It’s impossible to write about the season’s penultimate episode of “Mad Men” without immediately acknowledging the elephant in the room: the JFK assassination. As grim as it sounds, it’s an event we’ve been waiting for since the second episode of this season. You may or may not remember, but there was a shot in Episode 3.2 which pointedly focused on Margaret Sterling’s wedding invitation, of which I wrote at the time, “I’m sure those who know their ’60s dates better than I do offered a sad nod when they saw the date of Roger’s daughter’s wedding, but I had to look it up. Given that the camera pointedly held on the invitation, I figured, ‘Okay, clearly, this is an important date,’ and I was right. Well, the actual wedding day isn’t necessarily important, but the day before certainly will be.”
And so it was, though it was already starting off pretty important for a few folks at Sterling-Cooper even before things went dramatically downhill in Dallas.
Roger’s daughter is battling back against her new stepmother, making ridiculous claims about how Jane’s gotten her so wound up that she no longer wants to get married. This sets Mona, a.k.a. the former Mrs. Sterling, into a rant during which she comes across as about as pleasant a mother as Betty Draper, but it’s clear that, once upon a time, she and Roger really were a match made in Heaven. Roger, meanwhile, has his own problems, and in the midst of his annoyance with Jane’s attempts to forge a relationship with Margaret, she locks herself in the bathroom. She tells him to go away. He snaps back, “Or what? You’ll commit suicide?” That’s dark, Roger, but somehow it’s still funny…well, y’know, unless that’s what she actually did.
We got a brief reappearance of Peggy’s roommate, who seemed to mostly show up for purposes of disparaging the relationship between Peggy and Duck Phillips. Later, she gets completely flustered (and we get a big laugh) when Duck invites her off for a mid-day rendezvous and, when she attempts to slip out surreptitiously, Paul unabashedly calls her out by saying, “I know a nooner when I hear one.” Awesome.
Aw, look at poor little Pete, asleep on the couch. Rustled awake by his assistant, his first instinct is to criticize the hot chocolate she’s brought him. That’s our Pete! It’s ice cold in the office for some reason (later, Don complaints that it’s too hot, leading me to believe that there’s some intended temperature-related metaphor going on in the background), and it only gets colder when Lane Pryce calls him into his office to give him some “rather disappointing news”: Ken is being made senior VP in charge account services, while Pete will be head of account management. Pete takes in the information with as much stride as he can manage, though you get the impression that he could well go “American Psycho” at any given moment. He bails out of the office and heads home, where a surprised Trudy immediately begins to play Ellery Queen and work her way through Pete’s assurances that he’s been fired before confirming that he’s just being typically melodramatic. A return to the office leads him into a conversation with Harry, but when Harry reaches over to turn down the volume on the TV on his desk so that they can chat in earnest, a familiar CBS News graphic pops onto the screen…well, familiar to someone who’s watched “JFK” as many times as I have, anyway.
Continue reading »