"Mad Men" recap: 10 best moments

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) in a scene from "Mad Men." Michael Yarish/AMC

History takes over this intense and emotional episode of "Mad Men" as it chronicles the untimely death of a hero and rocks the race issue.

Sunday night's episode featured the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which shakes up the characters of "Mad Men," bringing out the best in some and the worst in others. Below are the top 10 moments of the climactic and gripping episode.

1. Matthew Weiner thankfully decides to put the death of Dr. King front and center -- rather than skirting the issue as he has with so many other issues of race in this decade of change -- and he chooses to use the assassination as a way to examine the show's characters, and their true essence.

2. The news is broken at the ANDY Awards, where both Peggy and Megan are up for trophies. During a speech given by "Paul Newman," the news of Dr. King's shooting unfolds, and the whole room is stunned. They all quickly run to the phones to call family and friends, all except Peggy's boyfriend, who runs to the phones to get work -- an assignment in Harlem from The New York Times. When Peggy begrudgingly allows him to go and tells him not to do anything stupid, he responds, that it's too late: "I'm going to Harlem in a tuxedo."

3. Meanwhile, the show must go on, for as Don says, what else were they supposed to do? We later see the Megan won an award as her trophy sat sadly on a living room chair -- unaddressed and upraised.

4. People's priorities come out with flying colors in the wake of the tragedy. The person who comes off the best, surprisingly, is Pete Campbell, who is truly horrified by the shooting and just wants to be home with his family. However, his wife, Trudy, does not feel the same. She stays strong in her decision to kick Pete out of the house and does not let him return, even though he is obviously emotionally needy and wants to take care of his family during this terrible time. He also lays into Harry Crane, who just seems to be concerned about money and their potential loss of ad dollars and television spending as networks choose to cover the news as opposed to airing episodes of "Bewitched" (Ahh, Tabitha and Darren, how I miss them so). Pete even goes so far as to call Harry a racist, which didn't seem too far off from the truth given his reaction. Pete definitely came out on top, and it reminded us that while he is often a heartless, arrogant SOB, he is rather progressive in his notions of race and he does care about the right things at the right moments.

5. Peggy also comes out on top. Despite using the tragedy to make a low-ball offer on the apartment she is trying to buy (we'll blame it on her overly-aggressive, snotty real-estate agent), the events show her bond with her black secretary. She is genuinely concerned about her and gives her a sincere hug at the end of their interaction.

6. And speaking of black secretaries, Don also seems genuinely concerned about his assistant, Dawn, telling her she should go home, though she responds that she would feel better (and likely safer) in the office. Enough said for Don.

7. Speaking of Don's concern, he was most concerned about his lover, Sylvia, who was in D.C., and even goes so far as to try to track down her husband at the hospital he was speaking at. Does this mean he is becoming emotionally attached? Or even -- dare we say -- falling in love? He certainly seemed intent on knowing that she was safe and sound. He did little to hide his worry, and continually mentioned it to multiple people, including his own wife, Megan.

8. There was one person who was not concerned about the right things during the tragedy, and that was Betty. She just wanted to get her kids out of her newly-dark (creepy) hair, and insisted that Don come pick them up even though it required him to drive through the worst neighborhoods in the middle of race riots in the dark. Betty made one thing clear, she comes first. End of story. Her insistence that he come get the kids, resulted in a moving and tense scene of Don driving through the police-sirened chaos with his kids nervously in the front seat with him. It was one of the more tense scenes of the evening.

9. In one of the refreshingly lighter moments of the night, we are witness to an awkward blind-date setup with Mike Ginsberg. His father is obviously intent on finding him a woman and tries to set him up with a daughter of one of his chess buddies. Mike is definitely a source of comic relief on the show, and his choice to order matzo-ball soup and divulge the fact that he is a virgin on a first date -- all in his thick New York Jewish accent -- was hilarious. And the girl they chose to set him up with held her own against him -- both with her sharp-witted responses and clever timing (as an actress and potential girlfriend, I for one, am rooting for her and hope she sticks around). We also discover that the episode's title -- "The Flood" -- is inspired by Ginsberg's father, who tells him: "In the flood, the animals went two by two. You're going to get on the boat with your father?" Maybe it will be the schoolteacher!

10. Bobby. This episode also reintroduced us to Don's eldest son, Bobby, a character we hadn't seen in quite some time, and who I almost completely forgot about. We first see Bobby as he's metaphorically -- and literally -- picking at his life (he peels back the wallpaper in his bedroom). When Betty catches him, she claims that he is ruining their house. Typical Betty. We get to see a more adult side of the boy when he spends the day with Don (the two of them using each other as an excuse not to attend a vigil in the park for Dr. King), and it becomes apparent that Bobby's a lot sharper than we would have ever realized (mostly because he's not normally allowed to speak). Father and son go see "Planet of the Apes." The end twist which reveals the fact that the planet was Earth all along fills Don and Bobby with visible awe, leading Bobby to exhale, "Jesus." And this remark from his son brings out a sense of pride in Don. It's the little things.

As a side note, did anyone happen to catch Don's (Jon Hamm) American Airline commercial during the episode? Is that a little too close to home?

Tell us: What did you think of the episode? What were your favorite moments?

  • Lesley Savage

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