Transitioning to a bigger firm was always going to be harder for some on Mad Men which is why they did everything they could to stop this from becoming a thing with no success in last week’s terrific outing. We’ve seen how seriously Joan and Peggy were taken in one of their meetings a few weeks ago and Joan’s desire to burn the place to the ground comes back in full force after she propositioned and treated like garbage.
Don has never been one for being tied down and the whole point of starting their own firm at the end of season 3 was to embrace a semblance of freedom. That has long gone and staring out of the window is far more satisfying than listening to another version of himself wax lyrical about dudes and beer. If these words were coming out of Jon Hamm’s mouth it might be different, but through this other guy the spell is broken.
Hell, Peggy gets mistaken for a secretary and her new office is not ready so instead she is offered a place in the pool; a compromise she is not willing to take. All this is done via her secretary Marsha and she’s not even worth a phone call from anyone at McCann. Peggy gets the best deal of the episode in that she gets to hangout in the old office with a surprise companion. The moment where Peggy calls out asking out if anyone is there accompanied by creepy organ music is made all the funnier thanks to the person playing said music. It’s not just a soundtrack choice, but Roger putting off going over to his new office for as long as possible.
Peggy notes how this is the most Roger has ever paid attention to her and while she nails the reasons he wants her to stay there – so she can be his audience – these scenes are so much fun that I can only be thankful that they fucked up Peggy’s move. Roger talks in big terms when it comes to how much he feels for the company and while Peggy points out how miserable it was (let’s not forget one partner killed himself not all that far from where they sit) it was far from all bad. Roger has been the one in the past to tell Peggy how it is and that she should ask for things including not going over to McCann at 4 o’clock when she is drunk as they have already made her wait. Instead she stays drinking and now I have a new life goal:
This outfit, those sunglasses, that look; everything is perfection and it’s probably all going to go to shit in an instant. But at least we have this. Without Joan, Peggy’s accounts are going to get picked over and I just hope that Peggy’s career dreams won’t be left in the wreckage.
Peggy has been gifted with Bert Cooper’s ‘octopus pleasuring a woman’ painting by Roger and she proudly clutches it under her arm when making her big entrance. Bert Cooper makes an appearance in Don’s car as a sleep deprived hallucination and I’m glad to see him act as Don’s almost voice of reason while also pointing out that of course he did not read On the Road (I tried to read this book once, but it was very much not for me). Bert is the man who died watching the moon landing and spoke one of the lines of Mad Men – “she was an astronaut” – so it is fitting that he is in an episode that closes out with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
Don has his own mission which is to find Diana and while I have no investment in this relationship in the slightest, there is another interaction that warms my heart. When Don’s attempt to take Sally back to school is unsuccessful because she got a ride with someone else he does get to share a genuinely warm moment with Betty. He gives her a shoulder rub which looks like it could lead to more, but doesn’t and there is no antagonism here.
Betty has followed her dream of enrolling in college to get a Masters in Psychology – repeating my dream of ‘Mad Woman: Therapist Betty Draper’ as a spinoff please – and she’s already started on the reading list. Don calls her Birdie and whenever he uses this affectionate nickname I melt and forget all the shit that has come between them.
Two more episodes to go! Here is Roger to play us out this week.