Well, that is subtle. In 1966 there was no thought of selling cars to or for women. The pitch was clear. Men, do you want to get laid? Get a Jag. Do you want to feel like a stud, the envy of all around you? Get a Jag. Do you want to own something with sexy lines, something a little dangerous, something totally impractical yet totally desirable? Get a Jag. It was a not-so-secret selling point - Jaguar was the naughty car. You drive the wife and kids around in your Buick, but you take your girlfriend out in your XK-E.
It's no surprise that a room full of men could only see that angle - sell the sex, sell the danger, sell the naughtiness. Jaguar is the Holy Grail to SCDP and They have a packed conference room where they're working around the clock to come up with the ideal approach to winning the account. Yet do they have their best and brightest on the pitch? Sure Ginsberg is there, and every freelancer available, but star copywriter Peggy Olson is literally on the outside looking in. She gets Secor laxatives, the men get the luxury car.
But that's not Peggy's only problem. Don is becoming increasingly abusive towards her, first ignoring her and dismissing her, then moving on to open hostility and petulance. He views Peggy as a tool, like his dictaphone or his pens - fungible, utilitarian, unfeeling. He forgets that you have to treat even inanimate objects well to keep them working. That is even more true with living, breathing human beings.
Part of landing the Jaguar account is getting the approval of the large dealership owners in the region. So Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell wine and dine Herb Rennet, the largest Jaguar dealer in the northeast. Herb knows that he is being wooed and he makes it clear that to get his vote, to get the Jaguar account, Ken and Pete are going to have to make him very happy. Pete doesn't see that as a problem. "We're open to anything your heart desires." Unfortunately, it's not Herb's heart that has desires. Herb wastes no time letting them know just what it will take to get his approval. Joan. He saw her at their offices and right then and there he thought, there's no way a girl who looks like this would give the time of day to a guy like me. Unless I had something that her bosses needed very badly. Make my dreams come true and I can make yours come true too.
So Ken and Pete jump up from the table, each slap him across his fat face, and tell him they will not be prostituting their office manager. No car company, no business, no amount of money is worth that.
Except that's not what happens. Ken develops a nervous laugh and tries to steer the conversation away from Joan but Pete's eyes get wide at the thought that they are one step closer to landing this account. The company, as we've been reminded, needs a car account and needs a big infusion of money. Jaguar can give them both. Pete sees a way to make this happen and all it will take is selling Joan's body and his own soul to the devil. But it is for a car, after all.
Over at Casa de Draper, Megan is whining about something. Because that is her default method of communication. Wait, no, she's actually happy. She has an audition that she's excited about! But she knows her acting career is of little interest to Don, so she switches the conversation to his work. And he tells her that they're all out of ideas for how to sell a car that doesn't, actually, drive. She offers help, which he wants and needs, but then he bites her head off when she tries to help. Because that is Don's default method of treating the important women in his life if they dare to engage him intellectually.
The next day Pete Campbell strolls into Joan's office under the pretext of telling her the "bad news" about Jaguar. His motives and intentions could not be clearer. He wants Jaguar and is willing
We see a brief scene of Peggy Olson being her amazing self, selling the Chevalier Blanc client on a new approach to their commercial. It is advertising from - gasp - a woman's perspective. And note how Harry wanted to introduce Peggy to the client as Ginsberg's subordinate or, at worst, equal, when she is his supervisor. But Ken properly introduced her and then sat (and later stood) in awe of her creative talent. Peggy is a superstar, but she's also a woman in a man's world and it's 1966. And so rather than kudos and a trip to Paris, she gets another dose of Don's seething hostility.
But for once, we can understand part of what is making Don angry. Pete called a partner's meeting to discuss the Jaguar account, Or, more to the point, how the only thing that is standing in their way is not coming up with a great pitch, but one night for Herb to have his way with Joan. Pete sees it as a simple business proposition. The others, to differing degrees, see it for what it is. But Pete is clever. He lets the partners think that Joan was not horrified by the very suggestion, he lets them believe that she's amenable for the right price. Don, who's had his own sordid experience with prostitution, wants no part of this and storms out. But the others, well, the others can be talked into it if they can be convinced that Joan is on board, if they can spin it to themselves that it's for the greater good, if they can ignore what they're sacrificing of their integrity and of her dignity. It's only one night after all. And it is, at long last, a car company.
Pete may be the scum who bubbled up from the primordial ooze to present this idea, but don't kid yourself. Aside from Don, none of the other partners say no. They say they're disgusted, they say it's unseemly, they say let Joan know she can still say no. But none of them stand up for what's right. Pete sees himself as the savior of the company, the only one with the nerve to roll up his sleeves and get dirty to do what has to be done. But the others, they're too desperate to do anything but huff and puff and them quietly, oh so quietly, let it happen. In some ways, they're worse than Pete. He knows he's pimping her out and embraces it, the others pretend it's not happening at all. Just like Harry and Ken pretended that Don didn't throw a wad of bills at Peggy's face just for standing up for herself. There are those who do awful things and there are those who sit quietly by.
Lane has his own demons to deal with. While he is attracted to Joan, and wants to stand by her honor, his more pressing concern is the money that he took from the recent advance to pay off his tax bill. He knows he can't go back to the bank and ask for another advance to get the $50,000 Pete thinks will buy a night of Joan's time. So he goes to her and plants a seed that if she were to go forward, it should be for a partnership interest and not simply a one time payment. Joan is offended knowing the partners all sat around discussing whether she should sleep with a potential client for business and is particularly hurt that Roger was part of that discussion. She believes that the partners want her to make this small sacrifice and will reward her, the only question being how well.
|A little heavy-handed juxtaposition here. We get it, Pete's a hypocrite.|
Megan and her actress friend Julia come to the office and break up the all-nighter. Both women are shown in sexual poses, Megan atop Don in his office, Julia prowling atop the desk in the conference room. They have the full attention in the rooms they occupy. Earlier, in contrast, Peggy stood alone in her office looking out the window wondering what she has to do to get any attention and respect. Megan is Don's trophy wife, the pretty young replacement for his pretty first wife. She was once one of the gang, another copywriter, but now as Ginsberg notes she comes and goes as she pleases. But does she? When she talks to Don later about her audition for Little Murders, he's fine until he finds out it will inconvenience him. She'll be gone for two to three months for rehearsals and that's not where she is supposed to be. He wanted her at work with him, but if Don couldn't have that, then she should at least be waiting patiently for him at home. But running off to chase her dream and leave him alone with his thoughts, that's not what he wants.
After a testy conversation with her mother about her ex-husband and finances and cleaning and every other part of daily life that bothers her, Joan starts to think that money could solve many of her problems. So she takes Lane's advice and goes to Pete demanding a 5% stake in SCDP in exchange for her services in helping to land the Jaguar account. Pete all of a sudden acts like a bumbling schoolboy, confused about the actual mechanics behind pimping out this married mother to the sleazy mouth breathing Herb Rennet. It's not a good look. Joan puts him in his place and retains as much dignity as she can under the circumstances, but it's a jarringly disturbing scene. What he suggested, what she agreed to, what she'll ultimately have to do. It's revolting and they both know it.
Peggy meets with her old pal Freddy Rumsen to complain about Don's treatment of her, yet she's in the bind that many young workers, male and female. find themselves in. She's been promoted, she's working on many accounts, she has copywriters under her - in many ways her career is going gangbusters. For someone who started as a wide-eyed secretary, in just a few years she's really moved up. And she's done it without having to play grab-ass with her boss. But she's also hitting her head against the glass ceiling and being treated like a second class citizen at best, and like garbage when Don has one of his hissy fits. It may be time for her to stop complaining and actually start looking for another job.
Ginsberg has a Ginsbergian epiphany and comes up with the perfect pitch for Jaguar. It's not vulgar, but gets the message across just the same. All your hard work men will finally pay off, this car is something beautiful you can actually own. Not like that mistress that you rent for a few hours a week. This you can keep in your garage, around your kids even! Don loves the pitch and feels confident heading into tomorrow's presentation. But then Pete brings his smug face into Don's office, a little canary feather popping out of the side of his mouth, to let Don know that there won't be any "impediments" to them getting the business. If you know what I mean. He might as well actually say "wink wink." Don is furious. But as Pete reminds him, the vote doesn't stop just because Don walks out of the meeting. Don storms out of the office and heads to Joan's apartment to stop her.
Don arrives at Joan's apartment and she comes out to greet him, just before heading into the shower. He tells her not to go ahead with Pete's plan. No client is worth that and who wants to be in bed with people like that. Literally or figuratively. Joan is taken aback. Pete had told her that everyone was in agreement and she's just now learning that not only is he a sleazy little scumbag but a liar as well. He told the partners that Joan was amenable and told Joan that the partners were all for it and yet neither was true. Finding out that someone stood up for her (unfortunately followed by walking out and missing a vote!) really touches Joan. She and Don have always had a good relationship, one devoid of the sexual power politics that Joan dealt with every day on the job. He had always treated her with respect and that respect meant more than landing Jaguar. Don leaves, feeling a bit like Superman, having swept in and saved the day.
The next day Don is suited up and ready to work his old magic. He's confident and on the top of his game, ready to seduce the clients with his charm and style and Ginsberg's words. He's going to land this client the old fashioned way.
We see Joan at Herb Rennet's hotel room. And we hear Don's words describing the sleek, stunning piece of art on four wheels that men covet from a young age and dream about possessing. But this thing, so beautiful, so exceptional, can be yours for a price. And we see Herb. And he's looking at this beautiful woman who ordinarily wouldn't give him the time of day and she's there, and he can have her. Bought and paid for. At first it's jarring, why would Joan go ahead with this after that talk with Don? We experience the degradation, the objectification from both perspectives. The balding overweight schlub who ordinarily would never get a woman like Joan, and the curvaceous, beautiful woman whose body is treated like a commodity. He wants her and for a price he can have her. Don's words spin around as the couple in the hotel do their own dance. The parallels between the car and the woman are hammered home until you forget that the car doesn't have feelings.
And then the reveal. The scene between Joan and Herb took place before Don got to Joan's apartment. He was too late. And her reaction to his words was not just surprise but regret. The next day Don comes into the office after his impassioned pitch, excited that they may win the business. But he doesn't know that it was Joan who made the pitch that counted.
At her audition, Megan is put on display before a couch full of leering men who believe it is necessary for her to turn around and show off her body rather than, say, read her lines. Ultimately she doesn't get the part and she's upset, but she doesn't tell Don about the audition, what she as a young woman has to go through just to have a chance at a part in an off-Broadway play. She knows he's happy she didn't get the part and knows that what she wants is not what he wants, and that is almost as troubling as what she might have to do to get what she wants.
Peggy takes a clandestine meeting with Ted Chaough to discuss leaving SCDP. Like Freddy, he's always been a fan of her work. And he'd love to stick it to Don. He admits that as a woman, she'll be asked questions a man wouldn't be asked. Are you married, planning on having kids, willing to work for a fraction of what the men are. But all he cares about is that she's a good copywriter. He asks her what she wants and he makes sure to lock it down right then and there by offering her more than she asked for. Ted tried to get Pete not long ago, but Don probably wouldn't have shed a tear. But he knows how valuable Peggy is and what a loss it would be.
Peggy wants to talk to Don, but before she can words starts spreading that Jaguar is about to announce what agency landed the car. And it's looking very good for SCDP. All the partners are invited into Roger's office for the phone call and that's when Don sees Joan and understands what happened. And he knows that whatever the outcome, it had nothing to do with Ginsberg's words or his pitch. They get the news they were all hoping for and it's champagne for everyone. Only Don is not in a celebratory mood anymore. And neither is Peggy.
Peggy starts her speech and Don thinks it's a typical "I want more money" presentation. He's amused and feeling flush with the new car account, let's Peggy know that there is more money for her. But he's completely oblivious to the fact that he's been treating her like crap and not giving her any respect. He blandly admits to taking her for granted, but throwing money in someone's face and snapping at them whenever you're in a mood is not taking them for granted. Plus, for anyone who is mentored in their first job, it is difficult for the boss - even if he wasn't an abusive alcoholic - to ever seen you as anything but that newbie, all wet behind the ears. Sometimes, you have to go where someone didn't see you take your first steps to finally be treated like an adult.
Don begs, cajoles, insults, and ultimately accepts that Peggy is leaving him. He wants to be a tough guy about it and tells her not to hang out for the two weeks. But as she offers her hand, he grabs it like a life rope and holds on. He kisses her hand and tears fall from both their eyes. This is not easy for either of them, but it's necessary. They both know it. As Peggy says, it's what Don would do. It's ironic, Don was so focused on not losing Megan that he ended up actually losing the one woman who meant the most to him.
Peggy struts confidently out of the office, living her own Mary Tyler Moore "you're gonna make it after all" moment years before that show aired. There were no rule books for women in the workplace back then, not many role models for how to move up and get ahead. Peggy represents the trailblazers of that time who had to rely on men to hire and promote them, navigating the sexist waters by themselves. Those with mentors who saw them not just as women but capable coworkers, were the lucky ones. Those who knew they deserved better and found a way to make it happen were the smart ones.
We celebrate Peggy's independence and her courage to leave the familiar for the unknown. But how do we treat Joan's choice? After thirteen years at SCDP, was it wrong for her to take a situation that presented itself and use it for her financial comfort and security? Is this a case of her body, her choice? Or should a woman not even have to make that choice - one no man has to make? Is using your body a slippery slope, so that the Joan we saw Season one flirting for a free lunch was the natural precursor to the Joan we saw tonight, parlaying one night for a partnership for life? Or was this the patriarchy telling her that she only has two assets that matter and she might as well use them if she wants to get ahead? Regardless, what's done is done and Joan is now a partner, like Pete, sharing in the future successes of the firm.
But another partner, Lane, is not thinking about future success, only Bert Cooper's repeated mantra that bonuses can wait. Lane has to pay back the money he took from the bank and without his bonus, where will that money come from?
Ken: You have to be excited about this car.
Herb: Oh, it's a red-hot number. l'm excited about that. But l'm a hard man to please. l always feel like someone should go the extra mile.
Pete: We're open to anything your heart desires.
Ken: Was that what l think it was?
Pete: Yes, it was.
Ken: Why didn't you just let me tell him she was married?
Pete: Because so is he. And he already knows that.
Ken: Well, we wanted to be in the car business.
Pete: She was a queen. What would it take to make you a queen?
Joan: l don't think you could afford it.
Roger: Don't fool yourself. This is some very dirty business.
Bert: Let her know she can still say no.
Lane: Every time someone's asked me what l wanted, I've never told them the truth.
Pete: It's an epic poem for me to get home.
Gail: His wife won't let him come here anymore.
Joan: l don't want to talk about that. We can afford to have someone else fix the refrigerator, for God's sake.
Gail: Why won't anyone believe me? Apollo and l are just friends.
Joan: l don't want you talking that way around Kevin.
Gail: He's a baby. He doesn't know that we all wish his father was dead.
Joan: Which one is he?
Pete: He's not bad.
Joan: He's doing this.
Herb: l feel like a sultan of Araby and my tent is graced with Helen of Troy.
Joan: Those are two different stories.
Don: What behavior would we forgive? If they weren't pretty, if they weren't temperamental, if they weren't beyond our reach and a little out of our control? Would we love them like we do?
Megan: Well, you get to disappear for work whenever you want. And if l have to choose between you and that, l'll choose you. But l'll hate you for it.
Peggy: l want you to know that the day you saw something in me my whole life changed.
And since then, it's been my privilege to not only be at your side, but to be treated like a protege and for you to be my mentor and my champion.
Peggy: But l think I've reached a point where it's time for me to have a new experience.
Don: Well, let's pretend l'm not responsible for every single good thing that's ever happened to you, and you tell me the number or make one up and l'll beat it.
Peggy: There's no number.
Ah, the 60s. When sexism was alive and well and men were kings of their castles. What do you mean it's fifty years later and nothing's changed? That's ridiculous. There is no way today that a business deal would hang on whether or not a woman would agree to sleep with a rich and powerful man. Or that the creator of this very show would be accused of sexual harassment just a few years after this episode aired. Oh, whoops.
Sexual politics in the workplace is a hot topic today. But Joan has been on both sides of the issue herself. Let us not forget how she instructed then new hire Peggy Olson on the proper way to dress and adorn herself to get a husband, back in the pilot episode. How she schooled her on the men to avoid and the men to enjoy. It's dangerous to even discuss how Joan might have used her substantial physical assets to her advantage as it raises issues of power imbalance, slut shaming and demeaning women. Has she flirted to get things she wanted, for herself or the company? Is that any different than Don flattering the wife of a proposed client?
Little Murders was a play that debuted off Broadway in 1967, then quickly shuttered, only to be rediscovered for the satirical gem it was. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist/satirist Jules Feiffer, it told the story of the absurdity of suburban life in the crowded, filthy, steamy, crime-ridden New York of the mid-century. It was a successful play in 1969 and then released as a theatrical film in 1971. Feiffer is still alive (as of this post) and recently wed his third wife at 87!
My favorite line was from Joan's mom. After she said that the superintendent's wife won't let him come to the apartment any more, we all assume it was because of Joan. And then Gail springs on us: "Why won't anyone believe me? Apollo and l are just friends."
Always great to see Freddy Rumsen back and on the wagon. He's always been a staunch supporter of Peggy's, really the first one to spot her talent. I wonder if he will follow up now that Peggy is gone and try to get some work at SCDP.
1966 was a pivotal point for women's empowerment. While Megan is being ogled and Joan is being pimped out, elsewhere the National Organization for Women is being founded by Betty Friedan, author of the ground-breaking "The Feminine Mystique," and others seeking gender equality and fighting discrimination. They fought for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and came within three states of ratifying the law that provided: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. It failed to garner enough support when Phyllis Shlafly lead a pro-traditional values/gender roles opposition to the law.
Don sure wants his wife to be, if not barefoot and pregnant, at least at home whenever he wants. She can have her own interests only to the extent that they don't interfere with his life in the slightest. Maybe he should have stayed with Betty, someone who at least pretended to be content with sitting at home waiting for her man to return. But these younger girls, they have some crazy ideas about having their own identity and their own dreams.
Spoilery Observations (Don't read until you've watched the whole show!):
Compare the picture of Peggy leaving SCDP with her much Gif'd exit at the end of the series. Here, she's a little nervous but a lot excited about this new adventure. There, she's a certifiable bad ass.
Freddy will be back not only free lancing for Don, but later acting as Christian de Neuvillette to Don's Cyrano de Bergerac. Ted also will be back not as a foil for Don but as a partner and even friend. But what we didn't see coming, and maybe we should have, was that his feelings for Peggy would go beyond professional respect and appreciation.
In retrospect, we can see the building desperation that Lane is feeling. All he can focus on is the fact that he has stolen money from the firm and without the bonuses his misdeed will be discovered. He doesn't care that Joan gets more than just a one time payout, he only cares about not having to write her a big check on an overdrawn account. And he doesn't care that she's about to prostitute herself, all he cares about is that it doesn't implicate him in the theft. While everyone else celebrates, he continues to worry about the ax falling.
Megan could not have been clearer. She'll do what Don wants, she'll abandon her dreams, but she'll resent him for it. And she was right. Living her dream was inconsistent with being Mrs. Don Draper and one had to give.
Pete's talk about wanting a place in the city is another sign that Pete is getting restless. He's tiring of suburban life and wants something more exciting. He thinks it's Manhattan, later he'll think it's in Los Angeles, only to come full circle and see just how good he had it all along.
Joan doesn't let this experience tear her down. She embraces her new role as partner and in fact comes to side with the partners who sold her out and do battle with Don. Later, she goes on to become her own boss, the ultimate in empowerment. Every experience only makes her stronger and more focused on providing for herself and her son.