Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Mad Men "To Have and To Hold"

Non Spoiler Review:
To Have and To Hold sends Don, Pete and Stan on a secret mission to pitch to Heinz Ketchup. Ken and Harry make a pitch to Dow Chemical. Joan receives a visit from her sister, while struggling to distinguish her position of partner from that of secretary at SCDP, and goes head to head with Harry over her authority. Dawn tries to keep her head down among all the drama at the agency. Megan learns her soap opera character is taking an interesting turn.

Infidelity was clearly the theme this week. As Don's affair hangs over the whole series, everyone else suffers from the affects of lies and deceit at SCDP. Don is certainly becoming unlikeable, which is quite a feat given all the stuff he's gotten away with over the course of the series and still managed to retain his charm.

Fortunately there's very little of Sylvia this week, allowing for an overdue spotlight on Joan as she struggles to legitimize her partnership in the agency. Dawn also gets a share of the screentime, and I'm hoping she grows into more of a regular.

Spoilers Now!
Pete and Don are entertaining Timmy from Heinz at a secret meeting in Pete's apartment. They advise him that the bean division has been good to them, so they don't want to upset Raymond. Timmy assures them that if he likes the work, Raymond will fall in line. If he doesn't like the work, Raymond doesn't have to know. Don suggests they only bring in Stan on this project.

Joan is elated to see her sister Kate, who is a sales director for Mary Kay. At dinner they discuss her possible move to Avon and Joan learns her mother is actually quite proud of Joan for being a partner at a Madison Avenue firm. Harry's secretary Scarlet asks Dawn to cover for her and punch her time card when she leaves, as she wants to go home early for a party. When Joan tries to find Scarlet, Dawn has to cover for her and when next she sees her, Joan informs her that Harry had some visitors and she wasn't to be found. She admits she left to tend to some company business and was unaware Dawn punched her time card. Joan thanks her for clearing that up. Joan goes straight to Dawn and claims Scarlet told her everything. Scarlet comes down the stairs and Joan fires her, informing Dawn she'll deal with her later.

Ken vents to Harry about how his father-in-law Ed is worried the world hates Dow Chemical given it's dropping napalm on children. Harry has an idea that the two then pitch to Dow—a one hour special hosted by Joe Namath saluting America's beloved musicals, including the likes of Julie Andrews and John Wayne. Dow would be the primary sponsor. They like it.

Returning to SCDP, Harry encounters Scarlet as she prepares to leave, so he goes to confront Joan and demands she apologize. He's tired of her petty dictatorship. Joan suggests she has something more important to do and advises Scarlett to do whatever she thinks is best. Joan leaves for the partners meeting and Harry tells her she can come back to work.

Harry sees Joan in the meeting, thinking she's talking about the incident, so barges in. Joan explains the situation with the time card to the rest and Harry declares it's either him or Scarlet. Everyone is confused, and Harry goes on to rant that he's not getting any rewards despite just making over $100,000 for the company with Dow. He expects to be sitting at that table, and charges out. Bert tells Joan that won't be happening. Pete does point out they need to keep Dawn, given the human rights investigation is ongoing.

Stan heads into a private office on his secret mission for Don and Pete, but is noticed by Michael, who suspects that the mysterious Project K is a military account. Don goes to see him and shares a joint as they work on Heinz.

Sylvia joins Don in the elevator and he stops it so they can share a kiss. She misses him and promises to leave a penny under the mat when Arnold is gone. Meanwhile, Megan finds out she has a love scene with her handsome lead. Her costar Arlene, who is married to the head writer suggests she tell Don and that they should all go out to dinner. When Don comes home she explains the upcoming series of love scenes, and he asks what it consists of. He doesn't know what he's supposed to say and needs to think about it.

Joan has dinner with her sister, who wants to have a fun night out in Manhattan. The two of them end up hooking up with a couple of guys, and come morning as their mother wakes them up in bed (and Joan has a suspicious tear on her dress), Kate realizes she can never be her older sister. Joan tells her her life is not what she thinks and her title at SCDP is just a title. They still treat her like a secretary. Kate disagrees, and reminds her that she's still there, and it's damned impressive.

Megan and Don have dinner with Arlene and her husband, but the dinner is actually a facade for their offer that the four of them become more than friends. Both Megan and Don decline and laugh about the episode on the way home. Come morning, Don wishes her luck on the set.

Harry apologies to Bert and Roger for his behaviour. Roger calls it a display of initiative and gives him a cheque for $23,000 as a full commission for the television spot. Harry maintains he wants a partnership. Roger tells him they need to grow the business before they grow the partners, and warns  him to leave Joan out of the subject. Harry takes the money but adds again he's earned a partnership and hopes another firm doesn't find him first.

At a hotel, Don and Stan make their pitch to Timmy and his colleagues. Timmy thinks it's bold but needs to mull it over. As they leave they run into Peggy and Ted and share an awkward hello. They didn't realize they were competing with other firms. Don listens by the door to Peggy's presentation, which includes the elements Timmy was asking for, and walks away.

Dawn goes to see Joan and apologizes for not being forthright. She suggests Joan dock her pay to compensate for Scarlet's absence. Joan wonders how that will punish Scarlet, so gives Dawn the key to the supply closet and the time cards and responsibility for monitoring both. Joan suggests it's a punishment and not to thank her. Dawn says she doesn't care if everyone there hates her, as long as Joan doesn't.

Ted and Peggy join Stan, Pete and Don in the bar to commiserate. It seems another larger agency got the campaign right. Ken arrives, annoyed that he was kept out of the loop and tells everyone that Raymond is the one who told him what was going on. Pete promises to work it out but Ken tells him not to bother, as Raymond has resigned.

Don comes to the set and watches Megan do her love scene. Megan comes over afterwards when she sees him there and asks why he would come and watch that particular scene when he knew it would bother him. He coldly suggests she enjoyed it and hopes she would brush her teeth before she came home. She gets paid to kiss men, he adds, and leaves her to cry.

Don finds the penny on the carpet by Sylvia's door, and as the two move to the bedroom, he wants her to take off her crucifix before they have sex. He asks if she prays for absolution. She tells him she prays for him to find peace.

The Verdict:
Another unsettling episode, To Have and To Hold brought out the worst of Don. I was reminded how happy Don was when Megan was still working at SCDP and he got such pleasure out of including her in the creative process. Of course, she was in no way his equal then and not a threat. This is a stark contrast, as he exploits her vulnerability to make sure she shares in his misery in failing to get Heinz Ketchup. How long will we wait before his infidelity with Sylvia blows up in the same way that the Heinz Beans account did? Perhaps he's feeling his age again, having witnessed Peggy step into his role with her firm (with a better idea for Heinz), and the odd proposition from Arlene and her husband. His hypocrisy has reached new levels if he can call Megan a whore and go straight to Sylvia.

I've never really liked Harry, and his attack against Joan didn't help. I was kind of waiting for Bert and Roger to just fire him, but sadly that didn't happen. I really hope he doesn't make partner, as that would certainly further diminish the value Joan sees in her own position.

Any Joan episode is a welcome one, and it served to highlight her valid insecurities over her new position, feeling she hasn't really earned it. There's really no difference between her, Don or Roger, who all had opportunities that they were able to exploit to take them where they are today. I was pleased to see more of a spotlight on Dawn, too. I wonder if Joan will take her under her wing and help elevate her as she did Peggy. Joan definitely needs to define her role, because her old habit of expressing her authority by firing people just doesn't work anymore for her. Fortunately for Joan she managed to repair some of her bad decisions with Scarlet and Dawn, while Don continues on the same path without learning a thing. 

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