Out of My Mind

The Musings of a Woman Who Thinks Too Much

Nelle Engoron

Nelle Engoron
May 01
You can email me at "nengoron@gmaildotcom" & follow @NelleEngoron on Twitter. My archived radio shows on last season's Mad Men are available (for free!) at: www.blogtalkradio.com/madmentalk **My "Mad Men" commentary for Season 5 is on Salon rather than here -- go to http://www.salon.com/writer/ nelle_engoron/ to find all my Salon articles. **My book, "Mad Men Unmasked: Decoding Season 4," is available on Amazon in both e-book and print versions.** I'm a writer/editor/consultant who lives in the SF Bay Area. I write about all kinds of things, but am particularly intrigued by movies, relationships, gender issues, belief systems and "Mad Men." (Scroll down left sidebar for links to a selection of my blog posts.) I'm working on a novel and a memoir, neither of which is about Mad Men!

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Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 6, 2010 5:48AM

The Suitcase: Mad Men, Season 4, Episode 7 (Commentary)

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 Peg and Don


Let’s go some place darker. ~ Don 


And so they do.  In “The Suitcase,” Don and Peggy go into a little heart of darkness together, have several heart-to-heart talks, and come out as…what?  Closer colleagues, real friends or future lovers?  I think the first two, although that touch of the hands at episode’s end will leave many people wondering.  It mirrors a scene in the very first episode of the series, when Peggy shuts the door, takes Don’s hand and thanks him for defending her honor after Pete has insultingly evaluated her body in front of Don. Don takes his hand away and sternly corrects her, “I’m not your boyfriend. I’m your boss.”

Now not only is he the one to take her hand, but the vulnerable searching look he gives her reveals his need for connection and even reassurance – which Peggy gives with a small nod of understanding as well as words of approval for the campaign he shows her, one based on a fight that ended swiftly and with an unexpected champion. Will Peggy be the unexpected champion of Mad Men, the younger challenger who others have underestimated but who knocks out the older competition, even if they’ve never been felled before?

Don disdains that youthful challenger, even hypocritically mocking his desire to change his name from Cassius Clay to Mohammad Ali (perhaps it seems better to Don to take a name for profit than to take a prophet’s name), and sneering that if you have to say you’re the greatest, you aren’t. He also gets angry at Peggy’s desire for recognition for her work, saying she’s too young in her career for accolades (although too old to celebrate her birthday – clearly she’s at that awkward in-between age where you get nothing). When she argues that the main idea for Glo-Coat was hers, he retorts that he’s the one who turned her mere “kernel” into advertising (and Clio) gold, an interesting gender reversal that makes Peggy the impregnator and Don the gestater.  But winners are always clear in business: Danny describes the Liston-Ali fight as “90 seconds of boxing followed by three hours of analysis and we still don’t know who won,” but Joey knows the score, “Clay won – read the paper.”  Or in this case, the Clio nomination announcement.  Don angrily tells Peggy that it’s her job to give him ideas for the money he pays her and when Peggy tries to explain that it’s really appreciation she wants (“you never thank me”), he snarls “that’s what the money’s for!” -- once again proving his emotional disconnection from everyone around him.

Train’s leaving the station, honey -- get on board. ~ Duck to Peggy  

Just as he disdains Peggy, Don thinks the passionate young fighter is all talk while the experienced Liston methodically “goes about his business, “ but in fact Don’s the one who talks for a living and can’t fight. Defending Peggy’s honor once again when a drunken ex-lover calls her a whore, Don takes a swing at a man who lives up to his name by avoiding his punch and ends up swiftly downed by a Duck.  (Shit)Faced with a man who warns him that he killed 17 men on Okinawa in World War II, Don (who earlier told Peggy he didn’t kill anyone in Korea – gee, doesn’t killing Dick Whitman count?) softly cries, “Uncle.”  Perhaps that would be his Uncle Max, who always kept a suitcase packed, because “a man has to be ready to go at any moment.“

“Jesus, maybe that’s a metaphor,” Don abruptly realizes.

Metaphors for death are much on his mind, since the episode begins with Blankenship telling him he has an urgent message from Stephanie in California, and Don knows what that must mean.  But no matter how much he drinks (which means until he pukes and then some), he can’t bring himself to make the call and actually hear the news even if Blankenship offers to initiate the call “before I depart.” He ends up missing Anna’s earthly departure, but fortunately she makes a ghostly appearance carrying a small piece of luggage and smiling benevolently on him.

This after Don chooses to ignore his own baggage by working on the  Samsonite campaign that’s not due for two weeks, and making Peggy pull an all-nighter with him on it.  To be accurate, she chooses to “get sucked into his web” (causing her co-workers to say “she’s dead” as she crosses the threshold of Don’s office rather than escaping for the night as they do).  Like Don, she’s postponing what awaits her – in her case, the romantic dinner her boyfriend Mark is waiting to buy her for her 26th birthday. But Mark has taken it upon himself to give her the surprise she’s claimed she’s never had, and has invited her whole family to the restaurant, where they wait impatiently for her to leave work until Mark finally gets so disgusted that he surprises her in a different way, by breaking up over the phone.

A surprise on top of a surprise. ~ Peggy’s relative

Peggy hasn’t actually told Mark the truth, because it turns out she was surprised when she was 12 and her father died violently of a heart attack in front of her while no one else was home. That’s one piece of Samsonite that she shares with Don over the course of the very long night that everyone in the episode is having (well, except for Sonny Liston) – a night in which many truths are revealed.  The fun starts when Don stumbles onto a recording Roger’s made for his book, Sterling’s Gold (a pun I made in my recap last week, I'll note) and wants an initially reluctant Peggy to join him in laughing at the secrets of their co-workers -- “C’mon, Ida was a hell cat, Cooper lost his balls, Roger’s writing a book!”  It’s not long before they’re playing their own late night office version of To Tell the Truth (that TV show of the 60’s in which players had to guess which of three contenders was the real person that they all claimed to be, and which were the imposters), each revealing more and more to the other as the hours and the drinks flow by.

Every time we get into this, we abandon the toughness idea.  Maybe there’s something to the elephant. ~ Don

Don matches Peggy’s load of Samonsite by telling her that he also saw his father die, and that he never knew his mother, as well as sharing some literal war stories. Peggy says that she tries not to think about the baby she gave away, but then, “Playgrounds.” – that single word conjuring everything that Trudy’s very pregnant belly incapsulates. Don rather indelicately asks if she knows who the father is (if she’d seen his Lost Weekend, she might understand why he could think someone might not know) and she assures him she does, but that her mother thinks it’s Don and so hates him. She further divulges that the entire office thinks she slept with him to get her job but that they also treat it as an impossible joke, which pains her, causing Don to reassure her that she’s plenty attractive and it’s just that he has those rules…. “But not as attractive as some of your other secretaries,” she taunts, leading him to chide her, “You don’t want to start giving me morality lessons, do you?” No, she doesn’t, but you’re making it damn hard for people not to do so, Don.  As Peggy asks when he wants another drink after spewing his last twenty in the men’s room, “How long are you going to go on like this?” 

Blankenship provides the answer to that question when she informs him, “You got a call when you were in the toilet.” With his life going down the crapper (almost literally thanks to Duck), Anna’s death appears to have affected him in some way that other crises have not, something we surmise not just because he breaks down and sobs when he hears the news from Stephanie, but because he does so after seeing that Peggy is awake and watching him.  He finally risks being seen by someone other than Anna, and it's not a wife or a lover, but a woman who works for him and whose respect and obedience he has curtly demanded.  When he tells Peggy that the only person who really knew him is gone, she tells him softly and simply that he’s wrong. 

Earlier, when he invited her to have a personal conversation, she’d retorted that they never did that and that she thinks they both preferred it that way. But having broken on through to the other side, it’s clear that they each welcome the change. Rather than the denial he exhibited with Allison over their merely physical intimacy, Don acknowledges the greater nakedness he’s had with Peggy by that literally touching gesture of taking her hand as well as letting his feelings show plainly on his face.  The episode ends with the first open door of the season after a series of closed ones, signaling that rather than being ready to leave at a moment’s notice, this man has finally started unpacking his suitcase.

You know what…there’s a way out of this room we don’t know about. ~ Don



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wow... terrific insight into subtle metaphors, you really tied it together.

I don't see Peggy's heroism as unexpected - we've discussed before that I pegged her as the true hero from episode one.

I loved how she dealt with dumping Duck, finally, I hope. Anybody who calls her a "whore" doesn't deserve her. And I hope that her choosing staying to help Don, losing Mark, represents her taking control, not submitting to Don again. Also clever how she was discovered by the co workers looking like she pulled an all nighter, not being found passed out on Don's couch.

Was the heaviness of the drinking, accentuated by Roger's extra heavy imbibing and disdain for the "AA" types, the turning point? Is the next story arc redemption?
I didn't watch last night, but i couldn't resist your commentary. I may drop the profit/prophet idea casually into the conversation when we see the show ...
Nelle, you're A-MA-ZING. Thank you thank you thank you!

I have questions more than anything...what do you make of Peggy refusing to abandon or "depart" from Don last night at any point despite several opportunities to do so?? I know this is evidence of their connection, but to see it run so deep....

Also, the literal fight between Don and Duck - which paralleled the Clay-Liston fight and was foreshadowed (somewhat) by Trudy's comment about only wanting a rare steak and to see two men hit each other...the fact that Don misses when he swings - does this indicate some kind of ineptitude of fecklessness? I think that, drunk or not, Don's defending Peggy's honor is "loaded" behavior - but I am not sure what to make of it....

Some other subtle things that I think are important (though they may not be)...Peggy's birthday is the same day as Anna's death.......Don has a vision of Anna as he is sleeping on Peggy's lap - almost as if he is caught or rather, safe and secure, between these two wonderful women......Peggy is probably the first woman Don has "slept" with without there being a sexual basis or motivation, as if to suggest the evolved nature of their relationship (and to show Don is capable of such), it reminds me of Lost in Translation where the two characters share an intimate relationship without ever touching

i know there was a lot to this episode and I couldn't piece it all together even though the metaphor of a suitcase is fairly straightforward (or you would think)
but again, thanks Nelle for explaining and extrapolating...i hardly ever say this but you're brilliant!
It was a long night but a revealing one. I watched it twice. I've always put my money on Peggy as the one who has the ability to change and affect change around her. I thought the acting between Don & Peggy was some of the best I've seen. I like how the rat appeared just before Duck. Thanks again for the perspective.

"You know what…there’s a way out of this room we don’t know about. ~ Don" Hmmm ...
Wonderful analysis as usual. thanks! I loved how they slept together on the couch. Her petticoats were so cute poking out more and more. I remember petticoats. I remember so many things about the fifties that are triggered by this show. The place of women in society was so different then. A woman who didnt have a man was a failure. period. And women gave up anything to get one. Peggy is different but she still wants a mate. Who will it be?
I am sticking with my trilogy analysis for the season. The first thre episodes were a character of study of Don during the holidays and in the wake of the failure of divorce and the success of starting a new company. The second three were braodly about women but specifically character studies of Peggy. In both cases, the question for each (and for the country at the time) is, "What do you want?"

It is not for nothing that Weiner is the sole credited writer for this episode. he went places no staff writer could. Duck trying to take a dump on Don's chair. Don puking his guts out at work and then getting beat down by Duck. Anna visits Don as a ghost.

Clearly, Weiner will use this trilogy to unite Don and Peggy as a professional team to take SCDP (and themselves) into the future. As someone noted, Anna dies on Peggy's birthday. As can be seen in Anna's look and smile at Don with his head in Peggy's lap, Peggy will take over as Don's familial support.

To criticize Don's treatment of Peggy at work is understandable but misses a point. Don treats Peggy as he would an elder son taking over the business or a young man he is grooming to take over. He does not treat her like some fragile flower. He is tough with her because he knows business is tough and because he knows she can handle it.

If this was a traditional storyline with a man and his son, there would have been a fist fight, and thus the heavyweight fight metaphor in the background. But this is different. Don and Peggy have a verbal, emotional heavyweight fight. Initially she goes into the restroom and cries. But she comes out and gives as good as she gets. Along the wway she brushes off mark and her family. duck exposes Don's achilles heel, but peggy masters that.

The hand grip at the end was not romantic. It was an elevation of their professional relationship. They now know where at least some of each other's skeletons are buried. Bert has no balls. Roger is living in the past. From now on, it will be Don AND Peggy leading SCDP - with Joan and Lane holding down the fort.

thank God for a producer and writing team that can build a series on character development.
Peggy won big.

She got rid of the confused traditional boyfriend who would have been a disaster as a husband for her. It is now clear that she has rejected a conventional life -- and not that she simply wasn't asked.

She seemed to have slowly asserted herself as leader of her team -- as the relatively good natured ribbing when then found her asleep on the couch is in contrast with the mean spirited quasi harassment in the past.

However, the big deal was two adult men have a fist fight over her honor. How high school is that? And how satisfying. The ultimate affirmation of her as the queen of the hop.

The fact that the men were both drunk, one mentally shattered (duck) and the other too drunk to be effective (Don) -- and both were fighting for their own sense of self -- and not her per se -- none of that detracts from the fact that all this drama was swirling around Peggy as the woman.

And the women are even more clueless than the men. The comment, "26 isn't that old." and her mothers attitude that she would be lucky to find any guy -- how could Peggy even care as she blows off the younger guy who wasn't even enough of a man to properly woo her on her birthday. And men fighting for her.

Trudy's comment about wanting a rare (bloody) steak and two men beating themselves bloody was interesting. Peggy has already fucked Pete, had his baby, turned her back on the life that Trudy is dreaming of -- while Trudy cluelessly feels a little sorry for her.

And instead of watching men fight for money, Peggy got to skip the bloody steak and watch two men want to kill each other over her as as a woman.

That's what women want.

And the men. There was the little flashback with Anna when she says she knows who Don really is and still loves him. I think that's what men want. To be really known and understood and still loved, in spite of it all.
Some high-wire emotional drama in this one. I'm always glad to see more of Peggy and Don but I really hope that they don't begin an affair. Better to leave such a prospect hanging.

The drinking sure is getting even more pervasive. Roger, Don and, no surprise, Duck were all heavily into their cups. I'm finding Duck to be increasingly tedious. I wish he'd get written out. His best days really are behind him.

Loved Roger's line early in the show when he's pleading for Don to jon him with the Ponds folks. Don says "I wouldn't be very good company tonight" and Roger replies "That's never bothered me before".

I liked your comments about Don's money is thanks rejoinder. Thanks again for your post.
My favorite part of Monday mornings... Nelle's analysis of the previous night's Mad Men. Thank you , thank you, thank you!!!
Great reporting and comments - TennesseeCatfish is the dog. A quibble from someone who was actually huddled around a Philco console radio for the first fight that Clay won unexpectedly. Clay (now Ali) was the champion, but heavily favored to lose to the fearsome Liston at the time of the second fight. The show was about the second fight.
You're right it shows that Peggy has rejected conventional life -- or rather discovered there's nothing in it for her.

By contrast her relationship with Don is genuine. She's the first person in the office to see the real Don -- or at least as close to it as anyone is ever likely to get. John Hamm is beyond amazing. he's the finest actor of his generation. For a comparasion I'd really have to skip the U.S. entirely and go straight to Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Hi Nelle
Last night's episode was so rich and satisfying on so many levels, as is your commentary this AM (and always).
Re: Don and Peggy: I think romantically the door has been opened. He is always aware of her "dates", took notice when she tried on company shrink Faye Miller's fake wedding ring, and is possessive of her.
It may take a while, but I think it's where they're heading.
Matt Weiner is such an incredible presence on TV. His awareness of higher realms, spiritual energies, and subtle planes of existence is so encouraging. There hasn't been anyone like him before now and i for one am grateful that he's out there and using his talents in such a way. His work offers so many healing options for viewers of all ages and mindsets. Long may he live and thrive!
A question: I didn't quite get what Roger's tape meant re: Blankenship and Cooper- I watched it twice and still am not clear on what the reference to the past means.
Anyone up for clarifying?
Nelle, yours is the best post-game wrap up in town. I look forward to your thoughts as much as I look forward to the show, and to visiting with you on the air again.
Hard to believe there are only 6 more episodes this season. I don't think I'll last till Summer 2011 without it.
Great great job! As always. I was struck by all the, well, bodily functions and refs to them--vomit, tears, farting, etc--like opening up the shell of the suitcase and seeing that we are just messy creatures underneath. Lear's "Man is a bare forked animal." Don and Peggy's humanity, and tears.
Great great job--as always. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
I think we all agree it enriches ou experience of the show.

I was struck by all the refs to and exhibition of bodily functions--tears, vomiting, farting, etc--showing that underneath the carefully crafted hard shell of our persona (like a suitcase? ), partially crafted by the products ad men pitch, we are all fundamentally bodily, messy creatures--Lear's "man is a bare forked animal." As in Peggy's unsuccessful pitch, when cracked we are like suitcases broken open, all our lives pouring out. Peggy and Don opened up, saw the person underneath--the dirty laundry--and reached a new place.
apologies, I thought first post did not go through--so rewrote it--sorry for repeat of same idea.
To KarmicRelief re Blankenship and Cooper: The tape was saying that in his very young days, Roger Sterling and Ida Blankenship (who was Bert Cooper's secretary at the time) did the nasty, and he referred to her as "the queen of perversion," much to the surprise of Don Draper, who now has the clueless old lady version of Ms Blankenship as his secretary. It just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover. I wonder how it will affect how he treats/sees his bumbling secretary in the future, if at all?
I agree that I don't think this is the start of a romantic relationship between Don and Peggy, but of a genuine friendship. Anna was the only true friend that Don's ever had, and it appears as if that mantle has passed from Anna to Peggy at the moment of the former's death (I don't think Peggy has had many genuine, deep bonds either). It bodes well for both of them, not to mention that while one of the things I love about this show is that they don't tend to sugarcoat people and situations, I was getting a little worn down watch Don increasingly treat Peggy like his emotional punching bag. I also think a lot of his recent heightened volatility is down to Anna's impending death on his mind, with him acting out on others in his emotional denial.

Then again, who knows, maybe they'll end up together. Another beautiful thing about MM is that it never seems to go where you think it's going to.

And you're right about that mirroring hand gesture. I'd forgotten about that from Episode 1 so thanks for bringing that out.

What I'd love to know is what he was going to say to Stephanie before she hung up.

Last night was as good as anything I've ever seen in terms of the writing and acting. It felt almost like a one-act play rather than just an episode. Definitely one of the best eps of the series if not the best. It was so intense, *I* needed a drink before re-watching it a second time.
Nelle, you are a gem and accolades to you for your analyses and for starting these discussions. And many thanks to those who add so much in the comments.
I agree that this was a pivotal episode. Can't wait to see where things go.
Thanks Stacey:
I thought that's what it meant, but then I wondered why Roger never acknowledged that he even recognized Blankenship, nor she him. And what about the reference to Cooper's balls? Did get that either.
Yes, Don's potential conquests/relationships include Stephanie (she'll turn him down), Bethany )what's the real connection with them anyway- she's a variation on Betty), the shrink Faye (still can't quite warm to her) and Peggy - who may be the dark horse, especially when she probably emerges as the one who can connect well with Sally.
My guess is that we're in for a surprise before this season ends- which could easily be the return of Sal Romano.
Excellent episode, on so many levels. I loved the Don/Peggy storyline. They have so much in common (both witnessing their fathers dying, both wanting lives far different from what they grew up with, both feeling more comfortable at work that at any other place). They are almost each other's family, as they have both clearly worked hard to move away from the family they were raised with. Their close bond is also shown in their visits to one another's apartments - Peggy is one of the few to have seen Don's apartment. Lane and Allison briefly did as well, but under sex-related circumstances. Peggy has visited on more than one occasion and it's to check in on Don or to discuss work. Don has also visited Peggy's apartment, when no one else from SCDP has. This suggests intimacy, as what is more private than one's home? Well, perhaps one's history, but as we see this week, they both discuss this territory as well.

I thought this episode affirmed Peggy's "femininity" - that is, her attractiveness and allure - after she came under attack last week. In "Waldorf Stories," she is passed over for the Clios but Joan gets to go; Rizzo constantly belittles her; and even Roger, if I recall correctly, throws in a "Mr." Olson comment. In this week's episode, Mark tries to throw a surprise birthday dinner; Duck sends pink roses and says they've been "in love"; Duck and Don fight over her. It's like Peggy is having her Joan moment! But at the same time, her career is first. I absolutely adore her character.

The scene of Peggy crying in the women's room reminded me of a similar scene is Season 1. Also brought to mind how Joan once advised her to go cry in the women's room. I feel that as the series progresses, Peggy is picking up a little bit of Joan, and Joan seems to be picking up a little bit of Peggy, focusing on her career, showing her intelligence, succeeding at work.

Peggy didn't actually ask if Don had "killed" anyone in Korea...I believe she asked "Did you shoot anyone?" Subtle difference but it allowed him to truthfully answer no.

Loved how Anna died on Peggy's birthday. As one person dear to Don passes on, another one is there.

Trudie is atrocious! If she only knew...

Finally, after several episodes of the doors closing (the old "pears" couple, representing his marriage; Dr. Edna's door, representing Don's children; the elevator doors, representing Don's career), the door is opening. I felt this was pivotal for the series.
Nelle, I'm smacking myself in the head because I didn't get the Samsonite/baggage reference. Fortunately I have your brilliant commentary to interpret Matthew Weiner's brillance.

What a humdinger of an episode! Last night I found myself taking an occasional note. When I woke up this morning, I found written on a card, "Tampax, (50% of the market share) it's up there." __ Duck. The old sot inadvertently came up with an advertising slogan.

Seeing Peggy's mother, "How many nice boys do you think will be interested in you?", it's a wonder that Peggy has the spunk that she does. And you can just imagine, after witnessing her father's death ("it was surprisingly violent"), how little comfort her uptight mother was able to provide. At last, we get a hint of how Peggy gets involved with men (Pete, Duck) of whom she has so few expectations.

Everyone's comments, this week have been excellent, but this was a brilliant episode. Tennessee, last night I really began to see the trilogy pattern of this season.

And did everyone notice that after Don and Peggy's night of revelations and Don's at last facing Anna's death, the spruced up morning Don, when Peggy asked about the door, "Closed or open?" t replies, "Open." Dare we hope that this is a new beginnining?

I'm hoping we see more of the kids next week -- the preview hints that we will -- and I'm hoping that Don is able to finally show some understanding toward them. But little in life seems to go in a straight line, so I doubt that Weiner & Co. will let us have that much satisfaction.

Nelle, thank again for cutting into your Labor Day weekend to provide use with your commentary and our discussion group.
Roger revealed that Bert had undergone an "unnecessary orchiectomy." It wasn't clear to me whether he meant that BC had simply had "his balls cut off" in a figurative sense or that he had literally undergone the surgical removal of his testicles. From Peggy's later reaction, it seemed to me that she, at least, was interpreting that in a literal sense.
I have been watching and reading all along and finally could not stand it any more -- I had to join "Open Salon" just to say how absolutely fabulous and insightful you are -- I can't wait to read your commentary every Monday. I've never been known to keep quiet when there is an opportunity to opine, so maybe I'll even start adding to the already brilliant commentary and comments by all. You're one of my new idols, Nelle.
Thanks for reminding me about the attempted hand hold in episode 1.
I wonder, Nelle, how you feel right now about the dissolution of the male characters in this season. While it seemed that the shit never stuck to them in the first seasons, their slick style seems to be melting into a drunken puddle. I loved the scene where Peggy follows Don into the toilet, followed by the crassness of Duck, the dog abandoner. It feels to me that the show has hit a tipping point. And the Simon & Garfunkle song at the end seems something of an omen that these are now the "plastics" guys by the side of the pool, on their way to obsolescence.
So many excellent comments posted this week.
Thanks Burchdoctor, for explaining the Cooper anatomical reference.
Ms Draper: Duck sent pink carnations (not roses), a cheaper flower even back then.
Love that we now know Peggy Olson's birthday: May 25, 1939.
It's clear that Don was "born" in 1925, but when?
I think this is one of the most significant Mad Men episodes to date and it's no surprise that it's written solely by Weiner. It unpacked much of the "baggage", as Nelle slyly pointed out, that has built up over the last few seasons: Don's disconnection from the world as a result of his artifice, Peggy's struggle for recognition and a place in the world. Don and Peggy's floating and confused loyalties have begun to coalesce around each other, and there couldn't be a more appropriate match since Peggy is some crucial aspects the female incarnation of Don.

The suitcase metaphor felt richer than a suggestion of emotional baggage however. A phrase popped into my mind when I saw Anna's ghost holding that suitcase:

What do we take with us when we depart from life? What is valuable enough to pack for the next world?

For Don, Peggy, and likely all of us, the thing that matters most when we go is the memory of the connections we made. Did people really know and see us? Or did we never let people past our defenses?

What does that suitcase represent to Don? Are sweet memories of him, memories as he truly was throughout his life, packed away in there?

When we take things with us on a trip, those things are a part of us. They are extensions of ourselves, needed items for an unknown experience.

When Don lost Anna, he lost the most important item in his suitcase. When Peggy lost the loyalties of her boyfriend and her family, she also lost some critical parts of herself that needed replacement. The thing Don and Peggy most craved in this world was a sense of connection that transcended convention and surface, and though there is emotional turmoil in reaching that point, they both hang on and get there.

I think both will be profoundly transformed for the better by their new found bonds, and that much better prepared to shuffle off their mortal coils for the undiscovered country when their time comes.

This show has always been about people who despite apparent success don't get what they want at they end of the day, but here we say a rare instance of two people arriving at what they really want without really having sought it consciously. It is a sublime and profound idea of transformation and joy.

For this reason, I think this to be the happiest Mad Men episode I've yet seen.
I think I need to watch this episode again. Feeling like I missed a lot.

One thing I'm wondering, and I really am wondering, since I have no idea if there's anything to it: I wonder why the Liston-Clay/Ali fight was such a centerpiece of this episode, since that fight has always been such a huge sports controversy? Many, many people believe that Liston, for whatever reason, deliberately went down that night. Is there a larger thematic element there?
Before Mad Men, I considered The Sopranos one of two best things I'd seen on TV. The other was Singing Detective. The first time I saw Singing Detective, I stopped being a TV snob. That was when I realized TV writing was an art form. But Mad Men takes the gold. Every episode reads like fiction; you can pick any one, bring it to class and do a lively literary analyses of all its multilayered meanings, its metaphors and symbols, how the characters are so flawlessly developed; they never do anything out of place, yet they are unpredictable. And Weiner does it without losing track of the story's theme. I wish there was such a class and I wish Nelle would teach it. I think Weiner is the best writer writing in television today. What is his background? Where did he go to school? What else has he done? Can anyone point me in the right direction?
I have to agree with the others. I doubt Peggy and Don will have a sexual relationship. It is one of a father/son (who happens to be a girl). And I don't think Don is being too hard on her (although it's hard to watch on occasion). He wouldn't be as stern with her if he didn't believe it would be worth it (in that she would succeed) or that she couldn't take it. His sternness is a compliment to her although it might be hard to see.

Peggy is like most women. She does want to get married. She has said as much. But she hasn't found anyone worth it. Mark was such a waste of space. He completely did not know who he was dating.

In this episode, the girl's bathroom represents traditional women's role. Peggy goes there to cry even though there were plenty of place to go to get privacy in an empty office. Also, Peggy runs into Trudy and . Trudy is/will be a wife and mother. The French Extraction girl (I cannot catch her name) is working to find a man then she will quit. Peggy was being judge but her age, unmarried status and the fact she puts work first.

So when Don was about to vomit, she stood there trying to choose which bathroom to go into. While it can be viewed as a decision between "do I as a girl go into the boy's room" or "do I take him, a guy, into the girls room," I saw it as a decision between traditional female roles and being one of the guys/her career. It took her a moment but she eventually choose her career.

Finally, Don curled up like a child on Peggy. And then she took a drink. Very interesting role reversal.
"Let's go someplace darker" was the line that really stood out to me as well. Noting that they went to "a little heart of darkness together" reminded me of the opening of that novel, where the narrator talks about how sailor's stories are usually "kernels," but for Marlow:
"the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside,
enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a
haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are
made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine. "
Conrad was writing decades before the invention of Television, or TV series, but somehow he knew that "Mad Men" would employ much the same storytelling technique in many of its episodes.
Two things to add that I noticed:
This is the second time that Peggy has criticised a creative idea of Don's as not being appropriate to television. I think she did this the for the first time in the previous episode -- Don proved his genius in print ads built on words more than images, but Peggy understands the kinetic visual potential of the television medium.
The second point is about the teasing Peggy receives from her male team. It's not about putting her down appearance-wise anymore, but inclusive boy club humor about farting and body functions. She's one of the boys now, seen as a co-worker, not a secretary who gets coffee and picks up the office. She's got respect, so she gets the same dumb fart and masturbation humor as any guy would: "Get your hands out of your panties!" was shouted at her. She's definitely one of the team now, playing the game like one of the guys.
A troubling plot point from Episode 7 is Denise's attempt to reach Don at the office by phone. My understanding has been that Anna told nobody (including her sister ) anyhing about Dick Whitman's assuming her late husband's identity. After all, Dick is highly vulnerable if the information falls into the wrong hands (he is a Korean War deserter) and Anna did not have a good relationship with her highly judgmental sister. So, assuming Denise was also in the dark about Dick's "Don Draper" persona, how can she reach him by phone at the office? If she asks for "Dick Whitman" at SCDP, she'll be told "there's no one by that name here". She wouldn't ask for "Don Draper" if she isn't in on Don's scam. Is it possible that Anna trusted her niece (but not her sister or anyone else) enough to confide in her about "Don/Dick"?
The Suitcase was an amazing episode. Brilliant. The growth of the friendship between Don and Peggy is so therapeutic and so positive for both of these struggling individuals. However, I still see Peggy with Pete. This relationship with Don will strengthen her and make her more confident in relation to Pete, but I feel that chemistry is still there. The scene with Trudy in the washroom was a hint of the coming tension between these two. I still say that baby will make a reappearance and this time Trudy will have to deal with it.

Also, I do not like the Stephanie character. The actress is so affected in her speech pattern and the thought of Don being with someone so childlike is super creepy, even in the mid 60's where men regularly dated women decades younger than themselves. I hope that was the last of her.
I was of course mistaken when I referred to Anna's niece Stephanie as "Denise" in my comment. Perhaps an understandable slip, as Stephanie is "The Niece".
Some quick notes;

Last season, Bert and Roger were looking at some old company photos in preparation for the annual party. They commented on one of the secretaries from the 30s being a sexual wildcat or something. I believe that was Ida.

When Peggy suggested Don fire Ida, he refused by effectively saying that he knows he is being fed bitter medicine (by Joan) and he will take his medicine like a good little boy.

When Peggy was in the men's room, she saw that someone has written something like "For a good time call Caroline." Later, I noticed it was signed "PC." I assume that is Peter Campbell. If so, Peggy has to assume that Pete has done the same to her.

Danny was kidded for being a Jew. Because he is Jane's cousin, Jane is probably a Jew. Therefore, Roger is married to a Jewess. that must have given everyone at the contry club a pause.

Don's deep dislike of Joe Naamath and Muhamed Ali shows how out of touch he is with the coming changes, making him even more dependent on Peggy in the future.

Will someone please explain the significance of the mouse in Don's office?
An excellent, elegant commentary; I'm looking forward to reading more. Salon's TV critic seems a bit too young to get the nuances of grown-ups, so I've given up on those, and am very pleased to read this.
This was indeed a breakthrough episode, and it seems the show has moved away from those elliptical conversations of seasons two and three that go nowhere -- and were too interior to carry much meaning -- to letting characters reveal themselves in surprising ways.
I was hoping Don would win the scuffle with Duck, who a viewer you can't possibly like for his smarmy dealings in season three, but his pathetic downfall is still uncomfortable watch.
And now we now know who Dr. Lyle Evans is! Poor Cooper.
Yankee, when Don/Dick was in California, I wondered how much Anna's niece and sister knew about his double life, as well. When Anna was alive, he was the "man in a room, who wrote checks," and her sister wouldn't have wanted to mess with Anna's benefactor. I have a feeling Anna's family knew a little about Don/Dick, but it wasn't that important to them. I think only if he starts an affair with Stephanie will he be putting his identity at risk -- her mom will be madder than a hornet.

I also wondered from the beginning about Jane Siegel's being Jewish; I always assumed she was, and I always thought that her heritage as much as her age would cause quite a stir in Roger's social set. In the "My Old Kentucky Home" episode, I wondered if the members of the country club were aware of Jane's maiden name.

Tennessee, for some reason, when the mouse showed up in Don's office, I recalled the story of Walt Disney's having a mouse show up in his office -- he initially named the mouse Mortimer, started drawing him, and the rest is history. I wondered if the mouse was some sort of inspiration -- but mostly I was puzzled by the mouse as well.
Just my two cents about the mouse. During the second sighting (with Peggy), Don tries to catch it. He jokes (I assume) about putting it in the suitcase and dropping it off the building. But he can't find it. He then says "there must be more than one way out of this room."

Like last week, when he told Peggy to lock herself with Rizzio to finish the campaign, they lock themselves in his office to fix Samsonite. I think it was a hint on their predicament that they are thinking about this all wrong. There is another way for this campaign.

I don't know much about mouse symbolism other than to most people they seem dirty.
Nelle, love your blog and it also inspires the most interesting comments.

Someone asked about the mouse...waiting to hear Nelle's take. Only thing I could see is it gave Don opportunity to open up about his past, i.e., grew up on a farm.

Also, there must be some other way out of here that we don't know (or something like that).

Someone on facebook suggested the idea of the rat race (when Peggy says it's a rat). I can imagine what mouse symbolism is for a shamanic viewpoint (if I had to) but that seems to be stretching it.

Was such a great episode. Nelle, I love how you tie all the symbols together. And hope you're doing well. You seem to be a little quieter this time. You all make Mondays more fun.
Thanks, all! Sorry to not comment back yesterday -- after staying up to the wee hours to blog, I took the holiday off to do other stuff. But it's great as always to read all your insights and reactions.

Brian, I don't find Peggy's heroism or success unexpected - -I meant that it's unexpected to others. Mostly because she's a young woman pioneering in business, but also because she seems unassuming (less so as time goes on, but definitely at the start). I also was wondering if her staying with Don was about submission -- at first, it seemed so. But I think it was about control, including when she says nothing is as compelling (paraphrase) in her life as work. She wants to be there in the office, period. As for the drinking...I would hope so!

Steven, if you did, I expect a royalty fee of 25 cents.

Roxy, see comment to Brian above. I think it was more about Peggy doing what is most satisfying to her, although it does seem confusing at times. As for the fight, I think Don was both too drunk but also actually meant to be seen as less macho than Duck, which is interesting. He's a lover, not a fighter! I like your observations about what sleeping (only) with Peggy means for Don and agree with all of them. I'm dearly hoping this doesn't go sexual - it's more more interesting if it's not.

Scarlett, thanks!

Zanelle, I'm amazed she's still wearing all that under-stuff! Thought it would be gone by now.

Tennessee, great insights! I agree with your observations about Don and Peggy. And I really love seeing them as a professional partnership (and I hope not more) - they make a great time, including because increasingly, Peggy is not intimidated by Don the way everyone else seems to be. That's why he asks her opinion on his idea - he respects her and knows she'll tell the truth. I also loved your interpretation of what the secrets of Roger and Bert reveal about them!

Nick, I didn't mention it but I also really noticed how the guys were treating Peggy, especially Stan. Quite a change from what we last saw. Like that fight with Don (as Tennessee says above) that established a bond and respect, she has done the same with Stan, and won over the other guys, too. I also really liked your observation about how Trudy feels sorry for Peggy (subtextually we get that) but Peggy's actually moved beyond where Trudy is. I didn't mention it, but I loved that the co-worker first tells Peggy that at 26, she's doing great for her age, and a few minutes later, Trudy's reassuring her that she's not really too old! Great juxtaposition showing how the speaker's perspective is everything -- meanwhile, Peggy's standing at the mirror, the same person. As for men needing women to approve of them - -I've had other men say that, too. (That was in the "previously on MM" segment, not a flashback in the episode itself.)

Abra, I really hope we've seen the last of Duck, too. He definitely seems to be hitting bottom, so that's my guess.

Newsie, thanks!

Damon, thanks for that clarification. I confess I didn't look up that info.

David, I think of Hamm as being like James Gandolfini -- an actor who has done work for years, but was unknown and so seems to come out of nowhere to inhabit a role so perfectly and movingly that it's instantly iconic. But Hamm's much more a traditional leading man -- and I suspect more versatile as an actor -- and so could go on to do some fascinating work after this rather than being forever associated with just this one role.

Shelley, it's great that you joined us here! And I see someone answered your question. As for Don and Peggy, I actually hope this doesn't head some place romantic. I really love it when we see deep and interesting male-female relationships that aren't, and it's so rare on TV and in movies.

MaryCal, I love your insights about what all the bodily functions revealed! I hadn't really thought about that, although the graphicness of the episode did strike me and I wondered about it.

Stacey, thanks for answering Shelley's question. And I agree that it's wonderful that we learn Blankenship has a lot more going on (or used to, at least) than people would ever suspect. I think Don's too subtle to treat her differently, other than maybe an arched eyebrow or two. Although he might respect her more now.

Various, thanks and Ha! on the drink comment. (I can't drink watching MM or I'd never stay awake to blog after!) I agree that the mantle has been passed from Anna to Peggy. I like everyone's comment on the death day - birth day link (I confess I didn't think of that myself). As for talking to Stephanie, I had the feeling he just wanted to stay on the phone and be with someone who also knew and loved Anna.

Lea, thanks!

MsDraper, thanks for all your insights! lots of good stuff in your comment. I agree that Peggy is coming into her own -- I really felt it start when she joined the "Downtown" crowd and had both men and women hitting on her (as I said in that recap). Don says something to her in this episode about "c'mon, you know you're cute as hell." I don't think she has known that, but she's learning it and getting far more confident. I also agree that Joan and Peggy are each moving towards the other in some ways, taking the best of the other as well as keeping their own strengths. (And I think this is what women did when more and more of them began to have professional careers, rather than polarizing into female types.) Also like your catch on Peggy and Don feeling free to visit each other's homes - -they really do have a striking degree of intimacy with each other that they don't have with others. I tend to see it more siblingesque than anything romantic.

Adele, even on 2 viewings I missed that Tampax line! ha. But I did mention the open vs. closed door at the very end of my post. It's clearly meant to be a symbol of Don's turn towards openness, and not just with Peggy. I also thought this revelation about Peggy's father was quite shocking and was very interesting in understanding her behavior with men, too.

Burch, it seemed literal and yet that seemed rather outrageous to be taken that way. Perhaps more (or less) will be revealed later.

Prophetess, so glad to have you join us! welcome and we look forward to your comments.

Juliet, we are definitely building to that "Graduate" sort of moment in American history, as the Establishment and the counter-culture face off. It will be very interesting to see how each of the characters ends up in that sorting. I think there will be some surprises.
I loved this episode, for many reasons...good acting and writing as always, but I particulary loved the fact that the dapper Don was was disheveled in his drunkeness. They've played with it a few times this season, but the vomit on his normally pristine white shirt was a nice touch. As much as I love the show, they do tend to glamorize smoking and drinking. I've written myself about how the show has helped me backslide on my smoking cessation...not blamin' just sayin'.

Also, the comment made by quazimoda about Peggy being one of the guys now with the fart jokes and such...my thoughts exactly, they were definitely making a point to demonstrate that transition in her professional life where she is no longer thought of as just "the girl", but a real colleague.

Great work as always Nelle.
also, it was a night of interuptions (sp?) cat and mouse, who's on top and who's not and for how long...even the shot of Don, butt in the air, diving toward the mouse that's run under the couch. was Roger always viewed as a joke?
Ryan, I loved your comments here, including the deeper meanings of the suitcase. I was playing around with that in my head as well when I was writing this post but decided not to go there. But I've taken care of many dying people, and the suitcase is a very common theme with them especially as they go in and out of full consciousness -- they will think they need to pack one, can't find theirs, etc. It's a potent symbol and definitely one associated with death and what we take from life, as you so eloquently explain. And I also found this episode a very optimistic one as it ended - which was not what I expected for most of it!

Jeanette, perhaps as Roger Ebert said of Tarantino films, all MM episodes need to be seen twice to know what you think of them! I'm not that familiar with the Clay-Liston fight so felt it was more along the thematic lines I wrote about above. But I'd love to see someone offer another theory! I'm sure it could stand several.

Kalayaan, The Singing Detective is on my all-time great list. It really was a forerunner of the deep layered series. I remember watching it at the time it first aired in the U.S. and there had just never been anything quite like it. I watched it again a few years ago and it felt quite familiar, because now we've seen a number of great shows use its techniques and style. But Dennis Potter really is the godfather of them. As for Weiner, he toiled for a long time as a writer on TV shows and then ended up on The Sopranos as that and later as a producer, where he clearly learned much!

Georgia, I like your rest room analysis! Seems spot on to me. It clearly was supposed to mean something that Peggy wasn't sure which room to steer Don into. I think you nailed it.

Brendo, wow, that's amazing! Thank you for sharing that -- I actually didn't know that, but I'm sure Weiner did, in writing this episode, so you've provided the missing link.

Quazimoda, great catch about Peggy focusing more on TV while Don's an old print ad guy. After all, SC only added a "TV Dept" (meaning just Harry) not long before they were bought. They are clearly meant to seem old school, and it's a constant question who can and will adapt. And also agree that Peggy's now accepted as "one of the boys" - -in a good way.

Yankee, that's an interesting point! And one I hadn't thought of. I'm guessing Anna did tell Stephanie the truth.

July, re: Peggy and Pete. I think they're deliberately leaving it very very vague and open. I could see anything happening.

Tennessee, Jane's maiden name is Siegel and so is Danny's so yes, I think we're to take it that she's Jewish. It is interesting, given Roger's WASP racism, that that doesn't seem to bother him. (or not that we know of yet) As for the mouse, I actually at first thought maybe Don was hallucinating from having drunk so much!

Andrea, thanks! I liked that Don lost the fight (or gave up). He's made into too much of a hero despite his foibles. And it fits with the general slide downward he's been having -- up until the end of this episode at least.

Adele, yes, if Don wrote checks, they would know his Draper name (and also why he knew Anna). And I recall that story about Disney now. Don actually calls this mouse "Mickey" so that's a good guess as to the allusion. Perhaps also a turning point for Don, as for Disney?

Lorrie, thanks! And as noted above, I just took Labor Day off (line). I like all the mouse ideas. I did notice Don used it as another chance for self-disclosure with his line about growing up on a farm. I suspect as with many MM things, it has multiple layers of meaning rather than just one "solution".
Bluestocking, I liked seeing Don messed up as well, but I was a bit taken aback, as Peggy was, to see him looking so "fresh" just a few hours later and apparently after not even going home (she asks him if he did). He seems to have an astounding, almost superhuman ability to drink and recover from drinking, which I boggle at. But then many alcoholics do. In fact, high tolerance is one of the biggest risk factors for alcoholism.

Lorrie, ah! I like the cat and mouse idea. As for Roger, I feel he's always been used for comic relief in the show, both for good and for ill. Meaning, he's hilarious (as written and played by John Slattery) but I think it's a bit slick and undermines the ugliness of what he says and does.
Re, there must be a way out of here

There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

Songwriter: Bob Dylan
My favorite thing to do after watching Mad Men? Reading your take on the episode! Thanks again for enriching my viewing experience!
Marvelous. Simply marvelous.
Cloudzie, great catch on the "All Along the Watch Tower" lyrics -- boy, do they ever fit. But in his day, (and mine) I could almost always look to Dylan for answers. You know how lots of people say The Godfather is their guide to life, with answers to any situation? Well, Dylan was mine for many, many years.

As Juliet Walters said, though, Simon and Garfunkel's "Bleeker Street" was a great song for the ending -- so wistful and sad. I loved Simon and Garfunkel, and played that album to death. In later years, they didn't sound as good to me, but lately I've been struck by how great some of their songs were.

And Nelle, good that you took Labor Day off, even though we missed you. I think it's a real tribute to the strength of this episode that with or without you, we've just kept talking.

BTW, I just remembered that at the end of Season 2, Betty kept dreaming of a suitcase, and then Don's appeared, when he was still on French leave in California. Wonder if it was a Samsonite.
I loved this episode. Thanks for the great breakdown: (perhaps it seems better to Don to take a name for profit than to take a prophet’s name). Can't wait for next week's episode and for your wonderfully insightful commentary/analysis.
I think I was still wearing petticoats until the late 60's. I thought they looked sweet on Peggy. I kept waiting for the mouse to somehow morph through stream of consciousness into the gorillas that used to throw the suitcases around in those early TV commercials. Maybe the mouse was just comic relief but I always look for hidden meaning. Thanks Nell for the great analysis, as always!
Will Don and Peggy form a creative partnership and a new company with Peggy leading the way? Maybe on the West Coast? Don always seemed like he was deeply intrigued by California on his visits to Anna. Perhaps Peggy will make her own opportunity with Don, her work soulmate and mentor, something that Duck could only tease Peggy with but never deliver.
Mad Men and the women who hold it together while not getting their due. Don's on the sauce big. The other guys sit around shooting the breeze while Peggy does the work. There she is at night with two boozers each attached and relying on her for success.

At issue is whether Don pulls it out of the fire and turns his own life around. Does he go to AA? The others are outcasts who drink the AA kool aid and are mocked, given lesser status than even the women.

Does Don see the light about the value of women? Some had to back then to allow the Peggy's to flourish. Does he finally get it?

This is less about the men, the Mad Men, and more about the enabling women.
Oh, and I forgot to mention how terrific it is to have found this blog! I just discovered it after the second episode this summer, and your commentary is so right on, Nelle. You bring out details and connections in every episode that cause my own thinking to deepen. And the comments from everyone are really interesting and lively -- it's makes a great conversation! The last few episodes of Mad Men have been so provoking, I've found it hard to go to sleep for hours. Is Peggy the best female character ever created in television? One thing has been nagging me tho - I'm suddenly confused about Sally Draper's age. She seemed to me to be almost 10 when the show began. Given her change in behavior over the the past 2 years: her anger about her grandpa's death and parents' breakup, her rebelliousness and awareness of the news on tv, and the onset of puberty, I assumed Sally was probably 12 now. I was around the same age as Sally in the early 60s, so I'm going on my memories of entering puberty in the 60's, and my increasing awareness of social issues and conflicts. I'm a little surprised to hear Don refer to Sally this season as just a 10 yr old girl. Any thoughts about this?
Nelle, I happened to be watching AMC when the MM pilot was first shown in 2007, and I have been just hooked in a way that no show has ever caught me in my life. I stumbled on to your blog just this season, and all I can say is that you add greatly to my enjoyment of the show. Your insights are pretty amazing, so...thank you.

Regarding the mouse, perhaps I could add one more layer:
At first, when I saw Don going under the couch for the mouse, I couldn't get the thought of 'Alice going down the rabbit hole' out of my head. But then something else came to mind - there are mice around us everywhere, but we never really see them until the fields are being plowed, the house is undermined or torn down, etc. The appearance of mice can symbolize a deep disruption in the house and fields of Draper. Peggy and Don are going deeper together than they ever have before, and, as those fields are being plowed, the mice are scurrying.

From the Poet Robert Burns, who famously mused about the destructive impact of his plowing on the little mice in his fields:

That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!
Saves hours reading this. thanks
Quazimoda makes a good point about Don and CA. Maybe this is why Weiner lets Don retain ownership (via Stepanie) - in cluding his Don Loves Anna signature.
That Robert Burns poem is very apt: "The best laid schemes of mice and men" could easily describe the shiny brightly colored new agency. Sleek and modern in the daytime, but at night the tiny mouse comes out like, and we're in an underworld of darker business and meaning marked by drinking, fighting, weeping, even dying....It's suggest that Mad Men is revealing itself to be more about the women than the men.... so many narratives are the quest of a young man looking for a Father, but perhaps Mad Men is more radical, and the protagonist seeks a Mother? Don first finds her in Anna who not only lets him take a new identity, but accepts and loves him for who he is. The only Mother and friend he's ever had. Anna's gone now, to that dark Underworld revealed at night in the agency offices, now Don will seek his Mother and his one true friend in Peggy, who may lead him not only to redemption, but perhaps rebirth within the tumult of the Sixties. I think Don is deeply important for Peggy, not simply because he gives her chances , both professionally and personally, but because he mentors her and accepts her when her own mother & family do not. Peggy recognizes that Don also began from nothing and forged his success purely from his own effort and talent, just like Peggy, and she sees him as a hero. How thrilling it must be for Peggy to realize that Don sees her now as a friend and even, an equal.
Thanks to all for your contributions to the usual Nelle masterpiece.

Would just like to add the observation of how much Don's intuitions were consistently wrong in this episode (e.g. Joe Namath and Cassius Clay). Is this the foreboding of the end of his creative worth?

I was happy to see someone else remembered the reference to Ida in season 3 re: the photo. I believe Roger said something to the effect of "I wonder whatever happened to her?" .... we certainly know now!

And what is up with all the hating on Stephanie??!!! ..... I think any hints of romance between she and Don are long over. Speaking of romance, I agree with all that Don and Peggy won't have one. But I will stick to my guns and say that Don ends up with Joan after Dr. Greg gets his in Vietnam!
Regarding Joe Namath and Mohammad Ali:

First, Joe Namath, was a media darling and played to the spirit of the times -- and was one of the first sports stars to wear a mustache and had longish hair and long sideburns. Contrast him to Johnny Unitas, his counterpart on the Colts (who met in Superbowl III) and wore a crewcut.
Secondly, Namath was in one of the most famous television ads of the 60's, the famous panty hose ad.


Ali was a transformational figure in both boxing and sports -- huge in too many ways to began to list in a comment. But he and Namath both "talked trash" which was hugely unpopular with older fans.

My thought is that Don is instinctually out of touch with this transformation in sports -- but that just like he figured out how to do an interview with Advertising Age after he blew the first one, he will quickly seize on this change. Foreshadowed by the comment that Ali would make a great advertising man.
Longshot -- but the only woman that is really a match for Don is Dr Faye Miller. Or maybe she is too smart to want him.
Nelle, it's clear to see how popular your review is by the # of greyheads here. People are popping in just to comment on your blog = fantastic! I waited a little to come by b/c I wanted the benefit of all the commentators and now feel like going to OnDemand and watching the show again. Weiner and these actors definitely are making a place in TV history for themselves... and it's a show that encapsulates an earlier history which is just another one of the Russian doll toy characteristics of the entire production. A show within a show within a show. Thanks again for your faithfulness in giving this to us week after seasonal week Nelle.