Tonight’s episode of Mad Men, season 7, episode 6 included a couple of surprises thanks to Bob Benson and a heart-warming scene between Peggy and Don.

Our recap breaks down the events of Mad Men season 7’s “The Strategy,” the penultimate new episode of the year.

Burger Chef equals family

The episode begins with Pete on a flight back to New York with Bonnie, and although he won’t take her to see his daughter Tammy, he’s happy to join the Mile High Club. Fun aside (and look at that tan he and Bonnie have earned!), his first day back at SC&P’s New York office focuses on a meeting about Burger Chef with Lou, Peggy, partner-to-be Harry, and (at the request of Pete) Don.

Peggy’s pitch to the men goes off without a hitch, “and” (“not but”) in a meeting with Pete and Lou, the former suggests that Don gives the presentation to Burger Chef. Why? Don will give authority, Peggy will give emotion, Pete argues. She agrees with a smile but doesn’t seem thrilled about it once she leaves the office.

The positive vibes about the work continue to slide downward when Don puts an alternate idea in Peggy’s head and she starts second-guessing her work. After working on it all day, she calls Don with a drink in hand and blames him for the doubt.

He comes in the next day while she’s still working feverishly. Peggy thinks that Don is keeping a great idea a secret so he can pitch it during the meeting himself and look like the hero.

Trying to convince her that’s not the case (and honestly, from a viewer perspective it was hard to read him), the two begin working together and enter a dark discussion about family life in what may be one of the best episodes for the Don/Peggy friendship since “The Suitcase.” She comes clean about her child, too. “I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about you,” Don tells her reassuringly. When Peggy asks what he has to worry about, he says he feels like he hasn’t done anything and doesn’t have anyone.

That’s when Peggy tearfully sparks an idea: That Burger Chef is a place where whoever you’re at the table with in the restaurant is family. The two then adorably dance to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” when it comes on the radio.

They pitch the idea to Pete while they sit down at a Burger Chef for a meal. Their smiles show as the camera rolls away, and they too are a family.

Trouble at home

Pete visits Trudy and Bonnie, but his daughter is not interested in interacting with dad. Trudy doesn’t seem interested either because she’s nowhere to be found. She shows up late at night, and Pete yells at her for being with another man while she’s raising a daughter. She reminds him, however, that they’re getting a divorce. Pete has a big arrogance about him in this scene and he appears to be confident with his actions.

Bob Benson

Bob is back, and up to more hijinks. There were a couple of interesting revelations tonight: One, he’s gay (and gives Joan’s child an erector set – oh, the symbolism). Two, Buick is going to hire him.

Adding to the surprises, Bob offers Joan a marriage proposal. She’s above the affection, however, and goes so far as to point out that he can’t be with a woman even though he didn’t come out to her – she’s got quite the gaydar! He reveals he’s going to Buick, and SC&P lost Chevy. After offering her a life in Detroit, she turns him down with an impassioned speech about wanting real love. Needless to say, Joan kicked ass tonight.

Other notes

– Jim is getting closer to Philip Morris and wants Roger to help nab them, but he’s not so interested because it means losing Don.

– Harry Crane is named a partner because, in Don’s words, he’s very loyal. Roger naturally hates the idea.

Next week’s episode is the mid-season finale, and a preview uses clips from the season so far to tout what looks like an action-packed farewell.

What did you think of ‘Mad Men’ season 7, episode 6?

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