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Red Right Hand: TV08: MAD MEN: "A Night to Remember"
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.


TV08: MAD MEN: "A Night to Remember"

Continuing my review of my favorite episodes of stuff from the last calendar year. Not necessarily the best of the year, but ones I liked for one subjective reason or another.

There will be spoilers
Another duplication from Time Magazine's Top Ten list of the year, which BTW, is not a bad list by any stretch.

In fact, this one gets namechecked quite a bit, so I'm not going to go at extensive length about this one. It is essentially one character plotline from this episode that puts this as my favorite Mad Men of the year. Her name is Joan Holloway. Hers isn't the "meatier" plot line of Don's marriage unraveling or Peggy being pushed to deal with her past as she fashions her future.

I will briefly mention though, that Don's manipulation of Betty in terms of winning over the beer execs was almost masterful. She figured it out, though. 9 out of 10.

In this episode, we really saw Joan shine in a professional capacity as, essentially the only member of the television department at Sterling Cooper under Harry. Make no mistake, in her current position, she rules, but that position is just being the coolest, smartest cat in the cage. Now she has her chance to get out, because not only does she find that she likes the job, she's really fuckin' good at it.

This is exactly the kind of plotline that, right as it unfolds, has my writer mind plotting the possible path's that Weiner intends to take with her over the course of the series. And with Weiner, as with the series, I'm always wrong. I really did think that maybe this was the first step in moving Joan out of her stereotypical role and into the the agency proper. I could see a path for her that would lead her to eventually be a Pete or Duck to Peggy's Don at the close of the series. That perhaps she might ride in the wake that Peggy creates. A twist on the state of their relationship in the first year.

Instead, we get the more likely and more real instance of Harry replacing her, as was the intention from the beginning. Is he just sexist or is he just oblivious to the fact that the right person for the job already has it.

In fact, I was a little disappointed that over the rest of the season that it didn't become apparent to Harry that he had made the wrong choice. It seemed very clear to me that part of Harry's success in dealing with TV advertisers stemmed from having Joan as the face of the department. Yes, there is some sexism inherent there, as surely those execs enjoyed dealing with a hot, flirty redhead, but Joan's certainly Machiavellian enough to see it as a tool to get the job done.

Anytime Joan's story gets some upfront time, the episode benefits, I think. It was also my hope that if she became more active as part of the staff, rather than support staff, she might get even more screen time. The path her story took this year, however, was certainly interesting nonetheless and I'm curious to see how (or actually if) it will be addressed next year.

By the way, I was waiting for disaster to strike in some way, shape or form. When I think of "A Night to Remember," I think of the Titanic book of the same name I suppose for Don, it did.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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