5 Things I Learned from Last Night’s Mad Men: Episode 4, “To Have And To Hold”

This week gave me exactly what I wanted: lots of Joanie, Peggy kicking ass, a swingers proposition, and Don continuing to slowly lose it.

As with the rest of this season so far, loyalty continues to shape the stories. Questions of loyalty arise in every storyline– in business and in love. And the women rose this episode– Joan has everything right in front of her, will she grab it? Peggy pitches Heinz and wins where Don can’t. Meagan gets more recognition on the set, and much to Don’s dismay, she takes it and she is loving it. Here are 5 other things we learned this week:

1. Harry Crane Is a Big Baby

When Harry Crane lands this huge TV special that is both big money and hilarious (Joe Namath on Broadway, I want this to be a real thing), he demands recognition. It reminded me of Pete’s proposal for partnership, whiny and seamy. But I like Harry. And I’ve always found him to be under-appreciated — hello; he’s the only one who thought television advertising needed to be a focus! But the fit he throws in the meeting left a bad taste in my mouth: “I’m sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can’t be given the same rewards. The next time this group is called to order I expect to be sitting at this table. I’ve actually earned it.” Yikes.

2. Joan Does Some Soul Searching

Joan does some serious soul-searching this episode. For the first time, someone actually acknowledges that she obtained her partnership by prostitution. She’s a partner, but she had to bargain her way in to this position using what she had available to her — sex. She didn’t earn the title in the same way the other men did (like Pete’s partnership was earned in an admirable fashion. Ha!). But I wonder, does that mean she didn’t deserve it as much of them? Joan has been with the company for 16 years. Because they wouldn’t offer her a partnership until they desperately needed her — does that mean she didn’t deserve it? Does that mean she shouldn’t be respected? Harry Crane seems to think she doesn’t, and more importantly, so does Joan. I hope her friend’s advise sticks with her. It isn’t about the men. As Kate said, “I don’t care how they make you feel. It’s right in front of you for the taking.” By giving Dawn the keys to the supply room and the time cards, I believe Joan is taking the first step into her new role as partner in work, not only title.

3. Dawn Gets Some Air Time — and I Like It

Dawn hasn’t had much camera time, so I loved the attention she got this episode. It’s always great to have an outsider’s opinion of this work place — and she seems to understand more about it than anyone there. She tells her friend: “Everyone there is scared. Women crying in the bathroom. Men crying in the elevator. It sounds like New Years Eve when they take out the trash. There are so many bottles.” And so she keeps her head down, and she does what she’s told, and she stays late when she needs to stay late. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing from Dawn a lot more this season.

4. Don’s Affair Makes Me Cry 

Don went down to the set to see Meagan in her “love” scene. Right after he loses the Heinz pitch. Right after he learns that Peggy, his prodigy, has stolen Ketchup. Right after he loses Heinz Baked Beans. This is his lowest, and he goes to watch the woman he loves (yes, he loves her in his own Don Draper way) be with another man. Despite it being entirely fake, and despite Meagan being completely open with him, Don berates her for it. He is cold and mean to her: “You kiss men for money. Do you know who does that?” Ouch. Only to go immediately after to continue his real life love affair with Sylvia. My gut reaction was to be angry, but the scene made me feel desperately sad. Sylvia tells him she prays for him when he leaves her — prays that he will find peace. Don can’t find peace. He can’t find it with Meagan — she’s moving on without him. She’s signing autographs while he’s losing accounts. He can’t find peace with Sylvia — she’s married to an incredible, selfless doctor who is, in all respects, a better person than Don. So where does that leave Don? And how can he find peace? Can he find peace?

5. Peggy: Don Draper 2.0 

I literally gasped when SCDP walked out of the pitch room from Heinz, feeling smug, feeling like they had won the day — only to find Peggy and her new boss, Ted, sitting outside the hotel room door. A silent stare down. Stan knows that Peggy betrayed their trust by going after this account — and Don knows it too. As he sits outside the room listening to the pitch, I wanted him to feel proud. Don taught her everything she knows. Don discovered her — and look! She’s killing this pitch! She literally uses Don’s words when she says, “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.” But let’s be real. What we have is another woman abandoning Don — moving on with her life without him. Just like Meagan. And he can’t be happy for Peggy, either. Peggy handles the situation beautifully. She doesn’t say a mean word. She doesn’t look sad. She holds her head strong, and she is proud. Even when Stan gives her the middle finger, she looks straight ahead. Not a word. Reminiscent of Don Draper, she put her career before her self-interest. And it paid off — but at what cost?

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