Peggy’s handling of the McCann news in Mad Men episode 7.11, Time & Life, made an impression on me, especially in that these events and her responses to them were completely independent of her relationship with Don.
It’s fitting that Peggy would hear about it from Pete, as opposed to Don. It partly shows how disengaged Don is from his regular creative work, which has become Peggy’s entire life, and partly shows how fully Peggy’s matured – she doesn’t need her mentor the way she used to.
This above all highlights the ways Don and Peggy are now separate, as much as they have been connected souls through the years.
Peggy deals with the news independently, keeping her own counsel, or thinking it through with Stan or the recruiter—did you, like me, half-expect to see Freddy Rumsen make an appearance?
Don’s reaction was to fight to keep things together, while Peggy’s was to navigate, consider her options, adjust her sails and make it work. Granted, Don is more in a position to affect events than Peggy, so she has little choice but to accept and move on. But the fact that she didn’t go to Don for advice is notable.
I still believe they are soulmates in the long-run, but in 1970, in this moment, compared to almost every point in their relationship previously, Don and Peggy are separate. I think we know who’s ascending.
[Editor’s Note: This was written write after Time & Life aired, and held in the editorial queue. It’s remarkable how prophetic it is–in the subsequent two episodes, Peggy and Don remained entirely separate; they have shared no scenes. –Deborah]