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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

May 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Mad Men Monday (belated): Reunions

(Sorry for the delay . . .)

For those of us who’ve been waiting since Season 4’s “The Suitcase” for a perfect Peggy/Don episode . . . here it was. These two have been at loggerheads lately — Don resenting Peggy’s authority over him; Peggy enjoying her position a bit too much — and the stage was set for a perfect showdown. After much research, Peggy’s come up with a good-but-not-great pitch for Burger Chef, and she’s pleased with herself, until an offhand comment from Don and some condescension from Pete (“Don will give authority; you will give emotion”) brings out all her insecurities, sending her frantically searching for something better. And, there they were, in Don’s old office on a Sunday (I think?), with Peggy behind the desk having a drink. She’s become Don, but without the confidence — and, without confidence, what is Don? “Show me how you do it,” she tells him, knowing that he’s got the perfect ad campaign somewhere inside. “Do it out loud.” Don shrugs; normally, he says, he abuses people near him and takes a nap (!), then gets a pen and paper and starts all over again.

And they do — start over, that is, as if their relationship got a reboot as equals. They noodle with the tag line, share their fears (Peggy’s turned 30 and is afraid of being alone; Don — whose wife is quite literally packing her bags — has got nobody in his life), and dance to Sinatra’s “My Way” — a song that might well have been written for Don Draper and for that moment, when he taught Peggy to do things her way. (“And now, the end is nearĀ  . . . ,” oh, stop playing with us, Matthew Weiner.) What a deeply satisfying scene — as was the one that followed, with Don, Peggy and Pete making up an impromptu family at a Burger Chef table. The connections here are labyrinthine: Don with his two “kids”; Pete and Peggy as phantom parents; Don and Pete like brothers and longtime rivals; Peggy and Don, reunited. At that beautifully lit table, things looked idyllic. “Does this family exist anymore?” Peggy had wondered earlier. Well, yes, but it looks different.

Elsewhere: the return of Bob Benson, and the reminder of another kind of double life. Bob made a foolish pitch to Joan, underestimating her (like every man in her life has done) by asking her to marry him. (“I’m offering more than anyone else ever will” — as Pete would say, not great, Bob.) Joan, who reads the room better than anyone on this show, quickly shut things down; reminding us that she’s willing to wait for love. Peggy’s talk of mothers reminded me that Joan is really the only working mother we regularly see on this show, and it’s surprising that Weiner hasn’t shown us more of that life. Both Joan and Bob are outsiders — Joan as a single working mother; Bob as a closeted gay man — but Joan’s smart enough to see that there’s no point in an alliance. Will that be the last we see of Bob? Anyone out there dreaming that he might meet Sal? Matthew Weiner would never do that, would he?

One last episode for this (half) season; ominously titled “Waterloo” . . .

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