One: I can’t think about the classic Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight without thinking of the great Sun Kil Moon song “Glenn Tipton.” “Cassius Clay was hit more than Sonny Liston,” goes the first line of the song, the narrator of which seems to be some sort of sensitive serial killer. The assertion is certainly true; Ali fought for many more years than Liston did, and his rope-a-dope strategy invited his opponents to hit him with glancing blows until he wore them out and finished them off.
Two: Cassius Clay was actually Muhammad Ali at the time of his second fight with Liston, the one referenced in “The Suitcase,” Episode Seven of this, the fourth season of Mad Men. He changed his name a week after the first fight, in February of 1964. No doubt most people still thought of him as Clay. Certainly, most white people did.
Three: Peggy’s idea to have an elephant stepping on the Samsonite suitcase was ahead of its time. Check out the Americian Tourister commercial from 1970:
Four: I was racking my brain to figure out the identity of the new copywriter, Danny Siegel. He’s played by Danny Strong, who was Doyle McMaster: editor of the Yale Daily News and the boyfriend of Rory‘s rival Paris Geller on Gilmore Girls. (Yes, I loved Gilmore Girls and watched every episode. Don’t judge me.)
Five: Does anybody else think Peggy should have just told Don to get bent–that it was her birthday, and she had plans? Don would almost certainly have just told her to get lost. This is the sort of thing that examplifies what Roger Ebert used to call the “idiot plot,” although the source cited here suggests it was first used by science fiction author James Blish to describe a plot that depends on characters acting like idiots to propel the action; if everyone did what normal people would do, there wouldn’t be a show. Of course, we might not want to describe Peggy as normal.
Six: Let’s face it: Sterling’s Gold is a totally lame and expected name for Roger’s memoir. Which is what makes it perfect.
Seven: The parallels between Duck’s dismantling of Don and Ali’s dismantling of Liston are unavoidable. Don has spent the early part of the night being a Liston-like bully to Peggy, telling her, essentially, to shut up and do her job–to pay her dues. That’s certainly what lots of people thought about Ali–that he was brash and undeserving, and that Liston was going to smash him. Don’s money was on Liston. Whoops. And it turns out sensitive soul Dick Whitman had only seen some men die; Duck had killed seventeen himself.
Eight: The appearance of Anna the ghost was rare and beautiful. The suitcase in her hand was a gorgeous, knowing touch–the sort of thing that makes Mad Men the most thrilling and literary show on television.
Nine: Duck’s idea for an agency that caters to women’s products is damn good. I mean, Peggy sniffs out the reasons Duck needs to start the business, and there’s no way she should leave SCDP. But it leaves you thinking that Duck is probably a damn good adman.
Ten: How about Duck appearing at the office and attempting to leave a little present for Don? Dude really knows how to impress a woman, eh?
Eleven: After taking a pounding in the wallet and a pounding in the office, Don is unashamed enough to come up with a pretty damn good idea for Samsonite based on the iconic image from the fight. He’s no Duck Phillips, but he’s still the heavyweight champ of copywriters.
Twelve: I found Don’s squeeze of Peggy’s hand to be heartfelt and totally believable. She has become exactly what he needs most: a friend and confidante. As was Anna. Beautiful, perfect, and humanizing.