Mad Men : A Brief Visualization of Don and Peggy’s Relationship
Image One: From Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, or the pilot. Peggy starts at Sterling Cooper and is assigned to Don as a secretary. The gossip around the office is that most secretaries are expected to sleep with whomever they’re assigned to, or at least flirt with them. Knowing this, Peggy (somewhat awkwardly) places a hand over Don’s during a stressful day. Don gently ignores the weak pass. He sees something special in Peggy and she becomes his protege. By the end of the first season, she’s the first woman in the agency to be promoted to copy writer, she knows a few things about Don and Don knows one of her deepest secrets.
Image Two: From Season Four’s The Suitcase. During the aftermath of his divorce, Don is falling apart. He’s drinking heavily, miserable at work, and more people know about his strange past than he likes. To top it all off, Anna, the woman who pretty much gave him a second shot at life, who gave him his identity, his closest confident, is dying of cancer and he’s on the other side of the country. After a stressful office squabble, Peggy and Don bond over their work and love lives, and eventually, Don reveals a big portion of his secrets to Peggy. They fall asleep on an office couch and Don has a vision of Anna, silently saying goodbye and giving him the suggestion that Peggy has replaced her as his confidant. By the end of the episode, Don has completely broken down and Peggy is there to comfort him as a friend. The episode ends with them discussing a suitcase campaign, standing over some copy that Don has been working on. They disagree, but ultimately Peggy encourages him. Then he clutches her hands and they stare at each other silently.
Image Three: From last nights episode, The Other Woman. Don, stressed about the Jaguar campaign, humiliates Peggy by throwing money at her when she requests that she works for a client that she helped land. This prompts her to look for another job, which she’s extremely tentative about at first. After landing an impressive gig elsewhere, she tries to talk to Don about quitting just when the news of Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce landing the Jaguar account comes through. The whole office celebrates, save for Don, who is frustrated that the partners essentially prostituted Joan to help get the account, a “strategy” he was strongly against. He pulls Peggy into his office to talk to him and she tells him how much having Don as a mentor as meant to her. But she also tells him she’s quitting. Don once again proceeds to humiliate her, taking her for granted just as he’s done all season. He wants a number, wants to know how much it will take to control Peggy, to keep her at the agency, all of which fits into the theme of the episode (the agency sells Jaguar on the idea of control, the car being a metaphor for a mistress and the tagline for the car being “Jaguar. Finally something beautiful you can truly own.”).
Unable to communicate his true feelings for Peggy with words, Don can only vent, frustrated. He tells her to leave immediately, never mind the typical two-weeks. But once he realizes that she’s serious, that she’s really leaving, and once the ramifications of that decision settle in, he takes her hand and kisses it tenderly. He knows he’ll miss her. He knows that she’s important to him. He knows that she’s helped him in so many ways. But he’s also unhappy at how the firm handled the situation with Jaguar and Joan. He’s proud of her. He’s glad he’s getting away from the disgusting men who try to control the woman at the agency; like Pete and Roger and…himself. The journey of their relationship, visualized always by both of their hands, is complete. For now.