Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "The Suitcase"

Season 4, Episode 7
Episode Synopsis: A rapidly approaching deadline causes consternation and throws things into a tizzy at the agency.
Original Air Date: Sep 5, 2010

Full Episode
click to playclick to play
Season 4, Episode 7
Paid | iTunes
Length: 47:36
Aired: 9/5/2010
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
play more info

Mad Men Episode Recap: "The Suitcase" Season 4, Episode 7

"Somebody very important to me died." Don Draper
"Who?" Peggy
"The only person in the world who really knew me." Don Draper
"That's not true." Peggy

While the rest of the world was watching (and losing money on) the second bout of Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, a much more personal boxing match was going on inside the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices. Don tries to avoid making a phone call destined to bring him earth-shattering bad news by making his protégé, Peggy, stay behind to help him with a troublesome Samsonite ad. The result is one of the series' finest hours, allowing each character to jab the other with various grievances. But they ultimately come to realize what we already knew: These characters love each other — enough to stand by and pick the other up when life delivers a knockout punch.

It's no secret that Don and Peggy have always been kindred spirits, but it's been a while since Mad Men put them in the same room together as much as it did in this episode. And I wouldn't be surprised to see more of it. While Don mourns the loss of Anna Draper, he should take comfort in the fact that Peggy does know him. She may not know the Dick Whitman that Anna loved, but Peggy knows more about polished ad man Don Draper than anyone. And she got a crash course in Whitman 101 straight from Dick's mouth over dinner. Perhaps now, Don's life raft isn't 3,000 miles across the country, but in the office next door.

"And you should be thanking me every day when you wake up, along with Jesus, for giving you another day." — Don Draper

Not only does Don hate the way Cassius Clay (who still hadn't been accepted as Muhammad Ali by everyone at this point) promotes himself as the greatest, he's also apparently not a fan of rookie footballer Joe Namath. So, when Peggy & Co. pitch him as a celebrity endorser of Samsonite's new suitcase, Don shoots it down. "I'm glad this is an environment where you feel free to fail," Don tells Peggy when the others leave the room, giving her until the end of the day to come up with something new.

But when Don receives word from Miss Blankenship that Stephanie has called urgently from California, Don can't bring himself to hear the bad news. Instead, he cancels his plans to watch the fight with Roger and stays behind to work. And, as always, he sucks Peggy in as well, even though she has plans to celebrate her 26th birthday with boyfriend Mark. "I gave you more responsibility and you didn't do anything," Don scolds when he sees the new ideas, all of which he hates.

Finally furious enough to speak up, Peggy throws Don's drinking in his face, suggesting the only reason she is working on her birthday is because they are pursuing Danny's "stupid idea" after Don drunkenly stole Danny's "other stupid idea" and had to hire him. "Don't get personal because you didn't do your work," Don warns, just as Peggy finally lets out her aggravation about her Glo-Coat idea going unnoticed. Don basically tells Peggy that he pays her to take her ideas ("You never even say thank you," Peggy yells. "That's what the money is for!" Don replies) and make them work, and that she should be thankful he allows her to stay in the bullpen pitching. And Peggy sobs in the bathroom.

"I know what I'm supposed to want, but it never feels right, or at least not as important as what we do in that office." — Peggy Olsen

Of course, Peggy isn't just sobbing because Don is an ass. The tears are also for the other asses in her life: her boyfriend and her drunken ex, Duck Phillips, who tries to woo her back into his life by offering her a job as creative director at his would-be upstart. Even though Peggy knows it's a pipe dream because Duck is a drunk, at least he knows what Peggy wants, unlike Mark, who invites Peggy's entire family and her roommate to their "romantic" birthday dinner. "You used my birthday to get in good with people who drive me crazy," Peggy scolds, before Mark ultimately breaks up with her. It's just as bad with Duck, who actually shows up at the office to win Peggy back by...defecating on Roger Sterling's office furniture.

Like Don, whose romantic entanglements also seem to end badly, Peggy finds the satisfaction she's looking for in her work. After listening to some of Roger's notes for his new book — which include information about Roger hooking up with Miss Blankenship and the fact that Bert Cooper doesn't have his testicles — Peggy and Don are able to laugh their way past the fight and celebrate Peggy's birthday, not at a fancy Greek restaurant, but at a Greek diner. There, they discuss the thin line between a good idea and an awful one, and they both agree that while the process is like banging your head against the wall, the moment when the right idea wins out is magical.

But behind all the talk of work, these two deepen their personal connection. Like Don, Peggy saw her father die in front of her when she was young. This leads Don to discuss his father's unfortunate death by horse, his Uncle Mac, and the idea that he is a "yokel" who can tall rats from mice because of his days on the farm. Sure, Peggy doesn't get a full peek behind the curtain, but how often has Don opened up this way to anyone else?

Peggy follows suit, offering up that everyone thinks Peggy got her job by sleeping with Don. She even notes that her mother believes Don was the father of her child, since he showed up to visit her at the hospital. Don admits that if Peggy wasn't a co-worker, he might give her a second look, and Peggy admits missing the baby she gave away when she is at playgrounds. Digging back into the pasts that both characters "moved forward" from and forgot about isn't something they're supposed to do. But there's no risk between these two, because they both know what it is to carry a secret, and their conversation displays a shorthand only they can understand.

"How long are you going to go on like this?" — Peggy Olsen

Of course, the argument could be made that Don is so forthcoming about his past because he is drunk, the state in which he feels most comfortable this season. Don's seemingly endless vomiting in the bathroom when he and Peggy return to the office was almost as painful to listen to as it was for Peggy to watch. Especially after Duck turns up, and Peggy sees the drunken dead end that at the end of the road Don is currently walking. When Duck sees Peggy is working late with Don, he assumes she is back to "screwing" Don. Don defends Peggy's honor, swinging (and missing) when Duck calls her a whore. But even when we Peggy walks away from the fight with Duck, we know she will come back to check on Don. And even though we know it, it's still incredibly touching when she does.

So, Peggy stays the night while Don sleeps in her lap. And she's there the next morning when he makes the call he's dreaded — there to see him turn into his own sobbing mess when Anna's death is confirmed. And she's there when Don freshens himself up and uses the famous image of Clay standing over Liston to craft the perfect ad for Samsonite. I can't help but hope that Peggy will be the one to pull Don our of his drunken downward spiral. Though this show has proven again and again that people don't change easily, I find it incredibly optimistic that when Peggy leaves his office, Don chooses to leave his door open, something we haven't seen much of this season.

Peggy may not be Duck's creative director, or a Clio winner, but I think she knows that she is still the girl who Don begged to come work for him in the Season 3 finale. And now, she is something to him that is more important than any of those other things. She may never fill Anna's void, but Don has somebody who knows him, somebody to be his home base. And he knows it, as he takes her hand in much the same way she did in the pilot. Back then, they were strangers and Peggy was being inappropriate. But now, they are soul mates, and like Anna and Dick, they know everything about one another and still love each other.

A few other thoughts:

• How great was pregnant Trudy? Just a few lines, and she both inadvertently slapped Peggy in the face ("Don't worry, 26 is still very young,") and made me cackle ("I want to eat a rare steak and watch two men pound each other").

• Also, what about that look Pete gave Peggy and Trudy when they came out of the bathroom together. Christ on a cracker, that can't happen!

• It's hilarious that we learn so much about Bert Cooper and he didn't even appear on screen. Also, note that Sterling, who is now being edged out by the younger generation, says Cooper hated him when they first met because of his youth. And his "romantic prowess" with the "queen of perversions, Ida Blankenship."

• Also, Roger finally answers the Dr. Lyle Evans mystery from a few episodes back. He was the doctor who performed Cooper's orchiectomy, so Roger's joke about being overtaken by the Japanese clients was one only Cooper could get.

• Another classic line from Roger, who is drunk despite being out to dinner with teetotaler Freddy Rumsen and another sober buddy: "And they're self-so-righteous!"

• Miss Blankenship was reigned in this week, but still got to deliver this terribly inappropriate line: "If I wanted to see two negroes fight, I'd throw a dollar bill out my window."

• And finally, Peggy, gets one playful jab in at Don after his insistence about not mixing his love life with work, even though Peggy is an attractive girl. "Not as attractive as some of your other secretaries, I guess?"

What did you think of the episode?

show less

"Somebody very important to me died." Don Draper
"Who?" Peggy
"The only person in the world who really knew me." Don Draper
"That's not true." Peggy

While the rest of the world was watching (and losing money on) the second bout of Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, a much more personal boxing match was going on inside the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices. Don tries to avoid making a phone call destined to bring him earth-shattering bad news by making his protégé, Peggy, stay behind to help him with a troublesome Samsonite ad. The result is one of the series' finest hours, allowing each character to jab the other with various grievances. But they ultimately come to realize what we already knew: These characters love each other — enough to stand by and pick the other up when life delivers a knockout punch.

It's no secret that Don and Peggy have always been kindred spirits, but it's been a while since Mad Men put them in the same room together as much as it did in this episode. And I wouldn't be surprised to see more of it. While Don mourns the loss of Anna Draper, he should take comfort in the fact that Peggy does know him. She may not know the Dick Whitman that Anna loved, but Peggy knows more about polished ad man Don Draper than anyone. And she got a crash course in Whitman 101 straight from Dick's mouth over dinner. Perhaps now, Don's life raft isn't 3,000 miles across the country, but in the office next door... read more

Related Links

Other Links:
Elisabeth Moss, Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Tags:
AMC, Breaking News, TV Recaps

Are You Watching?

Loading ...
Premiered: July 19, 2007, on AMC
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (1,157 ratings)
Add Your Rating: 1 stars2 stars3 stars4 stars5 stars
Premise: A look at the high-powered world of advertising in 1960s New York City, from the boardroom to the bedroom.

Cast

Shop

Mad Men: Season 6
Buy Mad Men: Season 6 from Amazon.com
From Lionsgate (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $16.98 (as of 4:28 PM EST - more info)
Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems
Buy Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems from Amazon.com
From Wiley (Paperback)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $12.11 (as of 4:28 PM EST - more info)

More Products

TV GUIDE Users' Most Popular