Monday, May 4, 2015

Mad Men recap: Peggy forever

Peggy strutting into McCann-Erickson like a boss, like a straight up boss, will be one of my top memories of the show. She had that ciggie hanging, sunglasses on, freaky octopus porn under her arm (faced out so all could see, because she DGAF). I admit I couldn’t bring myself to hang that in my office, and I would’ve wrapped it up just to carry it home on the subway. But I definitely would’ve kept it as a memento of Bert, and besides, any art he owned was probably worth enough to buy a small island. Or at least a car.

In last night’s episode, Lost Horizon, everyone found out what a shit sandwich working at McCann would be. Except for Harry with his Amazing, Massive, Very Huge Gonkulator, who basically landed in a pot of jam, and Pete, who seems likely to thrive. But for everyone else, it’s a punch in the gut. Or the lady parts, as the case may be.

This episode really highlighted the different operating styles of Joan and Peggy and how that impacts their careers. Peggy has always been way before her time and willing to take matters into her own hands. Joan is tough as hell as well as awesome at anything she sets her hand to, but she often falls back on using her looks and wits to charm men into doing what she wants. Peggy just freakin’ does it herself, and that will hopefully work out for her in the end. Remember when Peggy’s bestie Stan used to be a bit of a sexist pig (hard to believe now that he’s all scruffy sexy funny cool)? She put him in his place by working topless way back when (how she knew that would shut him down or scare him off, I don’t know, but it worked). And when a guy under Peggy’s domain was being a harassing jerk to Joan later, Peggy fired the guy, much to Joan’s dismay – Joan had wanted to “handle it” by dining and charming another man and getting him to deal with it.

In the end, I think Joan’s old-fashioned style of handling problems failed her. Surrounded by such horrible people, I don’t know if she could’ve found a solution other than through a long legal battle she didn’t have the heart to fight. So she packed up and fled McCann and her lifetime of building up that career, and shorted a quarter of a million dollars to boot. Peggy would not have stood for that crap. When the dude sat across from Joan and told her she didn’t get to be pissed after he oafishly mishandled the Avon account, she swallowed back her anger and tried to placate him. Peggy would’ve told him he was full of it if he thought she didn’t have a right to be pissed and would’ve ripped him a new one. Which might have gotten her fired in the very superior and condescending atmosphere at McCann, but screw it, she would’ve done it anyway, and just maybe earned a little respect. Or at least managed to preserve some for herself.

Joan kept relying on her fallback of asking another man at the office to help, and each man she asked seemed more horrible than the last. And even Roger, who I think will always care for her, was powerless. There was no man she could turn to that would solve this, and the fire and brimstone she used to summon to stomp someone into dust (which she always seemed more comfortable wielding against other women in the early days of Mad Men) never surfaced. Even her millionaire boyfriend couldn’t offer better than hiring a guy to threaten her tormenter (which must’ve been a damn tempting option for Joanie. Or maybe that was just me). Or a lawsuit, which she didn’t really want to get mired in.

I’m really hoping that fist-pumping hell yeah high of last night’s final scene of Peggy rolling into McCann was a sign of things to come for her. McCann obviously isn’t going to value her much at the start (no man would’ve been asked to work from the secretarial pool until his office was ready). It was pretty clear women only worked on accounts that had to do with “lady” products at that firm. Hopefully Burger Chef won’t jump ship out of their hate for McCann, and that account will keep her foot in the door of being able to work a variety of accounts. But the way Joan’s obvious skill and talent got completely ignored and belittled doesn’t bode well for our Peg.

As for Don, he went on an odd little journey. I have to admit watching him push at that window in the beginning made me wonder if he wanted to jump out, then I brushed the feeling aside. I hope that wasn’t meant to be foreshadowing. I'm not going to dwell on that one, it’s too depressing. I guess he wants Diana so much because he sees in her a kindred spirit of the utterly damaged kind. It probably doesn’t hurt that she rejected him, either.

As much as I love Don and Roger though, the women’s stories felt much more compelling to me this episode. Especially Peggy’s, who may have to carry the flag of hope for some kind of good outcome in that mad world. Skate on, you awesome diva, skate on.

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