Mad Men: “To Have and to Hold”

*spoilers*

I enjoyed “To Have and to Hold,” but I was surprised by the direction it took. I was expecting something a little more Peggy-centric, what with the Heinz account, etc. Instead, we got a lot of Joan and a little bit of Dawn and Don. “To Have and to Hold” focused mostly on the role of women at this point in the series. Specifically, what Mad Men is telling us is that while female characters have enjoyed some upward mobility, they’re still marginalized and belittled.

As was expected, the Heinz account blew up in Don’s face. Although the full fallout has yet to be seen, it seems fairly minor by this point. Also, more interestingly, Don was arguably beaten by Peggy at his own game. I liked SCDP’s pitch (wasn’t that a real campaign at some point?) but Peggy seemed to have sold GCG’s better. Most noticeably, she stole Don’s great aphorism: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

In the end, though, neither agency got the account and both left with each own respective fallout; SCDP without Heinz beans and Peggy without her friend Stan.

mad-men-season-6-episode-4-to-have-and-to-hold-1(S’up with Pete pimping out his pad to Don?)

Don then takes his frustration out on Meagan. He shows up on the set of To Have and to Hold – his first visit – to watch Meagan’s love scene. Tellingly, Don compares Meagan to a prostitute. And, when he comes home, he seeks out Sylvia, knocking at her backdoor. He gives her a penny that was left under her mat. A symbolic exchange of money for sex is performed.

Also of note, when Don and Sylvia lay on the maid’s bed, he asks her to take off her crucifix. Don is no Christian, but he has some issue with the presence of her necklace. She tells him she prays for him, so that he may find peace. He turns her necklace around and initiates sexy times.

This scene shows Don is subjecting Sylvia to the whore/virgin binary. He is unable to deal with Sylvia’s duality as a mistress and patron saint. He does not want to consider her morality and when he’s trying to seduce her. This also relates back to an earlier quote from Don, when he tells Joan how likes “being bad and going home to be good.” He can’t seem to allow the women in his life to be both.

mm-s6-episode4-main-590(Don and Meagan reject a pitch for an orgy)

Meanwhile, Joan is struggling for respect. Harry Crane calls out SCDP for having made Joan a partner for prostitution, while he, in charge of television and bringing in considerable business, is still getting scraps from the table. Later, Harry undermines Joan’s authority when she tires to fire his secretary.

You get the sense that while Joan is climbing the ladder and pushing at the glass ceiling, her power is waning. She’s still desirable, but she doesn’t yield the same sledgehammer sexuality that she did in the first season. To her friend and mother, Joan is hot shit, but she fears it’s only illusory, and you have to wonder where she’ll fall if the whole thing with Jaguar blows up.

I grew fucking sideburns!(I grew fucking sideburns! Where’s my partnership?)

Speaking of scraps from the table, Mad Men continues to nibble around the edges when it comes to race. Don’s secretary, Dawn (yeah, I was never much of a fan of that pun), is given a boost in screen time this episode. We get a glimpse into America’s 1960s black culture when she visits a friend at a diner to discuss her dating life, but it’s just that – a glimpse.

The show seems to want to draw a parallel between Dawn and Joan. Both are chipping away at their respective hurdles, but keep getting knocked back down.

I would love to see the black experience more thoroughly sketched out in Mad Men, but Weiner seems pretty monochromatically committed. Shame.

iDCR4jpnxEAl(that perm deserves a partnership)

Cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on April 25, 2013.

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