The Suitcase

You know you are in for an excellent episode when Matthew Weiner solely writes an episode of Mad Men and it is revolved around a pretty big historical event.  On Sunday night, “The Suitcase” premiered and what I witnessed was on of the best episodes of television I have ever seen and certainly one of the best episodes of Mad Men. The episode revolved around the February 1965 boxing match between Cassius Clay and Sunny Liston. Clay was the underdog who beat former champion Liston. Clay would go on to become Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time. It was a perfect metaphor for Don and Peggy; as Don’s greatness was ending, Peggy’s was rising.

When I first started watching Man Men, Don Draper became someone I loved, someone who made me laugh, cringe, and cry.  On Sunday night, I fell in love with Mad Men all over again thanks to the suburb acting from Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss and the beautiful script written by Matthew Weiner.

We haven’t seen much of Don and Peggy together this season. We’ve seen bits and pieces, like when Peggy was peeping through her window to check on Don after Alison threw a paperweight at him. But last night, we saw an evolution in their relationship. They had been through a lot since we first met them nearly four years ago.  The Suitcase closed the door on one of Don’s most profound relationships, the one with Anna, and opened one with Peggy.

The episode began when Don’s secretary, the nutty Ida Blankenship told him he had a call from California that was urgent. Don knew what it was, that his beloved Anna had passed away and he couldn’t work up the nerve to call to hear the news. Instead he released his anger out of Peggy and her creative team on the Samsonite project. It was Peggy’s birthday and she had plans but when Don started yelling at her saying and complaining, she gave in and stayed. Through out the night you saw Peggy struggle as she tried to figure out weather to stay with Don, who was obviously getting drunker by the minute or head out and meet up with her boyfriend Mark to celebrate her birthday. She eventually made the decision to stay with Don and sacrificed her relationship with Mark who had just dumped her over the phone.

As the night progressed you began to see something change in Don and Peggy’s relationship, they began opening up to each other in a way they hadn’t in the past. Don began revealing stuff to her that he had never told her. Don subtly told Peggy about his father, mother, Korea, his Uncle Mac; stuff about Dick Whitman’s past, not Don Drapers past. Though Peggy still doesn’t know that his real name is not Don Draper, Don is comfortable around her, because he knows she will not judge. One thing I found so fascinating was that both Peggy and Don witnessed their dads die in front of them, how odd it that?

“When one door closes another opens.”

Does that not ring true after last night’s episode? Anna died, the one person who Don believed Don tells Peggy that Anna was “the only person in the world who really knew me.” As she rubs his back, Peggy tells him: “That’s not true.” Someone on another blog earlier this season said that Peggy is Don’s “East Coast Anna.” That could not have been anymore evident in last night’s episode.  When Peggy came back to check on him later that morning, Don put his hand over Peggy’s, a nod to the very first episode of Mad Men, when Peggy placed hers over Dons. This shows how far their relationship has progressed. And as she left the office and asked him, “open or closed.” He said Open. He is knows that he is not alone; Peggy is there for him and always will be.

A couple of other notes about why this episode was amazing:

~The episode was titled “The Suitcase.” For those who watch Mad Men faithfully, if you notice, some of the BEST episodes of Mad Men involve a suitcase. Season 2’s episode “The Mountain King” when Don’s suitcase got lost and he was in California, right before we met Anna.

The episode ended with the suitcase ending up back at the Draper residence. Then last years season finale ended with Don walking alone to his new apartment, with just a suitcase, embracing the start to a new beginning. And now he is starting a new beginning again, one without Anna, and embracing one with Peggy.

~ Roger’s taped memoirs were great comic relief! No wonder Ms. Blankenship got the job!

~ I loved that awkward moment Pete faced when he saw his wife, Trudy, walk out of the ladies room with Peggy. His face was priceless! I wonder whats going to happen when Don finds out that Pete was the father of Peggy’s baby. That is defiantly going to make for an interesting episode.

And I just want to thank Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss because they blew it out of the water. With Bryan Cranston out of the running next year for the emmys, I think it’s finally Jon Hamm’s time to take home the trophy; same with Elisabeth Moss. I really don’t see many others topping their performances from this episode. Their acting was just so raw and exceptional. They are one of the primary reasons why Mad Men is such a treasure to watch.

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