Blogging Mad Men: Season 4, Ep. 7, “The Suitcase.”

Oh Peggy.  Peggy, Peggy, Peggy.

You know it’s a good episode when Ida Blankenship‘s zingy racist one-liner (“If I wanted to see two Negros fight, I’d throw a dollar bill out of my window”) is the least interesting thing that happens. Don’s alcoholism is getting to be a bit tiring, so I appreciate Matthew Weiner giving him a come-to-Jesus Allah Flying Spaghetti Monster Peggy moment in this episode.

It is February 25, 1964, and the men of SCDP have tickets to see Muhammad Ali fight Sonny Liston.  Peggy, newly-hired Danny, newly emasculated Stan and Joey are trying to sell Don on a Samsonite commercial with Joe Namath. When the Samosonite team enters Don’s office, Peggy remarks that that she thought the meeting was at nine.

“It’s eleven fifteen,” she says.

“I’m late.  You’re not.  Good work so far,” Don replies.

Don immediately shoots the Namath idea down, declaring endorsements lazy.  Back in her office, Peggy gets a birthday gift from Duck- flowers and a set of business cards with the words “Phillips-Olson Advertising.”  Peggy calls Duck to thank him, and he begs her to join him, becoming increasingly drunk and maudlin.

Ida marches through Don’s office, delivering an urgent message from California.  Don lifts the receiver and places it back down to go fix a drink.  Roger bursts in, complaining about having to see the fight with teetotalers Freddy Rumsen and Clay Rutledge from Pond’s.  Don begs off, deciding he has to work on Samsonite.  On her way out, Peggy runs into a very pregnant and slightly condescending Trudy in the restroom.  Old Peggy would have been undone by this.  New Peggy gives her a slight smile, a microsmirk at Pete, and is summoned to Don’s office.

Peggy, who is on her way to her birthday dinner, shows Don, at his request, a few ideas.  He completely shits on all of them, and tells her “we’re going to do this right now.”  Peggy calls Mark (who is surprising her with her family and roommate) to tell him she’ll be late.  Don continues to shoot down her ideas.  After a few questions, Peggy decides it’s not worth it, tells him it’s a brilliant idea, and again gets ready to leave.  Roger calls, pointedly telling Don that he thinks Don prefers working.  (And delivers another zinger: “This guy Rutledge killed a guy with a motorboat.  You know what gets you over something like that?  Drinking!”)

Mark tells Peggy her whole family is waiting as a surprise, and Peggy says she’ll leave immediately.  Don, who is wobbling drunk, yells at her, tells her to get over birthdays, and summarily dismisses her. Peggy calls Mark back, cancels completely, earning a scolding from her mother in the process, and more or less breaks up with Mark.

Peggy marches into Don’s office, makes herself a drink, and has it out with Don.  After he yells that she doesn’t have to be here,  Peggy coolly replies:

“I do have to be here.  Because of some stupid idea from Danny, who you had to hire, because you stole his other stupid idea, because you were drunk.”

They keep going, and finally Peggy gets to the meat of issue- the Clio and the Glo-Coat campaign.

Don: “It’s your job!  I give you money, you give me ideas.”

Peggy: “You never say thank you!”

Don: “THAT’S WHAT THE MONEY IS FOR!” (coughAllisoncough)

Don continues:

“Everything to you is an opportunity.  And you should be thanking me when you wake up, along with Jesus, for giving you another day!”

Don and Peggy slowly thaw after their flight, and Don takes her to a diner for dinner.  Back in the office, Don is obliterated, vomiting in the bathroom, when  Peggy finds Duck trying to take a dump in Roger’s chair, thinking it Don’s.  Duck, also drunk, calls Peggy a whore, and he and Don start fighting, as only two completely drunk, middle aged men in suits can do.  She gets Duck out, and Don falls asleep in Peggy’s lap.  (there is a ghost, and I’m not mentioning it other than to say it was way, way too hamfisted.) Waking around dawn, Don calls Stephanie in California to learn that Anna has died.  He keeps proposing things to take care of- the funeral arrangements, the house, only to find out that Stephanie has settled everything.  Peggy wakes up as Don begins to sob, asking what happened.  Don breaks down, saying “Someone very important to me died.  The only person who ever knew me.”

Don sends Peggy home, instead she sleeps in her office and is woken by Stan, Joey and Danny.  She walks into Don’s office, where he is sitting, in a clean shirt and tie, with a Samsonite campaign based on this photo of Ali and Liston.  He grabs Peggy’s hand and holds it briefly while explaining the image and sends her home to clean up.

“Door open or closed?” she asks.

“Open.” Don replies (symbolism!)

Apologies for the long summary, but as Jay Smooth tweeted, this might very well have been the best hour of television since “The Wire” ended.  There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so I’m throwing it to the commenters: Duck vs. Don.  Did anyone else worry Don might actually sleep with Peggy?  Why didn’t she tell him the baby was Pete’s?  Ida Blakenship as a sexual deviant? Why only the two-second appearance by Joan, in light of the previews from next week?  Is there any significance to Peggy’s birthday being the same day as the fight?  Have at it y’all.


Fur coating and shit.

Latest posts by belmontmedina (see all)

  • This episode was so good I watched it three times in the span of five hours. I definitely think the writers wanted us to think there would be some kind of Peggy/Don hookup which I think everyone is glad didn’t happen/ Each time I watched it, I caught something new I loved like how disgusted Don was to be drinking water at the diner.

    I think Don telling Peggy about his true origins and Peggy telling Don that Pete was the father of her baby will destroy the last layer of secrecy between them.

  • Lexa

    There is so much to discuss here.

    She would never tell him that it is Pete’s baby, at least in that setting. It is beside the point.

    Peggy is now Anna. She gets Don, she is there for him and knows him.

    I loved the hand grab at the end. It was acknowledging what happened. With Don and Peggy it has always been “it will shock you how much this didn’t happen.” Well, this did. They both know it.

    This ep literally took my breath away. It was stunning.

    • Nicole

      I think Peggy will tell Don about Pete, especially if Don ends up disclosing his true past. Remember how Pete tried to hold Don’s real identity against him in the first season? News of the affair AND the baby would be infinitely more damaging to Pete now. Whether he knows it or not, Roger, Lane, Cooper, and Don took Pete on because they had to, not because they wanted to- I wonder if the appearance of Cosgrove won’t play into that later this season. And I’m SURE we’ll revisit to that almost-fight between Roger and Pete.

    • ed

      Peggy is now Anna. She gets Don, she is there for him and knows him.

      Indeed. The writers weren’t cuing the audience for a hook-up, they were telling us that Don needs a Mommy (you know, ’cause he never had one for reals), and now that Anna has passed, Peggy fills that need.

      Best episode since The Wire? I dunno, there was a pretty good SportCenter and some Daily Shows I’ve seen. But this was much better than the previous two episodes.

  • brent

    Roger, Lane, Cooper, and Don took Pete on because they had to, not because they wanted to

    Perhaps but its also clear that Pete is one of their most valuable assets now. Aside from the fact that he has brought in some big fish that are tied to him via his family, he is consistently the most forward looking person in that office.

  • Scipio Africanus

    I did the slow golf clap when Don told Peggy to get over birthdays, as a twentysomething. I feel like I’m the only other person in the world who feels that way.

    Also, I think the writers are telling us that if Don and Peggy didn’t hook up now, they never will.

    Overall I found Peggy’s treatment of Mark to be manipulative and messed up, in general (a touch cowardly, too.) In addition to her sense of entitlement, which seems to keep popping up on occasion, she didn’t come out of this episode looking “good” in my eyes at all. But, she did achieve a more fleshed out and clarified simpatico with Don that will probably be the basis of their relationship going forward.

    • brent

      Overall I found Peggy’s treatment of Mark to be manipulative and messed up, in general (a touch cowardly, too.)

      I guess that’s right but I think a major part of that is that her relationship with him is complicated by a lot of external social factors. I mean, its true that she isn’t especially thoughtful towards him but I think that is mostly because she isn’t really that fond of him. She seems to be in a relationship with him only because its expected, at the ripe old age of 26, that she be involved with someone to whom she could conceivably be married. She is clearly not especially attracted to him so the kindest thing she could do is cut him loose but not being attached to a “respectable boy” has got to be pretty close to inconceivable within her social context. So this is how it plays out.

    • TMA

      I saw Peggy totally differently than you did, Scipio. I have a difficult relationship with my mother. She was putting a lot of pressure on me about not being married and/or giving her grandchildren (especially from my mid-20s to early-30s; I’m mid-30s now, still am not married and don’t have children but my mother rarely brings it up. I guess she’s resigned. Lol!). Like Peggy, I’ve been very conflicted about honoring my feelings while trying to keep familial and societal expectations from making me feel like I was ruining my life/a freak of nature. While things have changed since the 1960s, some of haven’t very much. I understand how Peggy could have been dating someone who was “a nice young man” even though she really wasn’t into him. However, Mark was likely using Peggy in the same way; he didn’t know enough about her to know that inviting her family to her “romantic birthday” dinner was a no go. That whole story arc was very realistic and relatable (especially her breakdown in the bathroom) from where I stand. Men did not and still don’t really get that same kind of pressure.