Who is the ‘Mystery Date’ in the latest ‘Mad Men’ episode? In a way, this episode is all about strange companion pairings: Don and his former “acquaintance” Andrea; Peggy and Dawn; Sally and Henry’s mother; and, let’s say it, Joan and her husband.
Let’s start with Joan. Greg finally returns from his domestic tour, and it’s no surprise that he’s still a jerk. He’s barely acquainted with his son (well, not really his son, but you know what I mean) before he’s in the bedroom with Joan. (By the way, if she ever hosted a modern day sex talk show, not that she ever would, that would be a fitting title.)
Later, Greg tells Joan that he’s been “forced” to serve one more year in Vietnam. But it’s not until they have dinner with his parents that his mother lets the cat out of the bag: He volunteered for it. Naturally, Joan feels betrayed. After she stays up all night thinking it over, they have a climactic argument during which he promises never to return. Joan doesn’t seem too disturbed by that. Good riddance, Greg.
Meanwhile, it’s a pleasure to see Peggy seeming so comfortable in her world, despite some somewhat awkward drunken scenes. Just a few years ago, we’re reminded, she was Don’s naïve secretary. Now she’s an established copywriter and is happy with her career, or so it would seem.
In the early 1960s, she probably would have cowered at Roger’s desperate requests. Now, when he bribes her with a $10 bill (snort) to come up with a decent campaign for Mohawk over the weekend, Peggy is certainly interested in her own personal gain. She takes everything in his wallet (about $400) and stays to work late. Boy, Roger is all about bribing people lately, isn’t he?
When Peggy finishes up, she hears a noise, and after some suspense she finds Dawn sleeping in Don’s office. It seems she’s afraid to go home with the recent riots and all. Peggy offers to put her up for the night. Once they get home, Peggy, drunk as she is, speaks candidly with Dawn about being a working woman. Unfortunately, before she goes to sleep she takes a long look at her purse on the coffee table, right next to Dawn’s bed for the night. Her momentary lapse in judgment may have cost her any credibility she built with Dawn, who does end up leaving her a nice thank-you note.
Back at the mansion, Sally is stuck with Henry’s mother Pauline while Betty and Henry are out of town. This woman is as unsympathetic as they come, a disciplinarian straight from the 60s. She tells Sally a rather revolting story of how her father treated her, as if it’s to comfort Sally for being slapped on the hand.
Sally has some trouble sleeping. It’s not just because she’s unsettled by her step-grandmama’s presence, but because she reads an article about the Speck murders in Chicago, when several women were raped and killed. Granny’s solution is to share a sleeping pill with Sally, who spends the night under the couch. Let’s hope she doesn’t become a pill addict at age 12.
And, the best for last: Don. He’s got a terrible cough, prompting Megan to stand on the opposite side of the elevator on the way up to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. One of Don’s old flings enters the elevator, which was bound to happen sooner or later. It seems to make Megan uncomfortable, but it really throws off Don’s unconscious, apparently.
After he goes home to sleep off his sickness, Andrea (the woman from his headboard-notch past) invites herself over, throwing herself at Don even though he’s clearly borderline delusional with fever. He manages to get rid of her via the backdoor service elevator, but she returns to check on him. When she is ever-so-tempting, he finally loses his cool and sleeps with her. But after she gives a brief commentary on his philandering ways, Don grabs her by the throat and strangles her on the floor, scraping her body under the bed before going back to sleep.
It seems it was all a dream when he awakes to Megan, who apparently has been there the whole time, worried about his health.
What do you think? Did that scary dream mark the end of Don’s infidelity? Or does it make him capable of murder? Or, even stranger still, is there perhaps a 1 percent possibility that it wasn’t a dream, and Megan got rid of the body? Highly unlikely, I would say, but since this is ‘Mad Men,’ you never know.