MAD MEN: Scene(s) of the Week

For the most part, this was another Don episode (then again, aren’t they all?). After last week’s breakthrough with Peggy, Don is a man trying to climb out of the hole that is his life. He’s drinking less, going on functional dates, and even calling a temporary truce with Betty for the sake of Baby Gene (how sweet was Don with his youngest child?). While Roger was absent and Pete had like three lines, Joan took something close to center stage, and Christina Hendricks stood out last night.

So Joan walks around the office like she’s “trying to get raped?” Low blow, Joey. You have no idea how low. Joey might try to justify his behavior by comparing Joan to his mother, but the damage is done (I hope he’s gone for good). It’s always fascinating the way the show (and Joan) handle the rape. Whenever Greg appears it’s a reminder of what a monster he is, but the ugly truth remains unspoken, just below the surface. And Joan, more often than not, has tears in her eyes when sharing scenes with her husband. Maybe it’s because he’s an utter joke as a doctor, maybe it’s because he’s about to start basic training. But while Joey’s insult brought it to the forefront of her mind, how can Joan look at the man without feeling violated, without wishing it hadn’t happened, without questioning why she married him anyway?

Speaking of Vietnam, I can’t recall a time when I watched a TV show, movie, whatever, and actually wanted some American boys to get blown up in the jungles of Southeast Asia. But Joey, Stan, and Co. have proved themselves so vile over the past few weeks, all I could think was good on Joan. Peggy witnessed Joan vs. the boys, and when she finally kicked Joey to the curb, I was expecting a connection on the level of Peggy and Don’s all nighter. But once alone in the elevator, Joan had no gratitude. All she saw was another reminder of the life she didn’t have. She’s not the wife of a great doctor, she’s not as young as she once was. And, basically, she’s just a secretary. Joan could be so much more. In some ways, she could outshine Peggy if she gave herself half a chance. But Joan, for all her experience and savvy, is trapped by the idea of what a woman was (which is probably why she settled for Greg) whereas someone like Peggy is invigorated by the concept of what a woman can be. So what happens now? Does she ever get an office to truly call her own? Does her husband get blown to bits overseas (one can only hope)? Or does Joan, like Roger, remain a prisoner of the past?

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