Final score: The Mad Men writers jump the shark to win tonight’s episode! Seriously, Peggy wins the night because she got a better job the honorable way. Her victory is a minor storyline, though, given Joan’s acceptance of the indecent proposal. Let’s go through the night.
[You can page down for the play-by-play or read my review of the night starting here.]
AMC put the most pivotal episode of this Mad Men season on during Memorial Day weekend. Were they trying to hide the implausibility of the indecent proposal storyline? Joan isn’t to blame for taking the indecent proposal and the 5 percent ownership in SCDP. Pete Campbell isn’t to blame, either. The Mad Men writers are to blame. For a show featuring cheaters and drunks and drug users, the indecent proposal crossed the line. It violated Joan’s integrity. Worse, it just wasn’t consistent with anything Joan’s done in the previous five seasons of the show. She never once attempted to use her relationship with Roger Sterling for personal gain. The Jaguar man’s solicitation was certainly not the first that Joan’s faced since she started in advertising. Why now, of all times, would Joan accept an indecent proposal?
As for Peggy: good for her on joining the improbably spelled Ted Chaough, because it’ll make a great storyline for the rest of the season. Don ignored Peggy, and perhaps for good reason, because MICHAEL GINSBERG is a budding creative genius. Peggy has yet to succeed without her spiritual leader in Don. Don may have thrown dollar bills at her tonight, but he does care about her and will push for her to succeed.
Is Peggy’s pay raise worth leaving a mentor? Ted Chaough is no mentor and no genius. Then again, Don’s saving his mentorship and genius for Megan, who no longer wants it. The bigger concern for Peggy is her job security, as Ted Chaough will not have the patience for Peggy’s missteps that Don did.
I still feel like this season could end with Don on the street, and perhaps Peggy will join him in quick succession. After tonight’s shark jump, however, anything goes in Mad Men. Characters should evolve, not invent. Joan accepted the indecent proposal and invented a whole new character. The Joan we’ve been presented by the Mad Men writers for the last five seasons wouldn’t have accepted it, full stop.
Thanks for joining me! See you next week for Episode 512.
11:01pm: Don holds Peggy’s hand and nearly cries. Peggy really cries. That’s business.
11:00pm: Don asks Peggy to give him the number. Peggy will not comply. Peggy to Don: “You know this is what you would do.” Actually, I think Don would take the money.
10:59pm: Don to Peggy: “I know I’ve taken you for granted.” Peggy: “Yes, I’ve seen the show.”
10:58pm: Peggy to Don: “I want you to know that the day you saw something in me…my whole life changed.” Don: “I have that effect on people.”
10:57pm: Peggy talks with Don while everyone else is celebrating the Jaguar account.
10:56pm: Jaguar’s calling every agency with results on the pitch meeting, and SCDP lands the account. Roger calls in every partner, including Joan. Don is a sad Draper.
10:53pm: Peggy meets with Ted Chaough and gets an offer of $19,000 per year, which translates to $130,000 a year in 2012 dollars, according to DollarTimes. Did I write that down correctly?
10:52pm: Megan is objectified in her callback audition. Ethics 101.
10:47pm: I try to be funny in this live blog, but it’s difficult with Joan’s indecent proposal. Lane now gets out of his embezzlement snafu, Joan can finish up her divorce without going broke, and Pete somehow wins.
Does this sort of indecent proposal happen? I’m sure it does, but how often with employees? And yes, I know that Joan’s had an affair with Roger Sterling, who’s been her boss for years. Doesn’t matter. It’s worse when it happens with a client.
And more concerning, it seems like a lazy storyline. Joan’s indecent proposal is too obvious. It’s a free pass on complex thinking.
10:45pm: Ah, Don arrived after Joan’s date with the Jaguar guy. Doesn’t matter. This storyline is still tacky.
10:44pm: Don to the Jaguar committee: “What behavior would we forgive if they weren’t pretty?” Mad Men is pretty, but I can’t forgive this storyline.
10:44pm: This storyline is so tacky. I am hoping that Joan doesn’t go through with it.
10:43pm: The SCDP boys are at the Jaguar pitch the next day. And yes, of course, Joan went through with it. So Don’s pitch is smooth but hollow, is like Joan’s night with Herb, the Jaguar guy.
10:42pm: Prediction: Joan still goes through with the indecent proposal.
10:41pm: Don goes to Joan’s apartment and tells her it’s not worth it. Joan to Don: “I was told everyone was on board.” Ethics 101.
10:39pm: Pete tells Don that Joan’s going to accept the Jaguar man’s indecent proposal in exchange for 5 percent of SCDP. Don to Pete: “I don’t want it like this.” Pete to Don: “It was her idea.” No, Pete, it was the Jaguar man’s idea.
10:37pm: Mad Men advertising note: Miller 64 is performance beer! In exchange for a pilates class, I can reward myself with a Miller 64. This Miller 64 commercial felt like a 64-second commercial, but yes, I will get a Miller 64. To Miller 64!
10:34pm: Freddy Rumsen encourages Peggy to leave her job. This is part of the Jessica Pare takeover of Mad Men. All the women will leave, either through new jobs or moral indignation.
10:33pm: MICHAEL GINSBERG’s Jaguar line: “At least, something beautiful you can truly own.” Ethics 101.
10:32pm: MICHAEL GINSBERG comes into Don’s office and implies that Jaguars will help jerks get ladies. I knew as a child that only jerks get the ladies.
10:31pm: Joan talks to Pete and demands a 5 percent stake in SCDP in exchange for the indecent proposal. And here is the shark that Mad Men has jumped.
10:30pm: Hey, Megan got a callback to an audition! Surprise!
10:29pm: Joan is having a fight with her mother about their impoverished living situation. Maybe Joan and her mother can trade residences with Pete and Alison Brie. With her living expenses controlled, Joan won’t need to take the indecent proposal.
10:28pm: Pete and Alison Brie are fighting about their living situation. Pete wants Manhattan and Alison Brie wants “fresh air.” GREEEEEEN ACRES!
10:26pm: Prediction: There is no way, no how that Joan accepts the indecent proposal. For a woman who’s cheated on her husband (and helped other husbands cheat), she has a code of ethics, and the indecent proposal violates that code.
10:22pm: Megan’s friend does a seductive (?) dance, which gives MICHAEL GINSBERG the idea for the best Jaguar line ever – “she comes and goes as she pleases.” On behalf of Peggy fans everywhere, I’m getting a little tired of that smart MICHAEL GINSBERG. I may start capitalizing Peggy as PEGGY in response.
10:22pm: Megan is back from an audition and gives the following Jaguar pitch line: “Jaguar: It’s your problem, not mine.” Megan is getting good lines!
10:21pm: Pete reads a bedtime story to his kid. Useless.
10:19pm: Lane attempts to discourage Joan from taking the indecent proposal because it’ll reveal its embezzlement. Actually, no, Lane attempts to convince Joan to defer upfront cash for a partnership in the firm. That could work!
10:18pm: Ken attempts to console Peggy, and Peggy responds by telling him that he doesn’t believe his “stories.”
10:17pm: Peggy to Don after getting pulled from MICHAEL GINSBERG’s account: “So, I guess I’m not in charge of everything.” Don responds by throwing money at her. I wish I’d get that response every time I challenged authority.
10:15pm: Don Draper can’t pitch Jaguar and sell Mercedes-Benz roadsters simultaneously, can he? It sounds like an agency conflict.
10:12pm: Bert Cooper to Pete about Joan’s indecent proposal: “Let her know she can still say no.” From his voice, it sounds like she can’t. Ethics 101.
10:10pm: Pete tells the partners that the Jaguar guy (who is apparently one of three votes) that Joan would consider the indecent proposal at the right price. Everyone else in the room had ethics, but Pete actually considers a financial structure for the payoff to Joan, and seems to persuade the other partners, save Don.
10:09pm: Harry, Ken, and Peggy are on a speakerphone, which is apparently a novel invention for 1966. Is it 1967 yet? Anyway, Peggy is getting the chance to be creative and invokes Lady Godiva, so apparently all sorts of ethics are getting tossed to the side at SCDP. And we’re not even at the embezzlement yet.
10:08pm: Pete to Joan: “Do you consider Cleopatra a prostitute?” Joan apparently is open to it, because she says, “I don’t think you can afford it.” That is not a no. It should be, but it’s not. Joan is too good for that.
10:07pm: Pete to Joan about the Jaguar guy: “A night with you, or no vote.” Surprisingly, Joan is not persuaded. Yet.
10:06pm: Pete is asking Joan about serving the needs of the Jaguar man. Pete has no ethics. Does Joan have ethics?
10:05pm: Don Draper, a 20-year veteran of the ad business, is asking Megan Draper, a 20-year old (and change) for help on his Jaguar campaign. Megan’s advice: don’t use the word “mistress” in the campaign. Good advice.
10:04pm: Ken to Pete about the Jaguar guy propositioning Joan: “Why didn’t you tell him she’s married?” Pete: “Because so is he.” Ethics 101.
10:03pm: The Jaguar pitch guy has asked Pete and Ken for Joan’s contact information. By “contact information,” the pitch guy means that he wants Joan’s companionship for the night. And Pete’s considering it.
10:01pm: MICHAEL GINSBERG’s pitch at the Jaguar creative meeting: “Jaguar. You’ll love it when you’re in it.” Peggy is irritated because the boys are all on the Jaguar account, whereas she is working on laxatives. MICHAEL GINSBERG apparently used laxatives before coming up with his pitch.
9:58pm: Even AMC knows that no one likes The Killing. At 9:58, right in the afterglow of The Killing‘s thrilling conclusion (a dude in a hoodie, driving at night), there’s immediately a big promo for Mad Men and a couple John Slattery commercials for Lincoln automobiles.
9:55pm: Sarah from The Killing has been released into Lew Ashby‘s care. As long as she stays out of Lew’s stash, she might make it to the start of Mad Men.
9:54pm: Tonight’s description of The Killing: “Sarah is at her wit’s end.” So are we all with this show. In other news about The Killing, Seattle is still overcast.
10:45am: A new episode on Memorial Day weekend? Does Mad Men‘s audience time shift that much? When looking at Mad Men‘s “Where to Watch” page, it sure seems that way. AMC promotes four ways to watch Mad Men: “On AMC”, “Download”, “On DVD”, and “On VOD.” AMC knows the Mad Menaudience goes well beyond Sundays at 10pm. Do advertisers also know?
Like many Mad Men fans, I want the show to be an Event (not an event, but an Event). It needs to be this grand, unifying Event for my generation. But how can an Event unify if everyone watches the Event at separate times? This is the big divide between scripted entertainment and live entertainment (sports, news, and even reality TV results shows). Mad Men‘s Event needs to be communal, but its consumption is individual. Perhaps it’s perfect for my individualistic, on-demand generation. We will unify around an Event, but only when we can pencil it in.
Anyway, let’s go back to the show. Don Draper is in the middle of the Jaguar pitch, which is exactly where the show needs him to me. No more thrown plates of spaghetti. It’s time that Don gets back to work. Of course, by the time Don successfully lands the Jaguar account, Lane Pryce’s embezzlement from Episode 510 will sink SCDP, leading to Don and Megan’s inevitable demise in a Montreal flophouse. It’ll be fun until then, though!
See you tonight at 10pm Eastern!