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

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOU VOICE BE HEARD – COMMENT BELOW!

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Related Link: Exclusive Interview with MAD MEN star John Slattery on Season 5
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Article: TV Review -  MAD MEN – Season 5 – “The Other Woman”

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Comments:

  1. I’ve read several reviews of The Other Woman and yours is right on the money. I too hope Elizabeth Moss is not gone from the show. That would be a shame. The only thing I disagree on is about Pete. I feel sad for him. I think his backstory is more complex and difficult than we know. Not that this excuses him. But uou can empathize with his on the outside looking in situation.

    Christie
  2. I agree that Joan having to resort to prostituting herself to get ahead in the firm was really depressing. That scene where she is laying in bed next to that piece of slime was one of the saddest moments in the series. I don’t see how Matt Weiner is going to resurrect Joan to again be the strong willed feminist she was before. Maybe in his mind what she did was in keeping with her character. If so, I couldn’t disagree more.

    As for Megan and Don, I got the impression that they made up in this episode and that he was truly sorry for her when she told him she didn’t get the part. Does he want to see her go away for 2-3 months? Of course not! But he also wants her to be happy and pursue her passion in life. Perhaps, MW is showing Don and Megan quarrel and then working out their differences because he wants to portray them as a couple who don’t always get along, which is normal, but communicate with each other well enough to generally resolve their differences. That’s one thing that Don and Betty did very little of – communicate.

    I think Don really regrets not treating Peggy with more respect. Hopefully, he learned a valuable lesson that will help him to grow both professionally and personally – you can’t continually take out your frustrations and anger on others and not expect to eventually pay a price for it.

    Bill
  3. What reviewers and commenters of all of these Mad Men articles seem to forget is that the spin-off agency would not exist without Joan. Once the partners were “fired” by Lane and plotted their mutiny, the men were clueless as to how to turn their ambition into an actual business. Joan rode to the rescue. Joan not only knew how all the machinery worked, she condescended to rescue all of them. Then she created the new agency at the hotel. While all the others scurried around, clueless, she took command and directed the operation quite successfully.

    Perhaps she thought that once they saw her value, she would be rewarded. That never happened. To make it worse, while the older admen revered and even feared her, the younger creative types mocked her as a piece of meat.

    In this latest episode, once again, the entire success of the agency rests upon Joan’s shoulders. Their cash cow airlines has halted advertising and they face bankruptcy.

    Again, Joan rides to the rescue of these clueless guys. There is no deal unless Joan makes it happen. At least this time when she rescues all of them, she gets a piece of the action. Don tells Peggy that Joan was awarded the partnership because she’s been with them for thirteen years, a supposed reward for her effort and dedication. That should have been the reason for her advancement in the first place.

    The only other view we get of a woman dedicated to decades of service for this crowd of miscreants is Bert’s old secretary/lover dying at the desk while those around her have a great chuckle. That is definitely not Joan’s style.

    In fact, even though the women don’t appear to be in control, they hold all of the power over these guys.

    Peggy can force Pete to marry her. And Betty could have destroyed Don/Dick by exposing him to the military as AWOL. Forget that the partners overlooked the deception. Even Megan, who is a natural at creative copywriting can choose to walk away. Don admits it took him years to develop those instincts that seem to flow effortlessly from her.

    Just watch. Joan will also save Lane’s bacon, or not. She’s the one who oversees the books. She’ll be the first to learn of Lane’s fraud. Will she crush him or spare him? It’s all up to her. Now, that she’s a partner, she also has a vote. Women’s suffrage.

    This show is all about the women. They hold the real power. The men are just window dressing.

    Cheshire
  4. Joan played it just right,amd my guess is that it`s her last night with Mr. Slime.Peggy might find that although the grass seems greener,it isn`t,and she might come back in the future.Pete seems to sink lower with each episode

    Ed
  5. episodes like this only confirm the fact that John Hamm and Elizabeth Moss have both been robed of a couple of Emmys and Golden Globes over the years…maybe that the best

    andrea

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