As always, this post contains a bunch of spoilers.
I feel like all season I’ve been the one saying, “Oooh, poor Pete! I feel so sorry for him!” and “Oooh Roger, he’s so damn charming!” So, for the record, fuck them. I can’t believe what a weasel Pete was–although it probably shouldn’t have been surprising. And Roger’s reaction to the proposition was just so sad. (Roger, who is the father of Joan’s baby, for fuck’s sake!) And the fact that Joan asked specifically if Roger had participated in the discussion made it all the more sad.
I haven’t read all that many other reactions, but it seems like some viewers didn’t find it believable that Joan would do it? Which I kinda see. As Linda Holmes writes, Joan’s motivations seem to be 1) financial concerns and 2) her belief that all the men were willing to ask her to do it. I see why Holmes found it out-of-character for Joan to switch from “Are you fucking kidding me?” to “Ok.” in just a day, but I felt like the show made the case that those two factors were significant. Re: the latter, the fact that she initially didn’t want anyone to know she’d even been asked to do it, and then learns (or, at least, is led to believe) that all the partners agreed to ask her, and then is clearly so moved to find out that Don alone actually wasn’t ok with it…I dunno, I just felt it like it was way more surprising that Pete and Roger and co. would actually ask her than that she would be influenced by that. These are her colleagues she’s worked with for years after all. And if that barrier is gone and it’s just about a financial deal, I mean, that’s a whole shit ton of money. Even the initial offer of $50,000 was a lot of money and her deal is even better. Of course, the aftermath and how she’s treated as a partner after this is sure to be a whole other story. -Maya
I think people aren’t giving Joan enough credit for her decision: she got 5% of the fucking company! She’ll be able to live comfortably as a single mother for the rest of her life (as long as the company does well). Marc and Amanda have a great analysis of this. Joan has always worked more within the boundaries of her traditional upbringing and old school sexism (while breaking the rules here and there, like with Roger) while Peggy was more of a groundbreaker (hence which is why she left). I think after being asked, and yes, being highly offended, Lane’s idea made her realize that this was an opportunity to have serious power, in the company and over her life. She’s been sexualized and put up with bullshit sexism throughout the entire show; why not flip the script by using a shitty ask from the partners to actually get something real and sustainable for herself and her family? And now she’s not owned by anyone: the company, gross Jaguar dude, or Mr. Rapey.
Where this theory was challenged, however, was the whole “if only Don made it in time” piece — though it’s not like she seemed heartbroken/regretful after Don told her he didn’t agree with the partners. -Vanessa
What a gut punch of an episode. I’m a little concerned that discussion of Joan’s story can easily fall into anti-sex work rhetoric. But there’s a difference between sex being your job and someone showing up at your place of business, where you’re supposed to be valued for other reasons.
Vanessa and Maya, I agree Joan got a pretty incredible deal. I’m more concerned that her male colleagues thought it was OK to approach her with this idea at all (fuck Pete Campbell and fuck Roger Sterling). Joan’s always used her sexuality at work, but apparently the dudes thought that was her whole job. But I’m not a fan of Don’s judge-y look at Joan when SCDP wins the Jaguar account either. Mad Men previews are always misleading, but I could see the implication that Don will continue to be really pissed play out, and I could see him totally slut shaming Joan. -Jos
“What would it take to make you a queen?” “You can’t afford it..” But, clearly Joan is not worried about being some kind of Queen. She’s like, “this motherfucker comparing me to Cleopatra..oh hell…oh wait, I can work this…”
There is no way this ask would have been so formal, or even discussed at the office or in a partner meeting–that’s the part that was unbelievable to me. Don’s knight in shining armor bit was actually hilarious in the face of Joan being super self-determined. She knew what she was doing and, like Jos said, I love that she was like, “well since everyone is going to sexualize me anyway” and made a business arrangement out of it. Remember, in those days, there were so few channels for women to get in to leadership positions. And let’s not forget, Don’s mom was a “fallen” woman, so he can save his Prince Charming ways, his weird fantasies about protecting women are falling to the wayside as the modern woman emerges. Also, I can’t wait for their first gay client that wants to sleep with Pete. (yeah right, won’t happen, but if only the tables were turned). -Samhita
SCDP wins the Jaguar account
This messages were a liiiiiiittle bit heavy-handed in the episode. Did you catch the theme about owning women? LOL. But I was cool with it. -Maya
Like whoa. -Vanessa
Yeah, the whole thing was so obvious–Don’s speech about women he can’t own in an episode where he couldn’t save Joan from becoming a fallen woman, he couldn’t keep his grip on Peggy and his wifey is risking their relationship for auditions for plays in Boston. I’m feeling for you Don, so much desire for control, such inability to have it. -Samhita
Peggy leaves SCDP
Ahhh, that scene between Peggy and Don was incredible. Her speech–so rehearsed and gracious! His emotion–so real and raw! When he realizes she’s serious, and then where she’s going, and then, finally, that he can’t make her stay! God. I mean, I am really excited for her. It’s so clearly this is the right decision for Peggy–she’s been frustrated all season and it’s been painful to watch. I think the show’s done a great job showing the complicated layers of her and Don’s relationship–and how it’s reached the point where it’s just stopped developing through no real fault of either of them. Yeah, Don’s been a dick and hasn’t appreciated her and threw some cash at her in a super disrespectful move. But more than that–Peggy’s just at the point where she actually wants greater recognition beyond simply winning Don’s approval, but has had a hard time seeing that because that’s what has meant so much for so long. But it’s great that she has other people in her life to point that out that actually her ambition has outgrown SDCP, and it’s time to move on. Still though–Don’s anger was so moving and I was kinda hoping he would offer her all the money in the world to stay and they would live happily ever after. Aaaaand now I’m gonna go search YouTube for video montages of Don and Peggy’s relationship. -Maya
I’m completely depressed to see Peggy go (though can’t believe this is the last we’ll see of her, her character is just too good to let go), but totally hollered out loud when she walked in that elevator. Such an awesome moment! And I agree, it was so great to see these colleagues giving her the credit for her work and support to leave; was definitely a defining moment for the character as well as such strong symbolism of changing times.
And yep, the scene with Don was just amazing; simply in the end, the money didn’t matter to Peggy, it was the respect that did — which Don couldn’t give her. But as kinda manipulative as that hand kiss was, I’d like to think there it was a gesture of love and respect in there. (Of course, now after she’s leaving.) -Vanessa
That moment between Don and Peggy was a great follow up to The Suitcase, aka the best Mad Men episode ever. The original Mrs. Draper died, and Peggy took on that role for Don of confidant who really knows him. But Don’s neglected that relationship, just expected Peggy to be there for him. And she always will be, but it’s time for her to move on professionally. It’s so realistic that Peggy would leave, but it feels like a big shocker on TV. And what about poor Ken? -Jos
This is the best, ever. Her smile when she gets into that elevator is one of the best scenes in television history. -Samhita