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Mad Men – “The Flood” Review

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 am by Amanda Andonian


“The man knew how to talk. I dunno why, but I thought that would save him. Thought it would solve the whole thing.”

Roger’s glib words after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. herald the start of one of the most poignant episodes of Mad Men thus far, in my opinion. One of the most interesting aspects of the show for me is how it handles events in our near past, and the effects of Dr. King’s death on everyone at Sterling Cooper Draper Price reveals a lot about each person in turn.

mad-men-the-floodIt’s actually kind of surprising who’s hit hardest by the news. Of all the people at SCDP, I never expected Pete Campbell to be the one with the biggest reaction. Knowing him, though, it was probably more about his frustration with Trudy and his inability to go home than actual pain over Dr. King’s death. At the same time, I’d rather give him the benefit of the doubt. His conversation with Trudy is probably the most mature he’s ever been, and I actually felt a little sorry for him. When Harry Crane is an insensitive ass later with regards to how much money they’re going to lose in advertising with all the breaking news reports bumping commercials from air, Pete’s indignation feels completely justified.

Peggy, who’s trying to buy an apartment, inadvertently benefits from the rioting when her real estate agent convinces her to make a lower offer in light of the unrest on neighboring streets. It’s clear that she doesn’t feel great about taking advantage of the situation, but she also takes hope from the encouragement her real estate agent offers. When she doesn’t get the apartment, it crushes her momentarily, but Abe’s offhand remarks about where he wants their kids to grow up cheers her up right away. No matter how independent she is, Peggy clearly still wants the married life with children that she no doubt thought she’d never have after her ill-fated affair with Pete.

mad-men-the-flood2Then, of course, there’s Don. He reacts in the same way as everyone else—with grief and disbelief. It’s not until after he goes to the movies with Bobby that we actually start to see a more genuine side of Don than we’ve seen for a while. While Megan chastises him for not being there for his children and comforting them in such a tragic time in their lives, he finally opens up to her in a way he never has before. It hearkens back to the fourth season, when he becomes so enamored of Megan because she’s good with the kids. He was drawn to her because he knew that he couldn’t love his own children in the way that he knew he should, but Megan’s presence made him feel like his kids were in good hands. However, Bobby’s comment to the usher at the theater finally made Don feel love for his child, and he still doesn’t know how to deal with it because it hurts him so much.

One major shortcoming of the episode is the lack of perspective from the African-American characters. I feel like there was a missed opportunity, especially with Dawn, to display a different side to the show. Mad Men is finally incorporating non-white characters, but then we hardly hear from them at all in this pivotal point in American history. The most we get is Dawn’s quiet desperation to continue working, despite Don’s urging her to go home, as well as a brief interaction between Peggy and her secretary. I did laugh at Joan’s awkward sympathy for Dawn, though. It’s kind of funny that the usually calm and collected Joan would react in such a bizarre way towards Dawn.

What did you guys think? Is Don turning over a new leaf, or was he just shaken by events? Let us know in the comments!

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 4, “The Flood” aired April 28th 2013 on AMC.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

    • Jess Hicks

      Can I just say that I really detest Harry, which is a shame because I liked him in earlier seasons.

      • Yeah, he's turned into a real jackass. I think he just has a huge chip on his shoulder because he doesn't feel like anyone takes him seriously, but even when he is recognized (like that raise he got last time), he's still a jackass about it.

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