'Mad Men's Peggy Just Became The Don In The Mid-Season Finale
We've been on this road for seasons now, and finally we've got a taste of victory: after a rough go in most of Mad Men Season 7 Peggy just became the new Don. She certainly wasn't the focus of the episode — what with Megan not dying, Don narrowly getting pushed out of SC&P, and Bert Cooper dying — it was hard for Peggy to be the focus. However, by the end of Mad Men's midseason finale, she got her big moment.
The night before she, Pete, and Don presented to Burger Chef, Don pulled Peggy aside and asked her to be the one to deliver the signature romantic overture to the could-be client. She panicked. There wasn't enough time, she told Don. "I'm the woman; I'm the voice of moms," she worried. She thought she couldn't hack it. Don, the increasingly wise man that he is, knew immediately that she could in fact hack it (he says he wouldn't have approached her if he didn't think so) and left her to take the stage. When the meeting came, he gave her the sweet, complimentary introduction she'd planned to give him — just as she had plenty of times before — and Peggy proceeded to become the new and improved Don Draper. Peggy is his protege, and finally, after all these seasons, we got to see her take take that rightful spot as his successor.
She delivers a speech about family and taking back the dinner table and practically brings a tear to the clients' eyes, just as Original Recipe Don used to be able to do. Not only did she hold her own as Don's replacement, she absolutely killed it. When she tossed a giddy side glance to her mentor, the deal was sealed: Peggy has just succeeded. In that moment, we can almost see her journey from unsure secretary to Don's project to Don's underling to the boss that she's become. It's been a long road, but Peggy has finally arrived.
Of course, what makes this moment that much sweeter is a conversation between Pete and Don on the plane on the way to Indianapolis, where Burger Chef's headquarters were once located. Pete suggests that once Don turns on his usual presentation and all its charms, those in support of his firing from SC&P might change their tunes. Pete's convinced that Don is a prized piece of "horse flesh" (as he calls Don earlier in the episode) and that he is the key to this company's success.
At this precarious time, Don gives the reins over to Peggy and essentially proves that the team can survive without him. He gives Peggy her moment in the sun — and it later continues when his meeting with the partners forces Burger Chef to deliver the good news directly to her. I would say this is an image of selfless Don, but he does get satisfaction out of this moment: He gets to know that this is the career he's made possible.
And while it's absolutely thrilling to see Peggy finally hit the top (well, the top of her initial career plan — now she can reassess and shoot for the moon), her moment does feel a wee bit overshadowed. Don's job is on the line, Bert Cooper's life has been extinguished, and Don & Roger's deal is the big question hanging over everything. Of course, we still have seven episodes to get through in Spring 2015, so perhaps once all this Don business is a bit cleared up, we can get what really came for: Peggy absolutely ruling Madison Avenue. (With Joanie by her side, of course.)