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‘Mad Men’ Review: “The Strategy”

Mad Men the Strategy Review Joan Bob
AMC

Mad Men’ season 7 pitches its sixth episode of the final season, “The Strategy,” as Peggy bristles against Don’s involvement in the Burger Chef campaign, while Bob Benson returns with a proposition for Joan, and Pete finds a chilly reception at home.

Last week’s episode, “The Runaways,” saw Don finding an old friend complicating a visit to Megan in California, while Peggy was disturbed to find Ginsberg acting out of sorts, and Betty questioned her place in the Francis household. So what does the sixth episode of the final season bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ season 7 episode 6, “The Strategy”!

While Peggy continually garners research from mothers buying dinner at Burger Chef, Pete and Bonnie fly into New York for the weekend, Pete suggesting that Bonnie meeting his daughter might confuse the girl. A while later, Bonnie says hello to Don at work, before Pete personally invites Don to sit in on the Burger Chef pitch meeting. Peggy and Lou are surprised to see Don, but Don compliantly goes along with Peggy’s commercial pitch for a mother taking her family to dinner at the restaurant.

Across town, Roger has an unpleasant steam room encounter with Jim McCann, who downplays the league status of Sterling-Cooper and makes mention of Buick. Back at the office, Pete calls Peggy in for a meeting with Lou, and insists that while he loves Peggy’s work on the campaign, it would be best for their chances if Don delivered the presentation. Peggy reluctantly acquiesces, though not without making her disappointment known. Upstairs, Bob Benson introduces the Chevy account men around, and makes plans to spend the day with Joan.

Peggy delivers Don the news of his presentation as if it were her own idea, while Don ponders if they might consider shooting the commercial from the child’s perspective, The question is interrupted by the arrival of Megan, who surprises Don to take him to dinner. That night, Bob Benson awakens to a call from the police, asking him to pick up one of the Chevy account executives, having been arrested for attempting to fellate an undercover officer. On the cab ride back, the account man Will laments how easy it is for gay men to get in trouble, before revealing that Chevy plans on moving their business in house, while Buick will offer Bob a position away from Sterling-Cooper.

While Don and Megan resolve to spend the day together, Pete arrives home to find his daughter reluctant to see him, and Peggy begins to doubt her work on the Burger Chef campaign. Peggy heads to the office and calls Stan for advice, ultimately getting drunk and calling Don to insult his proposed change to the campaign, accusing him of undermining her. Later, Pete brings Tammy home and decides to wait around for Trudy, accusing her of being promiscuous when she returns home. Elsewhere, Bob arrives to Joan’s apartment and provides gifts for the family, claiming to have struck out on finding Joan something.

Bonnie returns to the hotel room to find Pete, though she grows upset with him for returning to his New York ways rather than keep her company. Meanwhile, Don arrives to the office to find Peggy still bitter about his “ruining” her work on the campaign, before Don suggests they work together on the thought process, and start from the beginning again. Back at Joan’s place, Bob surprises her with an engagement ring and a kiss, though Joan quickly asserts her knowledge of Bob’s sexuality, and turns him down. Bob reveals that Chevy will be leaving Sterling-Cooper while Buick takes him, and explains that the marriage arrangement will solve both their image issues, before Joan retorts they should both want love, and ushers Bob out.

Still drinking, Don and Peggy discuss abandoning the idea of the mother being a homemaker, before the conversation turns to Peggy’s lapsed 30th birthday, and her own fears of failure in life. Don assures Peggy that he never worries about her, but admits that he sometimes feels alone as well, before inviting Peggy to dance to the ambient record.

The following Monday, Cutler confirms that Chevy will be moving the XP account elsewhere, while Joan surprises Roger with the news that she’d already known. Cutler proposes they take out an ad in the papers promoting their business with the new computer, making Harry Crane a partner in the process, something that divides the room but reluctantly passes. Upstairs, Joan explains to Roger that she’d only heard the news from Bob Benson, leading Roger to realize that Jim McCann had been mentioning Buick in the steam room for fear Sterling-Cooper would go after it.

Don and Peggy meet Pete in a Burger Chef restaurant, pitching Peggy’s new idea to shoot the commercial inside the location, rather than at home. Pete dislikes the vague idea of family and instead wants to focus on the mother, but Don urges Pete to accept Peggy’s work for what it is.

OUR REVIEW:

Naturally, “The Strategy” wasn’t going to bring anything quite so crazy as Ginsberg handing over his own nipple, or Megan tempting Don into a threesome, but last night’s installment still ended up with a few structural burdens. It’s bizarre to think that next week’s “Waterloo” represents the last of ‘Mad Men’ we’ll see in 2014, thanks to AMC’s vastly unnecessary split of the final season, though if we have to begin saying goodbye all over again, “The Strategy” was certainly a strong episode with which to do so.

Absent any crazed scenework, ‘The Strategy” got back to doing what ‘Mad Men’ does best in driving home a few central themes, notably between Don, Peggy and Pete, who each come to grips with lamenting their lacking concepts of family, and using the change to further era-defining advertising work. No longer can Peggy ignore her age or the signs of motherhood around her, nor can Pete deny the said state of affairs between his daughter and soon to be ex-wife, while even Don has his ideas of reconciliation with Megan shattered. So too must the idea of a family be redefined to break free of a 1955 mentality, something neatly driven home when Bob Benson too attempts to circumvent the traditional family structure for image purposes.

Next week’s midseason finale also has a nice bit of setup going in the business’ pursuit of Philip Morris and potentially Buick, but how well “Waterloo” actually builds to some kind of midseason crescendo is anyone’s guess, considering the “next on” promo couldn’t be bothered to display any new footage, whether cryptically or not. However it all shakes out, “The Strategy” still gave us some of the strongest ‘Mad Men’ we’ve had all season, finally getting the Don and Peggy relationship back on track with some of the more stimulating and sweet exchanges between the pair, amid some strong character declarations for all.

Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s latest, “The Strategy”? Get yourself caught up with Everything You Need to Know About ‘Mad Men,’ stay tuned for more coverage of the season, and check back again next Sunday for our review of ‘Mad Men’ season 7′s final installment of 2014, “Waterloo,” on AMC!

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