Mad Men-The Strategy-Elisabeth Moss

On last night’s episode of Mad Men, the women were the stars. “The Strategy” was the same as always, but with Peggy and Joan in positions of power. With everything set, can these last moments live up to a thunderous conclusion?

The Players:

  • Director: Phil Abraham
  • Writers: Semi Chellas
  • Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Kevin Rahm, Jay R. Ferguson, Mason Vale Cotton, Ben Feldman, Harry Hamlin, James Wolk, Allan Havey, Trevor Einhorn, Jessy Schram, Christine Estabrook, H. Richard Greene, Mary Grill, Matthew Glave, Jill Alexander, Stephanie Drake, Alexandra Ella, Caiden Milick, Aria Lyric Leabu, Eddie Driscoll, Timothy Brennen, Jocelyn Ayanna

Episode Title: “The Strategy”

Peggy travels for research while Pete invites Don to a meeting. Joan spends quality time with a friend.

The Good:

  • The Pitch: Let’s discuss Peggy’s first pitch for Burger Chef. Pete’s blind admiration for Don and careless attitude towards any woman in power prompted him to invite Don to Peggy’s pre-client presentation, and push Don into taking the lead on the pitch. How ironic that in the face of Jill Abramson’s controversial dismissal from Time magazine, we soon see another woman exploited at work? Notice that while Lou and Ted agree Peggy’s doing a fine job, neither comes to her aide or defense. Peggy will handle the emotion and Don the authority. Though Don had no clue of Peggy’s confusing position, his addition to the pitch stung like betrayal.
  • Breaking The Rules: Calling Don on Saturday to belittle his idea from pitching from the child’s perspective was doubly cathartic. It was a substitute for Peggy’s frustrations with her elevated yet powerless position. Not to mention the nagging dread of trying to measure up to her mentor no matter how hard she’s fought to escape his shadow. Having figured out Peggy’s forced predicament Don presents himself to help, and finally repair their union. At her bequest, Don teaches her the Draper method of creating or How To Make Them Fall For What You Want 101. Having already taken out her aggression on Don, she’s ready to begin step 2: Starting over.
  • True Love: Fixing a drink and taking a nap aren’t the only ways Don starts a campaign over. Usually his best work comes from some deep emotional breakthrough. Luckily Pete’s callous attitude towards Peggy’s contribution and her painstaking research for Burger Chef had her primed for confession. Here protégé and mentor unite, baring their most glaring and hidden insecurities to each other. Don wonders whether he’s ever accomplished or solidified any relationship in his life whilst Peggy wonders how she ended up 30 without a family. As Don reassures her that’s she’s doing great, Peggy realized that making every table at the restaurant a family table was far better than forgiving a faultless mother. Sharing a dance perfectly scored with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” we saw a tableau of the purest love these two might ever experience. We hope for more for them; they deserve more. But if all they get is this, that will be enough. Peggy’s idea of making the restaurant a family spot for whomever you dine with was inspired by Her and Don’s connection. These two have been family to one another in deepest of ways. Watching Don defend Peggy to Pete at their Burger Chef dinner cemented their relationship forever. As the strains of idealistic music played as the image of Peggy, Pete, and Don munching on burger faded, the three amigos closed the night showing what happens to those who hopes on gauge with the evolving world, or fight its rapid orbit.
  • Midnight: Bob Benson returns to bail a Chevy exec out of jail for trying to fellate an undercover police officer. Their taxi cab confessional was cloaked in confusion. They never openly address the predicament, Bill Hartley’s assumption that he would keep quiet indicated he may know of Bob’s personal preferences. Especially when Bill referenced having Detroit hard wired. Whether or not Bill was in the know, the incident pushed Bob to sully an otherwise lovely relationship with Joan and her family with a marriage proposal. An erector set for Kevin, flowers for an inappropriate mom, and a day of fun wasn’t enough to blind Joan to the negatives of a loveless union. Even before Bob’s anxious kiss Joan was clued in to Bob’s love for men. Being confronted with her age and position, Joan still refuses to settle for anything less than love (Hopefully with Roger.). Refusing to compromise her desires for others expectations is a bold and powerful statement.
  • Pumpkin Pete: Oh Cinderella, once the sun and palm trees disappear it’s back to your old ways. The only reason Pete looked so good in California is without the challenges of the office or other people to belittle, he was able to focus on happiness. It’s easy to double down on a good relationship when it’s your only focus. How fitting that the second he and Bonnie were in the air and on the way the way to New York his misogynistic predilections would rear their ugly head. He abandons Bonnie for his family, disregarding her need to feel included in his east coast life. Pete enters his old home expecting Trudy, but the locks on the doors are the only thing that hasn’t changed. Trudy’s getting her hair done and off with a date. Bonnie is much quicker to rid herself of Pete’s dark side, heading back to her sunny skies without the truly uncaring Campbell. Though Pete begrudgingly agrees to allow Peggy to do her job, it looks as though everyone’s favorite bad guy has learned nothing.

The Quotable:

  •  Pete: “You know she’s every bit as good as every woman in this business.” Lou: “I do.”
  • Bill Hartley: “How did you live in a city with so much temptation?”  Bob: “It was hard.”
  • Bob: “Is this what you want.  To be near 40 in a two bedroom apartment with a mother and a little boy?  I know I am flawed but I am offering you more than anyone else ever will.”  Joan: “No you’re not Bob, because I want love.  And I’d rather die hoping that happens than make some arrangement.  And you should too.”  Bob: “I’m just being realistic.”
  • Peggy: “I just turned 30 Don.”  Don: “Shit, when?”
  • Don: “I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about you.  Peggy: “What do you have to worry about?”  Don: “That I never did anything and that I don’t have anyone.  Peggy: “I was in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania.  I looked into the window of so many station wagons.  What did I do wrong?”  Don: “You’re doing great.”

Overall:

“The Strategy” gave Peggy and Joan the opportunity to rewrite the rules. Joan has come so far that a marriage proposal was overshadowed by the news that SC&P was being dropped by Chevy. Bob may be good enough to clinch a job at Buick, but Joan is the real company man. They were always going to lose that car, but the loss of one of their biggest clients is going to bring out the desperation, at least in the high leaning Jim Cutler, while Roger has his eyes set on stealing Buick. While there’s no doubt that the final episode of the year will focus on Sterling Cooper & Partners future, Don’s living location will be a focal point as well.  Megan’s visit made it clear that they aren’t lacking in love for one another. But each clearly has their heart set on the other settling on their coast. With Megan missing her things and Don missing his good sleep, a decision will have to come before the season ends. Thankfully no matter which is chosen, we’ll be happy and satisfied with the journey.

Rating: 10/10

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.

What did you think of the episode?