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Mad Men has really out done itself this week as I have no idea where to start looking at the best episode of the season.
Peggy is gone, I really feel like she is out, and that means this could be the last we see of Elisabeth Moss for some time. As a rule of thumb on the show, if you aren’t in Don’s life you aren’t in the show anymore, and if that is the case with Peggy, well, we couldn’t have asked for an emotional and appropriate send off. Don has been taking advantage and underestimating her for years now, especially since SCDP (Holloway! More on that later) came to life. Don left her out on her own too long to hope to keep her around, and after a few words from Freddy Rumsen and Ted Chaw she is gone. The scene where Peggy quit was incredible. You have Don thinking Peggy is just angling for a raise (still underestimating her to the last minute), but when he realizes it is for real the tables are slightly turned on Peggy. Don lets her know how much he cares for her both financially and emotionally, and Hamm and Moss are just phenomenal in that moment.
Peggy has been building up ammo all season that Don doesn’t care about her anymore and in this moment, where he could have been irate, he has probably never been more honest with her. It was one of many terribly tragic and sad moments of the episode, but it was a beautiful and classy way to send Peggy out of the office. And seeing her get onto that elevator, thankfully not down an empty shaft, with a sigh of relief and a new life, it was a comfort for the viewer that she will hopefully turn out alright; but it’s going to be terribly sad if this is the last we see of our favorite copy writer.
The episode did an amazing job of playing up all of this genuine excitement and success with Jaguar at the office against the underlying sadness of our leading ladies and it all started with the perfectly executed sequence with Don’s pitch and Joan’s sacrifice. One of the three votes at Jaguar openly requests a night with Joan for his vote to Ken and Campbell and the successive scenes in this plot line were remarkable. From Pete’s sly (at first) attempt to guilt Joan into selling herself, to the partners discussing whether or not they should offer her up, to Lane giving Joan the upper hand, the set up was impeccable. But it’s the sequence of Joan’s night out and Don’s pitch perfectly complimenting her actions that was true magic. Hamm is not only the Draper we know and love, but coupled with the sacrifice Joan is making and the superb work Hendricks puts on was just some of the best material the show has put out. Then there is the kicker as we flashback to the scene from the night before that we had just seen, Don confessing he didn’t support Joan selling her body and telling her she doesn’t have to do it, only to realize she had just returned from the evening out; heartbreaking. But Joan seems ok with it all and she used the moment to make a play into a role she could only ever dream of; a partner at SCDP. Joan has come quite a way since the start of this season. If the Peggy-quitting scene wasn’t in here this would have been the highlight of the night, but now I can’t possibly choose.
Don’s desire to win the pitch straight, not just because they whored out there buxom red head, was compelling and a relief after so many weeks of Don treading water, but I would like to think that Don didn’t try to talk Joan out of it just for his own glory. I view Don’s feelings and compassion for Joan as entirely genuine, and the work he and his team put together was good enough on its own accord.
Hamm and Don have given many a good pitch throughout the show, but I feel like Jaguar will go down as one of the best; even separated from the beautiful assembly against Joan’s aforementioned night of sacrifice. Don’s unhappiness with the victory is cause for concern, and when you couple this with Peggy’s exit it will be really interesting to see where his head is at when we rejoin SCDP next week.
Elsewhere around the office we are left with a few questions. Ken brings up his and Peggy’s pact, “you go, I go,” and one wonders if this will pan out; especially with SCDP now back on track. Pete’s home life with baby seems to be going swimmingly, but he seems bound to use this Jaguar deal as a way to getting an apartment in the city, free to sleep around and escape his life in the suburbs; poor Trudy. Ginsberg continues to impress and, sadly, I don’t know if Don is really going to miss Peggy creatively as much as she would like to think once Ginsberg is really allowed to stretch his wings. Megan also continues to tread water and Don seems to not have quite thought about the marital sacrifices he might have to make if Megan finally lands an acting gig. It certainly will not bode well for Don if she goes away for months at a time. Weiner and company also threw another bone for the Don/Joan romance fans out there and they are certainly about to get a whole lot chummier.
An all timer for Mad Men, we head into the last two episodes of the season with some lofty highs for the show to try and top and some serious lose ends many viewers will hope they resolve. Whether these things are tied up or not, the show has rarely been better and this is about as perfect as television gets. It is sad to see Peggy leave SCDP, but I am more intrigued by the rise of Joan than the admittedly treading plot line of Peggy this season. Moss is great, and I hope this isn’t the last we have seen of her, but as a send off from the firm, I don’t know if things could have been handled any better. The Jaguar sales line applies to this episode on so many levels, but moving forward let’s see where Jaguar can take us, SCDP, and Mad Men as a show.
-They are going all out on Jaguar aren’t they?
-Who are these other guys in the room?
-Don’t pimp Joanie Pete.
-Don’t do it Pete!
-“We always wanted to be in the car business.”
-Megan is moonlighting a lot as an advisor it seems.
-How is Pete going to swing this?
-“Handsome guy,” ha!
-Pete is a son of a bitch, but kind of smooth.
-Whelp, he lost it.
-“Did you consider Cleopatra a prostitute?”
-“I don’t think you can afford it.”
-Come on, Peggy!
-Oh Lane, here we go.
-“Let her know she can still say, ‘No’.”
-At least Don stood up for her and he even knows she is “available.”
-Don is certainly in command.
-Well that wasn't necessary Don, really, throwing money in her face.
-Ken is going to lose it one of these days.
-Roger is in trouble.
-Joanie a partner!
-Poor Trudy, Pete actually seems like a good Dad.
-Ginsberg is intrigued or scheming?
-“There are no good night noises anywhere.”
-Things are not going well in the Campbell house.
-Uh oh, here we go.
-“Keep doing just whatever the hell you want!”
-Do it Joanie!
-Hand shake isn’t going to help there Peter.
-Ginsberg does it again.
-Freddy is making a lot of sense right now.
-Pete is making the power play he has always dreamed ok here. Finally, Pete has one upped Draper?
-Joan’s Mom wouldn’t mind those two hooking up.
-“You’re a good one aren’t you.”
-Is this about protecting Joan or proving he still has it in him; even if Ginsberg is the mind.
-“Those are two different stories.”
-An all time great scene for the show.
-Tragic reveal right there.
-Ted Chaw! That would drive Don fucking nuts.
-They are brilliantly killing this positivity with underlying sadness.
-Not what Peggy wanted to hear.
-Told you he would be pissed.
-Is Ken going too?
-A weight lifted off those shoulders?