In last week’s “5Takeaways from Mad Men- To Have and To Hold,” we had a mainly Joan centric episode that was filled with cultural clues ranging from the Smother Brothers show to the Electric Circus. This week we saw Matthew Weiner capture one of the important (and infamous) events in the 1960s, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are 5Takeaways from “The Flood”
The way the Mad Men responded to the tragedy was similar to how we deal with tragedy now
It is interesting that this episode appeared so closely after the Boston Marathon bombings. Comparing and contrasting the way the characters react to the news of the assassination show that the responses weren’t that different. Although, there was no social media, most of the characters are glued to their TV sets and among the more liberal characters there is a sense of solidarity. Same goes for our reaction to the Boston bombings. Many of us either tweeted, #BostonStrong or included the slogan in Instagrams or Facebook statuses. What does that really accomplish though? I would argue the people in Mad Men made more of a difference in holding solidarity with African-Americans.
You Dawn come into work the day after the assassination due to traffic problems and Don doesn’t even think she should be at work. Joan comes into his office when she is there and not only announces that the office will close for the rest of the day, but hugs Dawn. After last week’s conflict with Dawn, the hug almost feels patronizing. Don also has to take care of the kids for the weekend. While Sally, Meghan and Eugene go to candlelight vigil in the park (another way to show solidarity), Don takes Bobby to Planet of the Apes. The movies are surely an escape for Don and Bobby. Before they start watching the film for a second time, Bobby tells an African-American usher, “Everyone goes to the movies when they are sad.”
Events like this are huge opportunities for others
Going back to the Boston Marathon bombings, The New York Times, sends usually a freelance writer to cover the Boston Marathon. It’s a major race sure, but Marathons aren’t usually a huge sports story. Tim Rohan was sent to the Boston Marathon this year, a freelance reporter. Obviously, the story became larger than just the race. Rohan ended up getting his article on the front page of the Times. A huge honor. Of course Rohan didn’t want the event to happen, but the event will forever cement in a writing gig. I bet he won’t be a freelancer for very much longer.
The same concept goes for characters in Mad Men. We don’t exactly know where Abe is at his career at this point, but he writes a story about the “riots” in Harlem for The New York Times. After following Mayor Lindsay and his “smiling face,” throughout Harlem, Henry Francis thinks he can do better is going to run for State Senate. Eventually, he hopes to be Mayor of New York. Even Peggy’s realtor finds an opportunity in lowering her asking price for an apartment because of its proximity to Harlem. Peggy does not get the house.
Pete Campbell is having a tough couple of weeks
The last time we really had a lot of Pete-time was a couple of weeks ago when he had his disastrous affair. This week, we get a little more of an idea of that state of his and Trudi’s marriage. Pete has pretty much been confined to his apartment and has been watching the news coverage. Pete calls Trudi to see if she’d and Tammy would like some company. It seems that Trudi actually does want to see Pete, but she says no and Pete stays home. He’s almost desperate for human contact. A Chinese delivery guy comes and Pete tries to chat with him, but to no avail. The guy can’t speak English so Pete just leaves him a nice tip.
Back at the office, Pete clashes with Harry. Harry is becoming a pretty unlikable fellow. Pete and Harry first meet because their secretaries aren’t at work. Pete calls it a shame (the assassination), but Harry calls it a shame for a different reason. He reasons that the advertisers are upset that their commercials are being preempted because of elongated newscasts. Pete takes great offense his disregard for sensitivity and it takes Cooper coming out of cave to make them shake hands.
Peggy and Abe’s relationship is awesome
Even though Peggy’s mother had a lot of doubts about Peggy and Abe moving into together, it seems like things have been working out. Sure, Peggy makes more money than Abe, but she doesn’t care. I think she’s happy to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t put her on a pedestal like Don, Ted or Pete. In the beginning of the episode we see her gazing out a window, similar to a way Don used to. We realize that she’s with a realtor. The realtor is actually under the impression Abe has the money for the apartment, but of course she’s incorrect.
Peggy puts in a slightly lower offer after the realtor convinces her the seller will take less because of the riots going in Harlem, but she doesn’t get the apartment. Speaking to Abe about losing the apartment, he doesn’t seem too upset, saying, “I imagined raising our kids somewhere that was more diverse, maybe on the upper west side.” Peggy is clearly surprised (and happy) about Abe even talking kids. She quickly forgets the loss and drinks some of her Budweiser.
Don is quickly losing his mind and ties to Meghan
Back in the beginning episode Meghan and Don are going out to an awards ceremony (where they learn MLK Jr. get shot) and run into Sylvia and Arnold. They are going to Washington DC Don learns so Arnold can give a speech. After the assassination, Don becomes worried about Sylvia in DC. Others might be watching TV to learn more information, but Don is so focused on Sylvia that he forgets he has the kids that weekend. I guess at this point Don barely see his kids.
Meghan tells Don, “Is this what you went for them, to see you drinking all the time?” Don says, “You want to love them, but you don’t. You wonder if your father had the same problem. And you wonder if one day you will feel love for them”