Mad Men: Series 5, Episode 11 The Other Women
May 27, 2012
I have this habit of watching Mad Men twice in the same night, well, because the show is that rich and I want to devour every detail and emotional subtlety surrounding the men and woman of Madison Avenue ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP). It sounds silly to spend two hours with the same TV drama in one evening and yet, I feel it’s a habit I share with many of the show’s fanatical fans.
Series 5 continues to be a standout run for the AMC series and, perhaps, it’s difficult to let go with the season finale coming up quickly.
The Other Women, the eleventh episode in’66-set series 5, written by Semi Charles and Matthew Weiner and directed by Phil Abraham, is all about the women surrounding Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the creative director and partner at SCDP, and the changing dynamics in their professional and personal lives.
SCDP Director of Agency Operations, Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) continues to rise professionally at SCDP all while raising her baby, Kevin, with her estranged husband Greg overseas serving in Vietnam.
Don’s young French-Canadian wife Megan (Jessica Paré) remains intent on staying away from the ad business and focused on her acting career despite Don’s complaints about the possibility of her landing a theatrical part requiring weeks of previews in Boston.
SCDP copywriter Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) has lunch with an old colleague and comes to realize that perhaps, SCDP is no longer the best agency for her to be.
Don’s ex-wife, Betty Francis (January Jones) is missing from the episode but Joan and Peggy more than make up for the absence with shocking additions to their character timelines.
The core drama revolves around SCDP partners Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) coming off both pragmatic and cruel when they ask Joan to go beyond the call of duty to help land the Jaguar USA account.
Christina Hendricks continued to enhance her character beyond the sexy secretary of season one to a significant player at SCDP. The grim truth that unfolds throughout The Other Woman is that for Joan to advance to undreamed of heights at SCDP, she may have to return to old, bedroom habits.
Joan’s sudden ascent is in lock step with Don as he regains his ambition in the office to lead copywriter Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) and the rest of his creative team to an impressive pitch to Jaguar USA. Still, despite the outcome with Jaguar, Don suffers a professional loss that may be hard to replace.
Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and the show’s production company, Lionsgate continue to do the series proud with Tiffany production values, great writing and deft use of show’s ensemble cast.
The extra long wait between series four and five has been worth it. Depending on what happens between now and the season finale, series five may be the best season yet.
The Other Woman ends with one man feeling defeated by abandonment and one woman leaving SCDP and striking out to the tune of The Kinks single You Really Got Me.
Sometimes, even for a man as dashing as Don Draper, it’s not enough to kiss a woman’s hand to keep her at your side.