Mad Men - Season 5, Episode 11 - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish

I stand by my assertion 1000 percent and will LAY DOWN MY LIFE in its defense that the first double-length episode of this season of Mad Men; was just straight up Bad Television. The pacing was off, the plotting was dull, the edits were weird, the acting was stiff, and the Zou Bisou Bisou centerpiece was just plain bizarre. Not to mention the fact that characters drew attention to Don Draper’s attractiveness, and there was an over-emphasis on the “periodness” of it all. It wasn’t good! I’m sorry! It’s not your fault! But things have slowly improved since then, and last night’s episode was a cold knock out. Joan! Ahhhhhhh JOAN! Joan. Mostly Joan. But also Peggy! Ahhhhhhh! Peggy! Peggy, too. But Joan! Oh, Joan. OH ALL THE MEN IN THE OFFICE! Oh Herb! What a world we used to live in. Luckily nothing like that could ever happen today. There is no such thing as sexism, misogyny, violent aggression, inhuman business practices, sexual barter, prostitution. Everything at this point is peaches and equality. But back then! Don’t even get me or Joan started. What it took for a woman to make it, oh brother! (If I can drop the sardonic tone for two seconds, it actually IS a real “oh brother” situation to learn how hard it used to be for women in this world, and it is still kind of hard in a lot of ways but not nearly as hard as it used to be! OK, and now back to the wink winks and eyerolls.) Anyway, Joan is a Real Housewife Of Asshole County now. Don is one of the good ones. And Peggy is just doing what Don would do. The Peggy thing kind of came out of left field though, right? Like, Don throwing the money in her face was NOT COOL (I thought he was supposed to be one of the good ones!) and he always goes back and forth between treating her like shit and spending all night getting hammered with her, and OK, Heinz, and stuff, so I know the vague dissatisfaction element has been there for a couple seasons but for her to just up and leave is intense. Also, she kind of did a bad job negotiating. He said he would beat the offer she got, so she should have at least played a couple of rounds of What’s My Rate?! Then again, women back then didn’t know anything about BUSINESS. Bye Peggy! Enjoy whatever is in your thermos! Soup? It’s probably soup. Two episodes left! AHHHHHHH!

Comments (110)
  1. Now it’s official: Pete really IS a grimy little pimp.

  2. I hate Pete so much. I officially hate him more than Conner.

    • So this makes Pete officially evil, right? I mean all the other characters are dicks but they’re more or less motivated by desperation and circumstances. Pete is going out of his way to do things the wrong way to satisfy his cold empty heart.

    • I know I am in the minority, but I don’t think Pete is a terrible person, and when he is being awful I often find those some of the funniest moments on the show. He is just someone who has incredible insecurities which manifest through impulsive behavior, and I think that is mainly due to never having anyone whom he could probably be himself with, and not having anyone that truly cares about him. Trudy cares but she does not want to actually know him, his family was a bunch of country club dicks who seemed to not have much regard for him. He is constantly trying to get people to like him but he has no idea how to relate to others. He is totally desperate to have a deep relationship with someone, I think that’s why he got so attached to that married hate fuck gilmore girl. Something about Peggy allowed him to actually have character development, but we all know what happened there.

      • I had to go and make a full on profile to respond to this comment.

        I completely agree with you. Pete is my favorite character on the show, but even I thought he was a bit of a smarmy pimp in this episode.

  3. the season premiere definitely was bad; 20 minutes of storytelling packed into 1 hour of screen time.

  4. I must have said “That’s disgusting” out loud to my TV at least 20 times during this episode.

  5. Herb’s last name, Rennet, also refers to a greasy goo harvested from calf stomachs that is used in the production of cheese:

    So yeah, fitting name for the guy.

  6. That scene where Joan gets the necklace? Oh man. That made me sadder than the reason why she got the necklace. Does this creep think he’s doing something nice for her? That they’re boyfriend and girlfriend now?

    Oh Joan. I am so sorry. So very very sorry.

    Also: Fuck you Roger for not doing a damn thing.

    • So, is this the first time we’ve seen Joan actually use her sexuality? It’s been mentioned plenty of times how attractive she is, but she’s never actually used that to further her career, as far as I can remember. The first time she does that, and we see that guy putting on the necklace, I realized that this was probably also the first time we’ve seen her not wearing that pen around her neck. Make of that what you will.

      • Well, she did sleep with Roger a lot.

        • Yeah, but I never got the feeling she was doing that to take advantage of him. She never asked for anything in return, and she doesn’t even take his money for the child.

          • I’m actually wondering if Roger didn’t speak up for Joan because of their relationship. Though I also was really hoping *everyone* in that room would tell Pete to go jump out a window.

            DIE PETE DIE.

    • In some ways, Roger may have been the most disappointing. He’s always been childish, selfish, a cheater, etc, but he was also hard to root against because of his charm and a sense he did have a heart for a few people. This sordid turn of events makes it hard to imagine laughing along with his quips in the same way, and I think we may see the same backlash to an extent from Don.

      Like the audience, Don already loathed Pete, ignored Lane, and hardly ever saw Bert, but he did have a friendship with Roger. We saw a couple weeks ago Don telling Megan he had stopped liking going to work even before she came and went. Now with Peggy gone, is there anyone he can respect / find meaningful to work with?

      The obvious answer is Ginsberg. This is wishful thinking on my part, but Don could learn from the mistakes that pushed out Peggy and invest in Ginsberg like he obviously deserves. Instead of fighting to stay in the past, maybe these shocks to the system will compel him to do the only thing that might revive his career and have the humility to hitch himself to Ginsberg’s rising star.

      • And just to make it interesting, I’m going to predict that Don does the opposite of what you said, and takes out his frustrations on Ginsberg, effectively extinguishing the guy’s rising star and damning himself and the company further. Just to make it interesting.

        • Oh, for sure. My case is that after the Jaguar tagline triumph + Peggy leaving, Don has no choice but to put a lot of trust in Ginsberg. But that also means them spending more time together, which, you’re right, is bound to be acrimonious. Just maybe hopefully not “I never think about you” acrimonious?

        • On a related note, someone on another site pointed out this clever shot from the scene where Ginsberg pitches the Jaguar tagline – juxtaposed with Don’s decade old awards:

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • I was definitely most disgusted by Pete during this whole thing, but Roger was a close second. Especially after the reveal last episode that he knows Kevin is his son.

        • Yes, OK, Pete, Roger, terrible men abound. BUT WHAT ABOUT LANE????

          He’s supposed to be Joan’s friend, yet all he does in this episode is try to save his own ass at Joan’s expense. I think I was disappointed in his reaction most of all. Pete is a shit and Roger I think felt like he had no right to oppose it if Joan was, as Pete said, “amenable” (because Pete misleadingly lead everyone to believe that, because Pete is a shit).

          But Lane is just being a pathetic coward about this whole embezzlement thing and he’s grasping at straws to keep himself safe from scrutiny. Yes, his suggestion resulted in a better “deal” for Joan (YUCK!), but he didn’t have her best interest in mind when he pitched it. I hope Joan finds him out and exposes his ass now that she’s a partner

  7. I thought Don kissing Peggy’s hand was a pretty amazing moment.

    • Absolutely. He’s never going to see Joan the same way again because he’s a 1960s dude and his own mother being a prostitute and all, Pete’s going to milk his contribution in getting Jaguar as a power grab, Roger’s a burnout, Cosgrove’s probably leaving with Peggy, Lane’s going to self-destruct and he can’t handle Megan being her own person. Pretty big difference with the way last episode ended.

    • Heartstopping and so sad.

    • In the behind the scenes, Elisabeth Moss said she didn’t know Jon Hamm and Co. decided he wouldn’t let go of her hand right away, and that her tears were real in the scene.

      • Does that mean she’s leaving the show? I’m not okay with that. Matt Weiner needs to clear stuff like this with me.

        • She didn’t say it was because she was leaving the show. I don’t think she is.

          Moss just said from first reading the script all the way to filming the scene she knew it was going to be an emotional scene to do.

        • I’m okay if we get a spin-off where Peggy goes and takes her baby back, and they join up with SSal on a cross-country road trip filled with hijinks.

        • Peggy will rise through the ranks at CGC and eventually become Don’s rival and inevitably blow him out of the water (but not right away) because NEW 60s VS. OLD 60s EVERYONE!

    • That hand kiss DESTROYED me. Also, Joan’s face when Don came to her house in the retrospect. Joan’s face while unzipping herself. ALL THE JOAN FACES.

      Let the record show that Matt Weiner is the only man routinely invited to stab me in the fucking heart. #girlswithhighselfesteem

  8. Who knew when Lane turned up on the scene however many seasons ago that one day he would act as Joan’s Prostitution Sensei in order to cover up his own embezzling?

  9. Joan centric episodes tend to always break my heart since her vulnerability is used to most nakedly display the effects of the hyper-objectification of women in the era on the show. That said, I was surprised that the scene that made me cry was Don kissing Peggy’s hand as she leaves him. Don’s signs of affection and respect for Joan and Peggy came too late and it is just heart-breaking.

    • You know how women in positions of authority are gossiped about, people saying that they slept their way to the top and whatnot? The worst thing about this is that this is actually what happened. It’s always gonna be in the back of the other partners’ minds and Joan will never be able to escape it. That’s the really horrifying thing about this episode.

    • Yeah…the Joan stuff was really grinding my sould into little pieces, but I was able to hold back any tears.

      Then I got very excited/scared, expecting Don to go nuts when Peggy told him the news, but it actually just got really sad and Don seemed like a pathetic asshole, BUT then Dick Whitman came out at the end and kissed Peggy’s hand for soooo long and that’s when I totally lost it.

      Then my wife made fun of me for a while.

    • I hear that. The only time I’ve ever openly wept at this show is the moment in “The Suitcase”.

      You know the one I’m talking about.

      Where Don, at his most bedraggled and haggard, has the hardest phone conversation of his life, while believing Peggy to be passed out on the couch. He lowers his eyes and then lifts them- to see a fully conscious Peggy burning holes through him with her all seeing eyes. Exposed and raw, he crumples.

      I lost it. The Don/Peggy dynamic is the most potent strain in this show. I hope to God we’re not losing it entirely.

  10. “Enjoy whatever is in your thermos! Soup? It’s probably soup.”

    Gabe, I think you meant it “It’s probably soupy-soupy sooooooooooooup.” Remember? Like that song you hate.

  11. Surprise! There’s a horribly degrading situation here to see you!

  12. Was anybody else expecting Peggy to fall into an empty elevator shaft right at the end there?

  13. I think it made sense for Peggy to go, because as much as I’ll miss her at SCDP if I were her best friend or something I’d be all, “Jesus your boss did what? Run!” And I think she didn’t negotiate because she new that if money brought her back she would never have the upper-hand on Don in their weird, codependent relationship. She sort of had to. But with all the Peggy’s life stuff I would have thought they’d have her take a couple meetings and quit at the end of the finale or something. It was so sudden.

    And fuck Donald “What Knight” Draper going to Joan’s house. Just because you say know and leave, you think the discussion is over? You know Pete is a shifty, creepy asshole more than anyone, if you really cared about Joan why wouldn’t you follow up on Pete’s pimping, maybe pop into her office later in the day and make sure Pete’s not bothering her? He just wanted absolving from it as much as the other creeps.

    And Megan, your audition dress, no matter how many blowies you give your husband, is bland as hell. Get thee to a Macy’s some tasteful eggplant shades or something.

    • At least Don TRIED to talk her out of it. When Sal was in the same position, he was straight up fired for not cooperating! #neverforget

    • To be fair, I don’t think Don thought Joan would ever do it.
      She’s more put together than anyone in Mad Men and the only reason she did it was because of Lane and Pete and being a single mother who’s worked the same job 13 years and is still thought of as a sex object.

      • Yeah, but he could have at least popped in and told her Pete brought it up to everyone. If he thinks that highly of Joan, he would know she wasn’t fishing for a number when she said, “You couldn’t afford it.” She had to hear about everyone considering her price from creepy, lovesick Lane.

        • Could he have? When has Don ever followed up on stuff like that? He sure respects other people’s privacy a lot, considering his knack for protecting his own.

          Someone mentioned his own mother earlier. Maybe Don overestimated the power of his words on the partners and underestimated how his own past could cloud his judgement on what the partners would decide to do once he closed the door (especially with Campbell at the helm, Lane’s own financial motivations laying dormant in the wings, and Roger’s surprising indifference of “Joanie’ll either go for it or she won’t”), and only after the curtain was pulled back did Don realize everybody left him in the lurch when they all took to the low ground.

          • Yeah I guess that blind spot does directly come from two of his biggest failings. I still don’t think it’s wrong to hold him partially accountable. When Don Draper indignantly ignoring something is your moral high ground, you’re basically fucked (no pun intended).

          • Also, who wants to bet Don didn’t say anything to anybody about the fact that the ELEVATORS ARE GOING TO KILL SOMEONE.

  14. “We need to talk about the bonuses.” – Lane’s headstone

  15. Now that I think about it, do we have any proof that Herb wasn’t actually Creepy Glen’s dad?

  16. How did Don not know that was Joan’s mom? “say goodbye to your friend for me”.

    • He knew, but he’s Don Fucking Draper. He’s never NOT classy.

    • I thought about that too, and I could only assume he didn’t know she was Joan’s mother because 1) she dresses youthfully (for the times at least) and 2) Joan does not like her mother and so would never have introduced her into her sacred working world.

    • he was doing a mark whalberg impression. “say hello to ya motha for me”

  17. “Those are two different stories.”

  18. SO Roger is going to die now and leave his shares to his only male child, meaning Joan effectively owns most of SCDP and becomes head of the company?

  19. What? Did everyone love this episode? I thought the Peggy stuff was great, but so much groan in the Joan arc, and not just because it was terrible to watch.

    • The NPR article brings up some very valid criticisms but I feel like it boils down the Joan issue way too much, and misses some of the bigger picture context. I don’t believe Joan ultimately slept with Herb because she was under the impression that all the partners wanted her to. It’s clear that she does believe they all want her to, but it felt like there was a lot more going on in her head and not just because the fridge was broken and she needed money or whatever (that particular scene seemed more about the ongoing conflict between Joan and her mother, but that’s getting into something else entirely). She’s been at SDCP for 13 years, she’s been promoted in title only, and she’s basically been doing Lane’s job for him. She’s not getting the recognition she deserves and has worked so hard for thusfar. And THAT is what is so tragic about it; doing this disgusting thing is what will finally get her into a better spot career-wise. The article keeps harping on the point that they would never prostitute their employees out to land accounts (especially not Don! heavens no), but what about the whole Sal/Lee Garner Jr. storyline? Don told Sal he should have slept with him, and his refusal to is ultimately why he ended up getting fired.

      I did like the way the article brought up the hypothetical question of “what if Don had actually come to see Joan before she went through with it, and she went ahead and did it anyway?” Honestly, I think that would have made the situation much more compelling. The way it plays out now makes you assume that if he had “gotten there in time”, she wouldn’t have gone. Which… I dunno, makes Don too much of a white knight for me or something. That whole part of the episode was the weak link for me, the twist didn’t feel necessary, nor did the weird jumping back in time.

      (PS- not sure who’s downvoting you, but it wasn’t me. I welcome discussion about this :) )

      • I think those are all good points, but Joan’s motivations aside (I actually do agree with your analysis there), this plot line felt very unearned. Mad Men usually does a great job earning its dramatic moments (see, e.g., Peggy’s goodbye with Don), but this one felt like they wanted to get it done and hang the journey.

        • I think that’s fair. Maybe it would have been more effective if they set it up over a longer story arc or something.

  20. i dont remember herb’s exact line to joan but it was something like “let me see ‘em” and it was creepy because every dude who watches that show has at some point thought the same thing

  21. It disappoints me that every scene that takes place in Harry Crane’s office from here on out doesn’t have people wondering what that smell is.

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