Mad Men: The state of families

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There’s a Sterling Cooper family reunion at Burger Chef, where Peggy wants to break bread for the advertisement. Pete hates the word “family,” but an idea pitched with Don’s support gives Peggy new life. Don is Peggy’s muscle and is also one of the only people who thinks she’s doing a great job. Both Pete and Ted turned around and suggested Don make the pitch to Burger Chef, but he’s only going to do it Peggy’s way. Nobody has more respect for Peggy than Don, and Pete listens to Don, so when these Sterling Cooper originals sit down at the fast food restaurant, Peggy doesn’t have to worry about rejection. Lou Avery’s not in the house. Thank goodness, because Matthew Weiner’s final shot, back pedaling to a wider view of Burger Chef, wouldn’t have been as good with a new guy.

Pete’s family is a beer bottle smushed into a cake. His visit back to the city was much worse than he imagined. He didn’t want his real estate girlfriend to meet his daughter because he was worried she’d be confused by a stranger. But his daughter barely recognizes her father when he arrives baring gifts. Trudy’s been going out, meaning their daughter is spending a lot of time with a strange maid. The situation everyone ignores 90 percent of the time, that complicates their world, is that Trudy and Pete are still married. Pete’s convinced Trudy still wants him or that’s what he wants to believe, but Trudy suggests they’re definitely getting divorced. We’re running out of episodes for that.

The stressful family lives of these characters has been an interesting focal point to this season. Don and Megan live apart, both less willing than the other to relocate. Betty and Henry argue about politics. Roger’s family drama has played out in full. He unsuccessful dragged his daughter out of a cult. He literally slipped through mud. Roger excused himself from the family dinner.

Don and Megan’s situation is going to rear its ugly head soon. Their vital signs show how much its weighing them down. Don doesn’t want Megan to find her fondu set because moving personal items to California make it less likely that she’ll ever move back. Don says he’ll find it and bring it on his next trip out there, which makes Megan light up. But she thinks it’s sooner than June. It isn’t. There a a pair of moments in “The Strategy” when Don is caught staring at her, through a bedroom window and as she packs. He’s really missing her, especially in his current situation. His late night in the office with Peggy is an example of the family he has in New York. Peggy lays her head on Don’s chest as they dance and he kisses the top of her head like he’d kiss Sally.

In the Francis home, Sally’s mending a bruised nose. She was a victim of child’s play — sword fighting with golf clubs at school. She returns to a household on edge. Betty and Henry are arguing about politics. Henry made Betty look foolish at a public event and she’s not having it. She has her own opinions on things and, hey, maybe she’ll run for office. Interestingly, Bobby is outside their bedroom door when they were arguing. When Sally returns, he confronts his sister about their mom and stepdad’s issues; at least, what he believes them to be. Sally and Bobby share the bed that night and Sally suggesting Bobby’s going to wet the bed emphasizes a changing of the guard. Bobby doesn’t do that anymore, but now that he’s the kid alone at home, he’s the one witnessing a relationship in turmoil. Sally’s already been through a gauntlet, experiencing her parents’ demise and knowing exactly why. Those experiences shaped Sally into the young woman she has become, in many ways, so maybe it’s Bobby’s turn to grow up. For now, Sally can roll her eyes and know that Bobby hasn’t seen nothing yet.

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