relevant pitch to Jaguar, is that Don actually caught her just after she slept with Herb. Gasp. And ew.
Peggy suffers some of her own humiliation, as she comes up with a brilliant new pitch to save the Chevalier Blanc account on the spot, only to get no credit for it from Don, who puts Ginsberg on the account. When Peggy protests, Don literally throws money in her face in order to get rid of her. You feel humiliated just watching it. And Cosgrove and Harry were no help, either.
So, Peggy has lunch with Freddie Rumsen, who suggests that she consider a job somewhere else. That sets her up with a meeting with Cutler Gleeson and Shaw, where she is offered a Copy Chief position at $19,000 a year. Not bad.
That just leaves breaking the news to Don. He's incredulous at first, then when he learns that she's serious, he tries to outbid them to keep her. "There's no number," she says. Don's goodbye to her, a kiss on the hand, looks almost pleading, and the emotion between these two professional soulmates is touching, even though Don was still being Don.
Peggy gets her own elevator moment at the end of the episode: where Don's had him peering into an empty elevator shaft, Peggy's gives her a ding, a door opening to a bright future (literally, there's the light from the elevator), and The Kinks kick in just in time for her to smile as she leaves Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce behind.
Or is it Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Harris now? The moment of realization for Don when he saw Joan join the partners was a bit heartbreaking. Pete suggesting to Joan that they all "address the men" was clearly pointed (by the writers, if not Pete). What did Joan give up in doing this? Will it haunt her?
You have to wonder, though, if some of Don's funk following that moment was selfish. Sure, he's upset that Joan went through with it, but in a way it steals his thunder... he thought he was back in the game, connecting with Herb on a pitch that well flawlessly, thanks to Ginsberg's knockout idea, yes, but also thanks to Don's excellent pitch. But if it was Joan's influence, and not his, then his elation is deflated.
Bonus of the episode: the photocopies of asses pasted to the window for the Jaguar brainstorming, with a line about getting asses in seats. Har har.