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‘Mad Men’ Recap: The Oldest Profession

ALTHappy Memorial Day, boys and girls, where we all get the day off of work so that we worship our national architectural treasures like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, and Mad Men. Since we have today off instead of watching the show on Sunday night and then thinking about it for hours and hours and having dreams of ’70s fashion and mid-century modern furniture then spending several hours writing about Mad Men on Monday, I decided to try something different. I’m going to write this recap while I’m watching. Basically it’s my day off and I’m too lazy to watch TV, take notes, and then write up a whole thing so I’m just going to watch and write the thing as we go along. I hope it’s educational for everyone.

Don and the rest of the boys (including Ginsberg, who will one day grow up to be a shape-shifting alien who takes Don’s place) are in a room figuring out what is going on with Jaguar. The most noticable thing is that Peggy is not in the room. Don takes a break and runs into her in the hall and she needs him to sign off on Secor Laxitives and he tells her she is in charge. If Jaguar is a sexy car, then Secor is like a rusty supermarket cart and Peggy. Sure, Peggy is in charge, but she’s in charge of the stupid cart. Speaking of which, Joan then rolls in lobster for the boys working hard courtesy of Mr. Roger Sterling. Peggy wants lobster and doesn’t get any. Calling the obvious metaphor police.

Pete and Ken are out to dinner with some fat cat from Jaguar who says he wants a date with Joan. Ken wants to shoot down the idea because he is a nice decent person, but Pete, who thinks it is OK to finagle with his friends wives if they were on The Gilmore Girls, says that he might be able to set it up. Knowing Joan, she’ll give them all dirty looks and a stern rebuke when they tell her about the plan and then go along with it, because Joan will always do what is right for the agency and so she can be the one to save the day. Her days of “being adored” might be over, but I have a feeling she can rely on her old skill if she needs to.

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Don goes home after a long day and finds Megan on the bed preparing for an audition she is excited for/nervous about. It’s sort of like her Jaguar. Don says he wants to watch Carson and go to bed, but he asks Megan a few questions about it, but then she wants to hear about his day. He prompts her to help him figure out the slogan, but she’s pissed because they are liking the car to a beautiful mistress saying that it’s the sexy thing to have other than a fat nasty wife at home, the proverbial Buick in the garage (or the rusty shopping cart). Then Megan puts on Carson and goes out of the room. It’s obvious they can’t be what the other needs them to be and that Megan, though he has given her no reason to be, is still preoccupied with Don cheating on her.

Pete brings the Jaguar date proposal to Joan but does the smart thing and couches it like it’s some sort of gross affront that he doesn’t want to be a part of. Making Joan think she can save the day is the way to appeal to her ego, but she’s appalled at the proposition and says that she’s married, even though we all know that she is one signature away from being rid of Sgt. Dr. Rapist forever. Pete tells her that this is her chance to be a queen, like Cleopatra and asks Joan what it will take for her to be a queen. She says, “You can’t afford it.” Oh, I love that Joan. The best part of the scene is their mutual sarcasm as Pete says he hopes he didn’t offend Joan while giving her a face that says, “Thanks for screwing up my whole account, you whore,” and she says she understands in a tone that says, “You are a nasty, dirty creep and everyone knows it.” Joan is right. We all know.

Ken and the TV guy whose name I can’t quite remember right now have a call with Gay Rick from Chevalier Blanc, the cologne. They want Peggy to pretend to be Ginsberg inferior on the call, but she insists she be told that she is his supervisor which is, you know, the truth. More indignities for Peggy. When he talks about pulling the ad, Peggy has to step in and come up with a new ad on the fly to sell cologne to women so they’ll buy it for their men for Valentine’s Day. She comes up with a humdinger about a guy being rescued by Lady Godiva, something that will appeal to men and women. Everyone is happy. Those gays do love Peggy. The scene is dripping in gender norms, where they want to pretend Peggy is a powerless subordinate so as not to upset the client and they all discount the idea of selling to women. Peggy not only disrupts their idea of what a woman’s place should be in the workplace, but also subverts a woman’s place in the marketplace.

Pete convenes all the partners to talk about Joan slutting herself out for Jaguar. The odd thing is that every man in the room already has a vested interest in Joan’s happiness. Lane has a crush on her and she is his “work wife,” Roger is the father of her illegitimate baby, and Don may or may not be falling for her after their excursion in last night’s episode. They all think Pete is disgusting, because he is. Don disagrees and trots out the canard that she’s married with a baby, because we know he knows the marriage is over, but righteous indignation is one of the acts Don plays the best, so he goes with that. Roger says he doesn’t want to pay for it, but won’t stand in the way, because, well, that’s what Roger would do. Lane disagrees, not out of some sense of decency to Joan, but because Pete proposes paying her off with their Christmas bonuses and Lane has already embezzled his for the tax man. He’s the only one who objects on a merely selfish basis, when he should be the one really defending Joan’s honor. God, Pete is a real creep.

Don decides that they’re not going to do the mistress thing because it’s vulgar. It took him this long to figure out something that Megan knew intuitively, and Peggy probably would too. He takes a break and Ken and I Can’t Remember His Name, oh wait it’s Harry! Ken and Harry and Peggy go into the office and Don is not impressed that Peggy came up with the ad and says that Ginsberg can handle it when he’s done. Peggy is pissed she’s not getting the credit for the idea and that she’s not really in charge of everything. Don says if she wants to go to Paris, then she should just go to Paris and throws a wad of money at her face. God, Don is such an asshole. Apparently the theme of this episode is the shades of prostitution all these women are forced to endure, the way that men just throw money at them and expect them to do what they please. Peggy, Ken, and Harry (yes, Harry!) leave embarrassed.

Ken goes to comfort Peggy and she is in the same pose that we just left Don, drink and hand staring out the window. He says that if Don doesn’t get her to Paris then he will and if not, they’ll both find a new agency. She scoffs at his “stupid pact,” having to lash out at a man because a man just lashed out at her.

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