Mad Men 5.03: Mystery Date

Don Draper’s past confronts him in an elevator, Megan calls out the giant promiscuous elephant in the room, Joyce has an eye for the macabre (and Peggy has the best nickname ever–Pegasus? How freaking cute is that), Joan’s rapist husband is home (though it’s not too late for him to be hit by a tank, let’s focus on the positive!), the 1966 student nurse massacre happened, Sally has another problematic grandparent, Roger is in effect running a shadow payroll due to schemery, Peggy is smug and awesome, she and Dawn have a sleepover, and Don has some trouble extinguishing an old flame…

You know, Matt Weiner, if you’d wanted to make a Halloween episode, you could have just renewed in time for a fall season. This was Hitchcock all over, and it’s a testament to Weiner’s abilities that for a second I thought maybe Don actually killed someone and in that case, JEEBUS H.

The general ominous atmosphere of the burgeoning 60s is creeping into the ivory SCDP tower and/or Rye–the murders, Peggy and Dawn alone in the office, riots, Sally looking like one of the little girls from The Shining, her step-grandmother hanging out with a butcher knife, Don’s fever dream. . . Anybody else notice that Michael’s pitch and Sally’s step-grandmother’s description of the nurses’ murder had very similar overtones? Eeep.

The restaurant scene was genius, confronting Joan with an accordion interlude just to remind us all how she would do anything for Greg, and the best he can do is re-enlist without telling her. Ugh, Greg is the worst. When Joan lets him have it, “you’re not a good man, you never were even before we were married and you know what I’m talking about,” I heard cheering. You’re gonna make it after all, Joanie. So…if Joan’s about to be single…. what are the odds the Sterlings stay plural very long?

I liked that Peggy invited Dawn home so freely; Pegs needs to check her privilege and internalized racism and really Peggy the purse?!?, but sigh, at least she reached out (and maybe Abe gets a little credit for that).

The closing song, “He hit me, and it felt like a kiss”…. oh man. I’m going to leave it to the Lipp Sisters to decode that one.

All in all I’m not sure what this episode was getting at; Don’s opened up about his past secrets, but Megan’s right that his appetite hasn’t gone anywhere. Sally may not need horror stories, but her grandmother’s right that she could use some discipline she doesn’t get from Betty. Michael Ginsberg is great — his Cinderella shoe pitch, though, you know, totally creepy and sexist,  is totally something Don would have done when he was trying to win over Roger (or one of Roger’s clients) back in his coat salesman days.

Maybe this is the final death throes of the fairy tale 50s (which were scary underneath anyway, just like real fairy tales) and the beginning of a whole different kind of story.

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