MAD MEN “The Suitcase” Review

Mad Men season 4 Episode 7 The Suitcase

This week’s episode of MAD MEN centered around Don and Peggy and was all the more better because of it. In what I think was one of the best episodes this season, Don and Peggy spend the entire episode lashing out, sorting out, and figuring out their realtionship as well as bonding over Roger’s discovered autobiography tapes.

Peggy and her team were put in charge of coming up with a campaign for Samsonite luggage. Don immediately shoots down their idea of a Joe Namath endorsement as “endorsements are lazy” and Joe Namath is unknown. He sends the entire team back to the drawing board. As it becomes closer to 5 and closer to the start of the heavily anticipated Liston/Clay fight, Peggy’s team abandons her to face Don alone. Did I mention it was her birthday? In one of many moments where Peggy has the choice to stay or go, she elects to stay. This becomes a theme throughout the episode. One might think it is because Peggy is too scared to leave or too submissive to stand up to Don, but we quickly find out that is not true. Peggy is Don Draper, although a female and sober version. She is that hungry, eager ad woman much like the Don we saw in last week’s flashback. So she puts up with Don’s yelling, with his claiming her ideas as his own, and for making her miss her birthday dinner which ultimately led to the demise of her relationship with Mark. Did anyone think that relationship was ever really going to make it?

It is fitting that Peggy and Don were working on the Samsonite campaign seeing as how they both are carrying around so much baggage. Peggy is trying to fight her way up in a career that is not quite advanced enough to see a woman’s worth beyond phone messages, pouring drinks or starting conga lines at Christmas parties. When you add in her personal life issues, the failed relationships, the baby she let go, the father that died while she was young, and the mother that she cannot stand, it is no wonder Peggy eventually breaks down in sobs in the bathroom. The real question is why did it take so long. Peggy is a complicated character and woman, one far too complicated for the likes of Mark. Mark’s cutting comment to Peggy, over the phone no less, that she should just date Don since she could never say no to him, just showed how much he doesn’t understand her or respect what she is doing at Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce.

Meanwhile, Don decides to forego watching the fight with Roger, much to Roger’s despair as the Ponds executives will be there and they don’t like to drink. Roger manages to sneak away for 45 minute drinking binges during which he calls Don to beg him to come rescue him. Don has other things on his mind. He has used the excuse to stay behind and work on the Samsonite campaign, but really he is trying to find the courage to return Stephanie’s call from California. He knows the call is about Anna and he knows it will not be good news. Instead he works on the campaign and lashes out at Peggy. They end up in a yelling match over everything from not remembering her birthday (Don: “Do you remember MY birthday?”, Peggy: “I was your secretary!”) to her work product (“I am glad this is an enviroment where you feel free to fail”) until they finally reach the subject of Glo Coat. Peggy angrily confronts Don about the lack of credit for her idea while Don snaps back about saving her idea and making it into something actually suitable for a commercial. Don is brutal and frank about Peggy’s position in the firm and how he basically will take credit for anything that comes into the firm and leaves as a product of the firm because it belongs to him. And, still, Peggy stays.

Despite all of the anger, some remorse, and just a general sadness all the way around, Don and Peggy end up bonding over all things, Roger’s autobiography. While looking for a tape to dictate on, Don stumbles upon one of Roger’s and calls Peggy in for a listen. In this entertaining chapter of Roger’s “book” we find out that Mrs. Blakenship, the secretary that Joan specifically hired to keep Don out of trouble, was actually a “hellcat” as Don put it, or the “Queen of Perversion” as Roger put it. We also find out that Cooper has no balls, literally. Don decides to take Peggy out to dinner for her birthday, then to a bar to listen to the fight, then back to the office to puke. During that time, both Don and Peggy share memories from their past and finally have a discussion about why Don has never slept with Peggy. Don cites his “rules” about sleeping with staff and Peggy wisely notes that his last secretary must have been prettier than Peggy because he broke the rules with her.

Back at the office, Duck makes an appearance to show Don what he thinks of him, but ends up in the wrong office. Peggy finds him and tries to get him out of there. Duck has been trying to woo Peggy back all day by sending her birthday flowers and promising her a key position in an ad agency that doesn’t exist. Before she manages to get Duck out, they run into Don who, in a moment of defending Peggy finds himself in the ring with, and almost knocked out by, Duck.

The episode ends with the death of Anna. She shows up in a dreamlike or ghostly manner while Don is sleeping on Peggy’s lap and is ironically holding a Samsonite. After a tender smile, she is gone. This is confirmed by Stephanie early in the morning. Peggy witnesses Don getting the news and finally sees Don break down emotionally. Later, when Don comes up with an idea for the Samsonite campaign, stealing largely from the spotlight of the recent fight, we see Don grab Peggy’s hand. A new relationship has formed. However, unlike some who think that it will turn into a sexual relationship, I am of the opinion that Peggy will be Don’s next Anna. A very close friend who is not afraid to tell it to him like it is, but will also be there to support him and not judge him. After all, Peggy is the only one brave enough to confront Don head on about his drinking and other shenanigans.

What did you think of this week’s Mad Men? Do you think Don and Peggy are heading toward a sexual or dating relationship or just a good solid friendship, something they both need? Did you like the fact that the episode was so heavily centered around just two characters or do you like when we get a little bit of everyone thrown in? Finally, what was your favorite line from this epsiode? The one that made me laugh repeatedly was this exchange: Peggy: “Why is there a dog in the Parthenon?” Don: “That’s a roach. Let’s go some place darker.” Share your thoughts, theories and favorite lines from this week’s Mad Men in the comments below.