I'm in awe of Joan and Peggy and the writers of Mad Men. This show, as spectacular as it is, in Season 5, is just picking up steam for me. I thought the best episode ever written was when Roger took LSD, but they have topped themselves again. "The Other Woman" is my new favorite episode.
Here's the thing: Maybe Joan did something immoral sleeping with Herb but I don't care. The men at this firm spent the first four seasons whoring themselves around for much less than what she got for one disgusting screw. In the context of this show, that's nothing. The guys at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce take their clients to cat houses for a little "fun" and engage it in themselves. Yet it has not sparked such a lively debate about the morality of it. Interesting that it is now, because a woman did it. Even as I write this I feel conflicted because I never thought of this in previous episodes; it was clearly wrong and a scummy way to do business. But if prostitution is bad and wrong, somehow, I feel it was right for this woman.
And as much of a creep as Herb was, I'm sure Joan's had worse nights. More stunning was Lane's private counsel to settle for no less than a partnership to do this deed. It was a bizarre way to show his devotion to her, but it was no doubt complex and cowardly, combined with panic over his personal, financial mess. But Joan would have never thought of this deal on her own. Good for her. She'll make a great partner. Here's hoping she loses no sleep whatsoever about this. Or not much. OK, it was pretty gross.
But who cares what Don Draper would have told her beforehand, if he had the chance? What difference does that really make?
And Peggy! To give notice with no warning was a liberating move. When Don threw that cash in her face over her suggestion they make the Paris commercial, and in front of her colleagues no less, what choice did she have? He'd been treating her terribly for some time. The sad, parting kiss on her hand was strange, way too late and did not make up for it. It was sad to see him so shocked. Knowing Peggy, she will be twisted with doubt before she can enjoy this as much as she should, but there's no question she had to get out of that firm. Her admiration for Don, and worse, her desperate need for his approval, was stifling her. This is a man who has very little approval to hand out.
One thing is clear: The Mad Women are leaving Don Draper behind. Even his wife, Megan, is not going to wait for his good word before doing what she wants to do. I wonder what will happen to him, in this new world where no one needs or even expects his opinion. I hope to see an episode where this really sinks in. He's already changed so much in these five seasons, from the strongest force in advertising to a man who is out of touch. Forget about Madison Avenue, who will he become when even his friends and loved ones don't care what he thinks anymore?
Final thought: I loved The Kinks blasting as Peggy stepped into the elevator and into her (hopefully) exciting, new life. Between that and The Beatles recently, this production is spending a lot of money on music. Matt Weiner must be having a great time. So am I.
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