Mad Men-To Have and To Hold-Aaron Staton

Mad Men continues to impress this week. “To Have and To Hold” resonates in more ways than one. As Don grapples with the price of his wife’s success, a light is shone on Joan’s current state. 

The Players:

  • Director: Michael Uppendahl
  • Writer: Erin Levy
  • Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Jay R. Ferguson, Ben Feldman, Nancy Linsky, Linda Cardellini, James Wolk, Kevin Rahm, Joseph Emmett DuRand, Josh Kirby, Shaun Rylee, Teyonah Parris, Sadie Alexandru, Ray Wise, Marley Shelton, Christine Estabrook

Episode Title: “To Have and To Hold”

A secret campaign is developed, while Joan entertains a visitor.

The Good:

  • To Have and To Hold: Megan’s success at work provided the show with an obligatory swinger’s scene. Slaves to the times, Matthew Weiner never ceases to keep up with the culturally relative. The episode’s focus on Megan’s soap opera mirrored Don’s relationship with the women in his life. As the quintessential man of the era—and as a fellow on a quest for a mother figure—peddling kisses for admiration earned his wife the whore title while his mistresses keen attitude towards her faith left her with the Madonna role. The adulterous Sylvia’s staunch beliefs and “moral compass” outrank his Megan’s devotion, especially as her career drags him closer to the spotlight he runs from. If still a question, The Draper’s marriage is severed, now and possibly forever.
  • Project K: The secret development of a ketchup ad allowed for more grass smoking with Don’s full participation. Until the presentation, the only noteworthy tidbit was the domestication of Pete’s apartment. The anvil dropped as Don, Stan, and Pete exited the hotel room they paid for to find Ted, Peggy, and an unnamed lackey waiting. Mad Men deals in silences the way a sitcom deals with laughter; the quiet echoed Pete’s fury, Don’s shock, and Stan’s feelings of betrayal.  The account that neither snagged did its damage. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least if Ted called Raymond to tell of SCDP’s treachery. With two other companies in on the competition, secrets are bound to be told. The effective and predictable ruin of Peggy and Stan’s camaraderie was sealed with his quiet and angry middle finger. Is it too naïve to hope it can be mended?
  • Office Politics: Paul’s outburst over Joan’s decision to fire his secretary indicated that it’s common knowledge how the only female partner received her promotion. All his whining secured was the profits of his latest venture, made on the back of Ken’s plight. Mr. Cosgrove’s misery was more intriguing. Complaining to Paul afforded him the chance to earn his father-in-law’s respect. He was treated to the infinite pleasure of watching Paul embarrass himself in the partners meeting. His ignorance on Project K was more disappointing than whatever small gains he made earlier. Loyalty was lost on both sides. The secret meeting still reached the ears of Raymond, SCDP’s now former client. But the sting of excluding Ken from the campaign in favor of Pete after Don insisted they remain true to their relationship with baked beans was almost crippling.
  • The Dawn of a New Age: Move over Phyllis’s few lines, Dawn got a whole story! Some of it deals with being Black in the workplace! Having someone for Dawn to touch base with was ideal; believing that Dawn could find someone to confide in at SCDP might be a stretch. Her girlfriend’s adage rang true to the current social climate—however approachable–the people you work with are not your friends. Scarlett gave no indication that she had malicious intent when she asked Dawn to clock out for her, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a backlash. Especially in light of Joan making Dawn responsible for all the timecards from now onward. This, and her quest for a man, nearly ensures that this plot won’t be Dawn’s last for the season. Times, they are a-changing.
  • The Curious Presence of Bob Benson: Bob Benson has conspicuously been in every episode, without any mention as to why. Ironic that his small role last night focused on determining what secret campaign Stan was working on while viewers tried to determine why he’s so important. Is he a corporate spy? Is he an FBI plant there to gather information on Don and his identity switching ways? Is he Roger’s secret son, bidding his time until he works up the nerve to talk to his old papa? It’s dangerous to say, but nothing would surprise us at this point. We wish we had an inkling of what the writers are winding us up for .

The So-So:

  • Joanie: Besides the revelation that others are privy to the details of her partnership, Joan was sad.  Her authority and place in the business is challenged by the overgrown sideburns of Paul Kinsey. Her title finally earned her mother’s approval, but her friend’s visit reinforced the emptiness of her life. One night of making out with strangers and drinking left her with the hollow feeling that was written all over Joan’s face while she tolerated Kate’s adolescent desires. The small smile she gave before succumbing to the lips of a man who paid her the smallest compliment made us ache. If this was made to show us Joan’s current state, then mission accomplished. But that was nothing we couldn’t have guessed, or at least seen with considerably less effort. 

The Quotable:

  • “If he wants people to stop hating him he should stop dropping napalm on children.”—Ken
  • “You know what, I’m sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can’t be given the same rewards.”—Paul
  • Dawn: “Everybody’s scared there. Women crying in the ladies room, men crying in the elevator. It sounds like New Year’s Eve when they empty the garbage, there’s so many bottles.” Friend: “They got it so bad. They all must be jealous of you.”
  • “You kiss people for money. You know who does that?”—Don

Overall:

“To Have and To Hold” saw most of the cast shirking their possessions for their desires. Sterling Cooper Draper Price threw away their relationship with a client in favor of a campaign it wanted. Peggy tossed aside her allegiances for the success she craves. We’re still hoping for someone to join in on the swinging fun (*cough* Roger *cough*) and are pretty satisfied with the progress made. But please, let’s have a little clue about Bob Benson. The waiting game doesn’t always make for good television.

Rating: 8/10

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.

What did you think of the finale?