Mad Men recap: Don Wants to Be Chairman of the Board

Don and Peggy slow dance over Burger Chef, while Bob Benson returns with a proposal
Ep. 06 | Aired May 18, 2014

Don's weekend, on the other hand, is completely fun-filled, with Megan in town. While Peggy is stewing in the office, smoking cigarettes, swilling wine, and probing Stan to see if he also doubts the Burger Chef campaign, Don is making love, cooking dinner, and seeing scandalous Swedish films like I Am Curious (Yellow). From Don's point of view, it's the best time they've spent together in months -- but then, they're back on his turf. He misses the Megan Draper that he knows from New York, not necessarily the Megan that now lives in Los Angeles. But there are still major cracks in the relationship, cracks that might be beyond repair. Look no further than Megan's face when she pops in on Don at the office, and the older secretary Marsha says to her after being introduced, "I didn't know he was married." Later, as the weekend winds down, Megan rifles through the closets to look for stuff to bring to L.A. Did she really come to New York to see Don? Or is she itching to leave once she gets her stuff so that she can get back to her real life in L.A.? She says she's eager to spend time with Don again soon, but not in New York or L.A. She wants him on neutral ground, where perhaps she can see better whether that have anything left worth fighting for.

Pete has his own New York reunion, one that is bound to bring him down low. Remember, Pete's become a new man in Los Angeles. Not only is he more successful than he was in New York, but the town and the climate agree with him. With blonde Bonnie at his side, he's mile-high-club happy, living a life he never thought possible. But with the Burger Chef meeting, it's time he finally popped up to Connecticut to reconnect with Trudy and his daughter. Nothing goes well. His daughter is afraid of him. Trudy infuriates him by intentionally having plans in order to avoid him during his parental visit, and when she finally returns home, she finds him sauced and filled with indignant hypocrisy. "I don't like you carrying on like this," he says, assuming she was on a date. "It's immoral!"

Meanwhile, he allows Trudy to ruin his weekend of sex and shopping with Bonnie -- who had to see Oh, Calcutta! without him. Feeling neglected, Bonnie decides "I don't like you in New York." Girl, nobody liked Pete in New York. She flies home alone (if you don't count Megan sitting a few rows back).

Bob's Sunday sit-down with Joan begins delightfully, with flowers for her mother, Gail, and a construction toy set for little Kevin. But later, when they're alone, he gets down to business... and proposes. She isn't sure how to respond when she first sees the engagement ring that Bob clearly just purchased, likely only after learning that he has Buick on the hook. "My face doesn't please you?" he asks with his most eager-puppy grin. "I don't believe it."

But Joan's hesitancy isn't linked to indecision; it's simply her thinking how to best explain her answer. In the end, blunt honesty is the best approach. "You don't want this, Bob," she says. "You shouldn't be with a woman."

Well, you know the old saying: "If at first your proposal is rejected by a woman who thinks you're gay, point out her flaws and ask again." Bob reminds Joan that she's old and living with her mother. "I am offering you more than anybody else ever will," he says.

"No, you're not, Bob," Joan answers. "Because I want love, and I'd rather die hoping that it happens than make some arrangement. And you should to."

Despite Joan's heroic paean to true love, "The Strategy" was a rough episode for women, a rude Not-so-fast, ladies for the characters who are presumed to inherit the Mad Men universe. The men are extremely dismissive, undermining Peggy at work and continually insisting that their favorite ladies go shopping -- because what else could they possibly want to do? Pete wants Bonnie to shop all day and screw all night, so she's not completely one-dimensional in his mind. Don's plans for Megan are pretty similar. When Don and Peggy brainstorm new Burger Chef's ads, Don's hardly enlightened. "What's her profession?" he sniffs dismissively when Peggy suggests a working-mom approach for the commercial. Besides, he goes on to suggest, mothers who work "are too sad for an ad."

NEXT: Peggy runs home to Daddy

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