There are plenty of cliffhangers and pending questions for Mad Men to answer before SCP closes its doors for good. Will Don spectacularly crash and burn? Will Roger be able to take the reigns as a leader? Is Megan going to go the way of Sharon Tate? Will Joan rule over everyone by series' end? But there is one big looming plot line the show hasn't touched or hinted at for a long time: will we ever return to that Season 1 mystery that was Pete and Peggy?
All good shows must come to an end and Matthew Weiner's AMC opus Mad Men is no exception. The stunning portrayal of changing American values told through the eyes of 1960s ad men has gripped audiences for the past 6 and a half seasons. The show will return this spring for the final half of its seventh season leading up to the series finale. Mad Men's series finale took a cue from its AMC cousin Breaking Bad and split its finale over two half seasons, in a measure that both delights and frustrates fans. On one hand, we have more time with the show, and on the other we're looking at a case of OMG why do we have to wait a whole year to see what happens already? Can you blame us for wondering which pieces of Mad Men's humble beginning will come roaring back? (No.)
Don't get me wrong; Pete's a pretty huge slimeball. Sure he's no Dr. McRapey but between his constant philandering to trying to destroy Don by exposing his past and all of his scheming in between, Pete Campbell isn't what you would call "dreamboat material."
But having said that, he and resident crowd favorite Peggy Olson do have a pretty significant past together. If you need a refresher, Peggy and Pete hooked up off and on early in the show, Peggy became pregnant, gave the baby away and never looked back (like a true badass, because choosing to raise a child is just that — a choice.) She finally comes clean to him about her pregnancy at the tail end of Season 2, when Pete tries to come on to her again telling her he loves her and "wished he picked [her] then."
Peggy's rebuttal is flawless, she maintains she's "not perfect" and that she could have "shamed him" into being with her. She leaves a stunned Pete behind and isn't fooled by his sudden tenderness. Suddenly putting Peggy on a pedestal doesn't make Pete a "nice guy"; it makes him a borderline sociopath who thinks he deserves to be with her just because he decides it's time.
On Vulture earlier this year, Weiner remarked that Pete was one of his favorite characters due to his complexity and that the above scene was hands down one of his favorites. That's a surefire sign we won't be left empty-handed with some meaningful sort of Pete and Peggy conclusion, He also says in the same piece that Pete has changed the most over the course of the show, going from marriage to children, to now an LA guy with a ton of affairs, drama and two parental deaths in between. The scene where he visits Beth Dawes in the hospital is a real poignant turning point for the character.
Meanwhile, Peggy has gone through numerous personal and professional evolutions and heartaches. From getting over Pete in her earlier naive days to learning what she doesn't want like agitator Abe Drexler who was an advocate of civil rights (unless you were talking about women), she's had a lot of triumphs. But, the upsets have been significant. Being a strong professional woman in an age that doesn't understand her clearly wears on Peggy, as we saw from her anger when she mistakes her secretary's flower delivery as her own or the heartache she felt when Ted abandoned her for Los Angeles.
While Pete is definitely not Peggy's soulmate (I'm still holding out for Peggy and Stan to be a thing) the two haven't had a significant personal plot line post their diverging growth. It would be exciting to see how they would approach each other now. Peggy is beyond strong and there is no denying the power she wields. Pete has had moments of growth and change, but he is still prone to moments of callousness and brash childlike behavior.
The Vulture piece conveys how much clear love Weiner has for his characters, especially Pete, so there is no doubt these old flames... turned office allies... turned people who just sort of work together will get a proper conclusion during this upcoming half season.
Image: Carin Baer/AMC