Joan…is that really the end? After another inspiring speech on feminism (after Peggy rocked one last week), it would have been easy to imagine Joan grinding out a legal battle against McCann Erickson. Could “Mad Men” have been working its way up to a feminist fight this whole time? Joan had the courage and justice on her side, but we’d seen enough of how the world treated (/treats) women in the workplace to know it wouldn’t end well for her. First Dennis was obvious with his dismissals, then Ferg was worse with his illicit suggestions. Finally, Jim Hobart himself represented the top of the food chain protecting its own. Roger was right — even if it would have been more narratively satisfying to see him take a stronger stand for the woman he still affectionately calls Red. Our eyes were as wet as Joan’s.
Don’s Level of Happiness: ?/10
What started as a pretty pleasing transition for Don as he made the move to McCann turned into a soul-searching drive through the American countryside. He may have told himself he was looking for Diana, but he’s literally “On the Road,” searching for himself. He seems perfectly at ease on his journey — just as he was ever-so-casual in the office until a board room became too formal for him — as noted by the trip’s extension after picking up the hitch hiker who wanted to go to St. Paul. (No, that’s not on the way to New York.) One has to imagine Don will return home at some point… right?
Not necessarily. He knows what waits for him back there, and, frankly, it doesn’t excite him anymore. Don needs more, as evidenced by his constant looking upward while trapped within the great McCann machine. He even took note of the air leaking into his office through the slightly open window, emphasizing the claustrophobic nature of his new environment. (And no, I’m not buying it as foreshadowing for his title sequence-esque fall. If anything, it’s Weiner nodding to us that such a finale would be all too predictable for his entirely unexpected series.) With only two episodes left, we may have seen the last of “Don Draper with McCann Erickson,” and that seems fine with Don.
Our Happiness With Don: 6/10
Don’s only hiccup this episode came when he was late picking up Sally to take her back to school — and that (for once) wasn’t due to forgetfulness or a lack of caring. (He was getting the car cleaned!) No, Don had it pretty easy this episode — so easy, in fact, he was given a spiritual visitor for guidance. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in exclaiming “Bert!” out loud when Robert Morse made his second apparitional appearance in Don’s Cadillac. (How many of you recognized his voice before he showed up in the car?) The duo’s discussion shed some light on Don’s inner monologue, a welcome writer’s device considering it’s been so hard to tell where Don’s at this season. We’ve watched him go through the motions, observing reaction and gauging happiness (obviously), but where his head’s at hasn’t been so clear.
“You like to play the stranger,” Bert tells Don before Don does just that: posing as a Publisher’s Clearinghouse-esque prize giver to get his foot in the door of Diana’s former home. Then he tries to come clean by lying again, saying he’s a collection agent. Diana’s ex-husband sees right through him before telling him he’s not the first to “come looking for her.” It’s not the first time for Don, either. He’s been playing a character for so long he’s become one, and now he seems to be inching ever closer to reassuming his true identity as Dick Whitman. “How” is yet to be seen, but Bert certainly helped expose part of the “why.”
My Name is Peggy Olson, and I Want To…Get to Work.
And the odd couple of the week is…Peggy and Roger? Thankfully, neither made a pass at the other, as Peggy was too annoyed to think of it and Roger too in need of an audience to risk losing his only option. Instead, the two traded barbs and memories before getting drunk one last time in the old office. The exchange gave Peggy a new boost of confidence before finding her way over to the new digs, leading to one of the best (and most gif-able) shots of the year: Peggy walking slowly down the dark hallways of McCann wearing shades and carrying a 150-year-old painting of an octopus pleasuring a woman.
As for Roger? He’ll be fine. Though Peggy wisely told him, “You were supposed to watch out for us,” Roger has come to terms with loss before and he will again. “This business doesn’t have feelings,” Roger said, even while he dealt with his own the only way he can: through alcohol. The coping mechanism seemed to do the trick for him, too. He’s back at work and back to covering Don’s ass.
Employee of the Week: Meredith
If Betty had said “Your secretary is a moron” any other week, it may have only brought about some mournful laughter. But not this week. Meredith is doing more than her fair share as Don’s secretary. She’s overseen the move to a new office smoothly. She’s helping Don find a new apartment. She’s even covering for him with an authentic smile, while worrying about him all the while. Her explanation to Jim about Don’s disappearance couldn’t have been more truthful or effective. He did last leave to take his daughter to school, even if Meredith most likely knows that’s not all he’s up to after two days. More importantly, she seems to genuinely care about her boss’ well-being. Who else would decorate his apartment pro bono with only the excuse of liking it after being an “army brat” for too long? Meredith may not be Don’s next bride (no matter what some people want), but she deserves more than Betty’s scorn. [Editor’s Note: DON COULD DO A WHOLE LOT WORSE. MEREDITH RULEZ.]
Peggy makes coffee, only to drop it on the floor and not clean it up. Such were her feelings for the office she was more than ready to leave behind, but the brief scene breaking up Don’s journey also functioned as a hilarious reminder of all the time’s “Mad Men” makes us laugh with the simplest of actions — or inactions.
Richard’s advice to Joan was as sincere as he seems (Bruce Greenwood’s character is always on the edge of too-good-to-true, and thus too-good-to-be-trusted), but it came back to bite Joan in the end. Not because she went too far with Jim Hobart, but because it was Hobart who used that strategy against her. Richard’s words of wisdom were a man’s advice on how to handle a woman’s problem. He and the rest of the men in that world don’t understand the difference, and now Joan does all too well. Her attempt to politely handle the situation herself was as direct and appropriate as what happened to her was backhanded and shameful. Yet it didn’t matter, and now she’s leaving the job she worked so hard to get, with half the money owed to her.
The symbolism of Joan’s departure can’t be understated. Not only was she doing her job better than any of the men assigned to “help” her, but she ended up getting paid far less than they’ll make over the course of their careers — and far less than she’s fairly entitled to by law. Hmm… does that remind you of anything going on today? Joan’s issues (and Peggy’s) are ones still being faced by women, and — as sad as I am to say this — it’s thereby fitting she met a tragic end. Though I’m sure Joan isn’t done by any means when it comes to appearing on the show, it’s doubtful we’ll ever see her with the stature she held at SC&P. “Mad Men” is, above all else, honest. Tonight’s harsh truths — and their parallels to modern business — should serve as reminder to keep Joan’s war waging long after she’s left it.
Morning After Thoughts:
– The McCann Erickson offices were of a much more confining construction than the old SC&P building. Gone were the iced glass walls and lots of natural light, and in its place were long, dark corridors and crowded elevators. The repeated phrase of “putting in a request” to work with someone (rather than just asking them personally) also aided in associating the new workspace with a giant machine. Certainly, this is not the place where dreams are made, and thus not the place for Don.
– “Oh my God. What is this?”
“It’s an octopus pleasuring a lady.”
– Bye Shirley! We’re glad you found Roger as “amusing” as we did, and trust you’re off to greener pastures. Just remember — no one takes Shirley’s flowers.
– How everyone should show up on their first day: