Fly Away With Me

 Posted by on April 8, 2015 at 5:28 am  Characters, Mad Men, Season 7
Apr 082015

Paris. Now. Let’s go. – Don to Midge, The Hobo Code

mad-men-season-7bThere are as many ways to travel as there are travelers. Some people live for the next great adventure: a road trip, a weekend in Las Vegas, a vacation to Panama. Some people travel just to tell others where they’ve been. And some people cut and run.

I get on a plane, I don’t care where I’m going, I just want to see the city disappearing behind me. – Don Draper, For Those Who Think Young

Don Draper is the dictionary definition of a cut-and-runner. Cutting and running is how Dick Whitman became Don Draper, on that piece of Korean battleground. It’s a matter of survival: For Don, the only thing worse than facing the result of his deception is seeing disappointment in the faces of those who have trusted him. He reacts to his dread of both with fantasies of escape.

The day I dropped the kids off at school and I saw you in the yard, I kept wishing you could get in the car and drive away with me. – Don to Suzanne, The Gypsy and the Hobo

Don is in middle age, and this is now an old story. He does not like consequences, yet he cannot bear to be alone. He has proven capable of the solo escape — to Palm Springs in the middle of a business trip, to a roadside motel after a fight with Betty — but what he longs for is the company of a beautiful woman. One who does not know him, for whom he is not responsible:

Something happened, and I want to go, and I want you to come with me, and I don’t want to come back. – Don to Rachel Menken, Nixon vs. Kennedy

Don never met a better match than Rachel Menken. In terms of intelligence, ambition, and beauty, she was his equal; morally, she was his superior. Rachel loved who she was, even when she knew she was headed for something better. In every sense, Rachel was the one who got away.

I’m supposed to tell you you missed your flight. – Rachel to Don, Severance

Peggy Olson is something different. She doesn’t share Don’s fractured pursuit of oblivion, but she doesn’t have Rachel’s integrity either. For whatever reason, Peggy is never really happy in the moment. Nor does she seem to recognize that something better might be on the horizon.

I’ve never even been on a plane. – Peggy to Pete, The Inheritance

So it’s a surprise when Peggy pulls a Don Draper on a first date:

Let’s go to Paris. Right now. – Peggy to Stevie, Severance

This is a side of Peggy that only emerges when she’s under the influence. When she drinks or gets high, Peggy sometimes wakes up into her own delightful present — and enjoys being there.

The thing is, I have a job. I have my own office, with my name on the door. And I have a secretary: that’s you. And I am not scared of any of this. – Peggy, My Old Kentucky Home

I wish Peggy actually would go to Paris — to bed, even! — with Brian Krakow Stevie. Stevie might not be her soulmate, but who cares? Peggy is an independent woman of means, every bit as capable of furnishing her own present and future as Rachel Menken was. She can afford a companion ticket.

I had too much wine and I totally embarrassed myself. It’s nothing a couple of aspirin won’t fix. – Peggy, Severance

Peggy Olson’s life is not the painted desert Don’s has become. What stands before her — in the work she’s building with Joan, in the men who report to her, and yes, in Stevie — is no mirage. She could make a joyful life from these things. She could choose to love that life, and take vacations from it, and come home to it when she misses it. If she wants to, Peggy can fly.

I wish she finally would.


  14 Responses to “Fly Away With Me”

  1. Lovely essay!
    Peggy could become the Don Draper that Dick Whitman could never be…


    • I know, right?! I didn’t recognize him until someone else pointed it out to me and my head almost exploded! The actor got so handsome, just like I think Brian would have. A late bloomer!

    • That was indeed our old friend Brian Krakow. Which is, you know, whatever.

      What I said on Twitter Sunday night: “Brian Krakow is having the best night of HIS ENTIRE SO-CALLED LIFE.”


  3. This is a very thoughtful essay Deb Anne [I’m not taking credit for the brilliant–Deb] and brilliantly supported by all the quotes ranging back over the years – such is the encyclopedic beauty of what you bring with BoK!

    We see very clear parallels between Don and Peggy but as you point out they are actually very different people and arrived where they are on very different roads. Don’s very foundation (of lack thereof) makes him the prototype of someone ready to jettison everything without caring about the consequences. (To be fair he has progressed a bit in this area in recent years – thanks Sally!)

    Peggy arrived at this point in life by a more conventional path and while she wants what she wants and has plenty of Don-like ambition she is not willing to shed her responsibilities to others as easily as Don. Your insight on Peggy when she is high is also right on the money. Virtually every time we see her loosen up a bit it is under the influence (I have about 40 friends just like this and many would say the same about yours truly . . .)

    I also wish Peggy would more often throw caution to the wind and live in the moment. However, as a guy who usually resides in the “Good Old Charlie Brown” reliable and responsible camp (probably far too often) I admire the fact she is not willing to abandon others as Don so frequently does just to satisfy the whim of the moment. Of course Peggy uses this reliability to rationalize never taking these big life-altering risks. Peggy’s gotta find that balance that Rachel Menken seemed to find or she’s gonna miss her plane too.

    • It was so poignant that Peggy finally found her passport … in her office.

      I think that was Matt letting us know that when she finally does fly somewhere, she’ll be going on business. As a late great manager of mine once said, “At least I saw the conference rooms of Prague.”

      • Anne I’m sorry! I apologize – this is your excellent essay!

        Totally agree that Pegs best shot at seeing Paris is the next perfume client. Then again if she does travel for pleasure she’ll either be working or thinking about work. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that Rodger-like ability to turn off the responsibility side of the brain – or in Rodger’s case very seldom actually turn it on!

      • It is also interesting that she has a passport. She admits she’s never even used it not has she ever taken a vacation (crazy person) but by virtue of having ome she clearly longs to travel but won’t allow herself to do it. She obviously has the money and I’m sure she had the leave time but she won’t take it. I really wish she would go with Stevie (Brian Krakow) and it makes me sad that she will probably won’t. Given what she said to Stan I fear she will avoid him entirely. Sigh.

        • Sorry on my ipad not as easy to type. Sentence two should read ‘she admits she’s never even used it nor…but by virtue of having one.’

  4. I think buried deep in Peggy’s memories is when she did do a wild and crazy thing, with Pete, there were consequences, many not good consequences that almost totally derailed her life. After a rescue of a sort by Don, she went on to have relationships and even a live in love interest. But that was not an impulse move, she thought it out before she did anything. She was burned badly by an impulsive action and that has got to be burned into her catholic mind.

  5. “Peggy Olson’s life is not the painted desert Don’s has become.”

    This is pure poetry — thank you for such an insightful and beautifully written piece.

  6. Along this same vein- in last week’s episode, Don tells Rachel’s sister “he’s lived in Europe” (at least that what I *thought* I heard him say, upon several rewinds)…whereas Peggy’s travel experiences have been limited to domestic biz travel.

    Perhaps…just perhaps *this* time, Peggy WILL get her “trip to the moon”. ;O) Better via Brian Krakow than the Relaxacisor!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.