Mad Men "The Strategy" Review: Peggy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By MaryAnn Sleasman

May 19, 2014

Mad Men S07E06: "The Strategy"


Don is so fired. 

Through no effort of his own, Don once again achieved something resembling the level of respect he used to enjoy at SC&P: Pete still believes a pitch from Don Draper practically guarantees business, and after spending an entire day drinking and chain-smoking her feelings away, Peggy reluctantly accepted Don's mentorship, inspiring her to create the perfect Burger Chef pitch. All together, the terrible threesome of Peggy, Don, and Pete functions as the sort of effed-up little family of Peggy's dreams, and their strategy for wooing Burger Chef is soundly modern. 

So of course Lou is going to hate it. He loved the original Leave it to Beaver-esque strategy, reliant as it was on a family unit that may've never actually existed. Mad Men has long depicted its characters as nostalgic for pasts they never actually experienced, for dreams they never really wanted, and those tics have ultimately come to define them. Lou is not going to be thrilled with Peggy and Don's new "every table is the family table" pitch. 

Meanwhile, Chevy dropped SC&P and Harry Freaking Crane was made a partner. Cash flow is going to be a problem, and the firm will have to scramble to find new business in the wake of the carmaker's departure. Right now, the most promising potential new client is Commander cigarettes—a company that isn't particularly jazzed about doing business with the agency that employs that reckless letter-penner Don Draper. Cutler & Co. need to find a way to ditch Don, and it looks like Don's plan to keep his head down and only speak when spoken to is going to inadvertently lead to his ousting. Here's how: 


After her latest in-office mental health day, Peggy demanded that Don teach her how to think like him. After a token "no can do," Don figured out how to explain his process, and Peggy came up with her brilliant Burger Chef pitch. But of course, SC&P's resident Don Draper Fanboy, Pete Campbell, had convinced everyone to let Don serve as the firm's spokesperson during the actual Burger Chef pitch. So now they have this awesome new pitch that Lou knows nothing about, and Don is going to be the one to pitch it. He'll be following the script, but not  the script that Lou has a copy of. Burger Chef will love it, but Lou will hate it and it'll look like Don went all loose-cannon again, and as much as I love me some Peggy—and as much as it looked like she and Don reached some sort of truce this week—I just don't know if trust her to step in and tell Lou the truth when things goes south, or whether Lou will even care. 

It just doesn't look good for Don, despite the fact that this was one of his more productive weeks, both personally and professionally. 

Elsewhere, Megan randomly flew to New York for a visit—it was practically an SC&P family reunion with both Megan and Pete in town, plus an appearance from Trudy, and of course BOB BENSON. Bob was dragged out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to fetch a closeted Chevy executive from prison for trying to "fellate an undercover officer," at which point we received confirmation that Bob is indeed into dudes. Facing a promotion to a position with Buick, Bob fretted over his personal life and the question of how his own life in the closet affects his appearance in the professional world. So, naturally, he proposed to Joan. She declined because she's still a romantic despite the misery her love life has known since... well, forever... and because she's surprisingly open-minded enough to recognize that it's totally messed up that Bob and the Chevy exec and every other gay person on Mad Men have to live the paranoid lives that they do. "The Strategy" was vague on the exact time of the year it is, but we know that it's not yet July. The Stonewall Riots began at the end of June 1969, which could be right around the corner. It's interesting that Mad Men chose to focus on Bob Benson's plight with such an important even in LGBT history about to happen. 

While Don's professional life continues to teeter on the edge of ruin, his relationship with Megan appears to be improving steadily since their near break-up a few weeks back. She visited him in New York and he actually seemed pleased to see her. They spent some time together, and Megan was hopeful about taking a real vacation with Don in the future. The Don we saw in "The Strategy" was comfortable with his life in a way we haven't seen Don act before. It's telling that Peggy declared his alternate idea for the Burger Chef pitch "crap." It kind of was. When she demanded that he share his process with her, he said that the key was to figure out what she wanted. In the end, Peggy came up with "family," and the resulting pitch was contemporary, creative, and most importantly, completely Peggy's. Don's idea sucked because right now, Don doesn't really want for anything. 

He will soon enough, though. Mark my words. 



NOTES

– "You are surrounded by all sorts of women who work!" PREACH, PEGGY, PREACH.

– Peggy's face when Lou happily remarked that dads tell moms what to do. OMG. 

 Lot's of sex happening in Mad Men pop culture this week: I am Curious (Yellow) and Oh! Calcutta! are all about the sex. 

– In the final scene of "The Strategy," Peggy called the Burger Chef "a clean, well-lighted place," which is the title of an Ernest Hemmingway short story about dissatisfaction, loneliness, aging, and mortality.

– Despite how pleasant and stable Don and Megan were in this episode, did anyone else get weird vibes from Megan? First there was that uncomfortable moment when the receptionist remarked that she didn't know Don was married, then the fact that Megan wants to take her stuff back to California. Is she being sneaky, or am I being paranoid? 

– That was so nice of all the men in the office giving Peggy permission to make the decision about Don that they all wanted her to make, wasn't it? 


What'd you think of "The Strategy"?


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  • ManuelValero May 23, 2014

    I might be the only person in this fandom who reallly likes Bob Benson, if you think about it he at least tryed to include Joan in his world domination plan .something that Roger never will do.. something that nobody in the agency did before and yes...she´ s a partner but she´s trapped in a futureless job with people who don´t really apreciate her. Not saying that being Bob´s beard is an ideal scenario for her but Bob is a good guy trapped in the wrong decade trying to survive in a heterosexist world just like Joan herself. He´s smart, resourceful and somehow fragile despite his facade. He really loves Joan as a friend in that era that kind of agreement wasnt uncommon and since this show is about historical accuracy that would be proper to explore.

    I still feel bad about Salvatore Romano´s departure , somehow Bob´s story line is there to show us how things change but remain the same in that subject. ( it would be cool if Mr Romano could make an apperance and conect to Bob´s storyline somehow). I´m still shocked about Ginsberg and at least they mentioned him, this show tend to get rid of some character in some weird manner and they aire not mentioned ever again after that. (Sylvia, Lane Pryce,Sally's older friend Sandy, Salvatore Romano, Peggy´s ex bf Abe, Joan´s ex husband, etc) I think Ginsnberg had an interesting story line and i hate when they makes us invest in someone´s story just to dump that character like it was nothing.

    I was also glad to see Trudy all independent and moving on sans Pete. His reaction showed that he´s still a cunt at core. The burger eating scene was gold and effortless lovely though. I rolled my eyes so hard at Harry Crane´s new partnertship but whatever. I lost all hope of seeing Megan dying or leaving earlier, she added nothing to the show (time they could had invested in other characters) and to be honest with just few episodes left -and a full yeah hiatus- i only hope for Don to jump that window for real.

  • joshnamm May 21, 2014

    I don't care how it ends as long as Don hands it to Lou before the break (although I realize that it a long shot). Once again, I saw this article on a new social media site called Mopwto. They;re new, so I want to give them credit and support them. They have lots of users posting about Mad Men and, unlike other sites, you can see it all on one page. I hope you guys enjoy this!
    https://www.moptwo.com/hashtags.php?name=MadMen

  • J_Pip May 20, 2014

    I thought this was signaling the end of Don and Megan. She wanted to take all her stuff with her back to California and I certainly got a weird vibe from her. I'm thinking maybe she's dating the girl that shared their bed from the last episode maybe?

  • dh4645 May 21, 2014

    she's gonna go hang with charlie manson

  • chuuuuck May 20, 2014

    I would watch that show

  • dh4645 May 20, 2014

    there were also a ton of phone calls in that episode

  • dh4645 May 20, 2014

    no mention of the old JFK newspaper/call back to the previous season?

    also, megan is probably going to hang out with charles manson

  • dh4645 May 20, 2014

    i was so confused by the bob benson/gay chevy guy scene. why did he call bob to bail him out? i guess i missed the line about giving an undercover a bj. that probably would have helped.

    also, all the talk of taking business away and giving him a job just seemed out of the blue. oh well.

    it's kinda sad when i can follow Game of Thrones eo more easily than Mad Men ep. hah

  • Devon39219 May 21, 2014

    haha same here! GoT has much more characters but I'm able to follow what's going on but here I'm just confused sometimes.

  • CoreyChapman1 May 20, 2014

    Pete joins the mile high club. Megan can't find her fondue pot. Harry becomes a partner? Bob Benson is back with an interesting proposal for Joan. And Don & Peggy scrap the Burger Chef pitch and do it "My Way." Joe & Corey welcome back eclectik to the show to discuss all of this and more.
    The latest episode of Mad Cast can be downloaded at www.madmenpod.com or via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mad-cast-s7-e6-the-strategy/id500685789?i=313236344&mt;=2 Also- we are giving away more PRIZES from the AMC Treasure Trove. Visit the site for more details!

  • Misao_83 May 19, 2014

    The dance moment just break my heart. I don´t like this "new" Peggy, but I loved the old one, and her relationship with Don. For me, it was the best part of the series origins... She growing up under his lessons...seeing them so far away nowadays just break my poor heart
    (And I had to say thay if Don Draper invited ME to dance "My way" with him I would probably die f a heart attack ;-))

  • jasonpromo May 19, 2014

    It looks like I'm not the only one who felt reverberations of "The Suitcase", one of the series best episodes. The series has always been as much about Peggy as it is Don, and the two reconciling was written to perfection.

    A lot of great stories are being told here.

  • Kerkesh May 19, 2014

    Okay, I am actually telling you that I gave you a heart, the third of many more I hope, because your review was well-thought, well written and really an enjoyable moment of reading for me.
    I think Don basically understands that this firm is a linchpin from busting all over the place. The personalities, or more pointedly, the lack of personality of most characters, and the fact that they aren't really ready to fight for the firm's existence beyond their place in it; all goes to Don's forte. I think that Don simply couldn't care less if he's let off by the other partners and this might just be what will give him the leverage he needs to destroy SC&P; and get who he wants from it, separating the grain from the chaff, so to speak. Campbell is right when he says that Don on a good day is simply the Top of the Heap, the King of Advertising. We must not fail to understand that helping Peggy find her voice is not a sign of weakness but of his entire domination, as Peggy puts her head on his shoulder and he kindly kisses her head, as a father to his child. Since the beginning of Mad Men, Peggy was his protegee and he was always her mentor, unsolicited and ignored by her, until now.
    I am no fan of Joan, but I think she showed fortitude and real dignity in this episode ;her refusal of the proposal is natural, nothing to be made an issue about, but her inner conviction that Bob may be telling her the truth about her chances for happiness, was outstanding in its humanity. Dammit, I even liked that Campbell actually took time to take care of his daughter; even if it does really inculpate him on the grounds of his ignoring her existence so far. One step at a time.
    I think we can really pinpoint Don's recovery after his threesome with Megan and girlfriend. So Megan coming back to see him is maybe a sign of his mojo coming back. (?)

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