Mad Men: S736 “The Strategy

9 Overall Score
Characters: 9/10
Story: 10/10
Anticipation: 8/10

The new

What is Megan doing in New York? | How is Pete's daughter all of a sudden a toddler with long hair?

As “Mad Men” draws to a close for this year, I have a pretty good feeling where the show is headed. The episodes this year haven’t been as miserable as as season’s past (namely season 4) and a lot has been left to question. I’m getting the feeling that “Mad Men” is settling into the end, not needing to prove itself to everyone. I don’t expect some grandiose final scene, but a lasting flame that goes down in TV history. That sounds overly pompous for half a season that may have not even been all that memorable before the penultimate episode this year. But “The Strategy” is actually full of moments that visually engage the viewer and tie in the season’s (and series) growing arch. How can anything be more perfect than Don and Peggy slow dancing late at night, sharing another “Suitcase” moment, to the tune of “My Way”? A close second would be the vision of a new family – the modern family – close in all it’s non traditionality but even more important because it’s a family if not chosen, given to you at that moment, and you are for all intents and purposes grateful.

“Mad Men” started as a show anchored by Don, Peggy and Pete. Their initial storylines not only propelled them, but the rest of the cast and the company, forward. For all the credit Janie Bryant and the costume department gets on the show, this was one episode where the true behind-the-scenes heroes were the art department and stage crew. The “Burger Chef” set was constructed from this original location. The fast food chain, of all places, is warm and inviting with its see-all windows revealing families of every kind sitting down and unknowingly creating that notalgia the older generation seeks. The shot is grouped perfectly in a grid-like fashion, layered with back, middle and foreground alternating red-and-white. This is the ad, without them knowing it. This is Disney-level magic.


It’s nice to see Don and Peggy finally unite in an honest way. There’s always been a mirror-theme between the two, where Peggy gets ahead by mirroring Don, and then Don needs to mirror Peggy to stay relevant. But now, they’re alone and only with their reflections, which fortunately is found in one another. Don lost Megan once and for all it seems after she came to New York in what seems like a desperate call to get her husband back, but ends up with her realizing it’s probably time to give up. Peggy has lived her life with her mistakes, hiding them and being forced to live with being “the voice of moms” when all she ever wanted was to desperately be something else. The scene where they talk late at night, reminiscent of “The Suitcase” was not a scene for those who just got into “Mad Men.” It’s not watercooler talk. It’s a scene loaded with unspoken history that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There was a lot of allusions to Don seeing Peggy as his daughter, which would make sense seeings as his daughters (biological: Sally) are the most important women in his life – they always have been because they’re the ones who stick around and inevitably continue to teach him.

Pete is part of this history too, though in this episode we see Pete’s history go to shambles. In one hour his relationship with Bonnie ends and he has to confront his ex wife who has unabashedly begun dating again. He always wanted the Don Draper life, he just doesn’t realize that this is what it looks like.

And then we see a return of Bob. Bob Benson! The robotic happy male homemaker who wines and dines Joan and whoa there buddy, I think you’ve got the wrong idea. No I KNOW you’ve got the wrong idea, Joan basically says to him when he offers her an arranged mairrage. One of the things I love about “Mad Men” writing is that Joan’s speech about wanting love over convenience is so true to her character and was never once eye-roll-inducing. These scenes matter because they’re few and far between and when done right can seem incredibly relatable to the viewer instead of hopelessly romantic.

Some people will say this half-season of “Mad Men” was dull. To an extent, I agree. It’s not the speed-laced, makeout parties, catholic guilt or bayonet stabbings of last season – but there is something there. A settling down, or fighting to do anything but. There’s a tiredness but iching to return to the glory days. Everyone seems washed out, but they’ll come back to shore. Well, next year that is.


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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

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