Stars: John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Jared Harris, John Slattery, January Jones, Jessica Pare, Robert Morse, Aaron Staton, Rich Sommer, Kiernan Shipka
Writer: Matthew Wiener& Semi Chellas, Series created by Matthew Wiener
Director: Phil Abraham
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: May 27, 2012
This fifth season of MAD MEN is all about game changing. This can happen in subtle ways, or it can be something that strikes the audience over the head. “The Other Woman” is one of the best episodes this season. The degradation of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Campbell has been inching its way this season, and it’s not necessarily about the loss or gaining of accounts, to me its more about the way the characters are changing (some of them on fundamental levels).
Last episode saw the downfall of Lane (Jared Harris) as his previously (seemingly) untouchable morals were destroyed as he embezzled money from the company to cover his British tax debt. Now in this new episode the center of one of the largest moral crises is Joan (Christina Hendricks), who has the offer on the table of spending a night with a man that can make or break the firm’s bid to win the Jaguar account. Keep in mind this in nothing short of prostitution, and who brings the offer to her, but “the grimy little pimp” himself Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). I love the irony that he is the one who has to broker the deal, and it only reaffirms Lane’s assessment of his moral character. As if I needed another reason to hate Pete.
The partners throw in their two cents, and Don (John Hamm) is so offended by the indecent proposal that he walks out of the room. Don gets humanity points back with me for this move. Plus, keep in mind, all of this is following on the heels of the last couple of episodes that focused a bit on Joan’s relationship with both Don and Roger (John Slattery). I love Roger, but it’s sad that he doesn’t leap to Joan’s defense and instead dismisses it with the comment that he won’t pay for it.
The editing of the end of the episode is brilliant with the cuts going back and forth between Joan’s night in the hotel with Jabba, and the boys giving their presentation to Jaguar the next morning. Then to learn that Don was already too late to stop Joan the night before is heartbreaking.
Lane also disappoints this episode in the morals department, pushing Joan to take a partnership rather than money, since its money he already stole and knows can not be accounted for.
I’m glad Joanie is a partner now, but the contrast in what is expected of a woman to gain power vs. what a man does to gain power is never more striking and poignant that in this episode.
Moving on to other women in Don Draper’s life, Megan (Jessica Pare) and Don are still on the rocks, and his lack of enthusiasm and support for her acting career are going to rip them even further apart. This sad state didn’t take long to get to, and it makes me wonder if Don is going to be a two time divorcee before it’s all said and done.
Of course the most emotional goodbye the series has had this season is to Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), who after being mistreated and ignored by Don and most of the men on staff, takes a job offer with the direct competition. If this were real life I would be trilled for Peggy to be moving upwards and onwards, but since this is TV, I’m sad to see Elizabeth Moss go. I’ve loved the evolution of Peggy and I hope she’s still a part of the series in some fashion.
But, that moment with Don turning shades of red and kissing her outstretched hand….WOW….I got teary eyed. Those two have been so close and have helped each other through so many personal crises, that to see the goodbye reduced to a simple heartfelt action without words. BRAVO. It is moments like that which keep me solidly in the MAD MEN viewing camp and make me eager for the next week’s episode. Absolutely beautiful work from both Hamm and Moss on this one kids.
Related Link: Interview with MAD MEN star Elisabeth Moss on Season 5
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Article: TV Review – MAD MEN – Season 5 – “The Other Woman”