Mad Men-The Flood-Jon Hamm and John Slattery

Last night’s Mad Men dealt with a historical loss—the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “The Flood” left everyone grasping for understanding much like those who really suffered through the tragedy. While people were reeling, one or two developments still managed to break through.

The Players:

  • Director: Christopher Manley
  • Writers: Tom Smuts and Matthew Weiner
  • Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Jay R. Ferguson, Ben Feldman, Nancy Linsky, Linda Cardellini, Kevin Rahm, Mason Vale Cotton

Episode Title: “The Flood”

Peggy plans her future, while Roger pursues a new client.

The Good:

  • The Void: Bob Benson’s absence from the proceedings was noticed; apparently catastrophe is too important to waste time on SCDP’s newest employee. Also missing from the fun, for the most part, was Don’s mistress. Before the assassination we saw the Rosens off to a soon-to-be warring nation’s capital. We’d like to say Don’s drinking increased out of worry over Sylvia’s safety, but it could have been the pressures of parenting or the death of Dr. King. Or it could have been because he was awake. The adulterers are getting careless: lingering glances are becoming long lusty looks.  Sylvia can’t keep her jealousy in check, her only meaningful line implored how Megan could be good at everything.  Don’s impulsive call to Washington D.C. ended abruptly, but not before we realized the fire these two are playing with will burn them soon enough.
  • Where They Were: The events of April 4, 1968 unfolded, and with them pain and uncertainty. At the Art Club of New York Awards Joan’s eyes watered immediately, and Megan was shocked the ceremony would continue after the announcement. Joan didn’t hesitate to embrace Dawn at work, and thought nothing of Dawn’s lack of reaction. Both Dawn and Phyllis made it to the office that harrowing day, but it was Pete and Harry that were too effected to work. It’s not that Harry’s push for a return to normalcy was far off base; we all scream for release amidst the constant coverage of a recent tragedy. But like most things that come from Harry, the remarks felt heartless and unnecessary. Though Pete took up the sides of the bleeding hearts, it’s clear he was taking out his familial anguish on his co-worker. 
  • Peeling Layers: Bobby Draper is a real character! With real problems and an actual voice and everything! Revealing the faded wallpaper made for the ideal metaphor for his slowly emerging personality—a very morose and pensive persona. Faking sick isn’t his strong suit, but his final confession, explaining the root of his discord spawned more than a few questions. Is Bobby’s worry over Henry getting shot foreshadowing? Or a premonition to the increased danger that Henry’s new career will create? Does his worry over the future Senator’s supersede his love for his father? Or is Henry merely taking up a post that absence never properly filled? Let’s hope they don’t drop Bobby again, now that he’s interesting we’ll need to see a little more.
  • The Move: Peggy’s search for a new apartment brought her relationship with Abe to the forefront. Her quest for a doorman on the Upper East Side speaking to her desire to continue climbing and the couple’s fundamental differences.  He wants to live in the West 80′s, and she wants to buy a status symbol.  But the words, “I saw us raising our kids with more different kinds of people,” was enough to satiate Peggy, or any woman really, at least for a time. We’re not sure how much longer Ted and Peggy will ignore the obvious heat between them. Their shared glance was more stirring than any of her scenes with Abe.
  • The Pretender: Don’s confession to his indifference to his children was a risky move. While wondering if his father suffered the same affliction, Don expressed the root of his lackadaisical parenting. As someone who’s never experienced unconditional love, he has no idea how to give it. As always, Don’s mental state is received by all as heartwarming instead of shameful. Watching Bobby brought out the truth, but we’d really like to see if this effects his role as a parent.  We’re going to go ahead and say no; more than likely, we’ll be back to business as usual next week. Especially since little Gene has yet to earn his father’s affection.
  • Fat Betty No More?: The most relevant bit from Henry’s belated decision to run for office was Betty’s final scene. As she stares at herself in the mirror, clutching a dress from her former glory, her thought process was clear. Betty wants her old figure back. Thrusting her husband into the spotlight might finally be the motivation for her to work off those extra pounds. Maybe then we can be rid of Fat Betty forever.

The So-So:

  • The First Dud: Ginsberg’s date was entirely eclipsed by the news of Dr. King’s demise. It was never made clear whether the two will ever meet again—though confessing his virginity over diner proves they should let him take another crack at it.  Ginsberg’s reaction to the news echoed the essence of his character; “They had to do it,” conveys the sentiment of a conspiracy theorist quite clearly. But his father’s insistence that he take interest in a woman, any woman, makes us wish his date ended with some semblance of hope. Otherwise, the topic was broached just to watch Ginsberg flounder through solitude, with no chance for improvement.
  • The Chance: Pete’s first inclination was to call his estranged wife. Rather, to try and use Dr. King’s death as an excuse to worm his way back into his home. Though Trudy looked relived to hear the sound of his voice, she held firm in her refusal to allow him back. Later, as Pete attempted to make conversation with a delivery man, we wondered if things will get worse for him. 

The Bad:

  • Poor Taste: We still don’t understand the purpose of Randall Walsh’s pitch meeting. His crass idea of a coupon campaign featuring his company logo and a Molotov cocktail was never going to be used. The relevance of his presence is still unclear. Usually, by the end of the hour, even the most mysterious happenings are understood. We can only hope that somewhere down the line a light will be shone on the need for this scene. 

The Quotable:

  • “The man knew how to talk. I don’t know why but I thought that would save him. I thought it would solve the whole thing.” —Roger
  • “I’m sorry, I suppose my comments were inappropriate, I mistook this for a work day.” —Harry
  • “In the flood, the animals went two by two. You, you’re going to get on the arc with your father.” —Ginsberg’s Dad

Overall:

“The Flood” was a clear illustration of how bad news can effect everyone. In someway, it was its own bottle episode, forcing the characters to deal with the same issue. Also, we enjoyed watching Bobby discover the wonder of Planet of the Apes; after last night he deserves his moment in the sun.

Rating: 8/10

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.

What did you think of the episode?