Joan Harris is not a secretary anymore, and don't you forget it. Episode 10 of "Mad Men" opens with Joan in Los Angeles on a business trip, ready to get some serious work done and finally show off all the beautiful dresses we've seen her shopping for recently. But she's also going to indulge in the perks of all-expenses-paid travel, just like her male colleagues always have on this show. First, she orders French toast for breakfast instead of her usual skim milk and grapefruit. Then she wears an amazing coral pink silk top and floral skirt combination that earns her the respect of the audience and the attention of a distinguished older gentleman. At first glance I thought said older gentleman was Sting, but it's not Sting. I will refer to him as Sting throughout the rest of this fashion recap.
Joan doesn't waste anytime having some fun under the covers with Sting, and who can blame her? Someone deserves to see the silk teal robe she sleeps in. But she needs to get back to work and he — retired, divorced, blah, blah, back story — just wants to cuddle (just like Sting would, right?).
He's so smitten that he follows Joan back to New York, where they go out to dinner and back to his hotel suite for a nightcap. Joan asks her babysitter to stay longer and it's essentially the same situation we've seen Don get into a hundred times — meet someone on the road, keep the romance going in New York with the help of a patient caretaker back home who doesn't know the details. Unfortunately, despite how much she tries, Joan is not just one of the boys. Sting isn't very keen on the fact that she has a four-year-old son. He wants travel with her abroad and a baby doesn't fit into that lifestyle. Joan and her stunning bedazzled cocktail dress go home earlier than expected.
The morning after the date, Joan's babysitter is running late and Joan yells at her and the baby, saying, "You're ruining my life!" Feeling guilty and disappointed, she chooses to wear a comfortable and traditional female print, the polka dot, with a long pearl necklace. Her bold California wardrobe is shelved now that's she back in New York and made painfully aware, yet again, of the reality of being a single divorced working mother.
But Sting surprises her at the office, looking like a '70s caricature in scarf tie and white blazer. Joan offers to send her son away to some undisclosed place to be with Sting, which is one of the most un-Joan things I've ever heard. Clearly she is going through something heavy to even suggest that. Thankfully Sting says he's decided he's okay with it and they make amends. Will Joan finish the series with someone other than Roger?
Meanwhile, Glen Bishop is back! The baby fat is gone and in its place is a pair of sexually charged side burns. The man-child is completely unrecognizable, wearing bell-bottom jeans, pointy boots and an open, western-style shirt. Sally and Betty are shocked by the change. (A little backstory on Glen: He's been pretty obsessed with Betty since he was a little boy. After she caught him watching her in the bathroom, he asked for a locket of her hair and asked her to run away with him.) He comes to say goodbye to Betty and Sally before shipping off to Vietnam, an act of bravery that he hopes will get him at least a kiss from Betty in the Francis family kitchen.
Betty certainly leads him on because she loves the attention, but she quickly shuts down any possibility of something more. "I'm married," she says. Funny how she didn't mention that before, when she flirtatiously said he'd "grown into a fine young man." It's also worth mentioning she's styled her hair in a more traditional Betty-esque way, which Glen would remember from her Draper days. She didn't know he was going to stop by the house again, but maybe seeing him again inspired her to channel that '60s look.
Sally didn't just have to deal with Betty and Glen's sexual tension in this episode. At dinner before a field trip with friends, one of Sally's friends lays it on thick with Don and he doesn't put a stop to it, instead lighting her cigarette (no pun intended). Sally is disgusted, as she should be, but her brown ruffled top is unflummoxed.
We would be remiss to end this recap without any mention of Peggy, whose few appearances in the episode showed her authoritatively managing a difficult account and demanding Don give her a yearly performance review. In a striped pastel and white jacket, she tells Don her dream is to become the first female creative director at the agency. Go, Peggy, go!
She thinks Don is scoffing at her dream to "create something of lasting value" when he responds, "In advertising?" But he's not. Don keeps asking her, "What's next, what's next?" because he can't figure out the answer for himself, for Roger or for anyone. The episode ends again with him alone outside his apartment while a new family finalizes its purchase with a real estate agent inside. If Weiner has some sort of life-affirming epiphany planned for Don in the final three episodes, I genuinely don't know where it's going to come from. He's never seemed so isolated.