Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:06 AM
So, my two cents on this game-changing episode:
1). Since this season started, several people have opined that if this show were really "real world" Peggy would have jumped ship by now. She is marginalized, has great potential and her boss is a huge jerk to her. Her departure was perfect and Don acted very appropiately for Don- at first he thinks its all fake and phoney; a ploy for more money. Then he realizes that its true and he totally wraps himself in the reality of the loss. I honestly thought that her departure was handled about as well as any development on this show.
2). I am a bit torn on Joan's story-line. Now, from a story-building point of view, it was a very well done move. First, Pete is a smarmy peice of white goose shit the whole time. He is all about what will make him look and feel best at the expense of all others- his wife, his partners, the hot red-head who sits in the windowless office. He doesn't care if they all have to be fucked; so long as he makes out. And the worst part? HE THINKS HE'S CLEVER! Did you see how when he truend back to Joan, he acted like "Now, watch me show how subtle I am..." and then lays on that thick shit about 'I never wanted to do this'?"
Second, Joan got raped again and it felt just as horrid. The show expanded Joan's (for lack of a better term) vulnerability by doing what Joan hates to do- exposing her to others. She hates that the partners know, that they are advising her and that she not only won't say 'no' but that she is ashamed that she wants the pot o'gold at the end of this sleezy rainbow. Hendricks played Joan with natural vulnerability and self-loathing all sealed under that armor of confidence and attitude that denies anything can ever really happen to her. You know? Like when Greg was raping her in Don's office and she just looked away? Yeah, same thing.
Third, Lane. Because sometimes desperation makes you part of the problem. The complexity of making Lane a co-conspiritor in all this was stunning in how banal it was. Lane does not want Joan fucked by some loathsome fuck. But he wants that loathsome fuck's business. And so he concocts this terror-play about why Joan can make out. Its creepy in its dignity.
But... but ... but ...but....
First, the entire story line felt forced. I felt like I was watching a show about being a woman in a 1960s office. But, wait, you may say- it IS a show about women in 1960s offices. Yeah, but ... it was never this "in your face"; never this shallow base and crude. It was so ham-fisted that I felt crushed by it. I mean yes, I get it these men all want Jaguar and they all want the office to prosper... but they are all cool with Joan getting fucked to get the car? Really? Not one of them made a stand (when it mattered)? They are all okay with having Joan used like that? Not one of them has a sense of chivalry? Honor? Really?
I did not buy it. I thought the show ignored this point- that all these men would look the other way (in one form or another) for a very real reason: it was so weak that if they drew too much attention to it it would expose how shallow it was.
Second, I thought the whole time that the show a) wanted a way to get Hendricks more involved in the show but b ) had no legitimate way to do it other than make her partner and c) to make that happen they jury-rigged this "Fuck For Jaguar" to get there. It felt exactly that way while I was watching the episode. As soon as they said "5%" I was like, "Okay, so this is going to happen." The obvous manipulation of all that for this moment (making Joan a partner) was tedious and unrealistic; it felt forced and obvious.
Third (and expansion of the first point but it bares its own area): Roger. I was mortified that Rodger would just sit there and be okay with this. First, ITS COMING FROM PETE CAMPELL! Rodger hates Pete- but he believes what he is saying? Two, he still pines fro Joan and he never bothers to talk to her about this? Again, I know why- if Joan and Rodger did speak it would expose how shallow this was. Three, and maybe the most unforgivable, was the insertion of Don in Joan's appartment. Don tells Joan not to do this, that its never worth it etc etc. Why? I can understand the "Mom was a prostitute" thing, but that seems pretty vacant all things considered. Everything he says is fine, but seems like its more to absolve Don of any sin rather than to save Joan.
That's why while Don was talking I almost jumped out of my seat and said "This should be Rodger." Rodger has a real relationship with Joan; he has strong ties to her and wants to do right by her. Rodger should have told Joan it was not worth it; that she should not do this. But if Rodger did it would have been immediately! Not like Don who waited until the deed was done (he didn't know... I assume).
To me, the Joan story-line was very well done and executed as well as it could have been. But only on the surface. As one looks deeper you see the shallowness and shottyness of the product. Its got shine and glitz but after some time you see the flaws. Much in the same way people had to bring a tool box with them when they drove their Jaguars, I felt that I had to avert my eyes to avoid the weaknesses.
Overall, though, the symetry of the episode combined with the triangle of Joan-Pete-Peggy was classic and very well done. Peggy's departure was great; Joan's assention undertsnadble. BUt in getting there? I just think that if you look to closely you get the feeling it should not have been done at all.