Mad Men Season 5, Episode 11, dubbed The Other Woman, was chock-full of surprises that will begin to play out over the season's final two episodes -- and that will surely leave a lot of issues unresolved as viewers wait for Season 6.
Joan prominently featured in the most interesting and unsettling turn of the newest entry in the saga that is AMC's Mad Men by her acceptance of a Jaguar dealer's request, via Pete, for sex in exchange for a better chance of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce winning the dealership's account.
Joan, who has been lost ever since her husband returned home with the war for a mistress, is now apparently a full voting partner in the firm, a role that turns her choice to offer sex for a price on end, as it ensures that gender roles will never be the same in the workplace on their little slice of Madison Avenue.
Meanwhile, we see how the generation that came just after Joan's is already making its own strides toward independence with the developments that unfold for Peggy and for Megan Draper.
Peggy's change is the most obvious corollary to Joan's, as she has found a way into the upper tiers of the ad world, but she doesn't have to use sex to get there.
After looking on as everyone else eats lobster from The Palm and being repeatedly shoved in some back pocket by Don and the boys, Peggy decides to try to take her talents elsewhere.
Within a day or two, Peggy secures a great offer, and though she has to break Don Draper's heart to do it, she informs him of her passing. The scene of the great adman clinging to and kissing her hand as she turns to walk out the door is a sign of how big her career will one day be.
And Peggy catches Joan's eye on the way out. Joan has just sold herself -- in full view of those who she's joining -- to enter the leadership at the firm and secure a five percent stake. Her family will be taken care of forever, but the yearning for more in her eyes as she traces Peggy's path out the door is palpable and cutting.
Meanwhile, Megan Draper is continuing to exercise her independence without giving the deference to Don that he thinks is due. She's off to Boston for an audition before he can stop her, and, when she returns, he finds himself playing the role not of head of household but of worried father.
She, too, has found a way to forge a promising career for herself in the face of the restrictions on women that exist all around her, and the men continue to lose ground to them through a combination of the intelligence and drive of the females that surround them, and the males' drunken, lazy indifference, or impotence.
But, in the end, the firm has a car. The acquisition of Jaguar will be a defining moment for the firm, which may be going through an odd period of turmoil, but seems poised only to find greater glory in the years to come.
Watch this video look at Mad Men Season Five, Episode 11, by pressing play below: