Mad Men Season 3, Episode 7: "Seven Twenty Three" - Recap

How does a TV show follow perhaps one the best episodes ever in its run? If it's Mad Men, it does so by only getting better. I'm sure many will argue that this episode didn't pack the same punch as the previous one - there was, after all, no mowing over of an ad exec's foot. But in the same way I laughed through the over-the-top horror last week, I found myself compelled by the intricacies of this week's mini-bombshells, the ones whose seeds were planted early this season and are just now blooming.

The jaw-dropping blood spray was replaced with an unsettling narrative structure. The show settled for quiet-but-powerful one-liners ("I don't want to have any more contact with Roger Sterling") and cold stares instead of screaming secretaries and fainting copywriters. Gone was the roaring John Deere engine, and in its place Betty silently swoons while thinking of a man other than her husband.

Mad Men doesn't get much better than this.

"I'm not worried about you. I'm worried about Duck." - Pete Campbell

And worry you should, Pete. Duck Phillips sends Peggy a Herm's scarf, in an attempt to woo her to join Grey Advertising. (He sends Pete a box of Cuban cigars.) Pete tells Peggy not to accept the gift, and points out that Duck's real motivation in seducing them is to get back at Don for squeezing him out of Sterling Cooper. Peggy seems to take Pete's advice to heart, and tells Duck to stop harassing her.

She does, however, end up returning the scarf to Duck in person. That leads to a drink (not for on-the-wagon-again Duck, mind you), which leads to a kiss, which leads to this: "I want to take you into that bedroom, lock the door, throw you on the bed, take off your clothes with my teeth and give you a go-round like you've never had," Duck says. That might be the most convincing pitch we've ever heard from Duck! And it works well enough for Peggy to spend the night and even have another "go-round" for breakfast. (Aside: We've loathed Duck ever since he turned Chauncey loose on Madison Avenue, but his behavior this week is a new low. I felt greasy just watching him come on to Peggy.)

Peggy is her own woman, but I think she ended up where she did because of Don. After again being slapped down by the one person from whom she seeks approval ("Put your nose down and pay attention to your work because there isn't one thing you've done that I couldn't live without," Don says), Peggy settles instead for another man in power who wants to give her some attention. Even so, and as Duck notes, Peggy is still Don's girl. I couldn't help but think of just how much Peggy has modeled herself after Don when we see her in the office wearing yesterday's disheveled outfit. And I think Don noticed too. That, or he knows that she knows that the bandage on his nose is not the result of a fender bender. (More on that later.)

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