I can’t write anything about that episode that Elise and Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker haven’t said better, though I lean heavily toward Nussbaum’s thesis that prostitution has always been a theme of Mad Men. What struck me was how normal the proposition sounded inside the office. In the bar, the request to have the B-52 sent to his love shack came across as an affront. Inside SCDP (initials that have forever ruined the South Carolina Democratic Party for me), only Don reacted badly, knowing as a whore’s son what you lose in such a trade. It was, to them, just business, though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look Roger Sterling in the eyes again no matter how charming he pretends to be.
What wasn’t for sale? Peggy and her pride that reaches into envy with both hands. The glass wall separating her from the silver trays of lobster was a bit heavy-handed, and there was a whiny, immature touch to her reason for leaving. But her decision to leave — to say no to Don Draper — seemed to require more guts than did Joan’s decision to take off her dress for Mr. Jaguar.
It was a shocking episode, grueling to watch. But the decision to whore out their officer mother did not seem to wreck their day.