Mad Men – To Have And To Hold

‘To have and to hold’ was another outstanding episode of this outstanding series that contained many great character moments and see’s some key issues finally coming to the fore.

There’s quite a lot to cover from this episode, and we finally get to see a couple of characters get some actual storylines. First up is Don’s secretary Dawn. This is the first time we’ve seen her character get fleshed out a bit and we get to really see the struggles she is going through to try and keep her job and save face in a workplace dominated by white people. Her discussion with her friend regarding SCDP’s more, shall we say, unsavoury, characteristics were great, particularly the line about it sounding like the day after a New Year’s Eve party every time the bin’s are emptied. It’s a great comment on the obvious alcoholism abundant in the era and in particular in this office.

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Dawn also tangles with Joan throughout this episode, though it’s more about her trying to impress her. Kristina Hendrik finally get’s more than one line for the first time this season and she does an amazing job. It’s great to see how she became a senior partner finally dragged to the fore and the knowledge that everyone seems to know she got the job through sleeping with the man from Jaguar seem’s to be less confidential than she hoped.

Harry also get’s a turn in this episode, albeit it serves to make the character very unlikeable. Though this does give us a chance to see Roger and Bert interact again, something not seen in a while. The scene with him bursting into the partner’s meeting to try and defend himself after he believes Joan is ‘telling on him’ for undermining her authority where horrible to watch. This was the first time any of the characters have truly acknowledged what it is Joan did to ‘earn’ her place, and it will be interesting to see how this develops further through the season.

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There’s a lot of other moments throughout the episode, particularly with Joan’s friend visiting. I can’t see this this character being involved again and it felt lazy by the writer’s to use a new character in order to try and give voice to Joan’s own issues with her promotion. That said, the scene’s all worked well and it’s clear that even though Joan is happy to have people praise her for her new role, she is less than happy on the inside about it.

Meanwhile, we get to see Peggy doing her best Don-bot impression again, regurgitating some of his more famous lines almost verbatim whilst pitching for Heinz Ketchup. This is becoming a bit too on the nose now for my liking and I sincerely hope that Peggy is now not just used as a tool for the writer’s to cause conflict. This is what seem’s to be happening, and whilst it all flows naturally and does indeed work, Peggy has always been a central character and one of Don’s only true colleagues, she need’s to be respecting her self enough to not play the games being imposed on her by Ted. As I said in my review last week, Peggy will either end up back at SCDP, or be written out, the character is at a dead end at her current job.

Things at SCDP seem to be imploding once again, with Heinz Ketchup and Beans being lost, this being echoed in Don’s own personal life. We see him lose it with Megan over her love scene on her soap, then immediately go back to his affair with Slyvia. This blatent hypocrisy is sure to catch up with Don soon and the scene between the two at the end of the episode was beautifully shot and written. We get to see just how vulnerable Don really is, and we as an audience are privy to both sides of his life. We get to see not only the facade he puts on in the office, but also the incredible torment going on behind the scenes.

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Don’s treatment of Megan was a shadow of how he was with Betty, but the similarities are there. Don does not want his woman to be more successful than himself. When he was with Betty, she began to want her own life, she wanted to model again. Let’s not forget, she gave up her promising career to have kid’s and be a husband to Don, so he could go off and be a successful Ad Man. He had affair’s on the side because he was in control that way. We are seeing the same scenario here again. Megan is becoming more successful, Don can’t handle this and so does something he can control.

Don is clearly heading for an implosion of his own this season, it’s not a question of ‘if’ but now ‘when’.

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