Talk about a demotion! What's Peggy doing chasing down customers in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant?
Oh, just demonstrating the pluck and ambition necessary for a woman to climb the corporate ladder in 1969 (or today, for that matter). As usual, of course, her male colleagues (even the ones who work beneath her) aren't struggling quite so mightily.
While Peggy burns the midnight oil, Pete joins the Mile High Club, then swoops into the NYC office to inform Peggy that despite the fact that Burger Chef has been her baby from day one, she won't be allowed to pitch her campaign idea to the client.
That honor, of course, will go to her disgraced but still imposing former boss, Don Draper.
Clinging desperately to her dignity, Peggy presents the idea to Don as her own and demotes herself to the "voice of moms."
Don is naturally thrilled to be back in the driver's seat and immediately begins suggesting changes to Peggy's campaign. Peggy leaves his office cast down and defeated, only to be confronted by yet another reminder that for all of her accomplishments, she'll never be Don...
Megan is apparently back in NYC (So that's why Don was tidying up the apartment!) and not only is she a living symbol of the fact that Peggy is chronically unlucky in love, in what's meant to pass as a compliment, Megan suggests that maybe, just maybe one day Peggy will be as good as Don.
Little does Mrs. Draper know, Don continues to have considerable career troubles of his own. A brief exchange between Cutler and Roger indicates that Don's return to SC&P may be a short-lived triumph.
As Peggy's difficulties indicate, the 1960s weren't easy for career women. Ya know who those years were also kinda tough on? Gay men! (Also minorities, immigrants, the lower classes...pretty much anyone who didn't look and live an awful lot like Don Draper.)
But despite the prejudice that he's faced since starting at SC&P, Bob Benson is making progress in Detroit, and it seems his sexual orientation (and his discretion) may actually be helping him get ahead at GM.
Bob bails out an exec who was busted "fellating an undercover officer" and learns that while SC&P is soon to lose their beloved car account, Bob himself may have a bright future with Buick.
Speaking of unexpected surprises: is Pete Campbell actually showing a human side and attempting to bond with his daughter?! Well, yes, he's trying, but like all of Pete's best laid plans, this one doesn't pan out quite as he'd expected,
Not only does Pete scare little Tammy off with his creepy over-parenting, he unleashes a beer-drunk tirade on his soon-to-be-ex-wife before trashing his daughter's birthday cake. Oh, and while doing all this, he may have ruined his rebound relationship. Way to go, Pete!
Pete's former rival "Uncle Bob," is a far more popular presence around Joan's house, where he's taken up the role Roger wishes he was playing as her son's father figure. Unexpectedly, Bob proposes to the bombshell-turned-single-mom for the sake of his career. Less surprisingly, she shoots him down.
Fortunately, one platonic couple is faring much better. After months of feuding, a late night heart-to-heart and a situationally appropriate Sinatra ditty put Don and Peggy back on good terms. (Downside: their reunion scene certainly won't help squash rumors that Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss are dating in real life.)
Don may have intentionally undermined Peggy's confidence with regard to Burger Chef, but the Don-Peggy slow dance is so damn heartwarming, we actually believe one tender moment can heal some pretty some pretty deep Draper-inflicted wounds.
What's far less believable is the idea of the other partners accepting Harry Crane as one of their own.
Yes, Harry rises to the top, while Peggy continues to toil away with relatively little recognition. Such was the sad state of working women in the 60s.
In "The Strategy," The ease with which men like Don and Pete breeze through life is contrasted with the constant struggles faced by Peggy and Joan in a way that reminds us of everything that those women have overcome and gives added meaning to Peggy's emotional re-working of her Burger Chef pitch.
When Peggy talks about the need for "an answer to a crisis" in the same breath that she mentions the the Vietnam War draft, it's safe to say she's talking about far more than the convenience of a fast food chain.
But despite the turmoil of the late 60s, the shake-ups at SC&P and the uncertain personal lives of Don, Pete and Peggy, the episode's concluding shot of the three lonely hearts who have been at the center of this series from day one seems to suggest that somehow, everything will be okay.
Watch Mad Men online at TV Fanatic to enjoy seven seasons' worth of unexpectedly moving moments.