Mad Men Review: We Are Made By History

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"The Flood" was one of those Mad Men episodes where all the little parts grew in importance. Because when a big life event occurs, the actions of people are impossible to predict.

Everyone has those moments in life where you remember exactly where you were when they occurred. In my lifetime alone I can remember the day a man walked on the moon for the first time... the funeral of Lyndon B. Johnson being televised... the death of John Lennon and countless other rock stars and actors... the first shuttle exploding and the next.. Columbine... 9/11... John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crashing; the list is endless.

Megan's Role

Watching recreations of such events - such as the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. - are interesting to me from the standpoint of how they affect the daily lives of everyday people. That's exactly what we got in tonight's Mad Men. It started out with Megan up for an advertising award, Don lusting after Sylvia (I still don't see how he could choose her over Megan) and Peggy scouting out apartments.

Normal, everyday things. The big deal was having Paul Newman as a keynote speaker at the advertising awards and his odd timing to pledge his support to Eugene McCarthy for president. As he was on stage, someone shouted something I couldn't make out, and in the confusion, it took me a while to get it: Martin Luther King had been shot in the face and killed.

As it should be, there was utter pandemonium and shock. People didn't know what to do. In an age of cell phones, we don't realize how difficult it would be to stand around in a cluster of hundreds waiting to get to an open telephone booth to check on loved ones to make sure people were okay. 

Because when an event that big happens, anything can happen. It's like a little push of a domino trail that sets the rest tumbling down. Fear, confusion and the desire for normalcy fuel everything and that was happening to each character. As people waited to use the phones, the lights flickered.

Peggy: What are they doing? They're really still having the awards?
Don: What else are they going to do? | permalink

Later, it was just the slightest side note that Megan had won. In the scheme of things, it just didn't matter any more. It was an award to be tossed on the couch when she got home to turn on the TV to see what was happening on the news. 

As the "negro" secretaries arrived at work, everyone was shocked, expecting they would have stayed home. The folks at SCDP tried reaching them, but couldn't and they just came in, afraid not to, but kind of wanting to, to keep that sense of routine. Even when Roger said they would close the office out of respect, he called a meeting at 3 p.m. Utter confusion.

Betty was still thinking of herself above all else by insisting Don drive out to pick up the kids and take them into the melee that was happening in the city. Bobby was being punished and not allowed to watch TV, so he and Don sat through a couple showings of Planet of the Apes at the theater. 

Betty didn't even have time to share the news with them that Henry had been asked to run unopposed for a Republican state senate seat before Bobby was telling Don he was afraid someone would kill Henry like they did Dr. King. But Betty got her weekend alone. That's all that matters.

It was a pretty unique way for Peggy to learn that Abe had feelings for her and their future together that included children because she didn't get an apartment on the Upper East Side. She lost an award and an apartment in one day, but still her future looked as bright as the sun.

Peggy's life is turning out to be so different from the mousy little girl we met in Mad Men Season 1. She's truly an inspiration, even for females in 2013. Megan is too, for that matter. 

I'm not leaving out the adorable date Ginsberg had with a teacher, set up by his dad. Sometimes meddling parents can do the right thing. How on earth did Ginsberg get through life not knowing he was handsome? I can't wait to see more of his story and see him getting out a bit more. Thanks, Peggy, for the hire. 

This was one of my favorite episodes of the season for just showing us a day in the life. To me, they are the best. The drama makes sense, there are reasons for tensions riding high and we get to see a tragedy we didn't live through from the eyes of characters we've come to know.


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (52 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I agree this was a horrible episode. Anyone who lived in New York in 1968 knows it was way off base. People running to phones... for what? They do that for hurricanes and natural disasters to check on loved ones, not assassinations. (People didn't do that for JFK or Bobby either.) This show has really gone off the rails this year. Sad, it used to be so good. They need to get the episodes back in the agency and keep them there. It was the office politics that made this show great... once upon a time.


You never covered the Vikings .....youre OUT OF TOUCH !!!


***the funeral of Lyndon B. Johnson being televised..*** Do you mean JFK's funeral? LBJ died long after he left office, and as I recall [I was alive then] his funeral wasn't that big a deal. JFK, on the other hand . . .


How is it possible that Don Draper cannot see what a hypocrite he is? Even back then it's just so hard to sit by and have him not support his wife in her career and a silly "on-screen" love scene when he's cheating on her with her good "friend" down the hall. Makes me see RED and usually it is Cristina that does that. Last night's episode did show us (gratefully), just how far we have come with race least in most part of the country. It was practically eerie to see how uncomfortable everyone was (on both sides)and how difficult it was knowing how to help comfort those in pain. And hindsight has made the loss of Dr. King much worse than we ever imagined. We need him in the world today. At least his words are still resonating in our hate-filled world. We need more...


Me thinks the reviewer and I were watching two very different episodes of Mad Men last night. I found it to be discombobulated and disingenuous, to say the least. Their reactions didn't make sense to me, especially Peter's tirade, I don't remember the characters, besides Peggy, ever being protrayed so liberal-minded and compassionate towards minorities. The gravity of this death seem like an accessory, unlike how Kennedy's death was handled as the central arch of its episode. The "talking to MLK ghost" bit was ridiculous; Ginsberg came across as woefully obnoxious and borderline super creepy.


Ugh, I grow to dislike Harry more and more every week.
Yes, I understand that he definitely has progressed but he is so petty and so immature, and he has no frikkin idea how to handle himself to the point where it's embarrassing.
Also, he had no right to call out on Joan because her success has nothing to do with his. If we talk of assets, Joan is a huge asset to SCDP as well.
Did anybody else notice how he shushes her at the awards? I bet he wouldn't have done that had it been anybody else.


We haven't yet covered the MLK episode, but I did publish an article about last week's episode, 'To Have and to Hold.' I wondered about whether Harry was in the wrong for the way he called out Joan in the partners' meeting. Any viewer feedback would be great....I'm really curious to hear what others thought about that scene.


This review is so poor, it is hard to respond. This was, by far, the worst episode of MM of all time. Unrealistic depiction of the MLK assassination by miles, especially by the Madison Avenue crowd. The introduction of an alien character in the form of an insurance company executive (pleas e someone, explain what that was???). Dopey Dan's drunken admission that his new "parenting skills" have developed from a Sudden bolt of consciousness that he wants to be a good Dad (probably developed as he was on top of the Drs wife). Peggy's dopey expression when she hears her loser boyfriend mention the possibility of children (kick that dude to the curb, quick)! And then, to top it all of, Mr. Do Nothing (Roger) drops by to drop three one-liners with his new Alien friend. This episode deserved a ZERO.


when it comes to tonight's mad men, i can't help but relate to Harry. you work your ass off everyday to get your clients in a newspaper, on a show, or today, featured on a website, but then a tragedy happens and it all gets cut. no matter what your personal feelings may be, 2 weeks later - when the dust clears - all the client knows is that you have no results to show them, and they're not happy. ie: michael jackson, liz taylor, sandy hook, boston ... no matter how awful you feel, in the back of your mind, these things also put your job in PR and/or advertising on the line. it's a somewhat shallow, but very realistic way to approach these tragic events and i think Harry represented that reality tonight in an authentic way.

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Mad Men Season 6 Episode 5 Quotes

Peggy: Don't do anything stupid.
Abe: Hey, it's too late. I'm going to Harlem in a tuxedo.

He's the head of accounts. He's like Roger, with bad breath.