'Mad Men' 706: Of Don Draper, Peggy Olson, And Living In The Not Knowing

May 19 2014, 6:18am CDT | by

'Mad Men' 706: Of Don Draper, Peggy Olson, And Living In The Not Knowing
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Ah, those last four minutes. As 10 pm clicked over to 11 on the first airing of Episode of 706 of Mad Men, we see Peggy Olson and Don Draper slow dancing as Frank Sinatra croons “My Way.”  Peggy rests her head on Don’s starched white shirt. Don gently kisses her hair.

Only a few minutes earlier, Don reassured his one-time protege in a way that he hasn’t since season season two. The seeds of her doubt are running much deeper than finding another sales pitch for a fast food burger joint.

“I worry about a lot of things,” Don said. “But I don’t worry about you.”

Typically, Peggy hears what she wants to hear in Don’s words. She can’t accept a compliment, so she pokes back.
‘What do you have to worry about?” she challenges./>

“That I never did anything. And I don’t have anyone.” Wow.

It’s the new Don Draper. The one who speaks the truth, or tries to, no matter what the cost.

This scene is a great Mad Men moment and one that’s been a long time coming.  Mad Men is as much Peggy’s show as Don’s, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen them interact as anything but co-workers in a strained relationship.

But  as they struggle to find a better way to sell burgers to frazzled mothers, Peggy and Don share a moment so intimate that she would  climb into his brain if she could. And as they take a breather from the Battle for the Perfect Tagline, they get swept up in a song that harkens back to a simpler time, and the moment moves in a different direction.

We’ve had severed limbs and illegitimate children, but there’s one thing that Mad Men has never given us: Don and Peggy as a couple.  So for a long moment, showrunner Matt Weiner teases us.

Is this the beginning of something? Why not? Peggy’s unattached. Don’s actually announces how alone he feels. And Megan seems to miss her fondue pot as much as she misses her husband.

It’s real all right. But like so much in Mad Men, it’s not built to last. Too much has happened. (And maybe, there just aren’t enough episodes left.) It’s just another moment consigned to what Don calls the “not knowing.”

Up to this point “The Strategy” has been a referendum on the idea of “family,” in quotation marks, and the early poll number aren’t looking promising.

“Does this family exist?” Peggy wonders. “Are there still people who eat dinner and smile instead of watching TV?”

Early on, we hear Lou rooting hard for “family happiness,” which makes it suspect right off the bat. Closeted Bob Benson realizes he needs to become a family man and quick to satisfy his new bosses at Buick.  And while she turns down his proposal for both their sakes, Joan realizes she’s more likely to end up “alone” (albeit in a crowded apartment with her mother and son) than he is.

Pete will throw away any chance he has to make something real with Bonnie just to sabotage with Trudi’s attempt to create something new. And let’s not forget about Betty “Mommy Dearest” Francis, absent from this episode but whose relationship with Sally casts a pall over Mad Men as a whole.

All of these characters are obsessed with things outside their grasp, willing to cast away a sure thing in pursuit of something that may not actually exist./>/>

The family is clearly in crisis, and the dimensions of this calamity are a lot bigger than “What’s for dinner?”

So an episode that could easily have ended with Don and Peggy wrapped suggestively in each others arms, continues for a few minutes past the top of the hour and ends very differently.

We see a plane with Megan and Bonnie both jetting back to the West Coast, less attached than when they flew out.

We get some back room wrangling between Roger and Jim Cutler.

And we end the episode at, of all, places, Burger Chef. We eavesdrop on three people. They’re unrelated by blood or marriage. But they share common goals. An easy familiarity. And maybe even deep secrets.

They sit around a pile of fast food burgers.

This meal is messy, but they’ve got plenty of napkins.

They eat, and talk and really listen.

“Every table is a family table,” Peggy announces with a newfound confidence. She’s been transformed by that moment at the office, but not how you’d suspect.

“What if there was a place, where you could go, where there was no TV, and you could break bread and whoever you were sitting with was family?” she had wondered.  What if, indeed. And what if that family just happened to be your Baby Daddy and your old boss? There are worse things, Matt Weiner seems to be saying.

What did you think of The Strategy?  Share your thoughts about Peggy and Don’s relationship in the comments below.
/>

For the best-curated television news about Mad Men and other great shows, follow me on Twitter (@allenstjohn).

Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, published by Ballantine Books

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mummy wearing jewellery unearthed in Egypt
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Spanish archaeologists have discovered about 4,000 years old female mummy wearing rare jewellery in Egypt.
 
 
Exercise and fasting could boost brain's functions
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) Exercise along with occasional fasting is good for boosting the brain's neurons, shows a new research.
 
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days.
 
 
American whiskey faces challenge in whisky-gulping India
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) For the most part Indians love things American, but when it comes to their tipple, the world's largest whisky drinkers usually go for Scotch or their very own home-made brands.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Mila Kunis: Jupiter Ascending was like boot camp
Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum ''got in trouble'' for losing too much weight filming 'Jupiter Ascending'. The 31-year-old actress - who has two-month-old daughter Wyatt with fiancé Ashton Kutcher - admits the futuristic...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Force India finish sixth in 2014
Abu Dhabi, Nov 23 (IANS) Formula 1 team Force India ended their 2014 season in sixth position in the constructors' championship as its drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg brought home 28 points from the season-...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Hamilton seals F1 drivers' title with Abu Dhabi win
Abu Dhabi, Nov 23 (IANS) British racing driver Lewis Hamilton clinched his second Formula 1 drivers' title as he comprehensively won the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the 5.5 km Yas Marina Circuit here Sunday...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
14 killed in Afghanistan bombing
Kabul, Nov 23 (IANS) At least 14 people were killed and 35 wounded Sunday in a suicide bomb attack at a volleyball ground in Paktika province of Afghanistan, a source said. "The blast occurred late in the evening....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi GP, World Championshi
Abu Dhabi, Nov 23 (IANS) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton comprehensively won the season ending Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and in the process also clinched the drivers' World Championship for the second time here...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Iraqi forces attack IS-held towns
Baghdad, Nov 23 (IANS) Iraqi security forces attacked two towns held by the Sunni radical group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala Sunday, police said. Security forces backed by Shia militias and...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon and Sam's Club Black Friday 2014 Sales are Live
The big retailers cannot wait this year and launched Black Friday 2014 sales as early as Friday. These sales are the real deal offering deals that are advertised in Black Friday 2014 Ads. On Friday Walmart Black Friday...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Pune FC seal semifinal berth in King's Cup
Thimphu, Nov 23 (IANS) Pune FC thrashed Assam State Electricity Board FC 5-0 in a third round Group-B encounter to seal their place in the semi-finals of the 2014 King's Cup at the Changlimithang Stadium here Sunday....
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Australia the team to beat at World Cup: Vaughan
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan Sunday said that having hit upon a rich vein of form against South Africa, Australia have emerged as the front-runners and will be the team to beat at the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Taylor Swift to receive Dick Clark Award
Los Angeles, Nov 23 (IANS) Singer Taylor Swift has been named as the first recipient of Dick Clark Award For excellence at 2014 American Music Awards (AMAs). The 24-year-old, who is enjoying a great year with her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla