Last night's episode of Mad Men was called "To Have and to Hold," and like last week, it was as soapy as the name would have you think. The tension of Don's hypocrisy—he cheats, Megan only acts like a cheat in her show, also titled To Have and to Hold—is on full display here. We also get insights into the lives of Don's secretary, Dawn, and Joan and her visiting friend Kate. Oh, and Peggy gets busted for betraying Stan's Heinz Ketchup secret.
But betrayals are everywhere, and so are people pretending to be what they're not, and people outright lying. On the agency side, despite a requirement from their Baked Beans client that they not go for the Ketchup account, Pete and Don are absolutely going for the Ketchup account in a clandestine effort they're calling "Project K" (this involves Stan hanging out in a supply closet smoking pot and working on pitches and ordering lunch, mostly).
We've not gotten to know much about Don's secretary, Dawn, the first black employee at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, save that episode last season when Peggy let her sleep on her couch. Now Dawn is the maid of honor in her friend's wedding, and she's late to meet that friend (again) due to her work responsibilities. There's more bad news: Dawn's date to the wedding has fallen through. "I'm never going to meet someone at that office," she says, asking her friend to keep looking for a setup for her. Back at the office, Harry's secretary Scarlett asks Dawn to punch her out when she leaves (so that Scarlett can leave early and still get paid). Dawn, largely friendless there, does it, though she'd rather not.
Joan's friend Kate, who works for Mary Kay, is in town to meet with "the competition," Avon. She's hit a glass ceiling at Mary Kay, she explains—there's no way for her to move up. Later we find out that she's coveting Joan's partnership at the agency, even as Joan later acknowledges she's been there 15 years and is still treated like a secretary (and sometimes worse). Still, "partner at a Madison Avenue ad firm," as her mom puts it, "does sound pretty good." Joan's ambitions are clear, but she has to fight her way through layers of sexism, and sometimes go along with it, to be where she is at the table each day. And her spot there remains in dispute.
Don's affair with Sylvia is still hot and heavy. She sees him on the elevator, and they stop the car and have a quick canoodle. "I'll leave a penny under the mat when he’s flown the coop,” she tells Don.
Countering Don's real-life extramarital affair is Megan on her soap, where her character, a maid, is being written into a love scene, or "more of a love affair." "It's going to be exciting at first, then it's part of the job," says Arlene, an actress on the soap who's married to Mel, the head writer. (She's not just talking about the soap, as it turns out.) The worry, of course, is how Don's going to react. It's a given he won't like it. "What am I supposed to say?" he asks. "That you trust me," she says. He says he can tolerate it but he can't encourage it. "You're perfect," she tells him.
Harry gets a confidence boost in this episode by pitching a new campaign for Dow Chemical and by defending Scarlett when Joan fires her for lying about her hours. Always feeling left out, Harry then bursts into a partner meeting to further exert his authority and strike back at Joan. "I'm sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can't be given the same rewards,” he says. "I expect to be sitting at this table, I've actually earned it.” Joan sits silently and eventually Bert Cooper, unaware of the humiliation at the very table, says that "humiliation will suffice" as a punishment for Scarlett, who will get to stay at the agency. Later still Harry pushes for a partnership again, and Roger and Bert give him a check.
Dawn is again late meeting her friend, telling her, "I had a day today that pushed your stupid wedding to the bottom of the list." Her friend tells her she's too scared to say no to anyone (like Scarlett). "Everyone's scared there," says Dawn, who explains that she needs her job, unlike her friend who's getting married.
Joan is out with a friend, too. She and Kate are at some corny place with phones on the tables to facilitate flirting. Kate wants to experience Joan's life in more ways than simply career-wise. "Apparently there are quite a few men here who go for a certain type," she says. "Don't judge me, I'm in New York." Joan gives her tips, and they end up at a club where Joan, first a third wheel on the couch next to Kate and her man for the night, lest another guy kiss her. It's an escape from the norm for one night. They wake up at Joan's apartment, mascara all over their faces, and Joan's mom brings in the baby, but not before Kate confesses that the reason she wanted to talk to Avon was because "I wanted what you have." Joan says it's not what she thinks; Kate, empowering or naive or both, says, it doesn't matter what they think of you: "It's right in front of you for the taking."
Back in the office, Joan puts Dawn—who's come forth to apologize—in charge of time cards and the supply closet. Dawn sees this as a compliment, a sign of faith; it's unclear if Joan does. "I don’t care if everyone hates me here, as long as you don’t,” says Dawn. “We’ll see,” says Joan.
Megan and Don are out with Mel and Arlene for dinner, and Mel and Arlene are both a bit transfixed with Don. "I could cast you," says Mel. "I'm sure he's a man who plays many roles," says the astute Arlene. One of those roles, the swinger couple hopes, would be agreeing "to be better acquaintances." Megan and Don turn the request for a foursome down, and Megan worries that that's why she got the scene. She reveals that the couple has been married for 18 years.
The disasters are impending, and then they arrive. When Don and Stan walk out the door after pitching Heinz Ketchup, there's Peggy and Ted. "It's a bakeoff," says Stan. "Since when?" Don listens at the door to his former protégé make her pitch, and she is good. In the end, though, neither team wins. Peggy and Ted show up at a bar where Don, Stan, and Pete are drowning their sorrows. "J. Walter Thompson bought it in the room," says Ted. And the damage has been done without the payoff. Stan stalks off, giving Peggy the finger and saying "I have to see a friend." (A real friend, not someone who just plays one on TV.) And Ken Cosgrove walks in to tell them that Raymond Geiger, the Baked Beans client who started this whole thing, is dumping them because of their betrayal with Ketchup. "There's nothing better than being known for your loyalty," he says sarcastically.
Speaking of loyalty, there's Megan's love scene, which Don can't help himself from showing up to see. "You like to watch?" asks Arlene, creeping up behind him. Megan asks why he's come, "the first time you come here is for this." He's angry, telling her, “You kiss people for money, you know who does that?” and then storms out, suggesting she have dinner with Arlene and Mel. She cries. And he heads back to Sylvia's apartment, where the penny has been under the mat all day. She's wearing a cross, and he tells her to take it off, then mocks: "What do you do when I leave here, get on your knees and pray for absolution?” he asks. She tells him she prays for him "to find peace." That's a peace that does not come at the cost of the affair, presumably, which neither of them seems inclined to stop. People play a lot of roles.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.