Hot TV takes! Mad Men Season 6, Episode 5: “The Flood”

 A few random observations on tonight’s Mad Men episode. Spoilers all over the freakin’ place.

Quick synopsis: An awards ceremony is interrupted by the news of MLK’s death. Don takes his boy Bobby (version 3?) to Planet of the Apes. Peggy tries and fails to get a new apartment. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce doesn’t quite know how to handle the thorny MLK situation.

• The centerpiece of this episode is the revelation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. It’s one hell of a contrast to crisis reaction today: the attempt to keep the news from the awards show attendees, the long lines for the pay phones, the inability to reach one another … it’s all completely anachronistic now, so much so that it’s tough to remember a time when we weren’t totally interconnected. Though Joan Holloway selfies from the club last week would’ve gone viral worldwide.

• Race relations have burbled under the surface of the entire series, and even now none of those crazy white folk quite seem to understand how to deal with the race problem. From Peggy’s awkward what-do-I-do hug to Pete’s sudden sanctimony to Harry’s “I thought this was a work day” hard line … the world is shifting out from under these people, and they’ve got no idea what to do next.

• “I’ve never had sex! Not even once!” Michael Ginsberg, smooth operator.

• William Mapother, Creepy Insurance Guy, meets Don and crew in a scene so odd I want to believe it’s actually a time-displaced Ethan Rom from Lost.

• January Jones continues to pull off the spectacular trick of being a bad actor who also acts badly.

• Between this and the recent episode of “Justified” where Boyd and Ava try to buy a house (“Thank you for coming, but we don’t need  your shit”), real-estate agents aren’t getting the best PR in critically-acclaimed dramas these days.

• That existentialist bit at the end, where Don wonders how to love his kids, and then wonders why it hurts so much to love them … that’s where Mad Men starts to wobble on the tracks. It sounds like something meaningful, but it’s gravitas without enough setup. Gotta earn those deep-water dives.

Episode MVP: Dr. Zaius. Didn’t think it was possible to put a new spin on the end of Planet of the Apes, but this episode pulled it off. Man is a nuisance, indeed. But hey, how about a SPOILER ALERT next time, huh?

Line that should be an album title: “Going to Harlem in a Tuxedo.”

Roger Sterling quote of the ep: “The man knew how to talk. I don’t know why, but I thought that would save him. I thought it would solve everything.”

Jay

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