‘Mad Men’ Recap: Big News for a Major Character

Joan (Christina Hendricks, left) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) were the key characters in "Mad Men" this weekend. (Photo: AMC)

Sunday’s episode of “Mad Men,” titled “The Other Woman,” was primarily about two of them.

Women, that is — Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), who announced she’d accepted a job offer from another agency; and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), who apparently agreed to seduce a potential client, the representative of Jaguar, in return for a big payday.

What happened?:

Joan Harris: Roger Sterling (John Slattery) declared it to be dirty business, but he went along with it. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) — once the most faithless, philandering cad on television and now some kind of moral center on “Mad Men” — was dead set against it. As a viewer, I thought it was one of the creepier plot lines I’d seen in a while on a major TV drama series — a female executive being asked to sleep with a potential client in order to land an account.

OK, so landing a car account was apparently crucial for ad agencies in the 1960s — or, at least that’s what various characters on “Mad Men” have been saying for weeks now. Truth is, it got to the point several episodes ago where I ceased caring whether Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce landed the Jaguar account of not.

Joan still cared though, and she went along with the plan, in return for a pile of money. Now, on the day after the episode aired, various critics and recappers are expressing shock that Joan would do such a thing. My take is this: She’s a grownup, and this is what some grownups do — they make deals with the devil. Get over it.

Catch up with all of our “Mad Men” recaps so far this season:

Incidentally, the money that the agency partners promised to Joan churned up more agita for financial chief Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), who’s been trying to manage the agency finances through a difficult period, while also embezzling funds from the company kitty to pay off personal debts.

Let it be noted that the architect of the Joan-sleeping-with-the-client plan was Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). Who else?

Peggy Olson: Even more than the Joan storyline, this one could have major implications for the future of the series: Peggy’s leaving the firm. She accepted an offer from rival Ted Chaough (pronounced “Shaw”). The “reveal” happened near the end of the episode in a “big scene” with Don. Now the question is: Is Moss herself curtailing her work on “Mad Men”? Is she leaving the show? If she’s staying, it means the show’s creative team might have to now open up a new frontier — the other agency, and include it in future storylines.

Will we know the answer to these questions before this fifth season ends? Sunday’s episode was the 11th episode (10th week) of the season, which means the end of the season is near.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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