Don Draper (Jon Hamm) had some emotional highs and lows this week.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) had some emotional highs and lows this week. (Jordin Althaus/AMC / May 28, 2012)

"Don't be a stranger" -- Peggy Olson

I went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and the conversation at my table, as it often does, turned to "Mad Men."

A few guests were very adamant about Season 5; "lackluster" and "disappointing" were the most commonly used words. I've been back and forth about this season, but have always thought there has been more good moments than bad.

After last week's glaring misstep, I was getting worried. But tonight's beyond-excellent episode, which ranks right up there with episodes "The Suitcase" and "Shut the Door. Have a Seat," in terms of raw powerful storytelling, has reeled me back in.

It's not just that so much happened as SCDP feverishly prepped for the Big Jaguar Pitch. It's that everything happened in such a compelling way.

It's a few days before the crew has to pitch to Jaguar, in what Don has deemed a potential turning point for the agency. They need this thing, and need it now. Don has assembled a group of freelancers and Michael Ginsberg to brainstorm and things don't seem to be going well.

"Jaguar: The mistress who'll do things your wife wont."

"Jaguar: You'll love it when you're in it."

These are not Don Draper-approved taglines. At one point Don, in between drinks (he's drinking more than usual, which says something) yells "Get me some lines!" and you really feel his pain.

In the meantime, Pete and Ken have a schmoozing dinner with Herb, the head of the Dealers Association who is one of the deciding votes on which agency gets the Jaguar deal.

Herb makes it smarmy-clear (in terms that smarmy-Pete can understand) that he wants a night with Joan because she has red hair, is built like a B-52 and is, well, Joan.

The good-hearted Ken tries to play the "she's married" card and is disgusted by Herb's offer (Ken's a sensitive writer, after all, and actually acts like a human being). Pete, shockingly, is open to the proposition.

Ultimately, Ken succumbs to the pressure of wanting to land this big account: "Well, we wanted to be in the car business," he says. Ew. This pimp chat is part of being in the car business?

The next day, Pete goes to talk to Joan about what went down and does so in a very business-like way, even though it really is prostitution. And Joan is nobody's hooker.

"We're going to lose Jaguar unless an arrangement is made. And it involves you and Herb," Pete says.

"You're unbelievable," is Joan's understatement of the season. And Pete Campbell reaches a new low.

"You're talking about prostitution!" Joan says.

"I'm talking about business at a very high level. Was Cleopatra a prostitute? She was a queen. What would it take to make you a queen?" Pete says. See what I mean? New low.

"You couldn't afford it," Joan says.