Mad Men’s Peggy Olson Is Our New Hero

Last night’s episode of Mad Men finally answered so many lingering questions about Peggy Olson and brought up ever so many more about Don Draper — namely, “Can Draper ever change?” Additionally, the parallels and the bond between Peggy and Don were illuminated, a deeper side was revealed to Bobbie Barrett, and we learned Pete’s spunk was just as potent as ever. Oh, and Peggy is our hero. No matter how hard he “tries”, Don just can’t quit Bobbie Barrett. Maybe it’s because her motto in life is also his: “This is America: Pick a job and become the person that does it.” The two go out to celebrate the pilot episode of her TV show getting green-lit and end up going on a drunk driving bender down to the beach. The two get in a car accident and are arrested. Don doesn’t have the money to pay the drunk driving fine ($150 and his blood alcohol level was .15%, BTW) and places a phone call. While my initial guess was that he definitely didn’t call Betty, but might have called Roger Sterling, my fiance guess right when he predicted Don called Peggy Olson.

As is revealed throughout the episode through flashback sequences, Don visited Peggy in the hospital after she gave birth and it’s implied that she had a nervous breakdown. Don clearly gave Peggy her alibi for why she was missing from work for so long, telling her in the hospital, “Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened”, because, of course, Don has done so himself. Don relying on Peggy after the accident was not only him calling in a favor that she owes him, but him also knowing just how much he can trust Peggy to be discrete. Still,Peggy tells Don that she doesn’t want him treating her badly, just because she reminds him of the accident.

Bobbie can hardly go home herself, so Peggy takes her in. While Bobbie smokes on Peggy’s couch, plying her with questions about her interest in Don as more than a work associate, she imparts a little wisdom: live the life of the person she wants to be, and treat Don only as an equal. Don’t try to be a man, but be a woman. I want to hate Bobbie, but the producers are forcing me to see a little of her appeal. Nicely done with the well-rounded character building. On the opposite end of the Madonna/Whore spectrum, back at the Draper house, Betty is angry at Don for not telling her that he has high blood pressure — you see, mixing his medicine with booze is what caused the accident. “I’m your wife, Don!” Oh, he knows. At the end of the episode, his lies once again bite him in the ass — no salt on his ketchup slathered meatloaf. “Why can’t Daddy have salt?” Sally asks. “Because we love him,” answers Betty.

Meanwhile, Pete and his wife still haven’t been able to conceive, so the two are seeing a doctor — as we already know, Pete’s spunk is totally viable, but his happiness at this news only upsets his wife, who’s own fertility must be the culprit. Vincent Kartheiser is such a fantastic actor, because MAN, is Pete Campbell easy to despise.

Don’s got a new assistant, a girl named Jane who describes herself as “a little bit clairvoyant”. Don’s decided not to talk to her for a month, to see if she lasts. It’s a good thing he’s got a new girl though — Joanie’s engaged to her doctor fella, and can’t stop showing off her ring. But she’s still got her underlings under control — when Jane shows off a little too much decolletage, Joan reprimands her and tells her to buy a sweater at lunch. I love that a happy, content, in love Joan doesn’t make for an any less sassy bitch-in-charge.

When Peggy comes in to work, Don is harsh with her, just as she feared. But Peggy doesn’t fear Don — she requests he pay her back for the bail money and the boldly calls him by his first, just like the others on staff, not “Mr. Draper”. Officially on equal ground, indeed.