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Mad Men: Thank You, Joan (and Jared) Harris

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Warning: You're entering a Mad Men Spoilertown.

Last night's Mad Men, "Christmas Waltz" was mostly devoted to Joan Harris (I'll get to her in a sec) and Lane Pryce, who engaged in a little holiday thievery to cover up a tax evasion charge back in Britain. He walks into Crane's office and asks for media projections; they look good but Crane explains it's sort of wishful thinking. Lane uses them at the bank anyway and gets $50k in advance credit for SCDP -- now he's just got to come up with a reason to get his hands on a piece of that money...

Okay remember Edwin Baker? The Jaguar guy that went out with Draper, Campbell and Sterling then got busted by his wife for having gum on his naughty-bits? (Roger calls him "Bazooka Joe.") Yeah that guy. That morning Campbell says they're back in the running for Jaguar because Baker was fired. Then Shady Lane pipes up and says he's checked the books and they have a $50k surplus. He wants to redistribute it for holiday bonuses, immediately. Don and Campbell nix it, saying they'd rather wait and pass them out at the Christmas party. Lane gets upset, using his desire to spread holiday cheer as a ruse to cover his need for that money.

At the front desk, a man shows up to serve Joan papers and she's PISSED and flips the EFF OUT on the front desk girl for letting him in -- it. was. awesome! She tries to say that the guy seemed to know Joan and said he was surprising her -- Joan's like "Here's a surprise!" and throws a model plane at her -- I'm in love!

Don appears and carries her out the door and they go to the Jag showroom. She falls in love with the SKE (don't we all), Don wants to take her out in it and it doesn't seat three -- so he hands the salesman a check for $6k and says if they don't come back to consider it paid for. At the bar Joan reveals the papers are from Dr. Greg seeking a divorce. They talk about life, each other, their marriages -- Don tries to get Joan to see that divorce is actually a great thing if you're stuck in a miserable marriage, but she's worried about starting over with a baby. She gets wistful, remembering back in the day when she used to date and get flowers all the time -- Don makes a crack that when he first started there he thought she was dating the Ali Kahn himself with all the flowers she'd get. He tries to get her to hook up with a rando dude at the bar but she's not into it; he pays for her drinks and car fare home and gets behind the wheel of the Jag... inspiration striking...

While Joan's contemplating her future and Don's about to get a plate of cold dinner thrown his way by an angry Megan, Lane sneaks into the office and takes out one of the bonus checks with Don's signature on it. Using a backlit table he forges Don's signature from the original onto a new one written out to him -- shady, shady... Except, uh oh! The next morning Campbell announces to the partners that Mohawk Air is striking and suspending their ad budget. Their immediate reaction is to suspend bonuses, but Lane jumps in and says that's not fair to the staff; Cooper agrees, but insists the partner's shouldn't get theirs. Lane asks, "Even the junior partners?" Crap! He's not going to get that bonus after all, and he's just taken money from the company!

As Lane's freaking out, Roger comes into Joan's office with beautiful flowers, assuring her they're not from him. The card reads, "Your mother did a good job" -- Ali Kahn. The fact that Don sent her flowers is totally adorable. I think that's my word of the day. Maybe as soon as this is done I've got an afternoon of looking at puppy and kitten videos in my future.

At the Christmas Party, Campbell announces the good news and bad news -- SCDP is going to lose Mohawk, but they're on the shortlist for Jaguar. In light of this, they're still giving out bonuses, but the partner's aren't going to take theirs. This draws a round of applause, and then Don announces he has something to say. He conveys to everyone how much it means to all the partners that the staff stuck by the company when they were fledgling last year and promises them all that it will be worth it. He then vows to lead by example: He'll be working over Christmas and New Year's so they can be on top of their game for this Jaguar pitch. His speech fires everyone up to get back to work, and as he and his writing team head straight to his office to get started, a worried Lane Pryce looks on, wondering what the hell he's going to do now to explain why thousands of dollars are missing and the windfall he spoke of is anything but -- he's now strapped SCDP with another $50k of debt!

Read my full take (there's even "Harry Krishna's") at The Donnybrook Writing Academy.