After eight episodes of Don Draper flashbacks, drugs, hippies, affairs, rivalries, and historical milestones, "Mad Men" finally delivers us two shockers.
Bill Simmons puts it best:
Tonight's Mad Men was like Miami in Game 2 - took about 2 and a half quarters to get going, then boom!— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 10, 2013
This had to be the episode when Sylvia and Don's affair was discovered. It always happens after the fact, when a couple decides to part ways and then decides to do something stupid, again. It seemed like it would be Dr. Arnold Rosen, Sylvia's husband, who would make the discovery, possibly overhearing Don's phone call with Sylvia. Or maybe it would have been Mitchell, who would then have been compelled to go off to war in defiance to his mother. (Like on "Arrested Development" when Buster discovers his mother's affair with his uncle, Oscar. Luckily, there are no loose seals in Manhattan.)
In probably one of the worst scenarios possible, Sally is the one to find her father with his neighbor's wife. To make things even more deplorable, Arnold and his son Mitchell come to thank Don for his intervention and saving him from going to Vietnam. Sally, rightfully so, can't take it, and storms off, screaming at her father: "You make me sick."
Don's relationship with Sally has always been rocky and distant, but they have had their few close moments. Seeing Don's reaction, his break down, his disorientation after his daughter discovers his affair is telling. His secret was unearthed, and his relationship with his daughter is beyond repair.
Moments before that scene, we saw Sally studying up on facts before her Model UN trip, dealing with her friend mocking her for not going to second base. She was acting like a teenager should be acting, dealing with problems adolescents deal with. Moments later, everything is different. How will seeing her father in that condition change her?
That Don Draper, pacing in the hallway, breaking down in the elevator, was beyond recognition. Keeping up with a theme this season, he was a far cry from that suave, cool, mysterious Don Draper we once knew. Aside from his drug-induced adventures, this may be the lowest we've seen Don. How will he come back from this?
It's funny how Don's oblivious state is somewhat lost on Ted Chaough, who believes there is a war stewing between him and Don. When he offers assistance to help Don after, in another never-before-seen moment of Don overstepping bounds and asking a client for personal assistance, all Ted asks for return is to "end the war" between the two. Don used to be Ted-- living for work. Ted's wife's criticism against him, his obsession for work, could have been words coming from Mrs. Betty Draper. But now, that Don has disappeared; his career is the last thing on his mind.
Now, for shocker number two. Bob Benson may not be a spy. Or an investigative journalist. But he does have a secret: He's gay. He was obsessed with Pete, and not because he wants his job. (Which is another big mystery. Pete? Really?)
Manolo was probably never Bob's father's nurse, which explains Bob's fib about his father's healthy state (in the premiere, he said his father was dead). Even when Pete said Bob spoke highly of him, Manolo responded with, "He is such a great salesman," which is an odd response. When Bob hints that Manolo is gay, Pete calls him a "degenerate." The anguish on Bob's face is palpable. Still, he made a move on Pete. What did he think would happen?
And more interestingly, later we see Pete alone and angry. Was it because he decided to let Manolo go? Is it because his mother told him, “You are a sour little boy. And you were a sour little man. You’ve always been unlovable.” Is it at all possible he felt something for Bob in that moment as well? Or is it just rage at his general, not-so-great situation in life right now?
Peggy gets a cat. She doesn't need Stan. Or any man.
Pete's mother. She may not be of right mind, but it's so funny how often she's spot on. First, when Pete thinks she's confusing Kennedys when she breaks the news of Bobby Kennedy's death perfectly captures the devastation of the two assassinations. Then, she refers to Peggy and Pete's baby, thinking Peggy is Trudy. It's great.
Peggy and Pete. That moment when Pete's mother unknowingly discusses Pete and Peggy's child was heartbreaking. Peggy's expression was extraordinary. Their back and forth at the restaurant was a delight to watch. It might have been one of my favorite moments of the episode.
Roger juggling oranges. And saying he hasn't figured out how expensive their California trip was yet. Those were two other favorite moments.
"I don't want his juice; I want my juice." OK, Ted. Be more of a baby.
Betty's back at it. Her stance in the kitchen, all slim with a cigarette in hand. She's back to being the old Betty. Poor Sally.
Mrs. Draper. No, call her Megan. And who was she calling on the phone? I don't think it was her agent.
Planes. After all that talk about plane crashes this episode, should we be expecting one this season?
Mitchell. For a second, I thought Sally would catch Megan and Mitchell at it. And Don: Why exactly did he step up for Mitchell? Was it just for Sylvia? Were his feelings really that strong for her? But it seemed like he was genuinely moved by Arnold's breakdown. One thing is for sure: it certainly wasn't because of Megan, despite her worry.
Don needs a haircut. And therapy.
With only two more episodes left this season, what are your predictions? Thoughts on the episode? What will happen to Sally? How will Don recover from this? Will he? 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.