And in the last two minutes of the episode, it finally happened.
Just before I watched "Mad Men" last night, a friend said she was eager to watch the Robert Kennedy assassination episode. We knew it was coming-- and we predicted a momentous episode, similar to the ones when our "Mad Men" friends dealt with President Kennedy's death (at Roger Sterling's daughter's wedding) or Martin Luther King's assassination (at an award show dinner).
We have heard Bobby Kennedy's name mentioned numerous times over these last episodes this season, and every time, I feel a pang of devastation for these characters. A drunken Ted Chaough mentioned Bobby's name again, but I didn't think the deed would be done in this hour-long episode. And then, I was wrong.
After an episode full of Don's mind games, a romance ending (Don and Sylvia, finally), a potential new one starting (Joan and Bob), of Pete's struggles with his mother, and of Peggy's return to her old stomping grounds, I didn't think this would be the RFK assassination episode. Alas, it was. In the last two minutes, we see Pete's mother and Megan take in the event. We see a crying Megan and a Don who doesn't even attempt to comfort his wife, but takes a seat far away from her on the other end of the bed.
In many ways, it was perfect. It was creator Matthew Weiner saying: This is how America felt. Mere months after the Martin Luther King tragedy comes another. After a year of devastating violence in Vietnam comes more bad news. After some hope, as Ted dismissed Nixon, we saw a candidate who represented the future fall. Again. And with each passing tragedy, our characters grow more unsettled, disillusioned, and lost.
And no character is more lost than the "mysterious" Don Draper. Is anyone else getting tired of how much these episodes this season revolve around this man? If he isn't on screen, he's being discussed-- this time by Ted and Frank Gleason. Where is Betty? And his daughter Sally? And after last week's healthy dose of Roger Sterling, can we have some more? Getting a little tired of droopy Don Draper.
In the opening segment of the episode, we see Don hear his lover Sylvia's argument with her husband. Don couldn't get away faster. And with that, we knew the end of Don-Sylvia was near. Don's disturbing segments with Sylvia, his mind games and his power plays, may have been his attempt to push her so far that she would end the union. Or maybe he knew she was all he had, at the moment, and wanted to take complete advantage of that. He was no doubt devastated when she ended things-- it's been a long while since we've seen Don Draper that shaken and vulnerable. But he must have known this was coming. If anything, he made it happen.
I'm glad that's over. Draper vs. Chaough is far more interesting.
And with that, here are my other thoughts:
Peggy, you are awesome. She knows what Don is up to, and she let him know. She's right-- despite Don's hurt when Peggy left, he never really tried to win her back. But now, she's back.
Where are you, Dawn? Although I love her character, I was glad she was absent for the moment when Don's phone rang and Peggy asked (sarcastically) if she should pick it up. It reminded us how far Peggy had come on her own merit. Get it, girl.
"I'm glad you're here." "Well, I'm glad you're here!" Peggy and Joanie, BFFs. This segment takes my "favorite moment of the episode" prize.
Ted Chaough's gallantry. The meeting sequence, where we see Ted's show of "gallantry," as Roger put it, gave us another look into this newish character. In the past, he failed to impress me, with his Peggy kiss and all. But he's growing on me. His way of handling Don's immature move of getting him wasted, maybe by taking him in a tiny plane, was brilliant. I agree with Peggy-- here's hoping he rubs off on Don, who is getting more unbearable by every episode.
Groovy. Ted used the word. And when we thought he couldn't get cooler.
Speaking of groovy. How groovy is Roger's office? Very, very groovy.
Joan and Bob. Ok, I guess this is the episode when you start liking characters you may not have before (Ted, Bob). I'm not sure if I completely trust his actions yet, but Joanie is awesome. He better not mess with her.
Betty. Sally. Bobby. Where are you? Give us a break from Don's ridiculousness, please.
There you have it. What did you think of the episode? Were you surprised by the RFK death at the end? What are your thought's on Don's further plunge into darkness? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsMatthew Gilbert is the Globe's TV critic.
Sarah Rodman is a staff TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.