Mad Men S07E06 – The Strategy

As we approach the unwanted midseason break of Mad Men, I’m afraid the show will lose momentum. They’ve been on a bit of a roll, even though last week’s “The Runaways” was just strange, and “The Strategy” was an absolutely excellent episode, if only for the end of it. Let’s go….

-Peggy is out at Burger Chef, surveying customers on why they go there and this one lady just can’t be bothered at all, but she does answer Peggy’s questions. She is trying to come up with the right strategy for the account, and she doesn’t really look comfortable in this position of power, which is fair as she seems to be always getting shitted on by someone or something. But has Peggy ever been REALLY sure of herself?

-Pete and Bonnie are flying to New York, and Pete has #DatHairline nicely hidden by a solid combover. He has to go see his daughter, Tammy, and Bonnie wants to come, but Pete doesn’t want to confuse Tammy. He really doesn’t know how to talk to people, especially women.

-Don is carrying a bunch of stuff to the office, typewriter, papers and all. Looks like he has been working hard on Burger Chef; he has taken Freddie’s advice and is being a good little soldier.

-Joan is getting ready for work, and I totally forgot that her mother lives with her AND she has a son.

-Bonnie goes into Don’s office and Meredith is like, “who is THIS bitch?”. Lowkey, Meredith has been AWESOME this season. A solid addition. Anyway, Pete also finds Bonnie in Don’s office because he has to be scared that Don will sleep with her, which, quite frankly, he will. He then tells Don that Peggy will be leading the Burger Chef meeting, but he wants Don to be there.

-They walk into the meeting and Peggy has a look like, “what is HE doing here?”. Lou straight up asks what he is doing here, because he is a dick like that. Pete hasn’t been in the office to see what has been going on, but Don really just wants to chill in the background and let Peggy do the heavy lifting. Lou sneaks in his usual sexism with the “Who gives moms permission? Dads.”. This fuckin’ guy, man.

-Peggy pitches the idea and everyone likes it, but then Pete asks Don what he thinks and you can feel the tension in the room with Peggy and Lou, who both think Don is trying to undermine everyone, but he just wants to do his job and get back in the good books. Hell, he even says it is a good idea and gets a smile out of Peggy, which we haven’t seen in a while. But how trustworthy is Don Draper?

-Roger gets rolled up on in a sauna by a rival from another agency, McCann, I believe it is. He seems like he is recruiting Roger, and perhaps Don, to join his team, and Roger shuts him down, but the idea is out there now.

-Pete tells Peggy that he wants Don to lead the pitch to Burger Chef, which burns her to no end. Basically, it is because Don is a man. Then to make matters worse, Ted is on the phone from California co-signing all of this, and Peggy wants to crawl in a hole. Pete is trying to encourage her with, “You know she is as good as ANY woman in this business”, but it is condescending as hell, especially coming from a fuckass like Pete. The look on Peggy’s face when she leaves Lou’s office was just awful: Ted sparked a lot of her downfall when he moved, which Don caused, you have Pete being Pete with their history, and Lou, another condescending asshole. Peggy is like, “what do I have to do around here?”.

-BOB BENSON IN THE HOUSE! We haven’t seen this creep all season, but he rolls up in the spot with the Chevy boys in tow. Ken Cosgrove pokes his head out with his eye patch, and Joan makes an appearance as well, which the Chevy boys appreciate because, JOAN. Bob makes plans with Joan to see her and her family, and I forgot they had a thing, not a sex thing, but some sort of thing.

-Peggy goes to tell Don he is wanted to lead the pitch, and he immediately thinks something is up, asking whose idea it was because she did such a good job in the preliminary pitch. Poor Peggy: even when she is trying to be fake-nice, mufuckas don’t take her seriously. Don is like, “fine, whatever you want”, but then he throws out a new idea about catering to kids, which plants the seed in Peggy’s mind that her idea isn’t good enough. Have I been too hard on Peggy this season?

-She then sees Megan at the office, and one of the secretaries is like, “I didn’t even know he was married”, so that has to tell her something. Stan stops in and gives Megan a hug, and when Peggy says she is in for a visit, Stan is like, “Thanks for the subtitles”. DAMN….I’m surprised Peggy hasn’t punched someone in this episode. Don seems to be surprised when Megan shows up, and the look on his face is, “what the hell is she doing here?”.

-#DemTeef, tho.

-Cutler tells Roger he wants help with the Philip Morris people, and Roger doesn’t look like he trusts Cutler one bit when he says, “stop thinking about Don and start thinking about the company”.

-Bob gets a late-night call from one of the Chevy guys, who, um, got arrested for trying to blow an undercover officer and he needs to be bailed out. He says he calls Bob because he could keep it a secret, which made me think Bob was gay, which I suspected, but Bob says something about “I am not of your stripe”, so now I’m confused as to what he is. Anyway, he then learns that Chevy is taking their account away from Sterling Cooper Dikembe Mutumbo and Co., but there is probably going to be a promotion in it for Bob, which means a permanent move to Detroit. But then the Chevy guy asks Bob how he lived in New York with so much temptation and Bob replies, “it was hard”. Is he gay or not”?

-Peggy can’t sleep with her mind racing, in quite a sexy piece of lingerie, because it’s the 1960s. She is so damn frustrated with the work situation.

-Pete shows up at Trudy’s, and while she is gone, Tammy is there. It doesn’t matter though, because she wants no parts of her father and would rather stay with the help. Even his child knows how much of a fuckass Pete Campbell is.

-Don awakens to Megan making breakfast and offers to take her shopping. She misses him, but not New York. They’re trying to pull it together, but you can see the cracks showing and no amount of threesomes can help that (although it doesn’t hurt to try).

-Peggy is at the office on what I think is a Saturday, and she is smoking; I don’t remember ever seeing Peggy smoke before. She calls Stan for some reason, but he isn’t coming in. She is so insecure after Don threw out his idea that she asks Stan if he has been “noodling” (Don’s word) with new ideas and Stan doesn’t have time for her games, he’s just tryna eat this banana. He does at least ask her if she wants him to come in, but you get the feeling that he wouldn’t and besides, Peggy says that his baby is calling, which reminds you that she’s lonely.

-Pete brings Tammy back, but Trudy still isn’t home. He cancels his date with Bonnie to stay and wait for her, which sounds like something stupid that Pete would do. #DatHairline went back about three inches throughout the episode.

-Don’s phone rings as he and Megan are getting ready for dinner, and for a brief second, I thought it was Bonnie because she looked up to no good, so props to the editing team for fooling me. It’s actually Peggy, who has been drinking by herself in the office and decides to call Don and tell him his idea was shit. Don is like, “Dude, I don’t care, do it your way” and she asks why he is undermining her, because she doesn’t trust him either. Now I don’t, and I don’t know which way to go with this. That was a solid petulant look Peggy gave when Don hung up on her, though.

-Pete is drunk when Trudy gets home, and has the nerve to shit on her for being out all night, possibly out on a date because Pete isn’t fucking Bonnie at all. What a dickhead. Son is like, “I don’t like you carrying on like this, it’s immoral” and she hit him with that, “you’ve seen your daughter for the year, don’t you have a plane to catch?”. Now #DatHairline goes back to the back of his neck, and he plops his beer bottle down in a cake, because that’s what fuckasses do.

-Bob arrives at Joan’s to take the family out, getting something for her mom and son, but nothing for her….stay tuned.

-Megan is taking some stuff back to Los Angeles, but is it for good? She wants to meet somewhere neutral, not New York or Los Angeles. The gap is getting wider.

-Bonnie doesn’t seem to like New York, or Pete in New York as he is always busy and way more of a dickhead than he is in L.A. Welcome to the real Pete, sweetheart. He is well on the way to fucking this up, too.

-Don stops by Peggy’s office and she is still giving him grief. And then we reach the crux of their beef: Don says he is there to help her do whatever she wants, and she replies, “well, how am I supposed to know?”. Even he is like, “that’s a tough one”. She wants his help, but doesn’t really know how to ask and Don recognizes that. He takes her through the process he would use to figure it out, which she has seen before since she worked for him, and Don drinks at the office, which is against the rules, but Peggy doesn’t know that and she doesn’t care. Even though I don’t know if I trust Don, it is good to see him back and working because Pete said something to Lou earlier like, “you’ve never seen Don Draper at his best”. He is damn good at what he does, and Peggy knows this better than anyone.

-After family day, Bob decides to surprise Joan with her gift: he proposes to her. It seems like he is only doing it because it would look good as he moves up the ladder at Buick, but not for love and that is what Joan wants, although Bob saying, “my face doesn’t please you?” is pretty good. Joan says he shouldn’t be with a woman, and he is like, “you’re old and you live with your mom”. It’s like dudes in this show are trying to piss the women they love off. She then learns that the agency is losing Buick, which is another matter entirely.

-Don and Peggy are still kicking around ideas, and she doesn’t seem to know the concept of family because she just turned 30, she is single, and has no one. Don says he worries about a lot of things, but not Peggy, but he has a lot of the same worries that she does. Then it hits her: Burger Chef is a place where it doesn’t matter who you are with, because they are family. Don and Peggy have been through a LOT on Mad Men, and he looks at her as a sister or maybe even a daughter, which is why I don’t want to think he undermined her on purpose. I might throw Don in the bushes if he double-crosses Peggy. They end the scene slow-dancing to “My Way”, which is fitting. My favorite Mad Men scene is back in Season 5 when Peggy told Don she was leaving the agency, and he kissed her hand and wouldn’t let it go….shit got dusty in the room for a second. This dance sequence is going up there. I’ve missed the Don/Peggy relationship.

-Bonnie is on a plane back to L.A. without Pete, because fuck him, while Megan is on the same plane. Does Don have another threesome awaiting him on his next trip out west? He is bangin’ both of them, whether they know about each other or not.

-The partners meet to talk about Buick leaving, and Cutler wants to run a spot in the paper with their computer, and their new partner, Harry Crane. Roger and Joan are pissed about it, but is voted down by the rest of the partners, and Don has to be cool about it since Harry told him about the meeting with the tobacco guys. Roger and Joan meet in his office, and Roger starts scheming, which I figure we will see next week.

-Don, Peggy and Pete meet at a Burger Chef, where she wants to shoot the commercial. Pete puts up a fight and looks to Don, who is like, “she is doing it her way, deal with it”. We end with it looking like the actual ad in Burger Chef, Peggy wiping food off Pete’s face, smiling, the whole nine. Mad Men is brilliant at shots like this; they know how to frame a scene.

I didn’t realize how much I missed the Don/Peggy dynamic until I was writing this, and for that alone, I think “The Strategy” was great. But I can’t help but think this won’t end well for them, and there will be some sort of cliffhanger as we reach the halfway point of Mad Men‘s final season.

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