She didn’t sleep with scuzzy car guy just because she was desperate for the stability. She slept with him because she’s in a liminal phase.
Liminalty is the scary in-between times in our lives, the weird time when we’re not who we used to be but we’re not quite who we’re going to be. Joan’s in a classic — classic! — liminal phase right now. She’s not the office vixen anymore, but she hasn’t really transitioned to doting mother. And to top it all off, she’s in the middle of a particularly traumatic divorce. Joan doesn’t know who she is anymore; her entire identity is jeopardized.
Can she really become a partner at that firm, a member of the inner circle, with everyone around her knowing just how she got that step up? Joan knows better than anyone there that secrets rarely stay hidden. It seems like a strategic misstep, and so, for this to make sense, I have to believe that Joan’s thinking was not so much pragmatic as a statement of her disgust: a furious response to the news of that closed-room discussion among men she knew—and of course, a way to get into that room. Joan might be a man’s woman, but this felt like a decision to both embrace their opinion and up the ante—to throw herself into the flames, not be thrown.
— Joan’s Decision, Culture Desk, The New Yorker.
Je ne suis pas le seul à être hanté par cet épisode.
You know, there’s a moment where Pete is pitching this idea, and he says, “Haven’t we all done something, made a mistake one night for free?” All the men in this office have done sort of off-color things, and acted in ways that we’ve all hissed at throughout the entire series. She acted like one of the guys, to a certain extent. And she’s a single mother. When Lane comes in [with the $50,000 offer] and she says, “It’s four times as much as I make in the entire year”—are you kidding me? How moral are we all? How much can it help my family, and how much can it help my son? And once it’s done, it’s done; it never has to be spoken about again. But it’s a terrible price to pay.
— Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks on Joan’s Epic Moral Moment, The Stream, GQ.