Every week, Aaron Cohen (@UnlikelyWords) writes a recap of Mad Men for his blog Unlikely Words, and I illustrate something from the episode to go with it. Here’s Aaron’s recap for season 5 episode 11:
To paraphrase what one of the advisers said, everyone always talks about the episodes where nothing happens. Well, tonight, everything happened! Jeeze. This was a bigger episode, a fuller episode, there were more parts that made me squirm than usual. The episode was titled, “The Other Woman.” The title was ostensibly a reference to the Jaguar pitch, but also refers to Megan, Peggy, and obviously, Joan (because they are women, duh?).
-Well, people can start hating Pete again, I guess. That was a short ride on the Pete sympathy train.
-At the beginning of the episode, Peggy looks wistfully at the lunch of lobster from the Palms delivered to the freelance copywriters brought in to help with Jaguar. Don tells her she’s in charge of everything until Jaguar is done, but she’s still jealous. We see her totally nail an on-the-spot pitch to keep a business from canceling their ad sales, and then in one of the most disturbing scenes in the series, we see Don throw cash at her, hitting her in the face. It was an image, that to me, made it seem like Peggy was prostitute, and Don was her john, or her pimp. Heavy shit. She didn’t even seem too mad, just resolved to leave. This was all after Pete and Ken had been been told by the Jaguar dealer he wanted to sleep with Joan. Peggy’s pitch involves Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets to help her city (Joan, much?). Ken goes in to check on Peggy and brings up the pact which came up earlier in the year. I wonder if Peggy is going to help Ken get a job at CGC. And of course it’s CGC she’s going to, because that will hurt the most. She’s clearly talented, but part of her value to Ted Chaough is sticking it to Don. I wonder how that will be used. Don didn’t think she’d leave, thought this was a play for more money, and then was angry that she was leaving. I feel like he was mostly sad, though, because she was someone he knew, liked, and the rest of them, well, they’re beneath him. I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but Peggy’s walk out of the office was a very leaving-the-series walk. She looked back to see if anyone would come after her, but the only one who noticed was Joan (their relationship has always been fun). And very briefly, did you notice when the elevator opened, a wash of light across her face? Then she smiled and got in. The elevators are so symbolly this year. The whole show is so heavy handed this year. “I can never tell if you’re ambitious or you just like to complain.” “Why can’t I be both?” And also, “You really have no idea when things are good, do you?”
-There’s always a lot of money references, but they seemed to be more striking this episode… Don throwing it in Peggy’s face, the negotiations with Joan, Lane and the bonuses, Peggy and Ted talking salary, Don asking Peggy how much she wants, they were all so loaded.
-The thing about Herb, the sleazebag Jaguar dealer, is that he was too slimy to proposition Joan on his own. He needed to make it a business thing (“Well, we wanted to be in the car business.”) and have it engineered by Ken and/or Pete. This has happened before, right? Joan being propositioned by a client? Pete got everything going, he didn’t seem too distressed to twist the screws. I think he knew she’d do it, and he just wanted to make it worth her while. “You’re talking about prostitution.” “I’m talking about business at a very high level.” (But what’s the difference, right?) And then later, “This is some very dirty business.” Joan is now a partner, and I’m curious how that will play out. Also, Joan, 5% of nothing is nothing. She at least got an emerald necklace out of it, the emerald was the favorite gem of Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt. So that necklace wasn’t loaded or anything. And Herb’s a dummy, combining Helen of Troy (the face that launched a thousand ships) and the Sultan of Arabia (I think?). In any case, the scene of Don pitching the Jaguar as being the one beautiful, crazy, amazing thing you could finally buy, being interspersed with Joan being bought was pretty powerful, and then he intimated she should leave! What a dick. “Jaguar. At last, something beautiful you can truly own.”
-Don was nice to try to talk Joan out of it, and right that they wouldn’t want to be in business with people like that, (unfortunately, Joan had already done it, as we learn through another flashback). “You’re a good one, aren’t you?” However, I think a major reason he wanted to talk Joan out of it was because he wanted to save the day, he wanted to be the hero again. Did you see him walk into the office after the pitch? Like a cowboy. He thought he’d done it. And he had, but not cleanly. He’ll never know how much Joan had to do with it, and that destroyed him. Then Peggy destroyed him again. Dude is lost. The other thing about Don and Joan is that he was furious at Sal when Sal turned a client down. Fairly similar situation, but I’m not sure what’s changed in Don’s mind.
-Megan is the third woman of this episode. She’s got an audition for Little Murders, a play/movie about a woman marrying an emotionally unavailable man. Hmmm, I wonder what that references. Here’s the famous wedding scene from the movie. Her callback… As she walks in, there’s the shot of the three guys on the couch, and it was so skeezy, just that shot. And then another shot of them and they ask her to turn around. I couldn’t tell if she was there just for them to ogle, or if she actually had a shot at the role, but either way, it was pretty dirty. The tension between her and Don is still pretty high at times. He’s still not used to her deciding on things for herself (“Just keep doing whatever the hell you want.”). She ran off again, but Don was more OK with it this time because he had to go to work anyway. And what’s the deal with Ginsberg and Megan? He’s kind of a weirdo, huh?
-Lane’s gambit continues to get more convoluted. This week, he basically gave away 5% of the company to keep a bubble around the $50K line of credit he got last week, and that was to hide about $2K he took? Jeeze, Lane, think more long term! Signs are currently pointing to him to be the one throwing himself out the window, but Don, Roger, and Pete, have all been in the running this season.
-And I think I still left out a billion things because of how much was in this episode.