We next see Peggy in the Creative meeting where Pete, visiting from the Los Angeles office, is helping to provide leadership. Lou heads the meeting of Stan, Peggy, Harry, and Pete, and Pete requests Don’s presence as well. Confused, Peggy asks if Mathis (Peggy’s other subordinate) should also be present, but Pete assures her that only Don is needed. When the meeting begins, Peggy announces that they’re “circling a strategy. Our job is to turn Burger Chef into a special treat.” Referring to the research gathered by their survey, they discuss that moms need permission to go to Burger Chef because they basically feel guilty about not being at home doing the cooking every night. And who gives moms permission but dads? Peggy then describes the ad posters featuring Stan’s artwork, and ends with the tag line: “Aren’t you glad everybody loves Burger Chef as much as you do?” Lou loves the ad concept and comments that it’s nice to see “family happiness” again. Others in the room all say they like it as well. Sitting quietly at the back of the meeting room, Don eventually summarizes that dad surprises the family, thus absolving the mom of any guilt. “Right on strategy” he says, confirming the group opinion.
However, after Don leaves the room, Pete throws Peggy a curve ball by suggesting that Don should be the one to deliver this presentation to the client, not Peggy. But “it’ completely your decision” he emphasizes. When Lou wonders about this, Pete says, “Lou, you’ve never seen Don at his best.” He tells Lou that Don will give the ad pitch a sense of authority, whereas Peggy will give it emotion. Surprised and offended, Peggy says, “I don’t like being in this position.” Then Ted, in California, speaks up over the speaker phone and tells Peggy, “I would use every resource at my disposal to win it…but it’s your decision.” Surprised to realize that Ted is even present and listening to the meeting, let alone that he agrees with Pete, Peggy is taken aback. Pete then assures the group, “You know, she’s as good as any woman in this business!” (translation: Peggy’s good…for a girl…but we need a man to really sell it). Finally, Ted encourages Peggy and the group, “Keep up the good work,” further undermining Peggy’s confidence.
Later, Peggy goes to Don’s office, and in her role as an authority figure, announces to him (as if it were her idea): “I’ve given it careful thought and I think you should give the presentation.” Surprised, Don tells her she did a good job and asks, “Wait a minute – whose idea was this?” Towards the end of their conversation, Don tells her that he was “noodling around” and wondering what the ad would be like if presented from the kids’ perspective. “Mom, can we go to Burger Chef?” Without giving it much time to consider the concept, Peggy says, “I appreciate it, but we already have a strategy.”
Peggy then exits Don’s office and, out in the hallway, runs into Megan, who has come for a weekend visit. They chat, and Megan says that pretty soon, Peggy will be in Don’s office, to which Peggy shrugs. Then Stan joins the gathering, greeting Megan with a kiss. “Did you hear about Ginsberg?” he asks Megan. Stan tells her he’s visited Michael in the hospital, but that Peggy won’t go. As Don comes by and whisks Megan off to a lunch date downtown, Stan says to Peggy, “I miss her.” Thinking of herself, Peggy accuses him, “You didn’t even ask me how it went!” Stan looks at her with surprise and asks, “Are you mad at me?” and, after observing her bad mood, exits the room.
At home that night, Peggy rifles through a pile of work files, too agitated to sleep. Stretching to come up with a better ad idea, she tosses the files on the floor of her bedroom in frustration. Later she calls Stan at home to talk about the ad. Since it’s a Saturday night, Stan immediately says, “Find something else to do today…that’s an order!” However, Peggy continues to discuss her discontent and frustration with the ad. Although Stan says, “The work is great, I’m positive, exclamation point!” she disregards his opinion because, she says, “We both know there’s a better idea.” Stan says, “There’s always a better idea” but Peggy’s insecurity continues, until finally it sinks in that Stan has a date and so she ends the call.
Next Peggy calls Don at home and states bluntly that his “kids’ idea” doesn’t work and is a bad idea. Surprised at being unnecessarily offended, Don engages in the conversation with her anyway. Next she accuses him, “Why are you undermining me?” to which Don replies, like an obedient subordinate, “From now on, I won’t express myself.” Then Peggy yells, “It’s tainted because you expressed yourself!” They end their phone call and Don attempts to have a nice dinner with Megan, but later that night he turns up at the office to work with Peggy on developing a better idea.
There Peggy continues to hurl offensive remarks at Don until she finally finds the humility to ask him how she’s supposed to know when she has found the best idea. Don says “that s a tough one” and continues, “that’s the job – living – not knowing.” Remembering the days when she worked for Don, Peggy’s anger re-emerges and she yells, “I would have given you 100 ideas and never asked why!” Peggy then challenges Don: “Show me how you think.” Don turns to reviewing pros and cons, the pros being: “It’s almost done, it’s good, and the client’s onboard.” Peggy complains: “Those are cons, and you know it!” Then Don says ironically, “Whenever I’m really unsure about an idea, I abuse the people whose help I need. Then I take a nap and I start again and see if I end up in the same place.” Having been on the receiving end of Don’s abuse, Peggy calms down and seems to understand herself a little better.
They continue to brainstorm ideas, with Peggy lying on the office couch drinking, and Don posing questions from across the room to Peggy’s stream of consciousness. Together they discuss women who have to work but don’t get the dignity of a professional title, and yet still have to be the mom – a fact that Don says is too sad to be the basis of their ad. Peggy questions whether the happy, smiling family even exists anymore – the family that eats dinner smiling at each other instead of watching TV. Then she says, “What the hell do I know about being a mom?” and reveals that just a couple of weeks earlier she turned 30 years old. “Now I’m one of those women lying about their age.” In a fatherly way, Don says, “I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about you.” Still wrapped up in her self-pity, Peggy asks, “What do you have to worry about?” Don replies, “That I never did anything, and that I don’t have anyone” – comments that show insecurities he has seldom revealed. Peggy goes on to ask, “What did I do wrong?” and Don hands her a tissue along with the reassurance, “You’re doing great.” Suddenly, this triggers a new idea for Peggy and she asks, “What if there was a place where you could go and break bread, and whoever you were sitting with was family? – That’s it!” Don then comments on the Frank Sinatra song “My Way” playing on the radio, and he invites her in a gentlemanly way to slow-dance with him” – mirroring the support Don provides Peggy for doing the ad her way, and for living her life on her own terms.
In the episode’s final scene, we see Peggy, Don, and Pete sitting at a table at a Burger Chef, where Peggy tells them that she plans to shoot the ad there. “It’s about family” she says. “It’s clean, well-lit, and every table is a family table.” Pete counters, “I hate the word family. It’s vague. Mom is more specific. Tell her, Don!” But Don tells Pete that Peggy is doing it the way she wants to do it, and that it’s right. Pete quiets down and bites into his burger, smudging food on the side of his mouth. Like a dad, Don motions as if cleaning his own cheek to give Pete a clue, and like a mom, Peggy hands Pete a napkin. The camera pulls back and we see the three of them through the Burger Chef window, looking like one among many family tables, where Pete is the kid and Peggy and Don are the parents.
Throughout the episode, Don interacts heavily with Peggy from his subordinate role, and also as a supportive, fatherly advisor. In addition, he, like Peggy, works at home over the weekend on ad ideas; is polite with Pete and cooperates with him, even though he doesn’t really like Pete; and showers Megan with appreciation and loving attention, taking her shopping and showing her consideration almost as if he were playing a Cary Grant role. When Megan searches Don’s hallway closet for a fondue pot to bring back to California at the end of the weekend, she says, “I miss my things.” Don replies, “I sleep better when you’re here” and then offers to bring her things next time he flies to LA at the end of July. This thought triggers Megan’s imagination, and she says, “I want to see you somewhere where there’s nothing else going on – not LA, not here.” When Megan finally flies back to LA, we see both her and Bonnie sitting separately in First Class, with Bonnie smoking and looking upset, and Megan smoking, drinking, trying to be emotionally controlled, and distracting herself by looking at a magazine.
Pete’s story occurs during his week in New York with girlfriend Bonnie. On flying from LA to NYC, Bonnie insists on paying for part of the trip. However, Pete overrules her and lets her know the costs are covered by the company, not him. She then tries to convince Pete to let her meet his daughter, Tammy, but Pete says, “I don’t want to confuse Tammy.” When Bonnie wonders why Pete is not yet divorced, she says, “I don’t know where this is going, and I don’t want to fail because of delay.” Pete counters evasively with, “I thought you were never going to get married again.” The conversation ends with Bonnie grabbing him in a way that embarrasses him, and then telling him, “Meet me in the restroom in 60 seconds,” an exciting prospect for Pete.
At work, Pete seems in command and gaining respect during his meeting with the Creative group, where he manages to bring in Don and persuade Peggy to go along with the ad presentation strategy secretly agreed upon behind Peggy and Lou’s back. But privately, Pete spends a lot of time and energy trying to win back ex-wife Trudy, an effort destined to fail, rather than courting Bonnie.
On the weekend, he goes to Trudy and Tammy’s house (where they all once lived as a family) and calls out for Trudy, but she’s not there. The maid, Verna, appears holding little Tammy’s hand, and Tammy hides behind Verna, possibly not even recognizing Pete as her dad. After introductions, Pete wants to give Tammy a Barbie doll “all the way from California,” but Tammy stays back. Then, speaking to Tammy, Pete says, “Well, Verna’s going to come with us to the car,” in effect marginalizing Verna by refusing to make eye contact with her and make a direct, adult-to-adult request.
Later that night, Pete brings Tammy home and, seeing Verna, asks, “Where’s Trudy?” Verna responds that Trudy came home but then went out again. Pete says, “Why don’t you give Tammy a bath and I’ll tuck her in?” to which Verna consents. Next, Pete calls Bonnie and says he’s stuck at Trudy’s house with no one to look after Tammy, clearly a lie but also a strategy for ensuring that he sees Trudy. Amazed, Bonnie responds, “You want me to see ‘Oh Calcutta’ by myself?”
When Trudy finally arrives home she’s dressed up in an expensive evening dress, the usual fashion for dates in those days. Trudy asks Pete if he (and Tammy) just got back, and Pete accuses, “No, but you did.” “Did you have a good time?” she asks, and he replies, “I was in fine spirits until I thought about you pulled over on the side of the road, necking with Charlie Fidditch.” Trudy laughs this off, and Pete demands, “Who was it then?” He tells Trudy, “You still have feelings for me!” but Trudy says definitively, “We’re getting a divorce” and “You’re not part of this family anymore.” Yet Pete insists: “We’re still married!” and stomps off, ruining the homemade cake sitting in the kitchen on his way out.
Back at his hotel room, Pete orders food and relaxes on the bed as Bonnie enters after a long day of shopping. She’s surprised that Pete didn’t wait for her so they could share dinner, complains about how dirty her feet are because of shopping in sandals, and asks Pete if he got his work done. When Pete says he only got some of his work done, Bonnie loses her patience with him for not spending time with her. Pete attempts to come on to her sexually in order to shift her mood, but she defies him with, “You’re not going to ___ your way out of this!” She then leaves the room to wash her feet.
Bob Benson’s story covers his relationships with Joan and family as well as with Chevy executive Bill Hartley.
We first see Joan at home, leaving baby Kevin to Grandma Gail while Joan goes to work. Gail asks, “Aren’t you going to eat? You’re disappearing!” to which Joan instructs her mom to take the baby and go outdoors today. Next we see Bob Benson at the New York office, in from Detroit, as he invites Joan to come over and chat with the visiting executives from Chevy including Bill Hartley, the new VP of Brands. While secretary Clara ushers the Chevy group in to visit with Harry Crane, Bob tells Joan he wants to see her on Saturday evening “unless you have plans with some married guy.” Joan responds that if he wants to see Kevin, he has to see her mom, too, but Bob says he wants to see the whole family.
Next we see Bob waking up to a phone call in the middle of the night. He rushes out to bail Bill Hartley out of jail after Bill has been arrested and his face bloodied by the cop for attempting oral sex with an undercover cop, with even the jailer mocking him as he’s released from his handcuffs. In 1960s America, homosexuality was both illegal and publicly despised. As Bob and Bill take a cab to Bill’s house, Bob tells Bill he should go to the hospital, but Bill fears being further abused there. He also tells Bob, in so many words, that his wife understands his homosexuality and won’t turn him in. Bill also gives Bob the lowdown on the Chevy account, saying to Bob, “I’m going to miss having you around.” Bob responds forcefully, “I’m not of your stripe, and you should think twice about threatening me like that.” Bill, however, explains that GM loved SC&P’s work and they loved Bob’s service, but their strategy was always to take the XP in-house. However, Buick will soon come to Bob with an offer. Surprised, Bob asks when this will happen, and Bill says it’s imminent. Then Bill asks Bob how he manages to live in New York City with so much “temptation,” and Bob reflects, “It’s hard.”
On Saturday evening, Bob arrives at Joan’s apartment bearing gifts, including an erector set for baby Kevin and flowers for Gail. Bob promises the family “a day that starts with pancakes and ends with an ice cream sundae.” When Joan enters the room, Bob gives her attention as well. Later that evening, when Gail and Kevin have gone to bed, Joan and Bob sit on her living room sofa and enjoy a drink together. Bob tells Joan he got her something and that his heart is pounding. Then he shows her a ring. Surprised, Joan warns, “You don’t want this” but Bob says, “You’re not listening to me.” Then Joan confronts him: “You shouldn’t be with a woman,” to which Bob responds, “I have been, you know.” Joan demands, “Why are you doing this?” At that point, Bob admits that he’s going to be moving on to a job with Buick, and that GM expects “a certain kind of executive,” i.e., a man with a family who at least appears to be straight. Joan is shocked that he’s planning to leave SC&P, and he says he just heard about it and warns her not to divulge the information. “We could comfort each other through an uncertain world” he appeals, but Joan says she wants true love, and she’d rather die hoping to find it than to settle for such an arrangement.
Finally, Roger’s story involves conflicts with a few key characters. We first see Roger sitting in a men’s club steam room with Jim McCann, head of the competing ad agency named after him, just as Sterling Cooper is named after Roger Sterling (actually, after his father). Like sparring brothers, they needle each other, with Roger saying, “Thank you for failing at Burger Chef and giving us a chance.” Jim gives it right back to him, with, “I know you guys want to be just like McCann when you grow up.” During their spat-chat, Jim mentions something about Buick, and Roger wonders, “Are you looking for a job?” Jim responds that he just wants to “advance the lives of people I respect,” although it’s unclear what that means.
Next, we see Roger having a talk with Jim Cutler at Sterling Cooper offices. Jim confronts Roger and, in a demanding way, asks for Roger’s cooperation, which leaves Roger looking skeptical. By the end of the program we see the SC&P partners’ meeting (Jim Cutler, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell, Don Draper, Bert Cooper, and Joan Harris), in which Cutler announces that the company has just lost Chevy, their largest account. In blaming tones, he dubs this “Roger Sterling’s Failure” but Roger counters, “You signed it.” Cutler continues that the agency will be taking on Harry Crane as their newest partner, a bad surprise for Roger and Joan. Pete offers, “If that’s what it takes…” and Don voices the opinion, “Say what you will but he’s very loyal.” Roger and Joan both object loudly, but after a vote is taken, everyone present except Roger and Joan vote to approve Harry as their newest partner, and Bert Cooper tells everyone to get back to work.
Returning to his office to sulk, Roger is disgruntled when Joan enters the room to talk. “Spill the beans or get out” he snaps. Already having heard from Bob Benson that Chevy would be lost to SC&P and that Bob would be invited to work with Buick, she tries not to show too much. Roger says, “I knew McCann was up to something. They’re afraid we’re going to steal Buick.” Sounding shocked, Joan says, “What?” and Roger replies, “Just forget it.”
Some strong themes stand out in this episode, the first being the strategies people develop for both professional and personal success.
· Peggy and Lou have a strategy for the Burger Chef ad campaign under Peggy’s leadership, featuring a happy family.
· Pete and Ted have a twist on this strategy, letting Don present the campaign as the voice of authority while Peggy would step in as the voice of emotion; they also use the strategy of telling Peggy it’s up to her whether to do this, while at the same time undermining her confidence to the point where she gives in.
· Peggy develops a new strategy for the ad, first by trying to elicit Stan’s help and then getting Don’s help in rethinking the ad.
· Pete has a personal strategy for winning back Trudy, but his strategy of arguing with her to convince her she still has feelings for him fails, while his strategy of keeping Bonnie happy on the side is quickly falling apart.
· Bob Benson uses a gift-giving strategy for winning over Joan and her family.
· Bob Benson has a strategy for becoming a Buick executive that involves a marriage proposal to Joan, where he proposes to play the role of a good provider to Joan and a model father and son-in-law, with the understanding that he would have a secretive homosexual lifestyle on the side.
· Joan has a strategy for being happy that involves finding true love, or at worst continuing to hold out hope for the rest of her life that she will someday find it.
· Bonnie has a strategy for getting remarried, and it involves investing time in Pete’s life, but not delaying too long, and also being honest with him about her doubts and concerns.
· Chevy has had a strategy of testing out Sterling Cooper & Partners on an advertising project for the XP, and then taking the project in-house but continuing the business relationship.
· Jim McCann has some sort of business strategy when he talks to Roger at the clubhouse steam room, although Roger doesn’t know what it is.
A second major theme is the many ways that people handle uncertainty.
· Advertising agencies always deal with uncertainty when they develop ad campaigns and then try to sell their ideas. Their business is to meet uncertainty with high levels of creativity and optimism.
· Roger and rivaling agency head Jim McCann have a men’s club steam room conversation that leaves Roger very uncertain of what McCann is up to. Rather than confronting McCann, he deals with this uncertainty by listening for clues in a subsequent conversation with Joan, where he attempts to piece together the puzzle analytically.
· Peggy is uncertain about the quality of her Burger Chef ad campaign, and handles her uncertainty by listening to her self-doubts, raising the bar on herself, and pulling in a coworker to help her develop a superior ad concept.
· Bonnie is plagued by uncertainty regarding her chances for marriage with Pete. To deal with her uncertainty, she invests time and energy in their relationship but also starts asking questions about why Pete isn’t divorced yet, and why he isn’t spending time with her during their week in New York, as she constantly assesses the situation in her mind.
· Joan has an uncertain future, being an aging single mother living in a cramped apartment with her mother and not having a husband or lover. Yet the way she reacts to this uncertainty is by clinging to the hope that her true desire for an authentic love relationship may still happen, and by rejecting any false marriage arrangement that could prevent the real thing from occurring.
· Bob Benson’s future in business is particularly uncertain because, in that era in America, his sexual orientation is not only illegal but also scorned in the business community. He handles his uncertain future with Buick by not only hiding his gay identity but also attempting to secure a family arrangement so he can appear to be a straight man and thus move up in the ranks at Buick.
· Bill Hartley faces uncertainty every time he seeks a sexual encounter, including not only the uncertainty of whether his advances will be accepted or rejected, but the uncertainty of whether he will be arrested and beaten for trying, and the uncertainty of being revealed at work as “queer” and therefore becoming a business outcast. He deals with his uncertainty through his marriage to a woman who understands his homosexuality and accepts him for who and what he is, which at least helps to protect him at work.
· Tammy is very uncertain of who Pete is, and she deals with her uncertainty by hiding behind Verna, someone she trusts, and holding her hand. She only moves forward into a relationship with her dad when Verna leads her to Pete’s car.
A third theme is the myth of male authority compared with the way women seek to gain validation from a special man (or men).
· The men Peggy desires validation from include Don and Ted. When Pete suggests that Don should be the voice of authority and Peggy the voice of emotion for her Burger Chef ad campaign, Peggy objects to this, because her inner authority is what matters to her, whereas Pete’s opinion doesn’t. When she hears Ted make the same suggestion, though, her confidence is shaken because she craves his validation. Don supports the ad campaign, but maybe because Ted doubts it, she believes Don must doubt it too.
· Stan attempts to play the male authority figure for Peggy when he tells her, “I want you to take the day off. Find something else to do today. That’s an order!” But since Peggy obeys her own inner authority, she continues bothering Stan for help until she realizes she should leave him alone. She doesn’t want his authority or his validation because he’s not that kind of special man to her; she just wants his assistance in reaching her goal of a better ad.
· Don attempts to play a subordinate role to Peggy, but after abusing him for a while, Peggy treats him like the talented mentor he really is, learns more about the creative process from him, and is deeply relieved and comforted to obtain his fatherly validation of her as a woman, despite the fact that she’s not married at her age.
· Bob Benson attempts to play a supportive male role with Joan and her family, providing her with a sense of validation and offering to comfort her in the midst of an uncertain world. However, when Joan objects to his proposal, he warns her sternly: “You’re not listening to me,” as if being the man makes him the de facto authority figure in the relationship. Joan, however, is following her inner authority about the direction of her life and rejects Bob’s authoritative tone. She expresses her desire for a man that she truly loves – the man she envisions whose validation (not bossy authority) would mean great happiness to her.
· Roger used to play the role of validating Joan’s femininity and business intelligence. However, now Roger is reduced to the role of trying to boss her around as if he’s the authority, telling her, “Spill the beans or get out,” when in a previous year, he might have drawn the information out of her through an intimate discussion.
· Bob Benson and Bill Hartley help to validate each other. When Bill tells Bob, “I’m going to miss you,” he wasn’t threatening Bob with being fired; he was expressing deep gratitude for the validation and comfort he feels from Bob’s likeminded understanding of gay life.
· Pete plays the authority figure both to Bonnie – approving or disapproving her various requests as if he’s the boss – and to Tammy, Verna, and Trudy. Neither Trudy nor Bonnie respect his authority, as these women respect the authority of what they believe to be true. No doubt Tammy will grow up seeking his approval and validation, but Trudy no longer has any use for his validation and is looking for another man to fill that role, while Bonnie is slowly learning that Pete isn’t the man of her dreams after all.
· The woman in the first scene who is interviewed at Burger Chef and says she needs to beat her husband home clearly feels fear due to her husband’s authority. She represents many ordinary mothers of that time who were treated as subordinates by the man of the house, men who demanded that their wife be home with dinner on the table the minute they arrive home from work. This woman’s worried demeanor speaks volumes about the level of comfort and validation married women received in 1960s America, in comparison with the insecurity they felt under the domination of male authority at the time. Unlike the independent women at SC&P, many women still felt they had to obey the authority of their husbands over the authority of their own inner voices.
Multiple homecomings, dreams of a “getaway,” and surprises help to pull together the episode.
· Megan and Pete both enjoy homecoming greetings when they arrive at the New York office from Los Angeles, while Bob Benson’s homecoming from Detroit brings him handshakes as he ushers in the guests from Chevy.
· Bonnie dreams of her week-long getaway in New York, although the reality doesn’t live up to the dream; meanwhile, Megan tells Don she longs for a place they can meet where nothing else is happening – not at his place or her place, but a special getaway; finally, Peggy envisions Burger Chef as the perfect getaway where a family can go to enjoy a clean, well-lit place to eat, where every table is a family table, and where the people you sit with while you eat are family.
· Some of the many surprises throughout the episode include Bob Benson’s surprise gifts for Joan and family; Peggy’s surprise when she hears people undermining her ad strategy and realizes Ted is in on the conversation; Don’s surprise at being insulted by Peggy multiple times when in fact he is supporting her original campaign idea; Peggy’s surprise at running into Megan at the office; Stan’s surprise at Peggy’s sudden mood change, to which he asks, “Are you mad at me?” and backs away from her; Trudy’s surprise at seeing Pete in her home when she returns from a date; Pete’s surprise at meeting Verna when he goes to pick up Tammy; Bonnie’s surprise at discovering that Pete ordered room service before she arrived back the hotel from her shopping trip; Bob’s surprise at receiving a phone call in the middle of the night from Bill Hartley; Bob’s surprise at learning that SC&P is going to be dropped by Chevy but that Buick will make him a job offer; Joan’s surprise at receiving a marriage proposal from Bob; the Executive Board’s surprise at learning they’ve lost Chevy, their biggest account; and Joan and Roger’s surprise at learning that Harry Crane is about to become a Partner at the agency.
Finally, a major theme in this episode is the nature of family, a topic I explore in depth this week in my other Mad Men blog article, which will be posted on BlogCritics.org.