I have been hoping for words to do justice to what went on between Don and Peggy last night. For me – for everyone – this has always been the great romance of the show. Peggy wants to do the work; she’s in love with the high that comes from the best idea. Don is and always has been the conduit to that romance. She’s not in love with him and never has been, but he’s the instrument through which she has experienced the best highs of her life.
The scene where he acknowledges just how similar the two are together – “I abuse the people whose help I need, and then I take a nap” – is also showing how great they are together. The abuse – Peggy calling him at home to rant about his “from the kids’ perspective” idea – is water under the bridge. It was part of her process and he doesn’t question or get upset about it. Don doesn’t worry about her, because Peggy is glorious. And even though she and Stan are friends, even though he loves her in some way, he is never going to be Don. Don comes in. Has to. Can’t resist the idea that she might need help. That he might get better just by being in her presence.
Dancing to My Way is the kind of moment that could have been cheesy on another show. It could have been too heavy handed or indicative of a long romantic entanglement (and isn’t it funny that Don and Peggy’s creative romance is so much more compelling than Ted and Peggy’s romantic romance?) or patronizing. This was none of that. It was reminding us that you don’t know when you come across the people who will understand and matter to you. The ones who you will be able to expose yourself to. “That I’ve never done anything…don’t have anyone”. The ones who will automatically be able to understand who you are aren’t necessarily the ones you marry or choose as friends or who position themselves as constants in your life. How could Don have known the person who was going to understand him most closely is an awkward, argumentative woman almost 20 years his junior?
The joy of finding that out is why he and Peggy continue to love what they do. Why the highs of creativity continue to satisfy them. Making human connections professionally – even human connections through products – lets them share their delight that the possibilities of feeling less alone in the world are infinite.