Mad Men "To Have and to Hold" Review: Playing Ketchup
Everybody slept with everybody else—literally and figuratively—this week. Mad Men set the theme pretty early on by having Don and Pete meet with Heinz Ketchup in Pete's bachelor pad, essentially cheating on Beans with his rival. Ketchup, in turn, went behind Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's back—in the hotel room that SDCP paid for because they're so classy—to meet with Peggy and her people from Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough, in a meeting that was, to Peggy, also a betrayal of the trust a friend had in her when he shared insider knowledge of her former employer. Rookie movie, Stan.
Peggy easily won Heinz's favor, pitching, essentially, the same idea as Don, but with that little extra something that appealed to exactly what the ketchup crew wanted: a picture of the bottle in the ad. Peggy and Don's pitches were nearly identical in their core concept—that Heinz is the only ketchup and everything else is a watered-down imitator—but Peggy's "catsup vs. ketchup" debate also mirrored the Peggy vs. Don debate. Peggy is the Don Draper of Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough. Ted Chaough in particular seems to believe this. If he can't have the legendary Don Draper, then Draper's protege is certainly the next best thing. SCDP often seemed to operate under the idea that Peggy was great, but Don was better. She was the catsup to Don's ketchup. I think Peggy's pitch to Heinz, however, showed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce how sorely mistaken they were. In actuality, Peggy is Don without the baggage. She's the Don of five years ago, before he started losing his edge.
Both pitches were good. Don's, if we're being honest here, was great. I certainly thought it was more interesting. It was clever and it forced the consumer to think. Peggy isn't the diluted Don by any means, but her pitch, compared to his, was. The message was more obvious and less elegant... but it was almost exactly what Heinz wanted and Peggy was able to tap into that want in a way we haven't seen Don able to replicate in a long time.
The thing is, though, Peggy's pitch was only almost what Heinz wanted. Almost. When Peggy and Ted ran into Stan, Pete, and Don at a bar after their meetings, we learned that Heinz didn't go with either firm. Ted informed the class that a third suitor secretly courted by Heinz (who was sleeping around with everybody) won the account's business, "J. Walter Thompson. Bought it in the room."
Despite not winning the account, as result of SCDP sleeping around, Beans eventually found out about the meetings with Ketchup and dropped SCDP from their marketing team, doubling the sting of loss for Don and his team and prompting Cosgrove to quip, "There's nothing like being known for your loyalty."
If Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is in fact becoming known for its "loyalty," the firm may want to do some image repair. From as far back as the pre-Draper Price days, SCDP has a history of ditching smaller accounts to chase the bigger fishies. In Season 4, they dropped the Clearasil account because it presented a conflict of interest with Ponds, who billed more. Then there was the Mohawk Airlines/American Airlines debacle. You can argue that it's just business, but that doesn't really put the firm in any more of a favorable light. If word really is getting around that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce regularly drops loyal clients to chase after rivals, then Cosgrove, Pete and the rest of the accounts guys may find their jobs becoming a little more difficult in the future.
Over at To Have and to Hold, Megan experienced a promotion of sorts and learned that her role on the soap was being expanded... and by "expanded," I mean she got to dry-hump her co-star into the next commercial break. I don't think any of us were surprised by Don's complete lack of enthusiasm for the news, both because of the implication that Megan was becoming more successful in her career and the kissing-other-dudes-for-money part of the job. Remember, ladies, Don Draper doesn't mind loose women until he marries them. It's not quite a Madonna-whore complex, but it's close. Don idealizes the women in his life and quickly devalues them at their first slight of sexuality. Betty, Faye, Midge, Rachel—the Draper Double Standard seems more obnoxious than ever this season as he basically called Megan a whore who kissed men for money, then immediately hit up Sylvia, who signaled that it was okay for Don to enter her apartment by placing a penny beneath the doormat which he then returned to her.
Sylvia's guilt over cheating on her husband was mentioned again and Don fixated on the cross she wore around her neck, asking her why she wore it and then choosing to hide it when she revealed that she prayed for him. Don currently idealizes Sylvia because, despite her actions, she has a clear allegiance to her husband, and I think Don respects that in a weird, effed-up way. Sylvia is still saintly, whereas Megan is embracing her career and the "seediness" of filming love scenes for her show. That Megan was just as repulsed by her swinging co-workers' offer to sleep with both her and Don as Don was didn't matter, because she still had to kiss a co-star during pretend-love-making and Don has issues. He can reconcile Sylvia's conflicted actions because at the end of the day, she shows dedication to her husband. Megan, as far as we know, hasn't cheated on Don at all, but her dedication to her career combined with the mere suggestion of infidelity in a completely fictional storyline written for the fictional character Megan portrays on television is enough to bother Don to an absurd level.
Finally, Joan appeared in more than one scene this week and seemed to be test-driving her partner status. I'd been concerned that despite her new title, Joan would be treated largely as she always had been and not like an equal at the big boy table. It seems Joan was a bit concerned too; she even stated to her friend Kate that she was still treated "like a secretary." Kate told her that it didn't matter if Joan was treated like less than a partner because the fact remained that she was a partner. She had the pay and the status and the title outside the office, if not within it. Even Joan's usually grumpy mother seemed to delight in the perks of her daughter's promotion.
When Scarlett, Harry's secretary, ditched work early to go to a party and had Dawn punch her timecard so she got a full day's pay, Joan quickly and publicly shamed and fired her only to be overridden by Harry, who let some (maybe even all) of his resentment surrounding Joan's promotion boil over when he crashed a partner meeting to tell Joan off. To be fair to Harry, he made some logical points: he's the head of the television department which he essentially built from scratch, he's brought lucrative clients to the firm and most recently worked a miracle for Dow Chemical's napalm-covered image with his Broadway Joe on Broadway pitch. Harry has done a lot for the company and is still an occasional source of ridicule and, most importantly, not a partner. He apparently can't even manage his own immediate staff without interference. However, pointing out Joan's less-than-proud path to the top probably wasn't the best course of action given how unperturbed the other partners were. It mostly just made him look like a jackass.
Joan lamented not being treated like a partner, but I saw quite a bit of positive and negative treatment in "To Have and to Hold." We've seen in the past that being a partner at SCDP isn't always day drinking and booty calls. When the firm was in dire financial straits, the partners had to put up their own money to keep the firm afloat until business picked up. Roger and Don have both been forced to work with people and clients that they despise-- for logical and illogical reasons-- for the good of the company. Being a partner doesn't mean never doing anything you don't want to do and Joan experienced that during the mess with Dawn, Scarlett and the timecards. Harry insisted on keeping Scarlett and without the other partners backing Joan's decision to fire her, Harry was free to keep her. While Joan didn't immediately dismiss Dawn as she did Scarlett, she was certainly considering firing the other secretary, but before she was given the chance to make her own call, her fellow partners encouraged her to avoid taking any drastic measures against Dawn because it looked good for the firm to have a black secretary on the payroll.
It was certainly frustrating to have her call overturned, but in the second half of the episode, Joan got to experience the upside to being a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce: when it comes to her personal life, she can pretty much do whatever she wants. After a night out with Kate, Joan crawled into the office well into the afternoon after slapping on some lipstick to hide her hangover. Harry jumped at the opportunity to further tarnish Joan's image by pointing it out to Bert and Roger, but they couldn't have cared less. Okay, so Joan came to work late and hungover. That's like, every other day for Roger and Don. How often have they gotten hammered in the office, Harry? Huh? That's right. Sit down and shut up.
While most of the "cheaters" in "To Have and to Hold" experienced the detrimental side effects of their infidelities—SCDP lost Heinz Beans, Megan and Don are fighting (again), Peggy and Stan aren't BFFs anymore, Scarlett still has a job but Joan is certainly going to make her life miserable from now on—Dawn, who aided Scarlett in her timecard shenanigans, seemed to be the one to come out on top in this episode, almost entirely due to her honesty. She apologized to Joan for helping Scarlett and even offered to give up a portion of her pay to cover Scarlett's theft. Joan handed her the keys to the supply closet and the time cards and said that they were Dawn's job now. When Dawn thanked her for the added responsibilities, Joan told her that it was punishment for her actions. I think Joan was being more cynical than anything, though. Additional responsibilities can symbolize a sort of promotion, if not in pay then in prestige. The way Dawn sees it, not only did she get to keep her job, but her job was expanded. Joan may have been fuming over Scarlett, but unlike Scarlett, who continued to hide behind Harry and rely on whatever influence he had to keep her around, Dawn stood on her own two feet and used what meager means she had on hand—her paycheck—to make it up to Joan and the firm. I think that's something Joan can understand and even appreciate.
What did you think of "To Have and to Hold"?
– More cheating action! Joan's friend cheated on her employer, Mary Kay Cosmetics, with the competition, Avon.
– PROJECT KILL MACHINE! <3 u, Ginsberg.
– Bert's socks were amazing.
– Megan's attempts to downplay the sexual aspect of her scenes while she and Don were at dinner was cute.
– OMG SWINGERS. GUYS, WE GOT SWINGERS.
– What do you think Dawn's future holds?
– And Harry's? Do you think he'll get fired or jump ship first? Or will he just hang around SCDP and be bitter about things?
– Will Don and Megan's marriage survive the season?
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