Last Sunday was what will be (until possibly the finale) the most bittersweet episode of the series. It brought forth memories while moving the plot forward, in very vital ways for the characters, most of whom are growing, and it was still bittersweet, even for the ones that weren’t.
Let’s start with Joan, and not just because she always finds a way of being awesome. Her plot line was in my opinion the one that fell perfectly balanced in terms of being both bitter and sweet. Bob’s proposal was kinda sweet, but deeply insulting. She let Bob down in a very kind but frank attitude, and Joan’s response about waiting for love instead of making an arrangement was so empowering to watch. Not to mention that her response at the news about GM reminded us all why she is where she is as a career woman.
For an entirely different family situation, we can look at Pete. He’s also a man trying to lead a family, which is sweet, but the bitter part (which overwhelmed the sweet side of things), is that he thinks he can just walk back into Trudy and Tammy’s lives, and he received a rude awakening that he’s never going to have the easy life that he thinks he deserves.
For someone who’s family has already crumbled, keeping things together career wise is the only thing that Roger Sterling can really focus, or find fulfillment in. And it’s sweet that he keeps wanting to help Don, however with animosity from other partners about it, and thinly veiled offers from McCann to take him off their hands he’s bitterly figuring out that he may not be able to keep Don around forever.
And speaking of Don. It’s bitter for him to see that the divide is continuing to grow between himself and Megan, and his concerns about growing old alone are finally verbalized to Peggy, who has been a walking talking bag of insecurity ever since Don made a comment about playing with the strategy. How do I explain Peggy. My husband thinks she’s just annoying, but as someone with some insecurities of my own (not to derail this blog too much). I can relate because I understand what it’s like to finally feel like you shouldn’t need to prove anything to anyone (especially to people you used to feel like you had to prove everything to), and yet deeply need affirmation. That’s where Peggy has always been with Don. It never mattered how big she got, because even with his rehiring with demotion, for her Don never got smaller. His genuine affirmation for her, and her work (two separate intertwined needs) is something she’s craved, and for her and myself, their dance was as sweet as it gets.
The entire episode, with Joan’s personal life, Pete’s crumbling family, Don and Peggy’s insecurities, all contributed to the perfect strategy with the campaign decision made with the burger chain, because the concept of family is no longer the same as it was for this show, because it’s no longer what it was at the beginning of the sixties. Ideally it’s sweet that anyone who you share a meal with can be family, but the fact that that notion became common because families didn’t stay together is bitter. But it’s with that bittersweetness that the show, and really the era kept moving forward, leaving the safe and traditional behind in search of an independence that may not really satisfy.
Overall though, the episode was definitely satisfying, and I can’t wait till the next. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!