Mad Men: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

By MaryAnn Sleasman

May 29, 2012

Mad Men S05E11: "The Other Woman"

It’s Pete Campbell’s world, everybody else is just being manipulated in it.

I want to like Pete Campbell. Deep down inside, I know he’s a giant douchebag, but every now and then he proves his worth as a human being, or at the very least, makes me feel sorry for him.

“The Other Woman” wasn’t one of those times. When Herb—the head of the Jaguar dealerships, and one of the most influential decision-makers over at Jaguar—implied that a night in bed with Joan Harris would guarantee his vote in favor of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Pete made it priority numero uno to get Joan to take one for the team. He tried to ask nicely. Then he tried to bargain. Then he tried to guilt-trip her before finally looping back around to bargaining when he told all the other partners about his plan and made it sound like Joan would be willing to work some special overtime for the appropriate compensation. Of course, providing appropriate compensation ($50,000, or four times Joan’s yearly salary) would require another extension on SCDP’s credit line, and Lane was still sweating his first spin on the embezzlement wheel, so he wanted very badly to avoid a trip to the bank this week.

So Lane tried to shoot down Pete’s pimptastic aspirations. Don was outraged because he had PRINCIPLES. Also, after their successful outing at the Jaguar dealership and the subsequent cocktail-soaked heart-to-heart, Joan is his new favorite female. Roger was incredulous, then calmed down when Pete made it sound like the whole idea was Joan’s. I feel like Roger should have known her better than that, but maybe he was feeling a little insulted that she apparently wouldn’t let him pay for his own child, yet she’d essentially whore herself to get a little financial security. I don’t know, he got his panties unwadded pretty fast. Bert Cooper was scandalized because once again, he was forced to realize he works with a bunch of savages.

Pete passionately argued that everyone at the agency had worked so hard over the past six weeks preparing the proposal (you know, when they weren’t eating catered lobster and getting lap dances from Megan’s actress friend in the conference room). “Now we’re just going to walk away? Over what?”

Oh nothing, just Joan’s dignity.

So, like the fine upstanding men that they are, the equally scandalized but far less principled partners of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce waited until Don left the room and voted to pay Joan to bang Herb. Since Don wasn’t there, his vote was in absentia, and SCDP fumbled its way into a business model that suddenly relied on prostitution to gain business.

Wow, things have gone downhill really fast for the company, haven’t they?

And of course, Lane Pryce did the dirty work, mostly in an attempt to avoid groveling at the bank. He offered Joan a partnership in return for her cooperation, argued that a partnership would go much further than a measly $50,000 with a child to care for. He touched on his own lack of satisfaction in the company and said that in the past, when people asked him what he wanted, he never told them the truth. Cue the sad face. I would have cared a lot more about his miserable existence if he wasn’t actively participating in the most horrific thing the men at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce have done to date. Maybe we should revise the Mad Men deathwatch of a few weeks ago and add Lane to the list of potential goners. Between his general unhappiness coupled with continued financial woes, and now his role as middle man in the SCDP pimping enterprise, well, I wonder how he sleeps at night.

When Don found out about everything, he headed straight for Joan’s and attempted to talk her out of it. He said that if they didn’t get Jaguar’s account, then so be it, he didn’t want to do business with men like that anyway. Remember kids, Don Draper has PRINCIPLES.

In the morning, Don made the pitch to Jaguar, a heavily sexualized campaign that compared the lovely but dysfunctional Jaguar cars to mistresses—without actually using the word mistress, of course. “Jaguar: At last, something beautiful you can truly own.” Don’s pitch was cut with scenes from Joan’s night with Herb, leading us to believe that she had ignored Don’s plea and slept with the creep anyway. The degradation of Joan Harris might just be one of the most unsettling and certainly upsetting scenes in Mad Men history. My skin crawled and Christina Hendricks managed to convey Joan’s disgust with the situation, with Herb, and mostly with herself, using little more than her facial expressions.

The men of SCDP betrayed Joan, whom they previously held in rather high esteem. She had always been, even moreso than Peggy, the woman in the office who could go toe-to-toe with the powerful men she worked with. Don confessed to initially fearing her when he began at Sterling Cooper in the fifties. She was a force to be reckoned with in the office. She was beautiful, yes, but essential to daily operations for her intelligence, experience, and professionalism. Men have lost their jobs in the past for objectifying her and while, in the instance of Joey and his crass comic back in Season 4, Joan didn’t approve of the action, there had to be a sense of comfort, despite her protestations to the contrary, that she was respected at work. Valued.

After doing her implied duty with Herb, Joan returned home and donned her green silk robe, right before Don knocked on her door, revealing to we the audience that Joan hadn’t ignored Don’s plea at all. He simply didn’t get there in time—the prince arrived too late to slay the dragon and they lived unhappily ever after.

I was half-expecting Jaguar to go with another ad agency despite Joan’s actions just to cement their sleaze status, but Herb apparently kept to his side of the bargain and Jaguar signed with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for all of the company's advertising and womanizing needs. Joan’s partnership was announced, but no one really felt like partying. Oh, and Peggy quit her job to go work for Cutler, Gleason, and Chough because she was feeling neglected or something. She’ll be back. Probably.


Pete Campbell Sucks:

Pete told Trudy that after SCDP signed Jaguar, he wanted his own apartment in the city. He brought up her habit of being in her pajamas by dinnertime. He doesn’t realize how good he has it. I mean, those were some stylish pajamas Trudy was rocking. If I were wearing those PJs at dinnertime, I’d be getting grilled about what the big occasion is.

Also, apparently Pete hasn’t been getting it on with Trudy, much to her frustration. Really, Pete? Really?

Peggy Olsen, Professional Black Sheep:

I don’t really blame her for leaving, though the Padawan teaming-up with Ted Chough was an understandably low blow to Jedi Master Draper. Peggy got herself a better title and a jaw-dropping raise for jumping ship. I hope it’s worth it, but knowing Mad Men, it won’t be.

Starring Megan Draper:

Megan got a callback for a play that would require three months of rehearsals in Boston. Don was displeased. She said that if she ever had to pick between her job and Don, she’d pick Don, but she’d hate him for making her do it. Megan is such a drama queen these days. Pun intended.

What'd you think of this week's episode?

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  • PauloVieira1 Jul 04, 2012

    Best episode so far this season. Remembered me "The Carousel" with Dons pitch and Joan in the hotel mixed scenes.

  • Ankh49 Jun 02, 2012

    I am really worried for Joan. I m not sure if she will continue to command the same respect she once did. Don has already started to look at her differently. Pete and Lane really crossed the line in this ep, and I am disapointed in Roger too. I can't wait to see the fallout from this over the rest of the season. :-D

  • emmiegirl May 31, 2012

    Don did grow up poor as dirt during the Depression, but Don's "principles" regarding anyone contemplating trading their body for financial gain are not so much him being a better man than the other partners (except Pete Campbell, he is sub-human), but likely has more to do with the fact that his mother was a prostitute and he grew up in a brothel until she died and he had to go live with the Whitmans, his alleged biological father and bitter step-mother. He mentioned this earlier in "Signal 30" when they took the Mohawk execs to that "party." He does care for Joan, certainly, but his pride in the quality of SCDP's work as a direct reflection on himself, his distaste for the world's oldest profession, and the idea that the very survival of the firm has been secured on the back of one of the firm's women, has soured any work on the account completely and tainted SCDP for him.

  • ramoniia May 31, 2012

    I really do agree with you about Lane, I keep expecting to see him hanging from a rope or perhaps overdosed in his office.

  • dref22 May 31, 2012

    Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is going down....

  • b_j_patterson May 31, 2012

    Lets not forget that Don wanted Sal to prosuited for the man at lucky strike, so Don doesn't have that many PRINCIPLIES. Than he fired Sal for it.

  • AlexandraFili May 31, 2012

    This episode had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. My only real complaint is I really wish Roger had stood up for Joan. I really wanted to finally see him be the better man for her.

  • creativeopinion May 31, 2012

    Wow.. that was definitely the best episode so far this season. Peggy is leaving and good for her but sure I hope to see her in the next season.

    Pete and his "act of desperation" :D and Lane with his "You what!?".

  • ben45tpy May 30, 2012

    Geez Mad Men, this was some heavy stuff! This was some of the most painful, repulsive moments ever committed to screen. Now we have four partners who may never be likeable again. This is a huge moment for the show.

  • crisstynik May 30, 2012

    The part with Joan was uncomfortable to watch indeed... but it was a choice she made, whoring herself for the good of the company and ultimately for her benefit. I actually liked Lane until these last few episodes, but the way he manipulated Joan was simply disgusting!

    But the Peggy situation... it just broke my heart! I saw Don extremely angry at her for abandoning him (to add insult to injury she joined Ted Clough) so at first I believed he would not shake her hand. But when he took it and kissed it... You could feel his pain and hers too.

    Scenes like this one are what make the show great... When they open up to each other (granted, sometimes it takes some alcohol and/or drugs to get there) you really get a feeling that you are understanding those characters better. And for me personally, this is a main ingredient in a good show.

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