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‘Mad Men’ Review: “The Other Woman”

Mad Men Season 5 The Other Woman
AMC

Mad Men’ Season 5 pitches its eleventh episode of the year, as the decision with Jaguar comes down to a lurid proposition for Joan, while Peggy wrestles with a difficult position in light of being unappreciated at work..

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “Christmas Waltz” saw Lane’s finances forcing him into a desperate gambit, while Harry met up with a changed Paul Kinsey, and Don tried to get into the Jaguar pitch, so what will the latest episode bring?  Could they possibly top Fat Betty and Hare Krishna Kinsey?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ episode eleven “The Other Woman!”

With Don and all the other writers very much stumped in coming up with a pitch for Jaguar, particularly one that doesn’t involve use of the word “mistress,” Don leaves to take a break and mostly brushes off Peggy asking about another campaign.  When lunch arrives for the Jaguar team, full of fresh lobster, Peggy can’t help but look on wistfully.

Later that night at a dinner meeting with  a member of the Jaguar board, the man Herb makes a rather indecent proposal…he’ll sway the results of the pitch…if only for a night with Joan, who caught his eye in the office!  Well, that’s creepy.  Far less indecent is Don arriving home to Megan, who reads up for an audition, and offers support for his day.

The next day, Pete meets with Joan in her office to subtly push her toward accepting the man’s proposal, asking for her help in delivering the “bad news” that they wouldn’t’ be getting the account.  Pete does his best to sell the idea as more akin to high-level business like Cleopatra than prostitution, though Joan is understandably outraged he’d even consider it, especially given that the agency “couldn’t afford it” what she’d charge for such a demand.

On the less creepy side, Peggy manages to save the day in a Chevalier Blanc conference call,  coming up on the fly with a new, modified pitch to be aimed more at women, which prevents the company from backing out.  But who cares about that, when all the partners have assembled to discuss the proposition of Joan?  Everyone balks at the thought of course, but slowly accept that were Joan to be amenable, and significant money offerred (once again deferring poor Lane and his bonuses), they might have to consider it.  Don storms out refusing to agree, though the other partners agree to think about it.  While Don continues fuming, Peggy and her team arrive to announce their success, though Don devalues Peggy’s good work and throws money in her face when she complains about her work (and a trip to Paris) being attributed to Ginsburg.

While Lane tries to discourage Joan from accepting the firm’s offer to sleep with the Jaguar client, lucrative though it might be, Megan and her friend arrive at the office late to surprise the team hard at work on the pitch.  But that isn’t what Megan came to do, dragging Don into his office for a little “confidence” before her big audition!  Over in the ‘burbs, Pete tries to relax with his records when Trudy interrupts him, and the two bicker about Pete wanting to get an apartment in the city, particularly if the firm lands Jaguar, though she insists his love affair with Manhattan has to end, and if they want to have another baby.

The next morning, Megan informs Don that she got a callback to the audition, though Don balks when he learns it would involve three months spent in Boston rehearsing.  She protests that Don doesn’t truly support her dream, and resolves to follow it no matter what.  At the office, Joan sits down with Pete once more, agreeing to Jaguar’s lurid proposal only if she’ll receive a 5% share and partner status, to which Pete reluctantly agrees.  Back to Don, Ginsburg arrives to pitch that even while Don wants to move away from Jaguar’s “mistress” theme, he’s come up with the perfect tagline: “Jaguar.  At last, something beautiful you can truly own.”  Impressed, Don breathes a sigh of relief.

Dejected, Peggy has lunch with Freddy Rumsen, where she vents about her frustrations with working for Don, to which Freddy reminds her that she could very easily find herself another position elsewhere.  As she considers his offer, Pete preps Don for the Jaguar presentation, letting slip that Joan has agreed to go through with the affair.  Outraged, Don travels in a huff to her apartment to explain that he didn’t know the other partners were still considering it, and doesn’t want her to debase herself to obtain the business that way.  Gracious that he’d even care, she thanks him, lovingly touching his face, and assuring him she’s alright.

The next day, Don and the team knock their pitch to Jaguar out of the park, while Joan shows up to Herb’s apartment to go through with his request, however uncomfortable it makes her.  We later see Joan examining a necklace he gave her in the mirror, when her mother announces that Don has arrived to see her, meaning that Joan went through with the affair even before Don showed up to the apartment to talk her out of it.  Man, what’s with all the time jumps lately?

The next day, as SDCP awaits news of their pitch’s results, Megan finds herself similarly debased in her callback, while Peggy meets with another firm to discuss taking a position with them.  When the man compliments her work, and even improves upon her suggested salary, Peggy has next to no choice but to accept his offer, leaving behind Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  O noes!

After Don and Megan wake up from their earlier fight, Don arrives at the office to find that Peggy is looking for him.  Before she can make her announcement to her mentor however, the news of Jaguar comes in, delighting the entire office with their acceptance.  The only one not ecstatic is Don, who realizes what Joan must have had to do in order to secure the business, and the man retreats into his office for a drink with Peggy.

First mistaking her announcement to be about wanting to work with Jaguar, or complain that Joan’s been made partner, Peggy lays out that she’s decided to move on to a new phase of her career.  Don tries to call her bluff, believing her to be in search of a raise, though she remains adamant the decision has been made, and that no number will change her mind.  Bitterly, Don accepts that she’s serious (even better, going with the competition), and kisses her hand rather than shake it as a sign of affection, to which she sheds a tear.

While the rest of the office celebrates, Peggy gathers a few of her things and silently leaves, with Joan watching.  Once she reaches the elevators, she smiles with determination and steps out to the tune of The Kinks “You Really Got Me.”  Empowerment!

It might seem a it too crazy if Peggy actually goes through with working in another office, given how vital she is to the series, but with only two episodes left, it’s anyone’s game now.  There’s a lot of moral ambiguity pulsating throughout “The Other Woman,” and though the main conflicts get a bit back-burnered, it’s a hell of an episode.

Did you get your fill of swingin’ ‘Mad Men’ action?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’s latest effort “Commissions and Fees” on AMC!

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