In case anyone didn't get the theme of last night's episode after the bum shot of Megan's friend crawling across the table, it was brought to you by the letter O, for Objectification. Don throwing money in Peggy's face, those grimy little pimps (minus Don, but he has other sins) voting on how much to pay for Joan's act of prostitution, the casting directors telling Megan to "turn around" ... but hey, the firm got Jaguar, and we got one of the creepiest slogans since the Cinderella rape fantasy with "Jaguar - finally, something beautiful you can truly own."
"The Other Woman" left me feeling queasy, and it was probably the most sickening episode of this dark season yet. It wasn't enough that the pig man from Jaguar openly asked to be "given" Joan in return for his pro-SCDP vote, but that Pete and Ken actually entertained it. Further, that Pete brought it up to Joan in a mildly threatening way before the partners voted on it - one of whom, lest we forget, is the father of her child. Worse still, Lane, a former ally for Joan, also casually guilts her into doing the deed, and then offers her terms that she feels she cannot refuse. And then, before viewers could recover from the nausea of Joan stripping down for this pig man, we see a quick rehash of an earlier scene (or so we thought) when Don visits her to tell her there's no pressure and that she's better than that. Except oops, that happened after she had already done it.
But let's look at this another way. Did Joan require Don being a White Knight to make it ok for her to have said no? Not in the least. Joan could have rebuffed the entire idea in no uncertain terms. Moral implications aside ... the financial deal is not a bad one for her. It gives her freedom from Roger, who is obviously willing to sell her out. It also gives her power within the company she adores. The flip side to these positives, however, is will there even be a company after Lane is finished with it (since his partnership deal to Joan was really just to keep her from asking for cash that they didn't have ... because of him)? And of course, though Joan will technically have equal power with the other shareholders, each one of them will forever know how she got it. It's something she will be reminded of every paycheck she gets.
Having said that, it's not that Joan hasn't used her feminine wiles to get what she wanted in the past. Remember flashbacks to her initial relationship with Roger? He gave her necklaces and money, too. Joan has used men to her financial advantage over and over again, but there is still a terrible sadness that she's having to do it again ... even after she has been married and has a baby. It's a pattern she hasn't been able to escape.
Why stop devastating viewers there, though? Speaking of escape, bye bye Peggy Olsen! Happy trails? Like Joan, Peggy was also pushed to her limit, took the money, and ran. Except running literally meant out of SCDP (or down the elevator shaft, which I legitimately feared for a moment). Don's ethics came out as a wash in "The Other Woman" - though he stood up for Joan, he also threw money in Peggy's face and didn't take her resignation seriously, believing it to just be another ploy for a raise. The interpretation of the kiss on the hand can play out several ways, from a final manipulation attempt by Don (he is Don Draper after all), or as genuine regret, confusion or maybe even understanding. It seems unlikely that Peggy will really stay away from SCDP since she's always been at least as major a character as Don, but the Kinks playing over the end credits seem to feel differently.
Peggy also chose to break ties with Ken Cosgrove, probably the only truly good man left on the show. The two had their pact to stay or leave together, and despite Ken's wounded puppy face when Peggy dismissed the pact and told him to keep his fictions for his stories, it makes good career sense for Peggy to leave without him. She knows now that there are no men she can rely on or hitch her wagon to anymore - it's time to set out on her own. After all, remember how Don attempted to guilt her by saying everything she had was because of him? Let's ignore the obvious part of that - Peggy is smart and capable on her own - and recall another man, a face from the past, who made an appearance this week. It was Freddy Rumsen, still Peggy's friend and guide it would seem, who actually saw Peggy's potential in Season One, pulling her from the Dove campaign to do more. Don may have let her in the door, but Freddy Rumsen cleared the path and knocked.
Whether you found "The Other Woman" to be a great episode or a questionable one is down to the individual this week. It was all emotion, and perhaps the mark of a great episode is making viewers feel any emotion at all - even total revulsion. It was certainly an episode that drew lines in the sand.
Musings and Miscellanea:
- For the last few seasons I have defended Pete as being a complicated but still weirdly lovable character. This is the week I finally am giving up holding that line. He was vile beyond vile, not just in his scenes with Joan but also with Trudy.
- This episode gave me feelings!!
- Pete: "What would it take to make you a Queen?" Joan: "You couldn't afford it." Which would have been a great line to end the conversation, but ...
- I've been pleased with how less vile Harry has been recently. He turned from a cute dork in early seasons to such a cretin lately. Glad to see the tide slowly turning back.
- I have never been a huge Megan supporter, but I just completely lost my patience with her scenes this week. Same ole shit. I won't be sad if and when she leaves the show. How did she not think Don would be upset that she suddenly might leave for 3 months? I'm also tired of her magical vagina bringing him great ideas #RealTalk
- Ginsberg ... you are such a talented, bad-dressing little creeper aren't you?
- Prostitution? "That's the car biz!"
- I did like when the SCDP was walking into the pitch for Jaguar, it just had SWAGGER written all over it.
- Watching this after the fantastically exhausting Blackwater Bay episode of "Game of Thrones" was almost too much, emotionally speaking. I need these shows to occasionally air on other nights of the week!
- There will probably be more information about what Peggy's true future is as the day unfolds, so keep an eye to the blogs!
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