Synopsis: The Kennedy Assassination affects everyone at Sterling/Cooper and in the Draper household; Ken and Pete’s competition for Head of Accounts comes to an end; Roger’s daughter gets married.
Review: This will be pretty brief since I’ll be doing a more full “whole season” retrospective next week after the finale. The Kennedy Assassination certainly put some things into perspective for the characters. For Don, it seemed to make him feel that he needed his family in times like this. For Betty, the assassination made her question her place in life, added with the bombshell she learned about Don a couple episodes back. For Pete, it made him see just how fake everyone around him is. Roger was obviously affected because his daughter’s wedding was the next day, and it seemed to make him remember what he left behind, namely his ex-wife. It seemed to make Roger and Don come to a non-verbal understanding, which was nice.
In another way, it also helped those of us with our asses in couches. There are a couple camps of Mad Men fans — Those who watch it for the characters and the writing and those who watch waiting for “something” to “happen.” Last night’s episode seemed to cater to both, and most importantly, it worked. I was not alive back in 1963 but watching last night’s episode reminded me of 9/11 and how everyone’s perspective changed after that. This should help our characters realize that they live in a scary, unsure time. Pete may quit S/C, Betty may marry another man because her marriage to Don, she believes, is a sham. Over the last couple episodes we’ve been seeing Roger deal with the women in his life and the choices he’s made which could lead him back to Joan, whose military-bound husband could very shortly be shipping off to Vietnam. Needless to say, this was about as good a penultimate episode you could ask for. Characters have decisions to make, squabbles need closure, jobs could be gained or lost, and relationships must be salvage or not. It’s exactly where we want to be, and it makes for what’s sure to be a memorable finale.
The days of men-in-suits calling the shots are coming to an end, yet for the characters in Mad Men, there’s no way they could possibly know that yet. This should be exciting to watch.