Sterling Cooper & Partners? Really? Gotta admit I was hoping for something a little more creative than that. But that’s my only real complaint with “A Tale of Two Cities.” Last night we saw Don, Roger, and Harry in California. Don smokes some hash and hallucinates that Megan is with child, Roger gets his family jewels clobbered by former cousin-in-law Danny Siegel, and Harry’s essentially on hand to warn the others that while they’re on the West Coast, they are strangers in a strange land. Back in NYC, Jim Cutler is already planning a mutiny, Ginsberg melts down to the point where he’s almost unable to keep his doomed meeting with Manischewitz, and Bob Benson continues to worm his way into agency’s inner circle (the man’s got a plan, but I’m not quite sure what it is just yet). And Pete Campbell of all people takes a hit from Stan’s joint (please, please, please don’t let this be a one-off; if there’s a Mad Men character that we need to see more of high, it’s definitely Pete!)
But enough about the boys. Last night, the ladies also took center stage and, unsurprisingly, this weekly prize. It’s been quite the journey for Peggy and Joan. They’ve come a long way from the mousy secretary who didn’t realize she was knocked up and Sterling Cooper’s queen bee for whom snagging a husband was her life’s goal (marrying a pig like Greg would alter that ideal for anyone). Peggy is now a creative powerhouse, and Joan, by hook or by crook, has made it to the partners’ table. Now anyone who has ever seen Joan in action knows that she has always been more than capable of handling an account. So it seems that she’ll score a major coup with Andy from Avon. But Teddy wants Pete at the meeting with Peggy. Joan gives Pete the slip and takes the meeting herself. But Joan fails to let Peggy take the lead, and the result is awkward, clumsy, and so not Joan. Peggy is quick to call Joan on her missteps and correct the assumption that Peggy slept her way to the top (Peggy is able to hit below Joan’s belt on that particular front). Peggy and Joan might never be bosom buddies, but Peggy momentarily saves Joan’s bacon when Teddy and Pete ream into Joan for stealing the meeting. Peggy fakes a note that makes it seem as if Joan has succeeded when landing Avon is far from a certainty. It was yet another testament to the awesomeness that is Peggy Olson, and who doesn’t want to see Joan beat the other partners at their own game? But if Andy doesn’t call, what then? Who takes the fall? It will undoubtedly be worse for Joan than it might be for Peggy (honestly, I believe Joan would do her best to keep Peggy out of the line of fire should the other shoe drop). So this little white lie could yield Joan a fraction of the respect she truly deserves, or it could actually lower her standing with the other partners to the point where she’s wishing she was back managing the secretarial pool. I want Joan to win this one. I’m just not sure that she will.