'Mad Men' carries heavy baggage
September 6th, 2010
05:01 PM ET

'Mad Men' carries heavy baggage

Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for the Sunday, September 5 episode of AMC’s "Mad Men."

Last night’s episode was a good one, no?  We dealt with lots of baggage – figuratively and literally – so let’s get to it!

Tasked with coming up with a campaign for Samsonite, Peggy, Joey, Danny (ugh) and Rizzo (double ugh) presented a mock-up of a commercial that would star Joe Namath manhandling a Samsonite suitcase.  Don was not impressed.  He wasn’t the only one.  Sal’s Patio Cola dance from last season is the benchmark by which I measure all SCDP presentations.  Anyhow, Peggy was admonished while the boys shuffled off to smoke cigarettes and talk about dames, presumably.

Shortly thereafter, while most of the gang left to take in the infamous Cassius Clay – Sonny Liston “Phantom Punch” fight, Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss stayed behind to work on their submission reels for next year’s Emmy Awards.  Man, I thought some of this episode’s scenes were the most powerful of the entire series.

Don, after receiving the message he knew would come from California with word of Anna’s death, delayed returning the call and created a distraction for himself by sentencing Peggy to a night of toiling away together on the Samsonite account.  Unbeknownst to Don, it was Peggy’s birthday.  Peggy’s big dull dud of a boyfriend Mark planned a surprise party in her honor and after several delays, she finally told him she couldn’t make it.  He, in turn, broke up with her.  Good riddance.

When Peggy told Don that he was making her work on her birthday, the conversation became heated and landed on the topic of Peggy’s work on the Glo-Coat [sic] campaign, for which Don won the Clio.  Don’s advice to Peggy boiled down to stop being such a baby, your time will come.  Peggy retreated to the restroom to have a good old-fashioned Office Cry.

They two made up later over a moment of levity in Don’s office.  While brainstorming ideas for Samsonite, Don discovered the notes Roger recorded for his memoirs.  We learned that Bert Cooper underwent an unnecessary surgery that resulted in the loss of his testicles and Miss Blankenship was once the office vixen.  I’ll never look at you the same, Ida.

Don later took Peggy out for dinner to celebrate her birthday and began to volunteer little tidbits of information about his past.  The night continued at a bar where the conversation turned to dating.  Peggy alluded to Don having a type.  Don told Peggy she was pretty and datable.  She confided that both co-workers and family members suspected their relationship was far more personal than professional.  She talked about what she wanted out of life, and at the moment her career was more important than the traditional roles of wife and mother.  They talked about her baby.  For an exchange in a smoky, 60s version of a sports bar, it was awfully poignant.

Upon returning to the office, Peggy found herself dealing with not one drunk, but two.  Don, who had been drinking since receiving the message from California and Duck Phillips, of all people, who found his way to the offices of SCDP with the intent on leaving a homemade gift for Roger.  Seeing Don in the office with Peggy, coupled with her rebuffing his advances earlier in the episode, Duck lashed out and called Peggy a whore.  That set Don off and in attempt to defend her honor he threw a punch, missing Duck by a mile.  The two rolled around on the floor in a mildly entertaining attempt at a fight.  It’s the thought that counts, Don.

Don and Peggy eventually passed out in Don’s office – his head on her lap.  He awoke to a vision of Anna carrying a suitcase.  For a moment I thought her appearance was going to inspire the Samsonite campaign.  “Samsonite!  So long-lasting it will survive the trip into the afterlife!”  Does Anna’s exit mean that we’ve seen the last of Dick Whitman?  Will Don choose to salvage Dick’s positive qualities and incorporate them into his life as Don Draper?

When Don finally called Anna’s niece the next morning, we got the news we expected to hear – that Anna had died.  Don was heartbroken and tearfully told Peggy that Anna was the only person in the world who really knew him.  Sniff.  Just thinking about such an enormous loss and then applying it to your own life is almost too much to bear.

Later, when Don shared his idea for the Samsonite account with Peggy, he gave her hand a gentle squeeze and a knowing glance.  Was it a thank you?  A sign of solidarity?  Bottom line, Peggy is totally the New Anna, you guys.  They’ve been through a lot together, these two.  I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops from this point forward.

What did you think of last night’s episode?

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Filed under: Mad Men • television

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Holly Golightly

    This episode was maybe the best TV episode of all time! Matthew Weiner, Jon Hamm, and Elisabeth Moss DEFINITELY deserve Emmys!!! This episode was so awesome! I believe this was the best acting I have ever seen on televison, as far as Don and Peggy go. They are both gifted! I really love their connection! And I for one would love to see them deepen into a romantic relationship. They would be great lovers as well as friends. It would be a nice change from Don's usual flings. Loved the line when Don said, "She (Anna) was the only one who really knew me." [paraphrasing] Peggy: "That's not true." To me, this was the theme of the whole episode. Love, love love this show! Viva Mad Men!!!

    September 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cheryl

    It was heart wrenching to see Don cry over Anna's death, but I think Peggy presence helped Don deal w/it a little better. I thought the heated exchange between Don and Peggy over the Glo Coat campaign was a turning point for them. Don in no uncertain terms let Peggy know her time will come and that is her job – he pays her for her ideas, and Peggy in her own way let Don know she's a force to be reckoned with and is not afraid to tell him what's on her mind. I think they make a great team, but not romantically, it would spoil everything. I cannot wait for the next episode! Long live Mad Men! ;0)

    September 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Trazey

    ^^obviously Rob up there needs more 'splosions in his tv shows....sigh....

    I was drained after the episode, it was so funny and poignant, just great! Don's sobs over anna were gut-wrenching. Roger's wit rapier sharp as always. Miss Blenkinship's racism marked "if I want to see 2 black men fighting, I'll throw a dollar bill out my window" LOL And Peggy's breakdown in the ladies room, over don's words and Trudy/Pete and just ALL of it finally got to her. Could have used more Joan is my only complaint ;)

    September 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    Another sappy, mostly boring epsidoe. This is Mad Men version of the Sopranos season four. "Jumping the shark" comes to mind.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. angel

    What a great episode! it was such an emotional moment when Don got the call. Its strange, because we all knew what the news was going to be, and yet it was still such a emotional moment.

    September 7, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sandra

    This is another Emmy....for sure!!!! Good job Matthew Weiner.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lizzie

    I can't imagine how many takes were required for John Slattery to record that bit from his memoir without totally losing it. Hilarious!

    September 7, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. Codius

    Peggy is totally the new Don. He spoke to her about Uncle Mack, his father's death, not knowing his mother, growing up on a farm. Betty didn't even find out about some of those things until the end of their marriage.

    I have no doubt that Don will confide his secret past to Peggy. Probably in the same episode where he sobers up.

    September 7, 2010 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Vertical Sleeve Man

    It was a sad episode, really sad to see Don cry. I really wish he'd find a woman to love. Well maybe not, it's more fun to see him go around from one woman to the next.

    Still a great episode and loved the connection between don and Peggy.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lyons

    I loved it, but I was yelling at the tv half the time...I hate Duck...and I'm not sure how I feel about Peggy and Don...as long as they keep the pair of them like Anna and Don/Dick, fine...but I don't want to see them having a romance...it will spoil everything for me.

    September 7, 2010 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    My wife and I have watched this episode twice through. Probably in the top five television episodes of all time–any series, any era. Period. Maybe a Northern Exposure or Hill Street Blues....Nope, none better. Humor, catharsis, ...you name it. Don may have some more spelunking to do before finding the bottom of the cave he's in, but I think the last line says he may bounce soon. "...open..." Brilliant. Whatever separate demons Weiner and Hamm (and Moss) wrestle with, may they never be resolved because they leave me spellbound with every ride. I"m curious if Anna will reappear but I doubt it. I don't know if they need a "Six Feet Under," Obi Wan-esque relationship for Don now that Peggy so aptly fills that role. She'll still get berated now and then. Don has to punish someone for his sins, but she may understand it better next time.

    September 6, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bill

    Best TV show EVER.

    I am hoping that Don and Peggy end up together. I can TOTALLY see it happening.

    This is the only show I have to watch every week. Long live Mathew Weiner!!!!!!!!!!

    September 6, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • C

      They will never end up together. They have a connection, but it is not a romantic one. They have seen each others guts and secrets...they get each other, but that doesn't mean there's a relationship brewing.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. tw111

    It was a deeply compelling episode.... certainly should be submitted for an Emmy for Moss.
    BTW, Mary Wells ( Lawrence) is not dead, as far as I know....

    September 6, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. G.R. Downtown

    Great post! Last night's episode was excellent. I fully expected Don to tell Peggy "My real name is Dick Whitman." I agree 100% that she is the new Anna. Episode 6 (Waldorf Stories) was a bit of a dud. Glad episode 7 wasn't.

    September 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dana Blankenhorn

    This has always been a Pygmalion story, spread out to Harry Potter like lengths. That said, this was a turning point in the larger story, like the first time Eliza stood up to Prof. Higgins. This was foreshadowed last week, where we saw Don (in flashbacks) as being no better in many ways than the schlemiel shrimp he was forced to hire. He has not always been large and in charge, and he won't always be, either. But Peggy is here, and she will be. Anyone yet notice how Peggy's career is paralleling that of the late Mary Wells Lawrence - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wells_Lawrence

    September 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Heather

    Fantastic episode. Peggy is definitely the new Anna. I laughed, I cried, what a night!

    September 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Cherie

    Thank you, I could not place the roommate's face. I wonder if she and Mark will get together as a result of this. Peggy is always confronted by the results of her choices and that would be apropos.

    September 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Will

    I agree, another amazing episode. Hilariously awkward scenes in the restaurant, especially with Peggy's new roommate! By the way, that actress playing the roommate is Rachel Style. She's great, I couldn't remember where I recognized her from and then I remembered I watched her on Huff, that Showtime series with Hank Azaria.
    So sad to see Anna go, Melinda Page Hamilton is another favorite actress of mine. I loved every scene she and Don had.

    September 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Marty

    I also thought this was one of the best of the season! They both sat there with these deep dark secrets. For a second, I thought Peg would tell Don about Pete! I'm sorry to see Anna gone. She was the one stable thing left in his personal life. He has no choice than to confide in Peggy.

    September 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Cherie

    It was a meaty, eventful episode. Certainly a good try at an Emmy for Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss. Who was that playing Peggy's roommate? Someone unknown or Ann Dudek in disguise?

    September 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |

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