recap of the recap

The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps: ‘To Have and To Hold’

Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 6, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC
Photo: Jordin Althaus/AMC

The critics were a bit confused this week. Many recaps of Mad Men season-six episode “To Have and To Hold” contained the correction that Peggy, in fact, did not win the Heinz account. Wishful thinking? Some reviewers applauded hapless Harry Crane’s grasp on shifting sixties culture, while others praised his ability to throw a temper tantrum. Most mourned Joan’s encounter with the glass ceiling, and almost all celebrated the long-awaited arrival of a race-related plotline, though our own Matt Zoller Seitz thought Dawn’s character development fell flat. Throw your cross behind your neck and read on. Here’s your weekly recap of the recaps.

* “Joan has been as much the archetypal early ’60s woman as Don has been the archetypal early ’60s man. Much of the ongoing story of this series has to do with how the changes of a culturally and politically turbulent decade affected these people who began the ’60s ascendant, feeling they’d inherited a world they’d bought into, and that they understood. Joan’s taken a lot more knocks along the way than Don has, from her marriage to Dr.Rape to her sleeping with a client to save the company. She’s still intimidating though, in much the same way that Don is.” —A.V. Club

* “For the first time in the show, two black characters spoke just to each other, in a room devoid of white faces, and it was great. The show’s always handled race in relief, and to impressive effect. To reflect the changing times by moving beyond that, by letting viewers follow Dawn into a space outside of the office, beyond white people—that felt right and good.” —Complex

* “When [Don] pounces on the chance to point out that Megan kisses for money, it’s a straight-up case of the pot calling the kettle a prostitute.” —Entertainment Weekly

* “Discretion may have guided Don Draper throughout his life so far, but the culture is now rapidly changing on him. That culture prefers sexiness that’s clearly on display, in ketchup ads or in proposals to build TV specials around Joe Namath singing Broadway tunes. (To Harry’s credit, he already is grasping the reasons why this later Namath ad would work in a major way.)” —Esquire

* “Throughout ‘To Have and To Hold,’ characters make faulty assumptions based on their imagination, while the people who know better understand how lousy the actual situation is. And in the end, it doesn’t matter if you imagine reality or look straight at it, because you’re going to wind up unhappy.” —HitFix

* “It’s about time – long past time, actually – for the show to recognize how alone Dawn feels and helps us understand what she likes and doesn’t like about her job. As the firm’s only African-American, she is isolated and unable to take any number of things for granted…It was a relief, in a way, to see her talk so openly about her frustrations and fears with Nikki.” —Huffington Post

* “The fact that Harry thinks a folksy football player in a straw hat will be strong enough to wipe out the clamorous national conversation about Agent Orange and Napalm B goes to show you how utterly clueless he is. Harry Crane is every idiotic television executive that has ever lived.” —Grantland

* “Harry Crane knows how to throw a temper tantrum. He is fearless if sloppy, and through doughy cheeks delivers a toxic barb in Episode 4 that is shocking on its own, but made exponentially so coming from this at-times hapless infant-man who in earlier years ran to his wife for crumbs of resolve.” —Los Angeles Times

* “This was the first time we saw Don and Peggy go up against each other for an account. And both of them failed. Was this a warm-up for a more definitive battle down the road? And, of course, the question that’s been at the forefront of our minds: Why does Stan feel the effects of marijuana faster than any human on the planet?” —New York Times

* “Québécoise Megan has totally been typecast as a French-maid-uniform-clad domestic.” —Rolling Stone

* “Does anyone hand over a check with more grace than Roger Sterling?” —Time

*”The fact that 1) Don actually laughed out loud, 2) Joan’s mother implied indirectly that she was proud of Joan’s executive position at the company and 3) Megan and Don chuckled their way home from an absurd dinner with Megan’s co-workers qualify this as a legitimately lighthearted episode. Throw in Burt’s surprisingly satisfying remark to Harry Crane that he has nothing in common with him (and Roger’s plan to fire Harry before he can cash the big check he just grumbled off with) and ‘To Have and To Hold’ was a high-spirited romp, relatively speaking.” —Salon

* “It’s not surprising to see Peggy following in the footsteps of her former mentor; in many ways, she’s more Don’s partner than Megan will ever be. But because Don is no longer in a position in which he can retaliate against Peggy, he decides to retaliate against Megan instead.” —The Week

The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps