My favorite thing about season 6 of “Mad Men” is undoubtedly watching history unfold through the characters on this show. And doesn’t 1968 seem like one of the most eventful years in recent history? It sure feels like it. It started with the Tet Offensive, then the MLK and RFK assassinations.
Now, we witness how our “Mad Men” friends cope with the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention, where protesters and police officers clashed in violent attacks. We saw Don react to the whole affair with his usual sense of pessimism and dark humor. We’ve seen Megan have a hard time dealing with all of these events, and the riots were no exception.
Ginsberg (Yeah Bob, stop calling him Michael), took the award for my favorite scene of the episode, where in an emotional moment berates his new boss Jim Cutler for his apathy toward the war. When Cutler glided over any news about the lack of discussion about the war in the DNC and said he refused to get distracted in a matter “In which i have no actual stake or participation,” it resulted in a response from Ginsberg where he called him a fascist, a racist, a man who loves business and hates everything else.
And then, after the violence against protesters during the convention, Ginsberg realized that he was part of the problem, that he can’t go on a business pitch for Manischewitz, a brand known for its Kosher products, and pointing to his brain, says he “can’t turn off the transmissions to do harm.” It was creepy Bob Benson to the rescue (will explain creepiness below). Although he couldn’t save the account (it was doomed for months, apparently), Benson still delivered, according to Cutler.
Another person whom I hope delivers is Joan. She has always had to take trickier steps to get ahead. Why? Why was Peggy able to rise up and gain success in a much more admirable way than Joan? Is she smarter than Joan? Is Joan only seen as a piece of meat? When Joan was asked what her role is at SCDP-CGC (thank God that gets resolved), she really doesn’t have an answer. We’ve seen her struggle with her role at the company all season, even telling her friend she gets treated as a glorified secretary. She knows she needs to find one. But how?
I loved how Peggy was able to tell her, “Joanie, I think you’ve made a mistake,” but at the same time, come to her rescue when we thought it was all going to be over. Joan knew it could come to this, but she knew she had to take this step. It was risky, but she’s taken bigger risks than this.
Over in California, Don, Harry, and Roger were (of course) checking out girls, chillin’ with hippies, and (again, of course,) embracing the drug culture around them. Don smoked some hash, told a woman his name was not Don, imagined Megan telling him she was pregnant, and in a very chilly moment, was haunted by the soldier he married off in Hawaii, who had two arms then, one arm now, but still had Don’s lighter. After informing Don he’s dead (but still lacks an arm), he says, “dying doesn’t make you whole. You should see what you look like.” In the next moment, we see Don get rescued from the pool. Doesn’t he know by now that drugs don’t really suit him?
Sterling Cooper & Associates. What game is this? What are Cutler and Chaough up to now? Also, don’t you just love Bert Cooper?
Humphrey vs. Nixon. As a history nerd, loving all the politics talk on “Mad Men” this season, and seeing opinions of the Megans vs. Dons vs. Rogers vs. anyone else.
“WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS DOWN HERE GO UPSTAIRS.” - Jim Cutler to Bob Benson. Awesome.
Which brings me to Bob Benson. Last week, I failed to notice a big hint about one of the major reasons Benson is a major mystery. If you just saw this episode, he seems like a nice guy listening to a self help book and yelling at Ginsberg because he “hates disrespect” (what a suck up). But then, you realize, in the season premiere, he defended sending a lavish spread to Roger’s home because he thought of his own father’s death. In last week’s episode, we heard him give Pete the contact information of a nurse that brought his father back to full health. Still think he’s a nice guy? Or that eager to prove himself? Either way, he’s sketch.
"Hippies don't wear makeup." Right, that's why Avon is struggling. Great line.
Los Angeles. Don and Roger in a convertible, and hating it. And being told by Harry that “they don’t take business cards” at a fancy L.A. party. Talk about a tale of two cities.
A second chance. In Don’s hazy state, it seems like there is still a lot of love left for his wife. Does that mean something bad will happen to her? Or is it just because I just watched the “red wedding” episode of “Game of Thrones?” Only time will tell.
“Nice rappin with you, Rog.” Danny Siegel. Roger’s ex-wife’s cousin, the guy Don was forced to hire because he “mistakenly” stole one of his tag lines. Siegel was later laid off, and is now apparently living the California dream. And hates being nonviolent.
Roger and LSD. I love how he reminisces about his druggy trips. And then tried to steal Lotus from his ex-wife’s cousin. Also, they call her Lotus.
Pete and Don. “if you don’t like it, maybe it’s time to get out the business.” Not sure why Pete thought Don would be the one to hear him out.
Season 6 themes of violence and darkness continued in this episode, and I fear there isn’t a way this season could end in the happy upswing of season 3 or in an ambiguous way like season 5. With only three episodes left, what are your predictions? And again, who is Bob Benson? What was the significance of Don’s hallucination? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Want to continue the conversation? Tweet at me @swatigauri.
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