NOTE: I wrote this post between seasons 6 and 7. Then, in episode 7.03: Field Trip, Peggy thought she was eligible for a Clio for St. Joseph’s. I think that’s a continuity error because of what I wrote below, so I’m posting now.
Let’s blog a bit about Mad Men Episode 6.12, The Quality of Mercy. Ted allows Peggy’s Rosemary’s Baby idea to go way over budget. Don finds out, sends the budget to the client, who calls in the middle of casting to stop things. Ted and Don argue over the budget, Ted saying he didn’t have the heart to tell Peggy. It’s obvious to everyone he’s in love with Peggy, but he acts like it’s just encouragement of a protegé. “She can practically taste the Clio” he says.
Then there’s the meeting. The client won’t budge on the money, no matter what Ted says. This is where Don steps in and starts saying the reason is very, very personal. He says it slowly, acts like he’s waiting for Ted to step in and explain, and just lets it hang there. Ted and Peggy know what’s “personal” between them, and can’t think past that. If they weren’t having that intense, emotional affair, they’d be able to spin a story, given the lead-in that Don gave them. But they can’t. They feel caught, trapped, exposed.
Then Don says the ad was Frank Gleason’s last idea. And just like that, POOF, there goes Peggy’s Clio. Because if that ad wins any awards, the credit must now go posthumously to Frank.
Later, Peggy calls Don a monster. A monster? Don was angry at Ted and Peggy’s relationship, that’s true, and he wanted to stop it. As much as Don’s motivation may be jealousy, he’s also seeing his protegé with a married man, her boss, and he knows how that goes. There were monstrous things Don might have done, like expose the affair, or “sell” the ad in a way that killed it, like he killed Herb Rennet’s idea for Jaguar. Ultimately, all that Don did was momentarily make Ted and Peggy very uncomfortable, and then salvage the ad and get the budget increased when Ted wasn’t able to…
…and make sure Peggy didn’t get a Clio for it.