Tag Archives: The Suitcase

“Something beautiful you can truly own” – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Other Woman”

Source 

“At last, something beautiful you can truly own.”

These haunting words comprised the tagline for the Jaguar pitch Don Draper made at the climax of the tour de force hour of television that was “The Other Woman.”  On the surface, they speak to human nature, and its often unquenchable desire to seek spiritual fulfillment through superficial means, be it wealth, material possessions, or physical attractiveness.

Source 

However, “The Other Woman” takes this deceptively simplistic concept to a much deeper level, by posing to viewers a very serious question, one which we are all destined to face in our lives at one time or another.  Namely,  what price are you willing to pay to get what you want out of life?  And is there ever a point where the personal sacrifices necessary for achievement outweigh the rewards?

Source

Source 

Let’s review, shall we?

“Let them eat lobster.”

Source 

Last week’s “Christmas Waltz,” ended rather triumphantly, with a newly re-energized and determined Don rousing his battle-weary troops, inspiring them all to work as hard as they could, and do whatever it took to win the Jaguar account for SCDP.  He described landing the account as a “defining moment for the agency.”  (Little did he know how prophetic those words would end up being.)

By the time we return to SCDP this week, it’s evident that some of the inspirational luster of Don’s speech has already started to fade.  The ad men are tired, restless, and growing increasingly jaded about their prospective client . . . a car that, though admirably beautiful and enviably expensive, has so far proven to be woefully unreliable.  In short, a Jaguar is the kind of date you wouldn’t think twice about inviting into your bed.  But you probably would hesitate, before bringing it home to meet the parents.

(Speaking of price tags, I wonder how much Jaquar paid for the product placement it’s received these past two episodes.  Whatever it was,  I’d probably ask for my money back.)

Hungry and tired, the ad men are thrilled when a massive order of lobster arrives in the conference room to provide them with some much-needed sustenance, after a hard day’s work.  But not Peggy.  She doesn’t get any lobster, because she’s working on  SCDP’s 25 or so other accounts, and NOT Jaguar.  She gets a two-day old tuna sandwich from the nose-picking street vendor downstairs.

(I don’t know.  This part seemed a little heavy handed for me.  I mean, it’s not that big of an office.  And, from the looks of it, about 7/8ths of the entire company was working on the Jaguar Account.  How hard would it have been to offer a little lobster tail to the 5 or 6 people still working on other accounts?  Also . . . um . . . isn’t SCDP a bit cash poor now?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to forgo the lobster, in exchange for those “Christmas Bonuses” that Lane won’t shut up about?)

Source 

“I sure would like the opportunity to get to know her better.”

Source 

While the working stiffs at SCDP were busy eating lobster, Account Men, Ken and Pete were forced to shovel down some serious crow, when they learned that their ability to land the Jaguar account had less to do with their firm’s advertising prowess, and more to do with what was underneath Joan Holloway’s dress.  Jaguar’s pudgy dumpling of an executive definitely made no bones about what and who he needed SCDP to do in order to gain his business.  (And, honestly, if that’s how Jaguar makes its business decisions, it’s no wonder the cars are “unreliable.”)  Poor Ken Cosgrove!  The look on his face, when Scummy McScumbag proposed he be allowed to boink Joan, as a “perk” of using SCDP to advertise his product, was like someone had just clubbed a baby seal right in front of him . . .

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that Kenny Cosgrove is actually the moral compass of Mad Men.

This would explain why he hardly ever has any lines . . .

Source

Pete on the other hand has never been one to look a pimp horse in the mouth.  So, of course, he only feigns mild distaste with the idea, when he not-so-tactfully broaches the subject with Joan in her office, the following day.

Source 

Like the seasoned pimp that he is,  Pete blustered his way toward Joan’s desk, boldly demanding that she name her price, without the slightest hint of hesitation or remorse in his voice.  He does so in a way that drastically downplays the extent of what he is asking her to do, and what her agreeing to do it would say about the company for which they both have chosen to work.  “We’re talking about a night in your life. We’ve all had nights in our lives where we’ve made mistakes for free,”  Pete reasons.  (How very Indecent Proposal of him.)

And lord knows, if anybody knows a thing or two about making “free” mistakes it’s Pete Campbell . . .

Source 

What’s depressing is that the moment Pete broaches this subject with Joan, he has already singlehandedly taken his firm down the path to moral ruin.  Regardless of what comes after, SCDP has just become the kind of firm that’s willing to entertain these kind of offers to obtain business.  And Joan, who has spent over a decade of her life working tirelessly for the company, will never again be able to shake the fact that her bosses and colleagues value the almighty dollar over her self-respect and well-being.

In short, not all rapes happen in the bedroom . . .

But we’ve all come to expect this from Pete.  What was more disturbing, to me anyway, was the way the other partners reacted, when Pete broached the subject with them.  Bert Cooper, who, in the past, has often chastized his fellow co-workers for the ways in which their own greed and selfishness have negatively impacted the business, only uttered a few feeble words in protest, before following the herd.

Source 

Roger Sterling, who — many times in the past, has claimed to “love” Joan, and whose modus operandi all season has been to throw money at any and all problems that stand in his way — only seemed interested in whether he would be the one to have to pony up the payment for Joan’s Jaguar prostitution fee.

Shameful!

And then there was Lane, who gamely proposed that Joan request a partnership stake in the company, as opposed to the $50,000 lump sum initially offered by Pete . . . not because he truly cared about Joan’s well being . . . but because he knew the large payment would bankrupt the already over-extended firm, while exposing his own criminal actions in the process.

In fact, Joan’s only champion at the executive table seemed to be Don, who stormed out of the meeting in a huff at the suggestion, wrongfully assuming that his obvious refusal to consider the matter would be enough to put the subject to rest.  He wouldn’t learn until later on in the episode just how wrong he truly was . . .

“You wanna go to Paris?”

Source 

Elsewhere at SCDP, Peggy displayed her penchant for Don Draper style extemporaneous brilliance, when she came up with a new winning ending to a struggling ad campaign, off the while on the phone with the clients.  The advertisement was meant to be shot in Paris.  And Peggy, as originator of the idea, in the first place, rightfully requested the right to make the trip.  Don balked at the idea, claiming that the account was Ginsberg’s, and he would be making the trip in her place.  When Harry, Ken and Peggy urged him to reconsider, Don rudely tossed a wad of cash in Peggy’s face, inadvertently treating his erstwhile protege like the call girl, he so valiantly refused to allow Joan to be.

Oh, Don!  When even HARRY CRANE thinks you are treating women badly, you KNOW you douchedom levels have just reached Mach 5 . . .

Always the gentleman, Ken Cosgrove rushes to comfort Peggy, even going as far as to offer to leave the firm with her, if Don doesn’t reconsider his treatment of her.  But Peggy refuses to be comforted by her friend and colleague.  After all, there’s only one person’s approval she’s always been seeking at SCDP.  And it’s not Ken Cosgrove’s . . .

Don’s and Peggy’s relationship has always been complex, with Don’s treatment of the younger woman alternating between shockingly callous (“That’s what the money is for!”) and remarkably kind (“I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you back.”)  In some ways, I think the familiarity that has developed between Don and Peggy over the past few seasons, coupled with Don’s at-least-to-some-extent rightful belief that she owes her career to him, are what has led to the gradual souring of their relationship this season.  Don often thinks of Peggy like his own daughter .  . . a daughter, who he can scold, chastize, and challenge, in ways that he can’t with other colleagues, because he knows deep down they love one another, and can relate to one another on a more personal level . . . also . . . quite frankly, he signs her checks.

But what Don never really understood about Peggy was that it was never about the money, or even about being the boss’ fair-haired girl.  For Peggy, what truly drove her at SCDP was a genuine love for what she was doing, and the drive to obtain the respect and recognition for her work, she felt she rightfully deserved.  Each time Don took Peggy’s talents for granted . . . each time he passed her over for an opportunity, or slighted her good work, brought her closer and closer to the decision she made at the end of the episode.  But ultimately, it was her old pal Freddy Rumsen, the first man at the firm to truly recognize her talents, who made her realize just how valuable of a commodity she had become in the industry, and what opportunities might become available to her, if she only had the courage to pursue them.

“I haven’t decided if you are really ambitious, ballerina, or if you just like to complain?”  Freddy muses, while at lunch, with a highly distraught Peggy.  Sometimes it takes the people who know us best, to show us what’s been in our hearts all along.  When Don Draper’s slimy adversary Ken Chaough courts Peggy with 1,000 more than her asking price, and the much coveted title of “Copy Chief,” I think Peggy is less wowed by the financial sum she is offered, and more enticed by the prospect of working for someone who sees her not as a protege, or even a beloved child, but as an intellectual equal, and smart business acquisition to boot.

Speaking of smart business acquisitions . . .

“She just comes and goes as she pleases.”

Source

Don is both shocked and more than a bit hurt, when his wife fails to consult him about taking an audition which, if she gets the the part, would require her to live apart from him for months at a stretch.  Later she goes on to say that, if he told her she couldn’t take the job, she would turn it down, but would probably hate him for it.

Megan continues to prove that she’s the one wearing the skinny jeans in the family, when she arrives at Don’s office in search of a quick pre-audition quickie to “up her confidence.”  (Interestingly enough, it’s Megan’s sex kitten-like brazenness that ultimately inspires a morally aghast Ginsberg to come up with the tagline for Don Draper’s ultimate Jaguar pitch.)

But then, it’s Megan’s turn to get her ego taken down a few pegs, when she arrives at her audition, and the men on the other end of the casting couch are more interested in what’s underneath her dress, than the words that are coming out of her mouth . . .

“You’re one of the good ones, aren’t you?”

Source

A little older, and substantially less naive about the inner desires of men / the ways of the world, Joan Holloway seems to have reached her decision regarding the Indecent Proposal made to her earlier by Pete, and somewhat seconded by Lane.  With an air of confidence that belies the inner turmoil she is obviously feeling, images of her repeated mistreatment by her soon-to-be ex husband ripe in her mind, Joan demands her five-percent stake in the company.  Pete’s response is smug and self-satisfied, with just the slightest hint of remorse.  “He’s not that bad,” Pete offers, wrongly assuming that Joan’s suitor’s lack of total hideousness will somehow soften the blow of what she’s about to do.

“He’s doing this,” Joan replies, matter-of-factly.

When Don hears that the rest of the partners went behind his back to orchestrate this agreement he is horrified, particularly in light of the tender moments he and Joan shared the week before.  With a sense of purpose, and a surprising amount of concern for his colleague, Don rushes to Joan’s home, begging her not to go through with this, telling her that he was 100% against it from the beginning, and that sacrificing her own integrity and the company’s for a single account is simply not worth the price.

Source 

There’s a wistfulness in Joan’s face, as she listens to Don’s words that makes more sense later on in the episode.  For a woman who has been used and mistreated by men her entire life . . . a woman who has been taught by her own mother, that a woman’s greatest ambition should be to be “admired,” Joan is seeing, for the first time, a man who truly cares about her . . . someone who is willing to go to the mat for her . . . to fight for her . . . to put his own career and financial security on the line for her well-being.  She’s touched, honored, and impressed by this man with whom she’s never had a romantic history, but with whom she shares a history nonetheless . . .

Source 

We don’t get to see the aftermath of that scene . . . how Joan responds, after Don walks out that door.  Instead, we are treated to an interplay between Don’s riveting, and yet, slightly disheartening, in light of recent events, Jaguar pitch about man’s elusive desire to “own” unattainable “beautiful things,” be them overpriced unreliable cars, or strong smart single mothers, who are willing to do what they can to provide for their children, even if it means sacrificing their own sense of self . . .

As a viewer, it’s incredibly hard to see Joan make this sacrifice . . . a woman who has always been the steadfast and sturdy rock, of SCDP . . . the unofficial mother of the gang.  She put her trust in her colleagues, and they let her down, by putting her in the position to entertain an offer she simply couldn’t refuse.  Of course, it’s even more heartbreaking, when we learn the truth about Don’s last ditch effort to get Joan to reconsider her decision.   Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that he was too late . . . that by the time Don arrived on Joan’s doorstep, the deed was already done.  Joan just couldn’t bring herself to tell him.

Had Don arrived earlier, would it have made a difference in Joan’s decision?  Perhaps not.  But now viewers will inevitably always be left wondering, and so will Joan . . .

Source 

 “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”

Source

Learning that SCDP landed the Jaguar account is a highly bittersweet moment for Don, particularly when he learns, based on Joan’s sudden presence at the partner’s meeting, what she sacrificed to achieve it.  Now, he’ll never know whether he could have won the account on the merit’s of his pitching skills alone.  Far from being in the partying mood, Don finds himself surprisingly eager to engage in a personal conversation with Peggy, the only woman remaining in his life, who he truly believes he understands.  Little does he know that Peggy is about to turn his world upside down.  “You really don’t know when things are good, do you?”  Peggy inquires, clearly talking about more than the landing of the Jaguar account.

Anyone who’s ever left a job before, can relate to Peggy in this moment . . . the mixture of fear,  guilt, excitement, and sadness, coursing through her veins, as she thanks Don for seeing something in her that no one else did . . . for changing her life . . . and, finally, for making it possible for her to chart out a new path for herself.  At first, Don can’t take Peggy seriously.  This is the one woman Don thought would never leave him.  Once again, he wrongly assumes that this discussion is about money, as he blithely asks Peggy to name her price, echoing Pete’s discussion with Joan earlier in the episode.

But Peggy can’t be bought or swayed.  Her decision is final.  And when Don realizes that, his reaction is surprisingly emotional.  In fact, the only time we’ve really ever seen Don get this emotional was when he learned that Anna Draper died, last season . . . Ironically, Peggy was with him in that moment too . . .

On the surface, Don is his cocksure self, telling Peggy not to bother with her two week notice, since there are tons of freelancers out in the hall waiting to take her place.  But all that bluster falls away, when Peggy goes to give him that final handshake.  Barely concealed tears welling up in his eyes, Don grabs her hand, and kisses it repeatedly, refusing to let go, as Peggy looks away tearfully, both embarrassed and touched by this show of emotion by her father figure, her colleague, and the man who was once her hero.  For Don, the act is one mixed with emotion, caring, and just a hint of desperation.  It harkens back to the pilot episode, in which Peggy grabbed Don’s hand, in a feeble attempt to seduce him, and he brutally rebuffed her.  It also harkens back to that moment in “The Suitcase,” when Don grabs Peggy’s hand, while she offers him solace after a long and difficult night.  Like Joan’s hand on Don’s cheek, earlier in the episode, the hand kiss is a simple gesture.  But one that is frought with so much history and meaning.

On the way out of the office for the last time, Peggy catches Joan’s eyes, and the two share a meaningful look.  Here are two strong, very different women, having recently both made bold and life-changing decisions, ones that will inevitably lead them down very different paths.  Then, Peggy sighs and turns toward the elevator, waiting to take that final step.  When she does, she smiles, ready to face whatever comes next.  And despite all the tragedy, turmoil, and disappointments that filled the episode, how could you not root for an ending like that?

[www.juliekushner.com][FangirlsForever]

2 Comments

Filed under Mad Men

For a Good Time, Call . . . – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Suitcase”

 

Coincidentally, both the best . . . and the worst nights of your life tend to be the ones that end like this . . .

Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men reminded me of one of those long crazy Friday nights during college.  The ones that seem to go on forever, traversing across varying locations, moods, and states of inebriation, all the while, becoming increasingly more bizarre as the hours wear on.  Nights like these will ALWAYS bring you closer to the people with whom you spent them — even if you can’t remember everything that happened, and some of the stuff you do remember, you wish you could forget . . .

Unfortunately, for Don, WE will remember EVERYTHING he did last night.  We even have the incriminating pics and GIFS to prove it.

Don’t worry, Don.  At least you didn’t hook up with Miss Blankenship!

“HEY!  It was just that one time!  Why are you cutting my balls off  . . . again!”

So, without further adieu, let’s relive the wildest and craziest, yet most heart-warming, night in Mad Men history!

Tuesday Night’s All Right for Fighting

Note:  This poster is from the FIRST Liston / Clay fight, which took place in 1964.  The rematch referred to in this episode, occurred on May 25, 1965, which, I guess, makes Peggy a Gemini . . .

When the episode opens, Harry is doling out tickets to his fellow ad men, so that they all can watch the Liston / Clay fight, which will be streaming live from a movie theater.  (Pretty high tech for 1965 – no?)

Typical Guy Banter abounds.  The men insult one another’s masculinity (or lack thereof), excessive frugality, and religious affiliations.  They then start arguing over who will win the big fight and placing bets.

Then Don shows up at the office two hours late for a meeting.  He is clad in his sexy bowler hat, but is looking slightly less than sexy, with his rheumy bloodshot eyes, cradled by both dark circles and bags the size of Samsonite suitcases.

Jerky “I can’t work naked in front of Peggy, without getting a hard on” Stan tries to kiss Don’s butt, by making some lame comment on how “Sonny Liston would be a great ad man.”

Uhhh . . . Stan?  You’ve got a little something on your nose.

To which, Don replies, “Clearly, he’d be a better one than YOU Yes, he would.  I’ll put my money on Clay.”

(Sidenote:  It’s interesting how, Don put money on Cassius Clay in the office pool.  Yet, he derided Clay’s arrogance, during his evening with Peggy, AND claimed to have LOST money, when Clay knocked out Liston.  Coincidence?  Or was Don so drunk, he simply forgot who he put money on?)

Don then calls the guys and Peggy into his office, so they can pitch him their proposed television advertisement for the Samsonite account.  In my opinion, the gang puts on a pretty good show.  The pitch is a football-themed celebrity endorsement, starring Joe Namath (Who knew he’d been playing for that long? Not me . . .).  The concept was that a Samsonite suitcase was so strong that Namath’s “wimpy girlfriend” (Peggy) could protect him from being tackled, using the suitcase alone as a shield.  But the best part of the pitch, in my opinion, was New Guy Joey, who does a pretty adorable Namath impersonation.

Unfortunately, he was fully clothed, at the time.

Sadly, Don does not have the same soft spot for Joey Baird that I have.  He despises the pitch.  And, after letting the guys off with a slap on the wrist, he REALLY gives it to Peggy.  “I’m so glad you are at a place in your career, where you feel comfortable failing,” he remarks cuttingly, with the officious air of an impossible-to-please father, who asks his daughter, who just got a 98% on an exam, where the other two points went.

Duck, Duck, Goose-d!

Duck Phillips:  The best man to bone, during a presidential assassination.

A miserable Peggy, who’s pretty much having the worst birthday morning EVER, arrives back at her desk, to find flowers and a gift from a guy who’s name, appropriately, rhymes with F&*k.

“I’m going to give you a go around, like you’ve never had.  Quack!  Quack!”

At least SOMEONE has remembered her birthday!  Peggy calls Duck to thank him for the flowers.  He then tells her that just CAN’T WAIT for her to open his AWESOME birthday gift.  She does so, while he’s on the phone with her.  And it’s . . . wait for it . . . a . . . business card.

That was LAME, DUCK!  Get it . . . “lame duck” . . . because his name  . . . nevermind.

Apparently, Duck has “big plans” to go all Jerry Maguire on the advertising world.  And he wants Peggy to leave HER job, so that she can play the Renee Zellwegger part.

“You complete me, Peggy Olson.  I’m starting my own company!  Who’s coming with me, aside from this fish?”

However, since Peggy’s no dummy, she sees right through Duck’s “marvelous offer.”  “You got fired . . . and you’ve obviously been drinking,” she replies matter-of factly, politely blowing off his claims of love, and his intense “need to see” her.

Well, played Peggy.  Why spend your night with an Ugly Duck-ling, when you can have a Swan?

 OK . . . it’s an alcoholic, and, sometimes, VERY mean, Swan . . . but it’s a Swan, nonetheless.

The Art of the Backhanded Compliment

In the bathroom, Peggy encounters two women, both of whom, in their own “really nice” way, make her feel like total crap.  The first is receptionist, Megan . . .

. . . who’s prissiness, intelligence, and ability to make “kindly” cutting remarks, make her the quintessential Joan 2.0.  When Peggy tells Megan her age, Megan replies in a manner that deftly straddles the line between jealous, uninterested, and vaguely patronizing, “Well, aren’t you doing well for yourself,” she coos.

Worse, is Pete’s wife,Trudie . . .

 . . . who is SO pregnant with Pete’s baby, she’s about ready to pop.  (Look familiar, Peggy?)  After remarking on how “witty” Peggy is, Trudi tries to “comfort Peggy” with a not-so-subtle jibe at her rapid approach toward spinsterhood.  “26 is still very young,” she offers “sweetly.”  (You know, that’s the thing about Trudi . . . I always want to hate her.  But I really believe that she thinks she’s being nice, in this situation.)

Meanwhile, Don blows off Roger, who is being faced with a forced evening of sobriety . . .

 . . . when he is tasked with watching the fight, alongside a client, who just so happens to be a recent graduate of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Don opts instead to stay in the office and work on ideas for Samsonite account.  He’s also hoping to avoid making a phone call that he KNOWS will bring him bad news . . .

If you recall from a few episodes back, Anna Draper  . . .

 . . . the only woman who ever seemed to truly love Don, warts and all, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  And so, when Don receives an urgent phone call from Anna’s niece, he knows the worst has occurred.  Yet, he can’t bring himself to return her call, just yet, because doing so would make the loss real.

But if Don’s working late, to avoid his problems, he’ll be damned if Peggy isn’t working with him . . .

Short Fuses and Broken Engagements

Peggy is about to head out of the office for an “oh so romantic” night out with her, about-as-exciting-as-a-root-canal boyfriend, Mark, when Don calls her into his office, to discuss the Samsonite account.

After taking a big fat dump on all of her ideas, Don, once again, treats Peggy like a child, forcing her to bring her artwork into the office, so they can go over it together.  “We’ll do this RIGHT NOW!”  He scolds.

Assuming the petulant teen role, Peggy rolls her eyes, and mumbles under her breath, causing Don to yell that classic parental unit phrase, “What did YOU SAY?”

I half expected him to add the also ever popular:  “Don’t you dare talk back to me!  I do too much for you to be treated like this.  Do you want to be grounded?”

But he didn’t . . .

“If Daddy wasn’t always ignoring me, so that he could drink and screw secretaries, he’d probably say those things to ME too . . .”

Peggy’s spanking is briefly interrupted, by a series of phone calls from, Wet Blanket “Yes, I AM that Important” Mark, who keeps wondering why she is so late for dinner.

As it turns out, Mark is not alone.  After all, his idea of a romantic dinner, apparently, involves having a lively party, filled with wild and crazy guests . . .

Don’t you wish you were there?

To be honest, I’m not quite sure WHY Mark thought it was a good idea to invite Peggy’s ENTIRE family, who she despises, to her private birthday dinner.  He said it had something to do with her always wanting to be surprised.  But I don’t really buy it.  Here’s hoping he wasn’t planning on proposing . . . because that would be all kinds of pathetic .  . . and, yet, would fit his character completely.

Anyway, so, Peggy keeps blowing off dinner, to continue being spanked by Don.  So, Mark is hurt, not to mention, completely humiliated, in front of Peggy’s parents.

“I haven’t been THIS embarrassed, since I had to wear those ridiculous glasses on Lost.”

Eventually, Peggy’s MOTHER picks up the phone, and tells her she should feel lucky that a “catch” like Mark is interested in her at all.  Mark takes back the phone and agrees with Peggy’s mother.  Then he sort of / kind of dumps Peggy.

Peggy returns to Don’s office, so that he can yell at her some more.  When she accuses him of never thanking her for her good work, Don basically tells Peggy that she should be happy she even HAS a job.  Peggy finally breaks down.  She rushes off to the bathroom, where she bursts into tears.

The whole thing was so heartbreaking, and awful, I almost didn’t want to watch the rest of the episode.  But, BOY, am I glad I did!  Because THIS was when things got FUN!

The Life and Times of Roger Sterling / The Lack of Balls of Bertram Cooper . . .

 .  . . and the sexy lady behind it ALL!

Ever since the ridiculously incompetent Miss Blankenship replaced Allison as Don’s secretary, I spent a lot of time asking myself two questions: (1) Why doesn’t Don FIRE her, already?; and (2) How the heck did she even GET this job?

Both of those questions were answered tonight.

Early on in the episode, Peggy actually read my mind, and ASKED Don question 1, regarding Miss Blankenship.  To this, he replied, “Joan knew exactly what I needed, and she gave it to me.”

AHA!  Don accepts Miss Blankenship as his punishment for crossing the line with Allison!  She’s also the ONE woman in the entire office, Don would NEVER sleep with.  It makes a lot more sense now . . .

But the answer to question 2 is a bit more interesting, especially since, the way Don found the answer, helped him to smooth things over with Peggy . . .

Peggy was busy stewing in her office, when Don called her back to his.  “NO!”  She yelled out, poutily, at first. 

And yet, a perpetual glutton for punishment, back to Don’s office, Peggy went.  There, she found Don listening to Roger’s dictation of his memoirs.  Clearly, the writers were holding out on us, with the memoir excerpts they provided last week.  If you recall, these included tittilating tidbits like Roger’s favorite flavor of ice cream, and why he didn’t like Laurel and Hardy.  But this NEW stuff was JUICY!

“Don’t worry, Mr. Cooper.  Your secrets are safe with ME!”

According to Roger, Bert (1) was jealous of Sterling due to his “youth;” (2) did the horizontal mambo with Miss Blankenship on multiple occasions; and (3) LITERALLY has NO BALLS!

The heretofore morose Don can barely keep the sh*t-eating grin off his face, as he listens to Roger drunkenly detail his coworker’s deepest darkest secrets.  Peggy, to her credit, feigns some disapproval at her boss’ unusually gossipy behavior.  Yet, even she can’t help but laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.  It’s the first nice moment these two have had with one another the entire episode.   Then, it gets interrupted by an intruder . . .

“MOUSE!”  Peggy cries, before hopping up on the office chair, like a TOTAL girl.

Don, being the “man,” gets on all fours, in hopes of trapping the critter in his SAMSONITE suitcase, but, fails.  Peggy helps him to his feet (sweet moment #2), and Don sheepishly invites her out to a birthday dinner at the local diner.

A Date with Don Draper

At the diner, Peggy and Don converse with the ease of old lovers.  Yet, they share with one another the type of quirky minute details about themselves, typically associated with first dates.  Don briefly discusses his time as a soldier in World War II (without revealing his Dick Whitman woes, of course).  Peggy explains she has never been on a plane, both express a desire to go to Greece.  Bboth admit that they each tragically lost their fathers at an early age, and were forced to watch them die.  Despite the serious nature of some of these conversations, the mood was light, and both characters seemed completely at ease with one another.

This girly gabfest continued at a local bar, with the Liston / Clay fight blaring on the radio, in the background.

At the bar, Don and Peggy discuss Peggy’s insecurities about her personal appearance.  She admits that everyone at work assumes that Peggy slept with Don to get her job.  But, at the same time, can’t imagine why Don would ever engage himself romantically with someone like Peggy.  Apparently, Peggy’s mother assumes Don is the one who knocked her up, because HE is the only one who visited her at the hospital.  (Interesting!) 

Don also inquires after the father of Peggy’s child, but she wisely does not reveal it.  Additionally, Peggy makes some offhand remarks regarding Don’s tendency to sleep with his OTHER secretaries (read: NOT Peggy).  To these insinuations, Don replies nonchalantly with a “these things happen” sort of statement.

After the Liston / Clay fight, Peggy and Don head back to the offices of SCDP.

It’s Potty Time!

Throughout the course of the evening, we have watched Don transition from angry belligerent drunk, to funny drunk, to sweet “I love you, man” drunk.  But by the time Peggy and Don return to their offices, Don has reached Drunk Defcon 5.  “I think I’m going to be sick,” mumbles Don, as he lurches into Peggy, her arm wrapped around his shoulder, as she tries desperately to keep him from belly flopping onto the floor.

Suddenly, the dynamic between these two has shifted.  Throughout the early portion of the evening, Peggy was the petulant child, and Don was the alternatingly stern, and concerned, father.  For the remainder of the episode, Peggy will be the mother, and Don the child. 

After a few moments of deliberation over which stall to use, Peggy ultimately takes Don to the men’s room, where he rushes to the toilet, and begins to vomit uncontrollably. 

The sound is truly nauseating, as it echos throughout the white bathroom, which is completely pristine and spotless, save for a single line of grafitti.  “For a good time, call Caroline.”  (That Caroline must be a pretty busy lady, if she’s servicing THIS entire office, of horny men!)

To Peggy’s credit, she barely even crinkles her nose — no small feat, as the smell must be AWFUL!  She instead waits patiently for the retching sounds to cease, offering Don a glass of water that he refuses.  It is then that she sees a stranger lurking in the hallways . . .

It’s DUCK!  And he’s WASTED too!  When Peggy finds him, he’s got his pants around his ankles, and is farting . . . like . . . really . . . LOUD!

“I’m taking a dump in Don’s office,” explains Duck, as if defecating on a corporate executive’s leather couch is the most natural thing in the world to do on a Tuesday night.

“This is Roger’s office,” Peggy explains, without nearly as much irony or humor, as you would expect, in such a situation.  (Clearly, she’s seen EVERTHING now!  Nothing will shock this girl, anymore.)

Peggy tries to get Duck to leave, but he keeps babbling about how much he LOVES her, and why won’t she return his calls, and blah, blah, blah. 

(Oh, yeah!  This one’s a keeper, Peggy.  You sure know how to pick ’em!)

Don returns from vomiting, and is shocked to find his nemesis manhandling his daughter lover best friend protege.

“You have no business being here,” slurs Don, undoubtedly assuming that this was the man who knocked up Peggy.

Baby Duck

Then, Duck, automatically assuming Peggy is SLEEPING with Don, calls Peggy a whore.

“Oh no, he didn’t!”

Then, came the BEST PART OF THE EPISODE!  Don protects Peggy’s honor, by PUNCHING DUCK IN THE FACE  . . .

. . .  or at least trying to.  Then  . . . the two roll on the floor fighting like a bunch of schoolboys . . . only much older, and WAY more liquored up . . .

Unfortunately for Don, Duck has WAY more experience being an alcoholic than him, and therefore, has a slightly higher liquor tolerance.  He ultimately gets the best of Don (or, perhaps, Don was simply overpowered by the rank smell of Duck’s earlier farts).  Don, eventually, cries “uncle,” and Duck lets him go.

The End of Innocence

Once Peggy has shipped Duck off to the Drunk Tank, she returns to Don’s office, and the first thing he wants is another drink.  SERIOUSLY, Don?  This is getting a little ridiculous.  Get thee to rehab, go!

Peggy reluctantly pours Don a drink.  However, in the time it takes her to cross the room to give it to him, he nearly passes out.  Continuing to play the maternal role, Peggy allows Don to put his head in her lap, and she rubs his head until he falls asleep.  Awwwww!

That night, Don dreams of a youthful Anna, waving at him cheerfully, as she heads away to heaven, carrying a Samsonite suitcase, of course!

The following morning, a very hungover Don, finally gets the courage to call Stephanie in L.A., who informs him, just as he suspected all along, that Anna has died.  Peggy wakes up just as the phone conversation is concluding.  Her and Don lock eyes, and he immediately bursts into tears.

It is the most vulnerable we have seen Don Draper, since the show began, and it is heart-wrenching.  Peggy’s eyes well up, as she experiences her boss’ agony right along with him.  “What happened?”  She asks.

“Someone very close to me has died.”

“Who was it?”  She asks, cautiously approaching him.

“She was the only person who really knew me,” Don replies morosely.

“That’s not true,” whispers Peggy, as she gently rubs his back.

A Brand New Day

A few hours later, a bedraggled Peggy visits a newly freshened up Don in his office.  Undoubtedly, she is expecting him to pretend the previous night did not happen, as he has done with Peggy so many times in the past.  But now, as the two look over new advertising concepts, Don reaches out and grabs Peggy’s hand.  The gesture almost exactly mimicks the rebuffed attempt at affection Peggy made toward Don in the Pilot episode. 

This time, however, Peggy takes Don’s hand in return.  The act is a mutual acknowledgment of what these two have experienced together, as well as the evolution of their personal and professional relationship.

You know, I have to say, this was one of my favorite Mad Men episodes of all time.  I have no doubt that both Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm will choose scenes from this episode to include in their 2011 Emmy consideration reel.  “The Suitcase” had a little bit of everything: humor, poignance, character development, twists, major reveals, and a whole lotta potty.  What more could a fan ask for? 

[www.juliekushner.com]

8 Comments

Filed under Mad Men