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'Mad Men' Moment: Peggy and Pete Share a Glance (VIDEO)

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 16th 2010 7:04AM
Peggy and Pete share a glance on 'Mad Men' - 'The Rejects' on AMCEven though this week's 'Mad Men' (Sundays at 10PM ET on AMC) had a bit of a meandering manner to it -- outside Allison's righteous knickknack throw at Don, that is -- the last fifteen minutes brought up why dramas like this show and others of its ilk suck viewers in. You never know when an event that's going on in the show's present can dredge up an incident from the show's past. Emotions can still be raw, and when they bubble to the surface, the knowing viewer can nod along with the character, feeling what they felt.

That's what I felt when Peggy found out that Pete Campbell's wife Trudy (played by the always lovely Alison Brie) was pregnant. When she got the card that was passed around the office, the look on her face spoke volumes: Only she and Pete know that this is going to be Pete's second child, not his first, and she wonders what might have been if Pete stayed with her instead of staying with Trudy.

But the episode ended with a glance that made me think that Peggy's starting to move on from that, five long years later.

One of the things that has struck me this season is how different and diverse Peggy has been. She's always had an exploratory side to her, but this season, that side is bolstered by a confidence that we've never seen in her before. She desperately wants to be married and have a family at one moment -- as we saw when she slipped Dr. Miller's engagement ring on during the focus group -- and at another moment, she's either treating her boyfriend like an annoyance or flirting with a lesbian photo editor from Life magazine. All the time she's doing it, though, she's doing it with a purpose, and a bit of a gleam in her eye.

It also seems like Peggy is comfortable in the alternative, underground world that in 1965 was still considered beatnik but was soon to turn hippie. She fit in really well at the party for the photographer who took the nudes that brought Peggy and her lesbian buddy Joyce together, and she was happy to traipse away from her exciting but stodgy world at SCDP for a lunch with them at the end of the episode. She's like many people who have their bohemian sides but know that they still have to work for the man in order to make money. They were all over New York in 1965, and they're still all over New York in 2010.

But the news about Pete and Trudy gave us a glimpse of the young and scared, but daring Peggy from 1960. And it was interesting to see Elisabeth Moss show a little of that vulnerable side as she went to Pete's office and awkwardly congratulated him. Despite all the changes that have gone on over the last five years, they both know there's a little spark in between them, and if things ended up differently, Pete would have been going to that hippie lunch with Peggy instead of closing a deal he strong-armed Trudy's father into making.

And that's where that glance came from. Peggy still wonders what might have been, but seems to be OK with the fact that she's truly starting to find herself. Meanwhile, Pete knows he's becoming something he's always wanted -- a power broker and a family man -- but also wonders how things could have been different. It's a 'grass is greener' moment for him, but more of a 'the grass is fine right here, and it makes me feel good' moment for Peggy. And everyone who's been a 'Mad Men' fan since the beginning shares the same feeling she does.

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