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Mad Men recap: Defining Moments

The Sterling Cooper crew dealt with a national tragedy and a family wedding, while Don got the first inkling that his marriage might not make it

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Mad Men

Mad Men

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss

The penultimate episode opened with a shot of Pete shivering in the fetal position. He woke up crabby from his nap. There was no heat in the Sterling Cooper office and his secretary had done him wrong by fetching him hot cocoa made with water rather than milk. It was fitting that Pete began this episode whining like a little baby. By the end, weathering the extreme temperature shifts of puberty and the great losses of innocence, identity and leadership, he actually was one of the few characters who behaved like one of the titular ”Grown Ups.”

My beloved Mr. Pryce had bad news for Pete. The Brits had tapped sunny Ken to be Senior Something Something of Accounts, relegating Pete to the depressing role of Account Something. ”You are excellent at making the clients feel their needs are being met,” the older man commended. ”But Mr. Cosgrove has the rare gift of making them feel they haven’t any needs.” Pete stormed out of the office, nearly stumbling out of the elevator into a conversation between Peggy and her silly roommate about Duck, not Doug. (”He’s not married.” ”Then why are you with him?”) Back home Pete dug into a pot of leftovers like a surly teenager, complaining to Trudy about the indignity of being passed over. Kudos for the hungry way Kartheiser tore into the line about Lane’s ”frog-like mouth flapping.”

Tempers were hot all over Manhattan. Margaret Sterling was stamping her foot over her wicked stepmother’s very expensive wedding gift. The little tramp was ruining everything, the girl cried. Magnificent Mona tried to shake her daughter out of her tantrum. ”You’re having the wedding, the bride will not be burned, turn those earrings into a tea service or something.” Margaret’s head continued to spin so she called Daddy, who was slouched low on his marital bed, looking old, drunk, and bored. Mona got on the line and spoke delicious Roger shorthand, both of them insisting that their daughter cut the drama already. Poor Roger — the man married a fool. He bellowed for Jane, who strode into the room in her silly leopard cuffs and hat. She pouted and stormed off to the bathroom. Roger chased after her. They reenacted the classic melodramatic teenager/angry parent argument. ”You better not have locked that door!” ”Go away!” ”Or what, you’ll commit suicide?” There’s that S-word again, hovering just up ahead at the edge of a cliff.

The next day began normally enough, like all horrible days do. Peggy (Pee Wee!) slipped out at lunch for a nooner with Duck. Don, sweating and gasping under his collar in the sudden baking heat, was denied a new art director. Pete sulked in Harry’s office, the TV turned down low as the biggest news story of the decade was breaking before them. We’ve wondered all season how JFK’s assasination would play. It was done beautifully, from Duck unplugging the TV to Mr. Pryce’s stunned expression to the gang crowding en masse in Harry’s office. Poor Don, the world forever changed on him without his realization , walked into a tornado of ringing phones and empty desks. ”What the hell is going on?” he asked. Margaret sobbed for herself in a heap of wedding dress. A postcoital (and tattooed!) Duck needed to call his kids. Carla, dropping her neutral gaze, rushed into the Draper kitchen for news. When she saw Betty crumpled on the sofa she broke down, slumping next to her boss on the sofa. It was finally Carla’s turn to light up a cigarette. Sally, so sensitive to her mother’s shifting moods, played the grown up and tried to give comfort.

NEXT: It’s not a good day for a white wedding


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