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Episode Six — “The Strategy”

Photo by Christina Saint Marche (CC)

For Mad Men enthusiasts, this week’s episode felt like a throwback to several seasons ago. It could have made a great mid-season finale, but as the second-to-last episode this year, it gives hope that creator Matthew Weiner has something better for us next week.

The theme of “The Strategy” seems to be the ideal family and starts with Pete Campbell going back to his New York roots. On the plane ride over, Bonnie notes how she and Pete’s relationship could fail on account of his delay in divorcing Trudy. Their relationship may not be as strong as they had hoped, as they rely on butt grabbing and airplane sex to connect.

When Pete visits his daughter, he realizes Trudy has moved on and reacts with jealousy at the thought that she could be out with another man. Trudy remains the most powerful person in this broken love triangle, with Pete blowing off plans with his new girl to check up on her. Back on the West Coast, Bonnie and Pete never seemed to have to deal with his family life. Now that he makes them a priority, she questions the state of their relationship, telling him he won’t “fuck his way out of this.”

Another look at the theme of the ideal family in this episode was the Bob Benson proposal. Bob tries to make an arrangement with Joan, wanting to create the image of the perfect family for his new job. Joan takes the high road, fighting for love rather than a perfect arrangement.

When Pete visits the New York office, he undermines Peggy and her well-liked pitch. It seems like she has no one to lean on at the office — Ginsberg is gone and Stan is preoccupied with a new love. Thankfully Don is there to assist her, and not take over the pitch, despite Pete’s efforts.

Peggy and Don bond over their past and their failures to create ideal families: Peggy having Pete’s baby and giving it away, while Don thinks he has no one.

The two connect on an intellectual and emotional level more than any other pairing on the show. Unlike all of the relationships showcased in this week’s episode, the relationship between Peggy and Don is effortless. They had tension when Don came back to the office, but now seem like they are closer than they’ve ever been. He still mentors her but lets her outshine him. And in return Peggy brings out the better side of Don — a side barely anyone gets to see.