We strapped on our hairpieces, got the jewels out of the vault and put on our tuxes for the latest episode on Mad Men last night.
Peggy’s moving on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky and taking shag-a-rific live-in boyfriend Abe along with her. We love how he’s not ashamed to admit to the brash and sassy real estate agent that he is merely the tenant and not the buyer due to the fact that his girlfriend makes a gazillion dollars more than he does. Throughout the episode, we’re reminded that the prototype for a New York City real estate agent has remained virtually unchanged in the past fifty years, and you can still hang your dreams on their every word with confidence. How exciting it must have been for her new tenants to take the inaugural ride on the Second Avenue subway line. Oh, wait — we’re still waiting for that to be built. [Insert uncomfortable silence.] “I’ll just go flush this toilet one more time.”
Meanwhile, back to the hairpieces and tuxedos, Megan and Don are all dolled up to go to the fourth annual ANDY awards dinner for the Ad Club of New York (where Megan is up for an award for her Heinz baked beans ad last year). On their way, they run into their neighbors, the Rosens, who explained that they are heading down to Washington, D.C., for a conference. Don gets so lustfully lost in Mrs. Rosen’s crusty raisin eyes that he asks the couple where they’re going — even after he’s already being told. Megan, so amped up with anticipation to see the night’s keynote speaker, Paul Newman, doesn’t even notice that her husband is pining for Madame Mole Head.
At the ANDY awards, we find Peggy at a table with her new firm, CGC. Her boss Ted arrives with his blonde Betty-esque wife, Nan, who upon seeing Peggy throws her some serious shade complete with narrowed eyes and clenched teeth. It seems Nan is a little fed up with hearing her husband constantly singing Peggy’s praises. If there is ever a spinoff of Mad Men, this is a showcase showdown we would love to see. As an aside, we’d also enjoy seeing Stan’s Secret Pot Room, Joan’s MILF Hour, and Wallpaper Peeling Techniques with Bobby Draper (move over Christopher Lowell). While Don’s ego is still bruised over the success of his former protégé, Megan is being introduced to the president of CGC, Jim Cutler (played by Perseus himself, Harry Hamlin) and that man is all up on that shit, making eyes and salivating at Megan.
Meanwhile, our resident New York Jewish stereotype, Michael Ginsberg, is ambushed by his father into a surprise blind date with a young school teacher named Beverly. Eager to see his son find a wife, Ginsberg Sr. slips Ginsberg Jr. a few bucks to take Beverly out to the swankiest blindingly bright diner in the neighborhood. Ginsberg, still nervous and annoyed, manages to make an awkward situation even more awkward by blurting out that he’s a virgin. Considering that Beverly didn’t run for the hills after this enlightening conversation, she may prove to be a keeper. Next time, however, Ginsberg may want to consider stepping into Stan’s secret pot closet before any future dates.
Back to the Ad Club Awards, the celebratory atmosphere is cut short with the announcement of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. All hell breaks loose and the tone of the episode drastically changes with everyone’s reaction to the tragedy.
We find out that Pete Campbell does have a heart as he frantically rushes home to make sure Trudy and little Tammy Campbell are alright. We witness a tender exchange between them over the phone, and it seems for a moment that Trudy may actually be willing to forgive and forget her Lothario husband. Alas, no dice. Pete is soon relegated back to his bachelor pad where he seeks comfort by making small talk with the Chinese delivery man who doesn’t understand a damn word that’s being said to him.
The next day at the office, things take another shocking turn as we witness Harry Crane bitching about how much King’s assassination coverage is costing their advertising clients. Pete, in a rare moment of humanity, lambastes Crane’s callous remarks with such vigor that that we almost forgot Pete’s still an asshole. If Bert Cooper hadn’t popped in to break up the confrontation, we’re pretty sure it would have ended in another office fist-to-cuffs, with Pete hopefully pummeling Harry’s fat racist Howard Cosell-looking ass.
In light of the recent tragedy, the partners decide to close the office early, but not before a bizarre encounter with Roger’s weird insurance guy, Randall Walsh, (the same creepy actor who played Ethan on Lost) who proceeded to babble on nonsensically about, well, we have no idea.
Don, so focused on the well-being of his mistress, Mrs. Raisin Eyes Rosen, who’s in Washington, D.C., that he hardly shows any concern for his African-American secretary who lives in riot-raging Harlem. No one seems to be able to understand why black people actually showed up at their jobs the day after the assassination; and before insisting Don’s secretary heads home, Joan manages to give her a curiously awkward hug.
The next day Megan takes Sally and baby Gene to a vigil for King in the park and leaves Don with shell-shocked Bobby, who had recently been punished for peeling off his bedroom’s wallpaper. But who could blame him? That’s some damn hideous wallpaper. In this episode we are finally getting to know little Bobby Draper, who has always been overshadowed by the antics of his older sister, Sally. While we can already predict a list of medications he’ll be taking the future, we’re not sure what kind of damage two non-consecutive showings of Planet of the Apes will inflict on him, but seeing that he was able to sit through both showings, at least it appears his prescription cocktail won’t include Ritalin.
As the episode wraps up, we witness a Macbeth-eque conversation between Betty and Henry regarding his political aspirations. Meanwhile, Megan expresses her frustration at her husband’s emotional detachment, just prior to Don launching into a heartfelt speech confessing his own difficult childhood, and saying that he’d never felt love for his children until now.
It was one of those thought-provoking, multi-layered episodes that exemplify why Mad Men is so successful, and as Don wistfully smoked on the balcony and looked down on the city, he — like us — pondered our epiphanies the first time we saw Planet of the Apes.