Sadly, I’ve no time for the usual overlong ruminations on every awesome little detail of this week’s Mad Men. I can only hit the major highlights and leave the rest up to you. Here goes:
- So Peggy and Duck are still on. (“Duck’s not married.” “… So why are you with him?”) Can I just ask: how grimy do you have to be to unplug the TV as your president’s life hangs in the balance, just so that your tryst with a young tenderoni won’t be canceled? The look on Peggy’s face when she finally catches wind of that news broadcast, along her helpless, bewildered, “What happened?” really say it all. Is it safe to assume that little rendezvous isn’t long for this world?
- Don’s pretty apolitical, at least conversationally. He’s also in a great deal of denial. As Betty points out, he’s in his “trying to make things right” phase, from cuddling the crying infant to offering to deal with the kids to insisting the world will soon return to normal, despite the fact that JFK was gunned down, just waving to constituents in a convertible. It’s been a while since he’s had to confront things authentically and he’s having a difficult time calibrating his life to openness. (His scene with Peggy only underscores this.)
- Doesn’t it seem like Betty’s way more visibly shaken by JFK’s death than her own dad’s? (Or is JFK’s death just the final straw here? The passing of a loved one, she can handle, but the televised assassination of a president and then, his supposed assassin, are just way too much. “What is going on here?” she demands with all the righteous indignation she’s been mustering this season.)
- Isn’t it interesting how Sally offers Betty the immediate reassurance and comfort Betty withheld when Sally was equally distraught about Gene?
- That scene with Don in the bedroom, wearing a leisurely brown sweater, slumped defeatedly in the wake of Betty’s confession that her love for him has died, is just as devastating as anything that happened last week. He can’t spin his way out of this. No Jedi mind trick will convince Betty that they can work things out—or that it’d be worth it if they did.
- Pete’s back! From the opening moments, when he grouses about the instant hot chocolate (which you can tell is instant because “they use water instead of milk!”) then immediately apologizes, you know this is going to be a week we’ll get to cheer for Pete rather than indict and deride him. From losing out on a VP gig to Ken Cosgrove to his and Trudy’s awesome, awesome, bitter decision not to attend Roger’s daughter’s wedding, Pete was fantastic throughout. I loved lines like, “It’s one thing to go and pretend that I don’t hate them; it’s another to go and pretend that the president hasn’t been murdered.” and “They’ll never cancel. You know why? Because they’re happy.” At times, it’s easy to forget how dialed in Pete can be to people’s true feelings—about him, about work, about life. But it’s moments like these when we remember it’s possible for he and Trudy to seem far less like caricatures and more like relatable people. When Trudy declares that he should start gathering his clients, confident that they’ll follow him wherever he goes, we see the tide changing. The lindy-hopping couple of episodes past has been displaced—and I can’t wait to see where The Campbells 2.0 land.
- Predictably, Roger’s daughter’s wedding was “ruined” in the wake of the president’s assassination, but I loved how the wedding was used to provide impetus for all these changes in attitude. First Pete’s, then Betty’s. And even if we don’t care, it also provided us a glimpse into the rust under the varnish of Roger and Jane’s marriage. How different they are with each other here than they were when he was crooning to her in blackface half a season ago.
- Will Betty answer Henry’s proposal by next week or will that be held over for next season? What say you?
That’s all I can do, but I haven’t forgotten about the Joan/Roger convo; Don’s reference to Sal; or the fact that Carla smokes(!). Weigh in on that and more below.