No, not like that, but after ‘Mad Men’ spent most of its April 13 premiere showing its two main characters — Don Draper and Peggy Olsen — wallowing in their own pools of disappointment, it’s clear that the two need to reunite to regain that entrancing mojo.
The Season 7 premiere of Mad Men — the last one the show will ever have — was all about the many concrete changes the show’s characters are dealing with, but it was also about those characters looking at their lives and having a distinct feeling of longing and disappointment. No two characters seemed more let down than Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss), as one found himself stuck between two coasts, while the other realized that all her professional ladder-climbing has left her still feeling empty. But listen you two, I’ve got a plan to turn those frowns upside-down.
‘Mad Men’ Season Premiere: Don & Peggy Need To Reunite
Let me start by saying that I realize this is Mad Men, and that happy endings aren’t really their thing, so the plan I’m about to lay out will likely be extremely naive and embarrassingly hopeful. But watching the premiere last night, it seemed very clear to me that the only things that are going to fill the massive holes in Don and Peggy’s hearts are each other.
I wouldn’t dream of speaking in a romantic sense — the smartest thing the show has ever done is resist the temptation to hook these two up — but these two need each other.
After being put on indefinite hiatus at the end of Season 6, Don is a man without a country, stopping in Los Angeles to see a wife who disdains him and a city that no longer belongs just to him. The once-great creative genius now spends his days feeding Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) his best ad pitches. He still has that incredible touch and ability to make a wristwatch dramatic and desirable, but he doesn’t have anyone who wants to listen to him anymore.
He’s got this beautiful Manhattan apartment, but he can’t even close the sliding door.
And then there’s Peggy, who pushed her way past a mountain of bias to become an elite copywriter. But she’s still so thirsty. All of the things she thought would come with her prestigious job have not — no one strives for greatness the way she does, owning a building isn’t as glamorous as she imagined, and most importantly, she’s still very alone. By the end of the episode, she’s left bawling on her apartment floor with nowhere to go and no one to go to.
‘Mad Men’: Don Draper & Peggy Olsen Are Meant For Each Other
Any other season, Peggy would have at least been able to take refuge in her relationship with Don, which wasn’t good per se, but was comfortable. Peggy has always felt most fulfilled when being pushed to her limit by Don (Is this healthy? No.), and really, that’s when she’s been at her strongest.
And Don doesn’t need a better wife — he needs a counterpart. It’s no surprise that Peggy fell in love with “Freddy’s pitch,” since it was born from the lips of her mentor. But clearly, not everyone wants to shake the earth with their work the way Peggy and Don do. “I guess I’m immune to your charms,” Peggy’s new boss Lou Avery (Allan Havey) tells her after shooting down the pitch, a line that makes it so painstakingly clear how different he and Don are.
At its core, Mad Men has always been about Don and Peggy’s relationship, and I think they’re as sick of this break as I am. At the end of the episode Freddy advised Don that he needs to cut himself off from Sterling Cooper & Partners and take a new position before he becomes “damaged goods.” And while I agree that feeding Freddy Rumsen pitches all day isn’t the most sustainable career choice, I don’t think Don needs to be taking interviews at other agencies.
He needs to go out on his own, and Peggy needs to be his second in command. These two may never truly find happiness — but I think they need each other to get as close as possible. And be honest, wouldn’t an agency with a nice ring to it, Draper & Olsen, be a fitting way to end this saga?
— Andrew Gruttadaro