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Mad Men recap: The Sweet Science

Peggy and Don go 12 rounds — and totally knock us out

Posted on

Mad Men Episode 7

Mad Men

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss

”Get up!” Don barked at the radio, faithful Peggy at his side.

Earlier the episode opened with Harry giving out passes to the screening of the fight between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay. He was charging his friends money for tickets he’d been given for free which gave the guys a chance to lob some Jew jokes at each other. Who to bet on? ”Sonny’s old,” was the consensus. ”He’s experienced,” clarified Ken. ”Don!” they cried at their bosses’ entrance. The man has been circling the drain all season. Is he doomed to self-destruct, ruined by age and drink and demons he doesn’t have the nerve to look in the face and fight? Or can he use his baggage, his experience if you will, to find a way to stand back up?

May 25, 1965. It’s our darling Peggy’s 26th birthday. Doofy Duck sent her some cheap carnations and business cards for the big day. ”Phillips-Olson Advertising,” he promised, with declarations that Tampax was on its way up! (Groan.) All she could hear was the clink of ice on the other end of the line, as he whined and snapped of his need for her. She hung up on her former lover when the three bananas slipped into her office. Joey, Danny, and Stan made a couple crude jokes and roped her into a birthday lunch. Maybe it’s because I am so in love with Elisabeth Moss as an actress. Maybe it’s because every single word, breath, gaze of Peggy’s delighted and moved me so deeply this evening. But it’s hard for me to imagine that every man at that office isn’t at least a little in love with her. Later in the ladies room, staring at herself in the mirror as she tried to at least look like a girl excited to go meet her beau for a fancy romantic dinner, the receptionist Megan declared that she was doing pretty good for herself at just 26. Enter Trudy and her enormous belly, a giant silky blue Easter egg, to hack away a little at her heart. Trudy, hungry for raw meat and bloodsport, complimented Peggy on her wit. Which is something, you know, what with being such an old maid. When Pete saw the two women of his two separate lives in the hallway together he looked like he might have Peted his pants a little.

Peggy must have put on her jacket and that adorable little hat a dozen times last night in her attempts to leave the office. But an evening with goofy Mark wasn’t enough to exert a real pull. Let alone when she realized that he’d stupidly arranged for a surprise party with her depressing family and her hilariously dreary roommate. She stayed even after Don, so impressively purple in the face, yelled at her that he didn’t need to say thank you for any of her ideas. ”That’s what the money’s for!” he said. Peggy ran to the ladies room and sobbed in the mirror, the same place she’d been standing when confronted by Trudy. It’s like she was crying over not just one loss, but every loss. But Don needed her, and she loves Don and needs him too. So back she went.

NEXT: Peggy and Don, round two