'Mad Men' recap: Peggy calls a family meeting
My dear Kathleen,
So I heard you murmur something about the ending of last night’s episode of “Mad Men” during our morning meeting. Since you remain quagmired in deadlines, I’ll start off with MY impressions of that dreamy ending and see if we don’t meet somewhere in the middle.
Which is exactly where Peggy and Don met up last night. Throughout the season, Peggy has gone from emotional wreck, to hostile, to humbled creative (thank you Ginsberg and Don), back to hostile for a bit, then back to emotional, but this time, she’s clear for the first time in a long time.
And that’s because Don did what he’s not known for: stepping back and letting her talent shine because he’s utterly assured that she can bring the Burger Chef deal home, just like she said she would. This despite Pete et al’s insistence that Don lead the pitch to lend it some “authority” (at which point I screamed at the TV) and place Peggy in the mother role RIGHT AFTER SHE NAILED HER INITIAL PRESENTATION. My rage knew no bounds at that point. Peggy is SO not a mom/supporting actor, and she won’t be pigeon-holed, oh no!
In a giant turn, Don, essentially, serves as a prop for Peggy’s better strategy; he was her mirror and that’s it. He countered with another idea, sure, but that’s his job. She called it a stinker and he shrugged it off, no arguments. Her own creative insinct — nurtured by Don past and present — spurred her on to come with a very lovely idea for Burger Chef. And note: this is AFTER she’d already come up with a winner that got everyone’s – Lou’s included! – vote of confidence. Still, she wanted more – because she’s a pro, like Joan, and an artist, like Don.
And I really do like her second idea (better than the first one), because it better addresses the time’s changing social strata and gender roles by taking the scene out of the traditional home — made beautifully clear right as the episode opened, with the hesitant housewife’s customer survey feedback: she feels bad for not making a homemade dinner, but Burger Chef is quick, easy and local. Dinner isn’t solely mom’s realm anymore — dad actually CAN procure dinner! Mom doesn’t HAVE to shop, cook, and wash dishes while schlepping the kids around all day! The “family table” has gone mobile (perhaps so has the family itself), and Peggy proposes a campaign that will assuage the housewives’ guilt over their new dinner strategy.
Still, the hostility tried to rear its head again, and it was kinda hilarious. Peggy had a few lines of the night, among them, “Did you park your white horse outside?” when Don, too, shows up to work on the weekend — because that’s ALSO what he does, unlike his peers on the board. (Her other great line, in convo with Don, is when she predicts just when, whilst presenting the Burger Chef work, he’ll “hit the tagline like [he] just thought of it.” “Do I do that?” he asks, genuinely perplexed. Classic.)
The new Don doesn’t take the bait; he gets down to work, acts as sounding board and encouragement-deliverer, and it results in a moment of true connection both parties desperately need.
I guess Sinatra has that effect, ay?
Doo be doo be dooooooo,
So I’m watching last night, and I’m watching and nothing is happening. I’m loving Stan’s love beads and Pete’s fabulous plaid jacket, that I’m pretty sure one of my brothers wore, but nothing is going on. I’m bored. Move the story forward, I’m thinking. I’m sick of Pete and Trudy, and Pete and the real estate agent, and Peggy falling apart, and Joan being strong and Don in a perpetual state of happiness. And then, as the Drifters sing in “This Magic Moment,” it happened — Don and Peggy.
They worked, they created, they laughed, they danced. They know more about one another than anyone else. After Peggy gave birth and gave her baby away, Don is the one who came to the hospital. When Don drove his car off the road and was arrested for drunk driving, Peggy bailed him out. She respects him. He respects her. They can disagree about things, even argue, but they remain loyal to each other.
When she put her head on his chest, I think for the first time in a long, long time, Don finally had a real emotion. That look on his face made the whole dull beginning of the episode worthwhile.
I can’t get past that moment.
I’m so glad you mentioned the important occasions on which Peggy and Don have looked after one another. And, indeed, they’ve had epic blowouts in the past too (see also: the throwing-money-in-Peggy’s-face incident a few seasons ago), but as you wisely note they have between them the very important foundation of respect, and this is where Peggy differs from Betty and even Megan. Now, in recent conversation you noted how much you’d enjoy it if Peggy and Don got together. At which point another colleague yelled over that she’d rather Peggy and PETE ride off into a Malibu sunset, but I’m with you: it would be a most interesting experiment, although I think Peggy would escort Don to the curb in much shorter order than Betty and Megan ever did.
Speaking of Megan, who shows up for a visit to NYC and takes many of her “things” back to Cali with her, it seems as though she’s finally settling in out there. She simply breathed West Coast-ness all over NYC. The question: is she moving forward with a solo-Megan life, or does we think she’s holding out hope that Don will show up on her doorstep for good? PS. She looked gorgeous in that purple dress she had on when she popped in at SC&P. Between her and California Bonnie, that office got some much-needed color and mellow groove.
Confession: while I was OK with Bonnie and Pete pairing up, I’m kinda glad that’s over. Pete’s a mess, with loads of unfinished business to deal with (namely, his timid little daughter). Plus, he’s a born New Yorker, and Bonnie did note, “I don’t like you here,” re: NYC-embedded Pete. I think her soot-stained feet gave her all the answer she needed as to whether to keep trying with Pete.
One more thing about Pete: Still love him. Sue me. That final scene last night with sulky Pete tearing into his burger with gusto, as Peggy and Don explain to him just how the Burger Chef campaign is going to go down, was just adorable. Another happy family sharing a mealtime without TV at Burger Chef. Pete could’ve argued some more for Don’s alleged “authority,” but he let it go and took orders from the “chief,” as Stan would say. (PPS. Loving Stan’s beads and beard and generous teddy-bear-ness this season. Remember what a frat-boy dink he was when he first joined the firm? Love.)
I used to weave love beads in high school and totally would’ve made some for Stan,
Yes. Hurrah for the return of the family dinner — even if it is in a fast food restaurant — without the distraction of television. Did those kind of meals ever exist, Peggy asks? I think people ask that same question today.
But wasn’t this episode all about family? Pete doesn’t like that his family — his soon-to-be-ex-wife and daughter have moved on without him; gay Bob Benson wants a family so he can get ahead in the corporate world; Don eating breakfast with Megan and taking her shopping pretending they are a family; Peggy looks into station wagon windows of passing cars and what, pines for a family?
And did you notice the strong women were all clad in baby blue? Real estate Bonnie in a baby blue embroidered dress and strong enough to give Pete the boot; Peggy in the meticulously fitting short-sleeve baby blue shift and eventually able to stand her ground with her work; and Joan just fabulous in any baby blue and declaring she’d rather spend her life wishing for love than make an arrangement out of convenience. The women are coming into their own. Oh, the times are a’chang’in.
BTW, I’m pining for a bit of comic relief. Everything is so serious. Weren’t there any funny ads in the late ’60s and early ’70s we could at least see as a backdrop? Wasn’t anyone out there having fun? Bring back tap dancing. Bring back the lawnmowers in the office. (Although that did end tragically with the loss of a foot.) Oh well.
We are agreed that more levity would be lovely going forward on “Mad Men.” I think the lawnmower episode is one of my favorites. That and the Kentucky Derby party episode, in which Pete and Trudy cut quite the rug – in unison!
I can point to a few funny things that weren’t quite funny “ha-ha,” but at least gave me a few juvenile snickers. Among them, that shot of Bonnie heading back to Cali on the plane, solo, looking entirely unamused; cut to Megan who looks pretty damn content as SHE heads back west.
And Joan’s reaction to Bob’s ridiculous proposal was beautiful: “Bob, put that away!” she says.
One more note on that whole thing, wasn’t it absolutely fabulous to watch Joan encourage Bob to find real love, too? Right after delicately noting that she’s pretty certain he’s not into women with no judging, no snide remarks; just encouragement. All hail Joan! God, Bert Cooper would get the vapors immediately if he knew about Bob, his life, and his rescue of the unceremoniously incarcerated Chevy guy. Double points for Joan: as soon as Bob spilled the beans on Chevy/Buick, you KNOW she wanted to get right on the phone with the partners. That killed any chance Bob might’ve had for his “arrangement.” (And really Roger? With the incredulous “You knew?!?” to Joan re: Chevy? Get a grip Silver Fox. She knew about two seconds before anyone else. PS. That’s NOT how we talk to our babymama!)
On to Chevy: so, just last Friday you and I spoke about just how worried we should be about SC&P taking on the Vega (Chevy’s “XP” project). It would appear we can stop worrying about that (?). I think it’ll be a good thing in the end. I wonder if Pete can get back the California auto dealers association…
What say you about the Chevy non-deal?
Stick a fork in me, I’m done. It’s getting all too insider baseball for me. Until next week!
Dearest weary K,
What's Dear Abby's address again? Heh.
So next week is the last "Mad Men" of the year. The episode promises to be big! I'll be thinking of you when the credits roll on Sunday!
PS. Let's let Frank take us out in style, shall we?
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