Mad Men, a show whose motto could be “subtlety is the best policy,” traded in their whispers for screams this episode. Taking place over one day, Don and Peggy’s relationship hit a wall and broke through to the other side. Starting with bet placing on the fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, the episode explored strength & toughness in a very literal way. Who is stronger Clay or Liston, Samsonite or American Traveler, Don or Peggy’s will? In the end everyone broke down, got back up, and continued fighting, well, everyone except Liston that is.
This episode pitted Don’s slimmest-ever grey suit, grey striped tie with a thin, black triple stripe, and a teeny grey fedora against Peggy’s full skirted, patterned, brown dress and slingback shoes. Not to say all patterned, full skirted brown dresses are equal, but Trudy wore a similar style a couple episodes ago when she told Pete she was pregnant. A subtle allusion or nothing at all? (Sidenote: Trudy’s teal pregnancy ensemble was pure brilliance. And her little white gloves to finish the look added just the patrician touch of elegance to her conversation about bloodsport and raw meat.) Either way, Peggy was celebrating her birthday in style, with her hair flipped at a 180 degree angle and her sparkliest earrings on, later adding her cyan coat and white hat though they never really made it outside.
Ultimately the Don vs. Peggy dynamic became a Don + Peggy dynamic that left many viewers thinking a Draper-Olson tryst was in the future. Personally, I want so much more for both of them but I’m starting to realize that maybe Peggy has been in love with Don this whole time. She can’t keep a steady boyfriend, whether it’s Duck or Mark (or Pete? Ew.), and the only man whom she sticks with is Don, and that because he sticks with her. (Although I read Don’s interest in Peggy as a more fatherly love than a sexual one, because we all know that when Don is sexually interested in someone, he makes it obvious.)
The Draper-Olson debate/fight/”real talk” whatever you want to call it that consumed this episode left little room for other character’s and their wardrobes. Joan makes a small appearance in a navy pencil skirt and creme sheer blouse with a tiny green pattern to tell the Samsonite boys to clean up. Arrogant Joey, who must be the muse for American Apparel’s shift into refined pastel work wardrobes, in a lilac shirt and later camel windbreaker looks perfectly hip for 1965 or 2010, while the petite Danny in a grey plaid jacket, black and white diagonally striped tie and blue pants and macho Stan in a blue on blue striped polo and brown pants look like the perfect comic foils to each other. Their reenactment of their proposed Samsonite ad is adorable, funny, and probably would’ve sold a ton of luggage, but old-man Draper isn’t buying the endorsement angle. (Even though Joe Namath would end of being on of the greatest QBs and celeb endorsers ever.)
Also making a small appearance is Roger Sterling in another one of his classy three piece, grey suits. Roger spends his screen time proclaiming the virtues of alcoholism and spilling some SCDP secrets (particularly one regarding Burt Cooper’s nether-regions that I NEVER wanted to think about.) There’s Peggy’s gorgeous secretary Megan in a slim fitting navy dress, Ken in another one of his brown suits, Pete in another one of his blue suits, and Duck in some mangy looking suit pants and a wrinkly shirt attempting to defecate in Roger’s office. Stephanie comes back briefly in a hot pink robe, and the beloved Anna Draper, the sunshine of Mad Men, makes a ghostly appearance in a sun-yellow floral dress. Peggy’s family looks straight out of an Awkward Family Photo’s post, her mother in all blue, sister in all pastel pink, and roommate in muted florals. Mark in a black suit and tie, tries to keep his cool at the “Four out of twelve Seasons,” but loses it once Peggy chooses Don over him.
Ultimately, this episode left me savoring for more sartorially, since the only characters seen for more than a cameo were Don and Peggy. From the previews it looks like Betty’s back next week, meaning her stellar wardrobe is also making a comeback.
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