"Mad Men" -- "To Have and To Hold": Cheaters, More Cheaters and Some Swingers

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"Mad Men" — "To Have and To Hold": Cheaters, More Cheaters, and Some Swingers

By Sarah Carlson | TV Reviews | April 23, 2013 | Comments ()


Back in 1965, after Don Draper moped over his failure to land Heinz as an account with the still-relatively new Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce, it was Peggy Olsen who told him to regroup, reminding him of his own favorite saying: “You always say, ‘If you don’t like what they are saying about you, change the conversation.’ ” The Don of spring 1968 likely didn’t expect his protégé to adopt the line for herself — this time in her own pitch to Heinz ketchup, surprising her former firm and boss in her ability to play the advertising game. Surely, Don was filled more with grudging respect than betrayal — her gumption shows he taught her well, after all — but Peggy’s tale was the least of those concerning what it is to be unfaithful in Season Six’s fourth episode, “To Have and To Hold.” Cheaters abound in the “Mad Men” world, and with them, hypocrisy.

Changing the conversation is the more interesting theme of the episode, with characters realizing that the power or achievements they desire are in their grasp if they’d only reach out and take them. Viewers were finally treated to a Joan storyline, the first we’ve really seen of her now that she is a partner at the firm. Her married friend, Kate (Marley Shelton), is impressed, coming into town to interview with Avon. She wants what Joan has — not to mention some extra excitement, which for her includes making out with strangers in nightclubs. Joan is quick to point out her life isn’t glamorous, and that she never expected to be a single mom. (Joan either just turned or is about to turn 37.) “I’ve been there 15 years and they still treat me like a secretary,” Joan tells her. “You’re there, Joan,” Kate says. “And from where I’m sitting, it’s d*** impressive. I don’t care how they make you feel. It’s right in front of you for the taking.”

Joan needed the encouragement. She may be partner, but she is right in that she isn’t exactly earning everyone’s respect. Harry undermining and reversing Joan’s firing of Scarlett was obnoxious, but his cruel words concerning her partnership, as he demanded to be made a partner himself, were uncalled for. They were not, of course, rebutted or stopped by any of the other partners present: “You know what, I’m sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can’t be given the same rewards.” He knows about her sleeping with Herb from Jaguar — Herb’s demand for working with SCDP — in exchange for the promotion. Pete’s weak “What is that supposed to mean?” didn’t fool anyone. Harry learned about the deal somehow, and the slimy partner who thought it was all a good idea to begin with seems a likely culprit. Now Joan needs to step up and prove she deserves her spot.

Harry isn’t off-base entirely when it comes to demanding respect for his accomplishments, but everyone can’t be a partner. Picking a fight with Joan isn’t the best tactic, either. He is rewarded for his Joe Namath/Broadway TV special idea, which would benefit sponsor and SCDP client Dow Chemical, with a check for the full commission. Roger and Burt, however, balk at his threats of finding a new firm. Harry is lucky to have been giving as much as he was. Dawn (Teyonah Parris), Don’s assistant, also is lucky to have been given a second chance by Joan after she helped Scarlett falsify her timecard. But it is Dawn’s honesty and integrity that earn her Joan’s trust (and the keys to the supply closet, perhaps a punishment), not her bravado. The agency needs more Dawns, not Harrys. That’s if she can survive the doom and gloom: “Everybody’s scared there,” Dawn tells her friend, Nikki (Idara Victor). “Women crying in the ladies room, men crying in the elevator. It sounds like New Year’s Eve when they empty the garbage there’s so many bottles. And I told you about that poor man hanging himself in his office.”

The secrecy surrounding “Project K,” Don and Stan’s pitch for ketchup, added tension to the office as they worried about landing the account, and the best part about the competition for Heinz is that they SCDP boys were naïve enough to think it wasn’t a competition. Our not seeing Peggy work on her pitch was a smart set-up — we learned she was at the hotel to meet with Heinz when Don, Stan and Pete did. Their shock felt that much more real. Anger toward Peggy and CGC would be misplaced; after all, it was a third agency that won the account in the end. But her relationship with Stan may change now that he knows she isn’t simply a late-night confidant but a true competitor. Don’s team was the bigger cheaters, having gone against loyal client Raymond Geiger’s wishes to stay away from ketchup. They don’t have ketchup, and now they don’t have baked beans, vinegar and sauces. Pete thinks the risk was worth it, but that is coming from someone supremely disloyal.

Don’s hypocrisy with relationships is ground well-trodden, and the events in this episode felt like reruns of earlier fights with Betty. Insert his new wife, Megan, and her eagerness to become an actress and generally be liked. Her maid character landed a love scene on the soap “To Have and To Hold,” a development that at first annoyed Don and soon angered him, once he dropped by the set to watch Megan in action. The soap plotline dealt with infidelity — “This is your bed you share with her,” her character says to the married man seducing her. Did her lines resonate too much for you, Don? Megan’s cheating is fictional, yet she is the one dubbed a w****: “You kiss people for money,” Don says in her dressing room. “You know who does that?” “You couldn’t stop it,” Megan says, “so I guess ruining it was enough for you.”

Perhaps the couple’s encounter with the soap’s writer, Mel, and his wife Arlene, also a star on the soap, unnerved him about the scene. At dinner, Mel and Arlene invited the Drapers over for a swinging good time, but Don and Megan politely declined. “I don’t know whether to laugh or be sick,” Megan said later, “because now I think that’s the reason they gave me the scene.” At the filming, Arlene even comments to Don that he “likes to watch” Megan in the act. The comment is forward, but is it inaccurate? Don and Megan’s relationship has always been sexually charged — think back to last season, when arguments between the two often ended in sex. Now Don is being called on his romantic proclivities, and he doesn’t want to think about them. No, the women in his life need to behave a certain way and on his terms. He is the one who gets to cheat.

How far does Megan have to be pushed before she leaves Don? Her chance at stardom, even if she is only on soaps, is in front of her. Sylvia is busing sleeping with Don and praying for him to find peace. Megan should get busy changing the conversation.

Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Eugh

    Just write the word 'whore'. Writing 'w', then putting a bunch of stars after it is just the writer trying to absolve herself of saying the word, and putting the fault onto the reader. There remains a meeting of minds on the meaning of a word. If you don't want to swear, then don't swear - but it's just nauseating if you're going to be a coward about it.

  • Mh'swish

    Am I the only one who likes the connection between Don and Sylvia? Is that revolting? Am I sick? Yes it's wrong, yes he's a cheat, he's always gone down the wrong path, because he hates himself so much he self sabotages AND I absolutely adore the doctor ... I hate that about it...and Megan is sweet and fun (though it was much more fun hating Betty)
    However! Doesn't she "get" him more? She prays for him to be at peace? I puddled up!
    Always wanting more Roger.
    And loathe Pete. Laughed out loud when, as referred to by BWeaves earlier, Don csaid "I live here (you idiot)" after offering up the apt.
    And BobBenson totally gives me an ominous vibe.

    And why in the world would Stan NOT have thought Peggy would begin to think about going after ketchup? And why wouldn't she naturally have thought of that herself immediately... That didn't ring true to me with Peggy's new found tiger image, friend or no friend, she'd want to jump on that...

  • John W

    So how soon before Megan is as hated as Betty. How dare she upset randy, dandy Don.

  • MJ

    I'm predicting one final night together of post-divorce passion between a newly svelte Betty and a frustrated Don before the season ends.

  • logan

    You know why people are disliking Don now? Because when the show started he had a bitch of a wife so it was easier to overlook his fraudulent life, his drinking, his cheating etc. Most of the hatred went to Betty.

    Now he has a very likeable wife so when he cheats on her, and lies to her, and treats her badly his good looks and charm dont save him.

    The Real Don Draper is not hidden by Betty the Bitch.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Beyond that though I think that that as we were let into the Don/Betty marriage it was clear that he had never been honest with her. When Megan throws Don that party and makes it clear that she knows about Dick and his history there was this idea that perhaps he had turned over a new leaf and was being more upfront with her. They seemed more honest. They seemed to know one another in a way we as the viewer never saw Don and Betty know one another (although the implication is that they were very much in love at the beginning and she was much more vivacious, given how Don describes Betty to Ana in the flashback in California). In short Don's cheating on Megan feels like more of a betrayal because that relationship felt more deep, real, and committed.

  • I think it's also that he had it good - and we saw it good, we saw his chance to change - and he's fucked it up, again. It's worse watching it the second time around.

  • TheAggroCraig

    I'm thinking that Bob Benson from accounts guy will figure into something later. Just a hunch. And how great was Roger (again)? "No, no -- let him continue."

    Last year (pre-Mad Men era for me) I decided to throw away all my black socks and Bert Cooper has shown me what a good decision that was. He is now my sock muse.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Re: socks. If you are super into fun socks check out Happy Socks. They sometimes pop up on Gilt. Really fun plaids, argyles and stripes. I get them for my husband who is also really into fun socks and yes, I agree that Bert is the sock muse in addition to the bow tie muse :)

  • TheAggroCraig

    Happy Socks looks like a great site, thanks. I like bow ties, too. Basically I want to be Bert Cooper but maintain possession of my testicles.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Doyle Mueser has some UH-mazing bow ties (and pocket squares!) but get ready to lay down some dollars cause those babies are not cheap. http://www.doylemueser.com/col...

  • mona_sterling

    I have a theory that this new guy Bob Benson (alliterative first name just like someone else we know) is going to be the source of Don's undoing. I almost see him as symbolic of the long-ago upstart Don who worked for the fur coat company and scrapped his way to the top. He keeps turning up, and God knows nothing happens on this damn show for nothing.

  • Yeah, if you go back and watch the start of the season with Megan, she's shoehorned into scenes and given an actual name in a way that seems obvious after the fact.

  • Cree83

    I was glad to see another side to Joan in this episode, to see her being chummy with a good female friend, because I've always found her to be pretty horrible to the other women in the office. Her behavior has ranged from cattiness to downright sadistic blow ups. From her petty jealousy toward Peggy's success in the earlier seasons to her psychotically throwing a model airplane at the poor dumb secretary that let a process server into the office last season, she has not been the most women friendly character on this show, while seeming to extend a nearly endless amount of patience to all the asshole men around her. I feel sympathetic toward her frustrations, and I hate the way that some of the men treat her, but honestly, I've never understood why she's such a fan favorite (I'm guessing her body has something to do with it). Anyway, last night I finally got a glimpse of a kinder Joan whose friendliness wasn't directed at a handsome man for once. I might come around on Joan some day.

  • overandout

    Joan is my favorite because she's got a brain, so at least someone besides Roger seems amused at the SCDP goings on.

  • Artemis

    Wow, that is not at all how I read Joan. She *had* to be nice to the men in the office in years past, because no matter how important she was to the firm, the men were always senior to her. Even Pete, even Harry. She got to where she was by being so good at her job, limited though it was, that she eventually amassed all of the power she was allowed -- to be in charge of the women. Her patience with the men was a necessity; I don't think there's a chance in hell that she wouldn't have been nastier to the frat boys in the office than the women if she thought they were her responsibility, but they weren't and she couldn't discipline them. And even within those limits, junior to all the men, she was one of the only people in the office who could even in small ways exert power over people like Don and Roger. Remember when she installed Ida as Don's secretary because he kept sleeping with the young hot ones, and snapped at him and refused to budge when he complained about her incompetence?

    Yes, she can be nasty to the women she's in charge of -- but certainly no worse than Don is to his subordinates, or Roger is to Pete, or Pete is to everyone. As Dawn pointed out in this episode, most of the people working at SCDP are miserable, and so they all spend a lot of time taking it out on each other. And Joan has the extra layer of needing to exert authority more forcefully, because no one is going to forget that Don is in charge but it would be really easy for the agency's employees to stop taking Joan seriously if she let their mistakes slide. Even then, I think I've seen Joan extended more kindnesses to the women she supervises than Don or Roger or Pete extend to anyone (except Peggy, from Don, and he treated her plenty badly on other occasions). But people just expect the dudes of Mad Men to behave badly, and so the common nastiness from the male characters doesn't even register whereas a single burst of anger from Joan -- even when it was provoked by someone legitimately fucking up -- always get criticism.

    I actually think Joan might be the most women friendly character on the show, but at any rate she's certainly miles ahead of Don, Roger, Pete, Harry, and virtually every other guy who works in that office. Even the nice one, Ken, spent the first couple episodes nastily sexually harassing Peggy along with the rest of the gang, while it was Joan who showed Peggy how to navigate that minefield.

  • Cree83

    Joan's friendliness toward Don never struck me as having to be nice for the sake of her job. Certainly her relationship with Roger didn't. I think the men on this show treat the women like absolute shit; no arguments there. I have endless disdain for most of the male characters on this show. I just think Joan doesn't treat them much better: I find her to be incredibly condescending and micromanaging in almost every interaction with the other secretaries. I was put off by her in season one, when she turned against Peggy as soon as Peggy started showing some ambition beyond being a secretary, and it's been hard for me to find much I like about her since.

  • Cree83

    Add to this, the firing of Scarlet and threatening Dawn for a fairly minor offense, in front of the entire office, in a workplace where dudes are going around smoking pot and worse. This strikes me as the behavior of someone who can't direct her anger at who she's really mad at, so instead she terrorizes those subordinate to her. I feel bad that Joan gets the shaft so often, but taking it out on the secretaries who are already in a vulnerable and shitty position is just not sympathetic behavior to me.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Also it must be said, Stan was fucking amazing in that fringed jacket and mountain man beard. I don't even like beards and I want to bang him all over Project K's tinfoil bunker.

  • prairiegirl

    For me, this entire season has such a different vibe from all the ones that came before it. I feel unsettled most of the time watching it because it seems like a time bomb, tick-tick-ticking away, waiting to detonate. Don's character is the least likeable he's ever been for me, partly because I was really rooting for him and Megan to make it last season (even though I knew it likely wouldn't last). I guess with Betty, I never really liked her - she is such a dishmop - so I didn't care as much about his indiscretions. I think it was also that I was hoping for Don's redemption which I now think is impossible.

    It's also clear that his best days as an ad man are behind him. His ideas don't seem fresh and cutting edge anymore; they seem dated. I think once he realizes that, he's going to disappear one way or another (either by killing himself, or taking on another new (or his former) identity - as noted previously by Dustin).

    Do we know how many seasons are left or is that still TBD?

    Also, I agree about Joan finally stepping it up and taking her career by the horns. I noticed the power suit, too, and loved the handing over of the keys to Dawn. Go, Joanie, go. We need more of her. Also, I hope she gets to kick Harry in the balls.

  • AlannaJudith

    According to Matthew Wiener (at Paley Fest last year) there's supposed to be 7 seasons total, and it should end with the end of the the 60's. So a lot things need to happen in the next 20+ episodes

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Totally agree with there being an almost palpable sense of dread and anxiety hanging over this season. For one thing that little overeager kid, I just know something is going on with him, and the Sylvia thing is just a bomb waiting to go off, and there is so much tension in the office. I don't know if the show has ever felt more like a pressure cooker. Between this and GOT on Sunday its fucking TV xanax night.

  • Looks like they are setting Don up for a negative impact "life changing experience" along the lines of Roger's heart attack and not Lane's hanging. My money is gonna be on a stroke.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    That's interesting. The stroke would be particularly cruel irony in light of Grandpa Gene too.

  • pfeiffer87

    Megan used to annoy me but man am I hoping she gets her Trudy moment this season! Don really is an dick.

  • You would think that by now that the firm would realize that any idea Pete thinks is a good one they should run away from. He was on board for the American pitch and then Project K.

    Also I really thought what Don really wanted to say to Pete after he offered the apartment was: "I bang my mistress in her maid's room, like civilized people, you hayseed."

  • TheEmpress

    I have been arguing with my husband for 5 seasons, saying that Harry is a way bigger douchebag than Pete. Vindication! Though I'm sad it had to be at Joan's expense.

  • BWeaves

    1. I really turned against Don this episode. He was a real dick. What a hypocrite he is to Megan, both when turning down the swingers and when watching her film her love scene.

    2. I wonder what Joan and her friend really did that night with those guys they picked up, because Joan's dress was ripped at the shoulder when she woke up with her friend.

    3. Pete offering Don his apartment for "use," like in the movie The Apartment, and Don acting disgusted, "I live here."

    4. I liked Peggy's scenes. It was fun watching Don realize that Peggy has grown up and learned from him. I think it's a shame she didn't win the ketchup contract. I also liked Stan giving Peggy the finger as he walked behind her at the bar. That relationship is over.

    5. Harry really has no social skills.

    6. I'm glad they're finally giving Dawn something to do, but I was hoping for a better storyline. I hope they give her more to do.

    7. I think brown nose guy must be related to Wiener. He serves no purpose to the storyline, and yet he's always positioned in scenes so you notice him.

  • katy

    Maybe it's a grown up Glenn, aged soap opera style!

  • MrsAtaxxia

    It's been mentioned in other reviews and on some other blogs and the more I think about it the more I think I agree: Don and Megan's marriage is over. He called her a whore, which is what he called Betty when it was truly over for them and it's the worst thing Don can call a woman, given where he came from and what that word means for him. The irony of course is that he goes directly from calling his wife a whore for performing a scene of infidelity to actually committing infidelity wherein a penny is left under the mat, which in turn reiterates the penny theme (when he is caught at the whorehouse keyhole as a kid he says he dropped a penny, last season the woman in yellow in the elevator calls him a bad penny, and of course payment for services rendered). Don has done some truly shitty things before, but this was just fucking horrible to watch.

  • Oh yea..it's over. I'm just hoping that Megan finds out and doesn't say anything right away but gets some sweet revenge. Don deserves something awful to happen to him.

  • IngridToday

    I was surprised Don was alright with Megan doing the sex scene, initially. I just remember him flipping out on Betty for letting the air condition guy come inside and when she wore a bikini.
    Don's affair is unsurprising, he needs to have an alternative life/woman to go to when he's tired.
    I don't get why Joan is unhappy with her position. She's what in charge of administrative work, all the secretaries, and accounting? She seems to be paid alright since she's supporting herself, her mom, and her son. She did get pay raise by becoming partner and how many woman are partners of anything in this time period?

  • But if Joan is in charge of those areas, she had her position of power undermined by Harry with the whole Scarlett incident. The other partners didn't back her up in the firing or when Harry all but called her a whore. She has filled Lane's place at the partnership table but also the "wet blanket" role that was thrust on Lane.

  • I said it before but I think this is the episode where I totally turned against Don. Just the way he was looking at Megan and how he talked to her so cruelly made me disgusted. I wouldn't talk to my worst enemy the way he treated his wife. He basically called her a whore and then left her weeping to go fuck his mistress. Perfect example of an emotionally abusive spouse if there ever was one.
    How freaking awesome was Joan in this ep, though? I want to be her best friend because she's amazing and the perfect wing woman. I love how her friend admitted that she admires Joan and helped to bolster Joanie's confidence by telling her to get out there and take the respect she deserves. Joan definitely made a mistake when she was made partner. She should have demanded her own(better) office near the other partners, delegated all the tedious work to her subordinates, and made it clear that she is to be called Ms Holloway(or Mrs Harris..whatever she's going by) I'm hoping that since she gave Dawn some of the simpler work that she'll be stepping up and grabbing Harry Crane by his douchebag balls and showing him who's boss.

  • I think it has to be this way for Don's character arc. This was a guy who was so cutting edge in the early 60s and now is falling behind the times despite attempts at smoking grass with Stan. He's as Establishment as it gets. and it might just force him to consider abandoning the Don Draper persona and moving on when the series ends.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    I kept flashing back to what Joan once said to Peggy "I never wanted what you wanted" (paraphrasing obviously) meaning she never wanted a man's job. But now she has it and I think for the first time she didn't really know how to play it. So she took the title but essentially just kept being the Office Manager/Head Secretary that she always had been. Her giving Dawn the keys to the time cards was stepping away from that secretarial part of herself. She is realizing that in order to be a partner, she is just going to have to be a partner - stop sweating the small stuff, just do it and fuck Harry Crane or anyone else who doesn't like it. That was a big part of the power suit at the end too, Joan rarely wears black and I think it was a deliberate choice to signal that she is no longer "one of the girls."

  • I didn't notice what she was wearing at the end! I'll have to re-watch it!

  • MrsAtaxxia

    It was a severe black suit with a white ruff, long sleeves, and white cuffs (it was almost nun like). Which is interesting because it brings up the question of if Joan is going to have to subsume her sexuality in her new position. Joan has always traded on her sexuality, but given Harry's outburst it makes sense that in order to be taken more seriously she would pull back in that arena. I hate that she would feel that way, but I can absolutely see how that logic thread works.

  • Mrs. Julien

    The look on Don's face when he and Megan were propositioned was priceless. Honestly, Don is such a complete creation that I forget that in real life Hamm is incredibly funny.

  • Tinkerville

    Did anyone else get the impression that Megan's career will suffer because she turned down the offer? I think her character might be written off the soap soon..

  • sjfromsj

    That's exactly what I thought and was shocked that the scene was still shot.

  • Hmm...I don't think so. The wife and the boss really seem to like her and I bet they were just testing the waters. Swingers would have to be used to hearing no and I'm sure they're used to it.

  • Can we talk about the new guy floating around SDCP. Don's illegitimate love child from the whore house he fathered when he was a boy, an undercover agent, or just a plain doofus?

  • I think just a doofus. The latest krill in the advertising food chain.

  • BWeaves

    I can't stand brown nose guy, either. What the hell is his purpose? Does he do any work? The actor's last name isn't Wiener, is it?

  • emilya

    the actor's name is James Wolk and he was delightful in the extremely short lived Lone Star. I adore his as an actor and I hope they figure out something great to do with him.

  • I cant stand that guy! I feel ominous whenever he's in the room and I feel like something bad is gonna come from him. I love how Don constantly blows him off though.

  • PaddyDog

    Yeah, when he first met Don in the elevator he said he was "upstairs in finance" and now he's on the creative floor sitting in on every meeting.

  • Yeah. "Mad Men" hasn't really gone of the rails yet, but I have an inkling that when this guy is revealed to be whoever he is supposed to be, it might be groan worthy.

  • Harvey Jerkwater

    I think he's the guy who tipped off Geiger about "Project K." The scene where Ken blew up about it suggested that Pete blabbed, but that doesn't make sense. Pete would blab, but it'd take a while to reach Geiger. No, Bob was key to setting up the meeting in the first place, doped out what "Project K" was, and then dropped a dime on Ken. Why? Because he's out to ruin Ken and steal his job.

    Also: Sylvia is a horrible person. Her ability to refuse moral responsibility for her unsavory actions while being a moralizing scold is breathtaking. In a show full of bad people, she stands out as particularly loathsome. Impressive.

  • linz

    great review. however, I think peggy's firm DID win ketchup. Todd (or whatever his name is) bragged to Don that the guy "bought it in the room".

  • mlurve

    Nope, JWT won the account. Pete asked, "Who says it's not a celebration?" then Chaough said "J. Walter Thompson. Bought it in the room."

    J. Walter Thompson = JWT, an agency that is still around today. Honestly it was a bit confusing.

  • Wednesday

    No, Peggy's firm (Chaogh) didn't get it. It was BBDO who won it, if I remember right.

  • mlurve

    BBDO was the agency that had it originally. Heinz ended up leaving BBDO for JWT.

  • Wicked

    Nope, another agency bought it, the largest one in states. I don't remember the name but neither of them won the account.

  • sassmouth

    I don't think they did, because when Peggy et al joined Don et al at the bar, they asked if they could join the lonely hearts club.

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