I watched the latest episode of Mad Men, “Lost Horizon,” on Monday night. This is the antepenultimate episode of the series– the third to last; the one before the one before the last one. Though I’ve been aware that there were a mere seven episodes in the half season, I haven’t felt the finality coming on until this episode. SC&P has closed up shop.
I was discussing this episode with a friend last night– a friend who is aware of, but can’t quite comprehend my undying love for Joan. Joan, for me, had the most compelling and most final storyline of the episode, so that’s where I’ll be focusing this post. We’ll of course talk about how fabulous Peggy was, and even add a dash of Don, but mostly we’re going to talk about Joan. Buckle up.
Why do I love Joan so much? Joan was empowered before anyone knew what empowered was. We open on her as the queen bee of the secretaries. Is she kind of a bitch? Yes. She calls Peggy out for the way she dresses and if I can be perfectly honest, Peggy’s bangs and ponytail were killing me that first season! It took me a long time to take Peggy seriously, too. Anyway, Joan played within the parameters to rise to power. She used what she had, and yes, that was the way she looked. What she did, though, was real, and when it came to forming a new agency, Joan was recognized as an integral part of the operation.
Let’s talk about her decision to get her hands on that role as partner. I remember watching this and wanting her to make that awful decision. Is that any way to conduct business? No, it’s disgusting. But this was her big opportunity and I wanted to see her as partner. I wanted her to prosper. And for a while, she did.
Joan made sense as a partner. Joan flourished as an account manager. But at McCann Erickson, chronic sexism finally got the better of Joan. She’s not the same woman we met at the start of the series. She takes herself seriously now and it’s not too much to ask to have others do the same. Brass Dennis, creepy Ferg, and infuriating Jim Hobart cannot offer her any respect. Dennis is outright not willing to work under a woman. Ferg just wants to sleep with her. Jim Hobart just doesn’t want her. She doesn’t hold the status she did before, and though he owes her half a million dollars, her offers her 50 cents on the dollar to get out of his face.
The real heart-breaker comes when Roger is waiting in her office. Roger (who I loved her with but has ended up being the biggest disappointment to both Joan and me) tells her to take the deal. Contrary to what Roger says, it’s not about the money. It’s about respect, which Joan never got. Joan lost. If this is the last I see of her in Mad Men, I don’t know how I’ll recover.
Peggy faces sexism too. It’s clear from the circumstances that Peggy will not hold the status at McCann that she did at SC&P. It takes them days to get her an office and they send her flowers thinking she’s a secretary. She hangs out at SC&P waiting for them to get things in order where she encounters a mourning Roger. (I’m not scary; organ music is.)
He makes her drink with him, and things basically get hilarious.
Peggy steps into her first day at McCann in style.
Don was welcomed into McCann Erickson, but finds himself uncomfortable in a Miller Beer meeting with a table full of creative directors. As he listens to a familiar sounding pitch, he simply walks out. He hallucinates the ghost of Cooper on a long drive to Racine, Wisconsin in search of Diana. We end on him picking up a hitchhiker and heading to Minnesota– the opposite way from home. I don’t think Don’s coming back.
Before we go, I just want to say that I’m still really enjoying Meredith! It’s been nice to see her get a little character development.
Okay guys, I’ve said a lot. Let me know what you guys thought of “Lost Horizon” in the comments!!