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