wildcard_47: (Mad Men - PB&J)
[personal profile] wildcard_47
In which it's the best of times, and it's the worst of times...

Joan: On one hand, she took an enormous, foolish risk in cutting Pete out of the Avon meeting. As adroit as she became, considering she assumed the setup with Andrew Hayes was initially a date, it was clear at meeting #2 that Joan was nervous and out of her comfort zone. Not noticeably enough to alarm the client - who seemed to like them very much, judging by the box of samples - but enough for her to flounder and request Peggy's help at the table. Pete, for all his smarminess, has a decade of accounts experience that would have been very useful in wooing a $25mil account. BUT, Pete didn't even consider inviting Joan to the meeting when it was her contact and her skill at reading people that got them a foot in the door. If he'd been willing to give Joan her due, not as a secretary-administrative figure but as a partner with an important contribution, I don't think she'd have run around him or felt the need to assert individual authority. And while cutting Pete out of the meeting was impulsive, ruthless, and could have gotten her fired, it's not an unfounded precedent (Pete did it to Don in season 1), and it's no worse than the machinations of other partners, past or current. Plus, I think Joan has skill sets from her years of admin and financial work which would suit accounts very well in the end.

Interesting, too, how Joan's work narrative still parallels Lane's so closely. Consider: both Joan and Lane gained their agency partnerships through a single act required by others in a time of desperate measures. While their individual merit was vaguely considered or remarked on (can you do what he does? she's been here fifteen years!), it was never the total basis of an offer to be of equal rank with the others. Both Joan and Lane saw a closing window of opportunity for advancement and took it, disregarding the personal cost. While Joan's deal was more degrading because it traded on her physical worth, both Lane and Joan took their partnerships anticipating it would give them more power, only to feel displaced, ignored, and actively shut out by the other partners after attaining that rank. When Lane stumbled onto Jaguar, the men allowed him to take a solo meeting even though Lane was not an accounts man, and they all knew beforehand he wouldn't be able to close the deal. Lane clung to the account and the newfound authority so tightly he lashed out verbally and physically after Pete and the others accidentally botched the connection yet endlessly mocked him for his incompetence: you have no idea what you're doing.

Joan, on the other hand, was not even given the chance to go to the meeting with the others, despite her connection to the Avon rep being very marketable and important. A cosmetics company who needs to break into the market share of young, working women while retaining their existing customer base of housewives and old-fashioned ladies? HELLO. Joan has lived in both of those worlds, trading on what was useful from either sphere to get where she is today. No surprise that she clung just as fiercely to the opportunity to play account man here. She has something to prove, has few cards to play, and knows this may be her only window to get on board as a voice of authority in a non-administrative role. Her financial work has gone largely overlooked and her opportunity to show it off with the IPO was fucked once Don rode in on a high horse and dumped Jaguar on account of his own baggage.

Not to mention, both Lane and Joan were both motivated to stay in the accounts role (temporarily) by pride and a need for personal validation. They took a chance encounter with an influential exec and hoped to use it as a springboard to prove their professional worth to the other partners. Lane was allowed to take lead with Jaguar, but stepped reluctantly aside for the heavy hitters once he crashed and burned, and made his displeasure known after the other men lost his account. Joan, when pushed aside in the face of relative success, refused to be the afterthought by showing up to a client meeting uninvited (a la Peggy in season 2 with Maidenform) so she cut Pete out rather than lose face: "now she's going to say it was her account and her client!"

Here's the other key difference, other than gender politics: Lane chose to die rather than spend the rest of his life fighting uphill battles. He didn't have the personal confidence or the self-esteem to carry on in the face of constant criticism, or to ask someone for help when he realized he was seriously floundering. But Joan is a fighter. No matter how ugly people are to her, or how humiliating her life becomes, she rolls with the punches, and still strives to make opportunities where she finds them. When Joan realized just how over her head she was, she turned to Peggy for help, and found it.

It was perfect how Pete took such offense to her actions, as it's exactly what he would have done -- and has done -- in similar situations. Joan is ambitious, and can be very much like Pete -- subtly and skillfully manipulating people for her own gain -- and I don't think Pete truly recognized this as threatening until she undercut him.

Peggy: Is still stuck between two worlds, trying not to get caught up in the roiling dysfunction of SC&P and holding to the theory that Ted's the person who's truly on her side. So if this becomes a question of Ted betraying her for Cutler's agency machinations and proving Don is the ~better man in the end, I'm going to be so pissed. But I do think her alliance with Joan re: Avon is important, not just because she's perfect for the campaign and has confidence in Joan's ability to net and keep the account, but also because the post-meeting fight helped clear the air between the two of them. Now, Peggy has proven that she is on Joan's side when it counts, and also knows that Joan has confidence in her creative work, too. For two people who could rarely, if ever, see eye to eye on anything or deeply understand the other's professional or personal goals, that's huge.

Bob is gay, I'm sure of it. He dodged the question when Ginsberg asked directly. And it was sweet the way he tried to help Ginsberg during his panic attack: "they're good people who make wine for religious ceremonies of all faiths!" But he is a clueless pawn in Cutler's game right now, poor guy. Things are not going to end well for him.

Re: Ginsberg, I don't think he's mentally disturbed to the degree of schizophrenia, as others are saying, but he's clearly not well. I wouldn't be surprised if he were manic/depressive or something of that nature, due to his family history and childhood trauma, but as we don't diagnose via the internet, I'll just wait to see how this storyline pans out.

I don't have much to say about Don that hasn't already been mentioned, but I will say that watching him floating facedown in a pool was a visceral callback to one of my favorite noirs, Sunset Boulevard -- where a washed-up writer narrates the entire film following his untimely death by drowning. Adding credence to my theory about season 7.

I also loved that Roger was the one to save him. If any two characters on this show intimately recognize and understand the struggles of the other over time, it's Roger and Don. Don's getting in that pool and nearly dying was not accidental, and I think the forced-cheerful conversation on the plane back to NY reflects Roger's guess at that melancholy, to a degree. I'm not saying Roger knows Don is depressed or unconsciously suicidal, but he's proven to be pretty skilled at reading people. I'd be surprised if he didn't pick up on one or two strange clues and start to wonder.
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