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Recap: Mad Men, Episode 5.11, “The Other Woman”

Back when Lane beat up Pete, he prefaced said ass-beating by calling Pete a slimey little pimp. Tonight, we get to watch Pete live up to that name in the most abhorrent fashion imaginable.

The writers are all sitting around spitballing ideas for Jaguar that center around the concept of the car as a mistress, beautiful and exciting but not practical. Except they can’t use the word “mistress” in the ad. Ginsberg is in the room, but Peggy isn’t. Peggy walks over to ask Don to sign off on something and Don exposits that he left Peggy in charge of the department while he focuses on Jaguar as Peggy watches lobster get wheeled in for the Jaguar crew.

Pete and Ken go out to dinner with the head of the dealership association for Jaguar. They discuss how awesome the ad campaign will be and how SCDP will do ANYTHING he wants to get his business. Turns out what he wants is Joan. Instead of saying flat out that Mrs. Harris runs her own life, Pete and Ken continue the conversation with Ken desperately trying to get the topic off Joan while Pete seems a little more comfortable with the idea of arranging an evening between Joan and the gentleman. Hell, he even seems AMUSED by the prospect. Ick. Pete then goes in the next morning and actually brings it up to Joan instead of doing the decent human being thing and lying to the dealership guy that he asked Joan and she wasn’t interested. Pete tells Joan that Herb wants her after a lot of hemming and hawing, making it sound like the whole Jaguar account rests on Joan sleeping with this guy. And then when she demurs, he says “I guess you’ll have to break the news to the rest of the company,” which is evil. He keeps pushing, and Joan finally says the “prostitution” word and tells Pete they can’t afford her. That should be the end of that. But it isn’t.

Pete brings the Joan issue up in a partners meeting. They’re all disgusted, especially when he tells them he already told Joan about it and thinks the issue is one of money rather than morals. Don is adamant that this isn’t happening, and Lane is pretty pissed too. Don storms out. Pete says he wants to offer her $50,000 if she’ll do it, and again we’re cutting into those ever-important Christmas bonuses, so Lane is even MORE against it. Especially when Pete suggests extending the business’s credit line because Lane has already done that. The rest of the men walk out, not making a stand against it but clearly not really FOR it, with Bert telling Pete to let Joan know that she can still say no. Pete is the only one really on board with this; the rest of them look like they ate some bad shellfish.

Lane approaches Joan and lets her know that Pete told them about the proposition. Joan is horrified that Pete even brought it up with them. Lane tells her about the $50,000 and Joan asks why he told her that. He gives her a speech about not telling people the truth when they asked him what he wanted, and about taking a much smaller paycheck when he helped found SCDP and encourages her to demand a 5% partnership in the company so she’ll have income for life. Joan says she thought he wanted to stop it because he had feelings for her. He says he does, and that’s why he’s looking out for her best interests over that of the company. Except he is kind of looking out for his own best interests here, as no lump payout means no credit extension and that Lane’s perfidy can float by undetected a little longer. Joanie wouldn’t take Roger’s money to help raise her child, but she’s considering this?

Peggy sits in on a call with Chevalier with Harry and Ken about how they’re pulling their ad. They try to convince Peggy to call herself Ginsberg’s associate and she insists on being called “supervisor.” When Chevalier says that sales have leveled off, Peggy jumps in with a new concept for their ad that’s exactly the same until the end, which will turn the focus from the men wearing Chevalier to the women who appreciate it, giving the ad a new focus on female consumers. Ken and Harry are suitably impressed.

When Ken and Harry bring this news to Don, he says to bring Ginsberg back in and when he protests that she wants to stay on it, Don says no. When Peggy snaps back that this seems to mean that she’s NOT in charge of everything, Don gets exasperated and literally throws money at her. He’s clearly under a ton of stress with Jaguar, but Peggy stalks out stoney faced and Ken and Harry shoot him “Not cool, dude” looks. Ken goes to Peggy (who isn’t crying) and tries to explain the stress Don is under. He brings up their pact about getting out together again, and Peggy brushes him off.

Joan comes in to speak with Pete and tells him about her demands for a voting partnership for 5% of the business and that there’s no negotiation. She says she doesn’t guarantee results and Pete thinks she means bedroom-wise, but Joan means winning the business. Pete kind of asks Joan how to set it up, and Joan snaps “figure something out, do I have to do all of it?” and gets up to leave. She refuses to shake Pete’s hand. She still doesn’t know which executive he is and when Pete says “he’s not bad,” Joan points out “he’s doing this.”

Later, Peggy is out to lunch with Freddy Rumsen, and he talks to her about taking some meetings with other companies. Peggy thinks of it as a way to get Don to appreciate her more, but Freddy thinks it’s time for Peggy to leave SCDP because she’ll be more appreciated elsewhere. She seems to be seriously considering it.

Peggy then meets with Ted Chaough who says that their current client, Clearasil, still sings her praises. He just wants to know why she’s willing to leave Draper for him, and Peggy says it’s purely a career move. Ted praises her work some more, talking about her book and how well she can write. He asks how much she wants to get paid, and Peggy writes down a number. Ted looks at it, crosses it off and writes another one. We see the pad and we see that Peggy’s $18,000 has been crossed off with $19,000 written below it and a check next to her note “Copy Chief” at the top.

Megan’s auditioning for a big deal part and she’s thrilled. She drops by the office to tell Don that she’s on the way to the audition. She gets a callback and Don is happy when she tells him until she starts babbling about visiting on the weekend and Megan tells him that the play is rehearsing and opening in Boston, not New York. Then he gets angry about her leaving for three months and tells her to forget it. Megan tells him “this is the way it works, now you know” and storms out. Megan gets to her callback and fields a request to turn around as a couch full of men eye her up. Megan doesn’t get the part. Don apologizes for their fight earlier, and Megan tells him she won’t fail at acting so he better get used to it.

Pete comes to visit Don after hearing the pitch and tells him that “all other obstacles have been removed,”but that it’s really creativity that will win the pitch. Don realizes what he means and starts to freak. Pete says it cost a 5% partnership, but this isn’t comforting Don. He asks his secretary to buzz Joan, and when he hears she’s not there, he tells her to grab his things and he storms out, telling Pete he doesn’t want it like this. Don goes straight to Joan’s apartment and tells her that it’s not worth it. He doesn’t want to be in business with people like that. Joan seems sad as she says she was told everyone was on board and hears that they voted when Don was out of the room. She looks at Don and says, “You’re a good one, aren’t you?” but assures him that she’s all right and thanks him.

We move then to the pitch, and as Don is walking them through the concept of the ad, we see Joan showing up to a hotel room with Herb, the head of the dealership associating inside. He’s already wearing a robe. Herb gives Joan an emerald necklace as Don talks about longing. Don mentions driving the E-type and how a boy saw him and had a look on his face that showed he’d seen something he’d want for the rest of his life as Herb praises Joan’s looks and makes some hints about getting down to business. Joan downs her champagne and starts to unzip her dress with a look of horror on her face. As Don talks about an ad in Playboy and emphasizing that the difference is one can HAVE the Jaguar, Joan gets out of bed and Herb thanks her for a wonderful time. Don finally leads up to Ginsberg’s line: “At last, something beautiful you can truly own.” The executives, and Herb in particular, seem impressed by Don’s pitch. We then cut to Joan getting home from her “date” and taking off the necklace. Then her mother comes in and says Mr. Draper is there. And with a sinking feeling in the pit of every viewers stomach, we realize that Don got there too late.

Don walks into the office to hear that Peggy wants to speak with him and as he calls her in, the call comes in from Jaguar and all the partners gather in Rodger’s office. As Joan walks in, Don gives her a very sad look. They get the account, everyone starts celebrating, but Don just looks disgusted. There’s a minor discussion of bringing in new people only so Bert can drive home that there are no bonuses that year for the partners and Lane can look worried some more. Joan leads them out to the celebrations, and Don pulls Peggy into his office because he’s not in the mood to celebrate. As Peggy breaks the news to him, he laughs and says she finally learned when to ask for a raise. She tells him that she’s firm about leaving, and he tries to appeal to her personally. This is what’s awful about Don Draper; when you’re having a hard time personally, he’ll tell you it’s all business and not to take it that way. When you tell him it’s all about business, he tells you it’s personal to make you feel guilty. You can’t win. He tells her to leave right away if she wants to, and as she extends her hand to shake, he holds it against his lips for a long time. Peggy is visibly holding back tears, and as she tells him “Don’t be a stranger,” her voice is thick.

Amid the celebrations, Peggy collects her things and walks out of the office. Joan happens to see her walk out and seems to smile a bit as she does. Outside the elevators, Peggy glances longingly back at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices and the elevator dings open in front of her. After Don’s empty shaft incident a couple weeks ago, I was terrified she’d step into the abyss. But this show isn’t that cheap, and she turns forward to look at the elevator and a wicked grin spreads across her face.

4 replies on “Recap: Mad Men, Episode 5.11, “The Other Woman””

I was really surprised by how this episode turned out. I thought it was disgusting that Pete even asked, the partners (except Don) agreed and Joan went through it. The whole thing was pathetic and I am curious to see how they are going to explain it to the rest of the firm and Cosgrove has to put two and two together. Didn’t Pete try to pimp out Trudy in a past season? While I’m sad to see Peggy go I was also getting a little tired of seeing her become a punching bag. I thought it was so Megan that not mentioning the possibility of 3 months in Boston to Don was no bigs yet she threw a plate of pasta at the wall because Don came home late one night.

The sleazy thing was that Pete implied that everyone wanted Joan to go through with it (really, only Pete did, Roger and Bert were more ambivalent, Lane was scared for his own ass, and Don was firmly against it) and that the whole company was at stake. If they didn’t get it, it would be all her fault. This whole Jaguar thing from the beginning has been about Pete. Pete wants to be a bigshot. He wants to be a big man and lord it over Don and Roger. He wants his name on the door. Look how he’s treated this Jaguar thing from the second Lane brought it up! Remember how he bitched and whined when he felt his work wasn’t getting the attention it deserved? Pete would have made his own mother sleep with Herb if he thought that’s what it took to land the account.

If Joan hadn’t gone through with it, Pete would have tried to get her fired or worse. If Don had taken away his credit (like he did to Peggy), Pete would have taken out that shotgun from season one. Pete is a ticking time bomb with a deeply obsessive personality. He’ll be dead or in jail by the end of the year.

I did find the scene where Joan agrees to go through with it interesting. It’s there that the enormity of what’s happening really seems to hit Pete and when he says “He’s not bad” it’s so quiet and almost apologetic. He wants it, he thinks this is the way to get it, but Joan made him feel shamed for at least a few minutes there.

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