A fascinating hour. Actually, this strangely disturbing episode of Mad Men felt like a mini-horror movie with its haunting themes and grim cinematography. The grisly Richard Speck murders provided the perfect terrifying backdrop for this episode’s events as they evoked a sense of dread that permeated throughout the entire hour.
Don’s fever in particular was an interesting development. Of course Andrea’s numerous visits were hallucinations on his part, yet they were nonetheless strangely enthralling particularly in the way they brought out Don’s dark side. Yes Don brutally strangling Andrea to death was horrifying and obviously a fever dream, but would it have been all that surprising had it really happened given everything we know Don is capable of? After all, he’s not the most stable of individuals with a penchant for mischievous ways and scrambling to cover his tracks. And that hint of realism is what made the scene so terrifying and captivating.
The episode’s other centerpiece was undoubtedly Joan who finally got some much deserved screen-time after last week’s disappearance. I have to say I am ecstatic that the writers did not forget about Joan’s rape way back in season two. We’ve always known Greg was a psychopath and it was extremely gratifying to see Joan accept the reality of her situation and announce that they were over. Christina Hendricks really knocked it out of the park as she was just phenomenal on every level.
And how can I not discuss Sally who had what was probably one of her strongest episodes yet. To see her going head to head with her grandmother was utterly hilarious and somewhat creepy. Kiernan Shipka is a true talent and I look forward to see her gain more exposure as the season progresses because she just lights up the screen whenever she’s on.
Peggy also got an excellent little subplot to work with as she manipulated Roger and forged an interesting friendship with Don’s new secretary Dawn. I quite liked the two underdogs bonding with their sleepover and loved the final touch with Peggy’s insecure glances at her purse. It seems racism is alive and well.
Finally, I have to mention that I loved how that little detail of the lone surviving nurse hiding under the bed was integrated into the episode’s various subplots from Sally hiding under the couch to Don shoving Andrea’s body under his bed. The episode had sinister undertones and this detail made it all the more effective.
Pitches & Pieces
– I’m still a big fan of the copywriter Ginsberg. He was awesome in the pitch (and suitably over his head).
– Fantastic banter between Roger & Peggy as he begs her to work for him and she blackmails him.
– Brilliant family dinner scene with Joan, Greg, and their parents.
– Stunning visual of Andrea’s red heel sticking out from under Don’s bed.
– Beautiful final shot with Joan lying in bed with her mother and baby by her side.
Ginsberg: In your heart, you knew it was good.
Don: In my heart, I’m on the verge of throwing you in front of a cab.
Roger: You better be good.
Peggy: You want me to take your watch?
Grandma: (To Sally) Take out the trash or you can go to bed right now. Watch the sunset from your bedroom window. It’s the saddest thing in the world.
Delving into unsettling new territory, this was a gripping and powerful episode.