After the wild antics of last week, the most recent episode of Mad Men took a much darker turn when it dealt with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Between the race riots, general fear and loss of hope, this installment was so depressing that by the end we were longing for the good old days of straight up aimless existential despair. Needless to say, most of the characters were too bummed out to engage in their usual sex, drugs and rock shenanigans, but we tried our best to bring you the best (or worst) from Don and the gang.
The episode opens with Peggy and Abe taking their shack-up to even taller heights by searching for a new apartment together in an Upper East Side high-rise. The $28,000 they need to shell out for the place (close to the proposed 2nd Ave subway, still incomplete in 2013) will come mostly from Peggy, much to Abe’s barely concealed embarrassment. The shrew of a real-estate agent tries to hustle them into a quick sell, but they decide to think on it.
Don seems to have a dry-spell in his future as he and Megan bump into his Dr. and Mrs Rosen in their apartment lobby while they make their way out to an advertising award ceremony. Don mildly freaks out when he learns that his f— buddy and her husband are spending the weekend in Washignton D.C., definitely out of screwing range. In fact, his disappointment is so obvious that even Dr. Rosen goofs on him a little bit. Looks like he’s stuck with his super hot French-speaking actress wife who also just happens to be up for an advertising award. Sucks to be Don, huh?
Young SCDP copywriter Michael Ginsberg got a little help from his old man when he arrived home to find a cute school teacher named Beverly waiting. Apparently his pop is playing matchmaker with the daughter of one of his friends, and they’re supposed to go on a date that Michael had no idea about. There’s something distinctly old-world about the whole thing, but it’s adorable to see Mike fumble like a slightly better adjusted Woody Allen.
Against his wishes, Michael takes Beverly to a diner for the safest, least romantic date ever. It’s hard to be sexy and eat soup. “Do you like kids?” he asks her, probably one of the worst first-date questions in the world, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that she works with kids. He then proceeds to put his foot even further into his mouth by blurting that she smells great and that he’s “never had sex, not even once.” Maybe it’s just a different era, but somehow Mike’s total bombing is endearing to Beverly, in a pre-Hugh Grant bumbling kind of way.
Although she tells him that she’s merely doing a favor for her parents by having dinner with him, she admits that she thinks he’s handsome. Then news of Martin Luther King’s assassination breaks and it kind of ruins the moment. Despite the senior Ginsberg insisting that catastrophes bring men and women together in the bedroom, Michael and Beverly sleep alone.
The racial tension tends to erase the sexual tension for a while, as riots break out in New York City. Peggy’s evil real estate agent tries to use the national tragedy to get a better deal on the apartment, an old trick she picked up from Satan. Sadly for Peggy and Abe, the plan backfires and they lose the place, proving that karma exists. When Peggy complains about Abe’s lack of involvement in the whole apartment-finding process, he admits that he didn’t feel he had a say considering it wasn’t really his money. Peggy permits him to man up and speak his mind, and he suggests the Upper 80s seems like a better location because it has a more diverse culture to raise kids. Either his expression of an opinion or his forward-thinking towards children gets Peg all hot and bothered.
Probably the most overt sexual encounter of the episode belongs to Betty and her ancient politico husband, Henry. Days of following New York’s Mayor Lindsey through dangerous burning riot-torn neighborhoods in the wake of King’s death have lit a proverbial fire under the dude, and inspired him to stop being a “flank” and step up and run for an office of his own. “I can’t wait for people to see you, really see you,” he gushes to Betty, his future first lady. The promise of more attention sets her loins aflame, and soon they’re more active than we’ve seen in many a season!
EPISODE 4 FINAL HOOK UP COUNT:
Betty and Henry: 1 (implied)
Peggy and Abe: 1 (semi-implied)
Michael and Beverly: 0 (in Michael’s dreams)
Unlike last week’s psychedelic freak-out of an episode, this week’s drug indulgence was pretty much confined to drinking away sorrows after the loss of our nation’s innocence. But before all that, the folks at SCPD were ready to par-tay! It’s the night of a big advertising award, and Megan is nominated for her work on the Heinz Beans account. Roger, Joan, Stan and the usual suspects are there, as well as Peggy with Ted Chaough with the folks at CGC. Drinks flow, Don with his bourbon, Peggy following suit (but of course), Abe with a gin and tonic, Roger with his vodka. Then in the middle of special guest Paul Newman’s speech, the news of MLK’s death spreads throughout the hall. Thus begins a bunch of seriously bummed out drinking.
Pete starts downing bourbon as he mourns both the civil rights leader and his lost family as estranged wife Trudy refuses to let him come back to the home they shared. Betty nervously puffs cigarettes like a chimney as husband Henry does meet-and-greets with the mayor in areas of New York torn apart by racial strife. But Don hits the bottle the hardest, drowning his exacerbated angst and inner pain with a lot of sauce.
The one light moment of substance abuse this week occurred when Roger’s buddy, property insurance man Russell Wallace, enters the office. He seems slightly “off” when we first meet him, refusing to shake Don’s hand and refusing a drink at the start of the meeting- two very big SCDP no-nos. Then he expresses the desire to communicate without words, and we realize that he’s on a totally different plane of reality all together. He assures the group that he “really cares” about his clients, and in the wake of the rioting has an idea for an exciting new campaign: A picture of a Molotov Cocktail and a coupon for his company’s insurance. When the ad crew doesn’t buy it, Russell insists that the idea came to him from Martin Luther King’s ghost in a dream. When he starts letting out some kind of indigenous chant in the middle of the meeting, Roger (and the audience) comes to the conclusion that he’s tripping on something. But hey, he’s happy, which is more than can be said for most of the characters on the show.
Episode 4: Final Drug Rundown
OFFENDERS: Don (5 Bourbons), Pete (2 bourbons), Peggy (1Bourbon, 1 Beer), Joan (1 Rose), Megan (1 Wine), Stan (1 Bourbon)
OFFENDERS: Russell Wallace (assumed)
OFFENDERS: Don (2), Betty (2), Roger (1)
ROCK ’N’ ROLL:
“The Flood” was extremely light on the rock ’n’ roll, probably because it was so heavy on the tumult, violence, aggression and all the rest of the things that rock tends to symbolize for people. The only popular track used this week was 1968’s “Love Is Blue (L’amour Est Bleu)” from French bandleader Paul Mauriat.
Although his version is an instrumental, the lyrics to the complete version of the song deal with the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. Is it directed towards Pete Campbell, whose estranged wife Trudy still won’t let him return home, even in this time of crisis? Is it referring to the loss of Martin Luther King? Or do we just need a pretty and calming instrumental after this brutal episode?