‘Mad Men’ Season 5, Episode 11: ‘The Other Woman’ Recap

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Vincent Kartheiser Jon Hamm John Slattery Mad Men The Other Woman Mad Men Season 5, Episode 11: The Other Woman Recap

The offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce have become a time capsule – not simply because the constant wandering of Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) through its halls seems to have stunted the aging process, but because there is a pervasive level of old-school thinking that Mad Men has, again and again this season, shown to be at odds with the world several stories below.

For all its apparently failed efforts to remain progressive and ahead of the curve in terms of advertising, SCDP is also woefully archaic in terms of equality in the workplace, so it’s losing out on two fronts at the same time, and now the creative agency has to do without one of its most singular voices because of that fact. To be fair, though, it’s the kind of thinking that nearly every other business is doing at the same time. As illustrated in ‘The Other Woman,’ offices everywhere are simply lined with men unable to view woman as anything other than objects.

The point is made very plainly as Don (Jon Hamm) and his creative team (sans Peggy) work extensively to convey the message that Jaguar is that temperamental, fiery woman men, with means and without, simply have to have; it’s a thing of beauty that they can actually own to sublimate their need to be possessive of an actual woman. The actual pitch is almost those terms exactly, and it comes from Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) after he sees Megan (Jessica Paré) march in and whisk Don away to his office for a little pre-audition confidence building. He notes that she just comes and goes as she pleases. In Ginsberg’s mind, as much as Don, or anyone would like to think they’ve got Megan, or someone like her, on a short leash, there’s just no keeping a woman like that.

There is something cheap and sordid about it all. It’s a perverse conquest; the kind of thing some men pat each other on the back about. By attempting to sell Jaguar as a mistress, an obtainable object just out of reach, the agency becomes home to the same kind of thinking in its desire to land its first car. And in doing so, SCDP remains complicit in prostituting Joan (Christina Hendricks) as a means to that end.

It seems as though the head of the dealers’ association, Herb, has taken a liking to Joan, and makes it clear to Ken (Aaron Staton) and Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) over dinner that if he’s not treated to a night with her, the chances that SCDP will ever land Jaguar are basically nil. Of course it’s Pete who broaches the subject with Joan – attempting to appear aggrieved by the situation, but that, really, his hands are tied and he thought he’d just bring it up because the needs of the company and all. Though repulsed, Joan leaves a window of opportunity open for Pete. After all, she’s a soon-to-be-divorced mother living in Manhattan with an ex in Vietnam, a fridge on the fritz and a mother asking whether she’s all dried up inside. Joan has a lot on her plate, and being able to look herself in the mirror comes in a distant second to the possibility of not having to constantly worry about money. Naturally, Pete doesn’t miss his chance to pitch the idea to the other partners. Don wants nothing to do with the notion, but the rest remain on the fence – not exactly comfortable with the idea, but open to it nonetheless.

And of course, that’s what it all comes down to: what figure everyone has in mind. As Lane (Jared Harris) points out, he helped form the agency by agreeing to a salary well below what his lifestyle required, and now he’s underwater because of it. ‘The Other Woman’ suggests that no matter how much or how little money someone makes, or already has, there’s always more wealth to be accumulated; it’s simply a matter of what people are willing to do, or sacrifice, to acquire that which they desire.

For Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), more money also means the possibility of more respect, and more freedom with another agency. Despite all the work she’s done over the years and how far she’s come, Peggy is just always going to be the girl on the outside looking in. While the men are at the table searching for a way to convey the message that Jaguar is the other woman, she’s on the other side of the glass, pitching laxatives while Don and the boys are treated to lobster. And after she successfully pitches an idea on the fly to Chevalier Blanc, Don gives it to Ginsberg because it’s his account. When Peggy complains, Don throws money in her face, accusing her of only wanting to go to Paris.

Christina Hendricks Vincent Kartheiser Mad Men The Other Woman Mad Men Season 5, Episode 11: The Other Woman Recap

After a brief chat with Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray), Peggy’s ready to move on and it seems her suitor is none other than the loathsome, Draper-chasing Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm). While SCDP has become mired in its old-school ways, Chaough’s agency, Cutler Gleason and Chaough, is willing to pay top-dollar for Peggy’s creative mind – topping her salary demand by a cool thousand dollars. Of course one has to wonder whether Chaough’s offer stems from a place of equality and respect or simply the price he’s willing to pay to steal away Draper’s protégé. It may be too much to expect that someone like Chaough could see Peggy as something more than his own conquest in the battle he’s started with Don.

For his part, Don gets hit with the realization that Megan’s acting may mean months away from Manhattan, which results in yet another spat between the couple. Thankfully, he’s not entirely privy to the lascivious call back she’s forced to endure, which suggests that no matter Megan’s talent, the men who can decide her future are simply searching for a very specific thing, an object that will look good on stage. At the same time, Don catches wind of Joan’s deal and rushes to tell her that no account, not even Jaguar, is worth signing over her character for a five percent stake in the company.

Then, in a rather well executed segment, Don pitches Jaguar while Joan is wooed, used and dismissed by Herb. Only later do we learn that Don’s appeal came after the fact, which he learns when Joan is amongst the partners as they announce they’ve landed Jaguar. Uninterested in celebrating such a win, Don and Peggy go to his office so she can tell him she’s leaving SCDP for CGC. Don’s response is a mixture of anger and venom, but when offered, he takes Peggy’s hand and kisses it for an extended length of time, as if pulling the tear from Peggy’s eye. Then he simply dismisses her.

Peggy leaves the office while Joan has consigned herself to them forever. She stands in front of the elevator and as the doors open, the music kicks in and Peggy smiles to herself, a free woman.

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Mad Men continues next Sunday with ‘Commissions and Fees’ @10pm on AMC. Take a look at the episode below:

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  1. I don’t think anything in the show has made me dislike Pete until last night when he brought the subject up with Joan. I can’t even put into words what i was feeling at that moment.

  2. Pete never has been a savory character, but the fact that the rest, except Don (who always used women but maybe never saw it that way), agree to it surprised me. How Joan could continue to work with people like this, is beyond me.

    • Joan say it as a justification to be independent and being able to provide for her baby boy Kevin. We all know Roger (as cool as he is) is not fit to be a husband or father figure. Pete will get what’s coming to him by the end of this season. Has Peggy been written out of the series already? Or is it a dramatic flare for her to return in the season finale.

      • I know Weiner Stated his two year contract agreement would leave out dropping two characters each season. I’m just curious because Peggy and Ken made a pact. But Peggy told him it was never legit maybe a change of heart?

    • Joan’s the one who made the choice to go through with it, no one forced her. Roger basically washed his hands of it, Don tried to stop it, and Bert left it up to her. Pete has always been a slimey bastard, this would hardly changer her opinion of him. And Lane basically said “If your going to do it ask for something better (so I can cover my own ass)”. At the end of the day the brought the offer to her and were only willing to go as far as she would.

  3. This was a really good episode.

  4. I am sad Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) seems to be written out of the show. Say it isn’t so. I cried a little. Though I was proud of her for getting what she deserves. I hope she gets into a position where they must beg her back and give her due respect. When the other men get lobster, so does she!

    I liked Joan until now. I always thought she was smart playing the big boy game on an even level with those fellas (in line with the times). She also had options, which most women back then didn’t have. Most women would have taken Roger’s money as he is the father and very wealthy. He should pay child support. I’m not buying that we are supposed to believe that she has high morals and “doesn’t want his money,” but will sleep with some gross sleazy guy to “save” an account. WTH? Contradiction in terms. Where I used to think Joan was savvy and smart, now I think she’s a dumb bimbo. Her reward? She’s a partner in a failing firm with a bunch of creeps. Yay Joan! If MW wanted to write the truth moving forward, Joan will now be protrayed as the whore of the office. Not just someone promiscuous, but someone who is literally a prostitute. Ugh! I am so mad a MW for taking the series in this direction.

    On that note, MW’s love affair with this Pare actress is lost to me. I don’t see the appeal. I’ve tried to like her…I just can’t and wished she’d go away. She adds nothing to the show. I’m more interested when Joan or Peggy are on camera. I wish megan would hurry up and get the part and exit.

    MW will lose me as a viewer if he doesn’t turn this around. He is taking the women places I don’t want to follow.

    Don is a drip with Megan. I could forgive his past, ahem, indiscretions, because of his backstory. The more they show Megan, the more I wished he would drop Megan and go back to being suave Don. I can’t get my head around Megan being his “saviour.”

    Two reasons why I watch the show were scratched last night. I don’t watch the show for Megan at all and could care less whether she gets her dream or not. I don’t watch the show to see Joan degraded and whored out and now Peggy’s supposedly gone. I’m just sad.

    • Eyeorr, for all the reasons you don’t like it, I love it. This episode was riveting. Brought a tear to my eye, twice. I think Joan is very smart and felt painted into a corner. In her eyes, and I can see why, it’s better in the long run to not be tied to a wealthy unstable man, aka Roger. Taking the whole situation for what it’s worth, it was a horrible decision but everyone who watch knows she didn’t do it willingly. As for Don, I think he was disappointed but I believe partly because he didn’t snag the account without assistance. I could go on and on but really it’s just a show, entertainment really and I will continue to watch because it entertains me, challenges me and that’s what I like.

    • I agree with you completely. This season is a terrible disappointment. Too much Megan! She’s a terrible actress. She adds nothing to the show, and worse her domination of each episode means less time for the more interesting characters. Peggy was reduced to a minor character this season, despite having been the second most important character (after Don) in prior seasons. Instead, we got to watch Megan, Megan, and more Megan. I also agree that Joan would have been much better off with cash rather than the partnership. Now she can’t escape the men who pimped her.

      • Even though Megan is a poor actress, she is not as bad as January Jones. She is Oscar caliber compared to Betty.

    • I was there in the 60′s, we are seeing the very beginnings of women’s liberation but it was not an overnight success and it was a tough road to tow. Few women entered the work force with ease, it was like walking into the drooling lion’s den.
      Joan, low income, single mom, no child care available unless you have a mother willing to put up with you and visa versa, and a women endowed with sex and beauty. It is easy these days to say she could just quit, not put up with the sexism and such but the reality is she’s made a powerful position for herself that would take years to produce an any other work situation. She uses her sex to get more power, she runs the office and she’s boss of the secretaries, and controls much of the way the outer office is run.
      Then, in the face of a disgusting client whom smarmy Pete Campbell has suggested she sacrifice herself to for the sake of the account, she soldiers on but with crafty conditions, she’s now a partner. It was ugly, it was unbelievably sacrificial, but Joan knows her weapons, she doesn’t have the choice Peggy does, who could potentially move into another agency and maintain creative writing status (I personally think Peggy is a model for Mary Wells who was the first woman in advertising to create her own agency), so Joan keeps her power, bumps it up a notch and though she won’t feel good in morning, she will eventually kick you-know-what in the afternoon and will recover her dignity. Mothers are fierce warriors, and will do what’s necessary for their children. In the background of Joan’s world is a child to support and she’s not letting anything get in the way of what she has accomplished and where she’s headed. Her children will never need to do what she’s done.

  5. I thought it was a great episode. I love the way the jaguar pitch scene and the “herb and Joan” scene were parallel. The entire episode was full of things like that, even Megan’s audition (who I hate) went along with the same theme of the episode when the guys just said “come here, and turn around (so we can check you out)” .

    I don’t know why some of the comments are hating on Joan. She obviously didn’t want to whore herself out but with her recent break up, a newborn, and a house falling apart, she did what she thought was best for her future. She wants to be independent and not just cave into depending on roger for support. HE offered to support the baby financially for its entire life up to college and she turned him down in a previous episode.

    I really REALLY REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY hope Peggy is not gone from
    SCDP(H)… ? lol. That creep is just trying to do whatever he can to annoy Don, it’s what he does. Peggy will receive LESS respect than she does at Sterling Cooper because at least at SC she has friends and people that do admire her and respect her (even if they don’t always show it). It’s the 1960′s, women unfortunately didn’t get the equal respect they deserved and Peggy going to a brand new firm with brand new co-workers will only make her situation worse. Don told her before when she was complaining in another episode that she has come VERY far in a VERY short ammount of time and to be patient. She still has a lot to learn and I’m worried she is making the wrong decision. She knows Don is very fond of her, he has told her numerous times…. I cant wait to see what happens.

    I love Don, don’t get me wrong. But… he doesn’t really care about Joan he just wanted to be able to snag the sale on his own. He probably could have too, and that is why he is unhappy when everyone else is celebrating. That’s what makes Don great. What doesn’t make Don great is the fact he “fell in love” with this idiot Megan who is not nearly as hot as most of the women Don had been with in previous seasons. I just don’t like the direction the writers/director/creators/whatevers took his love life story this season. I want the old Don Draper who cares about his family but also cant resist the urge to bang every girl in Manhattan. It just makes me mad they chose Megan (whatever her real name is) to be the one to completely turn Don’s entire life around. It doesn’t make any sense.

    Is Betty gone from the series too? I love Betty even though she turned into a b**** and got fat and married that dousche bag. I want to see what’s going on with that whole story line. Their new (and EXTREMELY rushed ) marriage seemed to be falling apart last episode.

    …well, Great episode anyways. I cant wait for next week.

  6. I was completely blown away with this episode, going through a range of emotions – happiness, disappointment, disgust, disbelief, sadness – from start to finish. I LOVED IT!
    My only bone of contention is the possible leaving of Peggy from the show. She’s not only Don’s protégé, she’s his counterpart … the keeper of his soul. And him for her. Hell, she’s the female version of Don which is why their relationship is the way it is!! How will Don function without Peggy and vice versa?

  7. I don’t see why Peggy would be out for good. The program could show her working at her new job, what she experiences there, maybe show some conflict between her old loyalties and new. I like how Don’s best relationships are with women he DOESN’T sleep with.

  8. Did anyone note that maybe Don was also upset because his real mother was actually a prostitute, and the damage of his other life that may resurface from Joan’s actions?

    Even though Weiner isn’t so subtle in his themes every episode, I do love how the tag line “finally something beautiful you can truly own” made play in the episode where Don actually is losing 3 beautiful women (in their own ways) that he felt he has or had a certain type of ownership to.

  9. I’m sorry. I meant Peggy’s possible leave from SCDP, not from the show. Elizabeth Moss is a member of the core cast. For her to leave the show, well that would simply suck big time.
    @Ann…I love your line of thinking with ownership and the beautiful women in Don’s life. With Joan and Peggy and Anna, there’s no (or was no) physical contact beyond that of deep friendship and with that comes respect, something all the women in Don’s life lose once the relationship becomes a physical one.

  10. While watching I have to say I was sick to my stomach and repulsed by everything that was going on and afterwards felt like I needed a shower.
    But after thinking about it for a while I couldn’t help but say to myself ” Damn, that was some good TV.”
    Pete was at his worst and I couldn’t help but hope someone, even his wife would slap him around again.
    Peggy leaving was sad and I even think Don had a chance to win her back until he mentioned Joan was a partner. After that Peggy was gone no matter what.
    Lane, poor poor Lane. I’m guessing in the next 2 weeks he will be caught and he should be fired for what he did but I still feel bad for him.
    And as always another episode without a hint of Betty is always a good one…

  11. i love pete’s character, one of my hero’s of the show, pete embodies more than donald draper, the ’50′s’ man. i used to hate him. but pete does all the unsavory work and does it without qualms, you have to respect that. if i had to indulge in hating anyone particular character, it would be draper.

  12. I especially enjoyed the fact that when Don hangs on to her hand and kisses it, Elisabeth Moss wasn’t informed that such a thing was going to happen. In an interview about the episode, she said the tears were real.

    Phenomenal episode. Between that and ‘Blackwater’ with Game of Thrones, this was one of the best Sundays I’ll ever have.

  13. A part of me wonders the reason don was against Joan sleeping with herb because he felt guilty about firing salvatore for the same situation. Don asked salvatore why he just didn’t do the deed to keep lucky strike happy. Maybe the memory of that stopped him from pushing Joan to do the same. Don also respects Joan. So I cant wait to see the fallout from this last episode.

    • I thInk Joan and Don can have a mature and understanding conversation ala Don and Megan can’t (zing) Don will be more busy falling apart over Peggy. I predict Ginsberg being promoted to a series regular next season a.k.a. Don’s new successor I like how Don warmned up to him. Seeing him smile and wowed when Ginsberg pitched The Jaguar slogan. I’m a Ginsberg fan

  14. For the second time in her life, Joan sacrificed her self-respect for some kind of gain. It’s interesting that so many want to solely blame the men of SCDP for her decision to sleep with that Jaguar rep. But it was Joan who made the final decision to toss her self-respect to the wind for a piece of the agency’s pie. And this was not the first time she had deliberately ignored her self-respect.This happened the first time when she married Greg Harris. I want to make this clear. I AM NOT claiming that Joan’s actions had led Greg to rape her in “The Mountain King”. Nor am I claiming that she deserved it. She DID NOT deserve something like that to happen to her. And Greg is fully to blame. But Joan had decided to go ahead and marry Greg, after what he had done to her. I believe that she deliberately ignored what Greg had done to her in order to snag a husband with a future as a doctor. She wanted a future with a professional husband, expensive house in the suburbs and kids so badly that she was willing to go ahead and marry the man who had assaulted her. I found that sad. And I found her decision to go ahead and sleep with that Jaguar client on behalf of the agency another example of how Joan is willing to prostitute herself for some kind of gain.

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