Where were you when Kennedy was shot? We know where the characters in Mad Men were. Sunday’s episode focuses on the days surrounding the assassinations of Kennedy and Oswald. We learn that Peggy has continued seeing Duck and they have a full blown affair going on. They were in a hotel when they found out. Pete has been demoted and was having a conversation with Harry when the staff interrupts when he finds out. Don walked into an office with phones ringing off the hook when he found out and Betty was at home.
Pete and Betty both come to the realization that nothing is what it appears and that nothing is certain. At the end of season one, I believe Don told Betty “Who knows why people do the things they do.” That line resonates throughout the series but it is definitely recognizable in this episode. These two characters realize through their own experiences that not everything turns out okay and that there is sometimes no rhyme or reason as to why things happen. Both have childlike qualities (after getting demoted Pete goes home and eats a big bowl of cereal) and this is the episode where they grow up. It’s no wonder that the episode is titled “The Grown-Ups.”
We also see that after last week’s episode Don has lost some of his spark, his fire, his superhero ability to fix everything. He can’t fix this. He can’t fix his marriage. He can’t fix situations at work. Don has been knocked off his pedestal. Don keeps trying to reassure Betty that everything will be okay but fails time and time again. It is quite an acting feat to be able to portray a face of uncertain certainty. Don wants so much to reassure Betty but he sees it’s not working. There is so much frustration and sadness in his face. After witnessing Oswald getting shot on television, Betty screams out “What is going on?” With that statement, she is able to vent her anger and frustration at Don indirectly. Afterwards she gets dressed and tells Don she is going for a drive. She walks out on him. She leaves him and you see how little Don feels. Betty meets with Henry and they discuss getting married. She goes home afterwards to tell Don that she doesn’t love him anymore and he doesn’t want to believe it, although he knows it’s true. The episode ends with Don alone with “End of the World” playing over the credits. “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world ‘cause you don’t love me anymore.” This is very much the end of Don’s world.
There were several worthwhile scenes in this episode and many consisted of no dialogue. They replayed footage from the assassinations as well. So much happens in this episode that it’s hard to really give a complete recap and it’s definitely one that deserves a repeat viewing. Sunday night’s Mad Men didn’t start off perfectly. I think there was some over acting going on (Roger’s daughter) but it did end perfectly. My favorite part about Mad Men is its ability to have themes continue throughout the growth of the series and this episode had that. I would have been perfectly satisfied with this being the season finale. Lucky for us, we get one more episode.