In this week’s Mad Men, the characters grapple with the death of a famous leader* and the accelerating sense that things are falling apart in the world at large. But personally? Something small but perceptible seems to give in “The Flood.” For the first time so far this sixth season, a few of our favorite characters are treading new (and healthier?) emotional ground.
The women really came out on top again this episode, which begins with Peggy looking at an Upper East Side apartment. It’s 1,290 square feed and costs $28,000. When her boyfriend, Abe, shows up, the real estate agents begin pitching to him—but it’s “not his decision,” they inform her. Though they will be moving into the apartment together, Peggy is the one with the purchasing power.
Next we visit The Advertising Club of New York’s annual awards dinner, where the only two people up for awards from Sterling Cooper Draper Price are Peggy and Megan Draper—two women who no longer work there. It’s nice to get a glimpse of Peggy and Megan (up for an award for her work with Heinz baked beans in season 5) chatting alone together pre-ceremony. They had a good energy together, and a mutual respect for one another’s talents that’s encouraging in its anti-female-cattiness narrative.
At the Francis household, Henry announces that he thinks he’ll run for a seat in the state Senate, potentiating Betty really getting to ramp up her Political Wife ambitions (something that, sadly, seems just as destined to leave her unfulfilled and unhappy as all of Don’s affairs and accolades).
But we do learn of something this season—perhaps the first thing?—that has not ended up ultimately disappointing Don Draper: His children. In a speech that starts out seemingly confirming his endless empathy deficit, Don admits to “faking” his love for his children for many years. But then:
“They get older, you see them do something, and you feel that feeling you were pretending to have, and it feels like your heart is going to explode.”
It’s a good speech (though I couldn’t help thinking about how different reactions to it might turn out had it been Betty doing the talking). But Don looks old, tired and bloated giving it, and drunk in a highly unglamorous way.
Back at Peggy’s current apartment, she gets a call from her real estate agent informing her she’s been outbid on the apartment. When Abe reacts nonchalantly, she questions why he doesn’t care where they live. He tells her he didn’t feel he had a right to say, considering it wasn’t his money; but he doesn’t like the Upper East Side. He had this idea that they would “raise kids where there are more different types of people,” like the West Side in the 80s.
Peggy smiles. So did I. Though Mad Men has a tendency to punish those with expectations, it does let them have moments. And right now, in this little moment, it looks like Peggy Olson—the girl from a Brooklyn who could have wound up with Pete Campbell’s baby (the same Pete Campbell who is currently banished from his own wife, child and home and fruitlessly attempting to communicate with food delivery men) in season one—could just wind up ‘having it all.’
* That’s all I’ll say, though it’s one of the few plot points that seemed inevitable and if you’ve been on the Internet today and follow entertainment news, you probably already know what happens.