Mad Men Watch: How Much Damage Did You Do, Peaches?

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Michael Yarish/AMC

New York City

May 6, 2013

For Immediate Release:

The future, for those who can imagine it, is here. After too many weeks of running in place, allowing political posturing to take the place of empathy and self-appeasement (instead of self-reflection)—well, sometimes you just have to take the wheel and drive. And so it is that Cutler Gleason and Chauagh and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are now, for now, an unnamed titan taking the first step onto this new world’s stage—or, should we say, climbing into a Chevy and flooring the gas pedal.

We can talk about travel: about how an airport lounge can be a site for industrial espionage; how navigating a flight of stairs can prove disastrous to one’s ankles, public face, and force of character; how the grim romance of a starter apartment provokes flights of fantasy into the arms of other men; or even how the distance one must traverse to turn into one’s mother can be sometimes crossed just by sinking to one’s knees. But how about let’s just keep moving forward, shall we? Hop in.


While we first see Roger acting the lonely Lothario, ready and willing to use his mother’s recent passing as a reason for some Mother’s Day tenderness with a TWA stewardess, his too-long-dormant rapscallion business-sense, at last, resurfaces, securing his place at SCDPCGC and the downfall of his loathed rival, Pete Campbell. He literally wrote the book on this, and though few bought it, no one’s better at it.


While Trudy prepares for some kind of charming spin-off show—Oh, That Trudy!—poor Pete remains captured in her fuchsia nightgown, aching to resume marital relations with her, if not a real partnership. For how can he trust her, or anyone, when every person with power over him eventually betrays him, from his father-in-law pulling the pharmaceutical account to Don blowing the public offering to his total irrelevance in his company’s merger with CGC. (Not to mention that his newfound appreciation for the civil rights movement didn’t keep him from pointedly spitting out the race of his father-in-law’s lady companion, each time he got the chance.) Pete fell down the stairs early in this episode and stayed as pale and ugly as his kitchen wallpaper. Things don’t look good for Mr. Campbell.


The lovely Mrs. Draper, however, has never looked more radiant than when signing autographs in front of her drag queen of a mother. She can turn sexpot on a dime—Megan, after all is a successful actress—but behind the glitter we sense something souring. Are there dolls, or divorce, or pregnancy on the horizon? Or can powerful Daddy Don keep her satisfied through this next cycle of life?


Another of the women subject to Don’s advances and retreats—professionally, at least—Peggy came out a winner this week, with even her dreamy boss Ted professing envy. The men in her life seem to be having electrical problems (Abe’s outlet snafu, Ted’s static screen) but Peggy’s star is burning brighter than ever. Best of all, she’s actually, finally, literally writing the narrative of her life. Men will soon be fighting over her, we have no doubt.


Keeper of impeccable accounting. Wrangler of peacocking men. Mother of a baby we haven’t seen in awhile. Joan remains the kind of woman who’s the best woman in the world, especially after a drink or two. And yet. This week her ostentatious charm bracelet rattled like chains, as she learned just how tied she is to Don’s fortunes. She can read him to filth—and she does—but she can’t change the power structure. Not yet, at least.


And the giant awakens. Just when it seemed he was lost forever in the mirage of his own ennui, a great white whale of a Chevy zooms toward him — and he pursues it with zeal. When he suspects Chevy just wants to buy his brain and puts it in a jar, Don packages the product up (after pickling it a little) and Chevy buys it then and there. When Don stands up, the world reorganizes itself around him; it always has. If he weren’t slumped over drunk so often, it wouldn’t be such a delicious surprise each time it happens.


We have a million questions, from the fate of Harry Crane to whether Betty’s still a brunette. But those futures can wait. For now, let’s tool around this new terrain a bit and savor the view. We’ve been going in circles, for house. What a thrill to be on the road again, at last.