Mad Men ahead.*
If the most harrowing scene from the latest episode of Mad Men, "Mystery Date," had not turned out to have been a dream, I would've been tempted to write off the show because it was so wildly over the line. (I've been in a writing-shows-off kind of mood lately, having given warning that my days of regularly reading and reviewing Grey's Anatomy and The Killing may be coming to an end due to my deep dissatisfaction with insipid storytelling.)
If Don had actually murdered his former lover and shoved her lifeless body under his bed (which, as one viewer pointed out, paralleled Sally hiding under a sofa from a mass killer who wasn't there later in the episode) I would've been insanely angry. It was bad enough that during the entire scene I was shouting at the television, "This'd better be a dream!" Luckily, it was a manifestation of Don's fears as interpreted by a fever-plagued nightmare that his marriage to Megan would collapse under the weight of his prior sexual liaisons. (I still believe that his fidelity to the part of the wedding vows about forsaking all others will be short-lived.)
Fear in general seemed to be the overall theme of the evening as Peggy, who appears open-minded and all into gal-power, gave a worried glance at her purse (loaded with cash she scammed from a desperately stupid Roger) wondering if she should leave it there while Dawn was sleeping on her sofa, unattended.
Henry's pill- and Bugle-happy mother Pauline feared that a mass murderer who killed women in Chicago would come to New York and attack her so she kept a giant kitchen knife at her side while she was babysitting Betty's kids.
Sally was so worried about the Chicago murders that she couldn't sleep, so Grandma Pauline slipped her a sleeping pill. (That makes twice during this show's run that Sally had been rendered unconscious, the other time being when Don had taken her to work on a Sunday and she illictly sucked down some alcohol a Sterling Cooper employee had left behind.)
Joan, meanwhile, was initially fearful that Greg would get hurt when he returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty, angry with the military for sending him back, particularly when he has a new family. But Joan's fear morphed into fury when she learned that not only had Greg volunteered to go back, but he didn't even care enough about her and their baby Kevin to even consult her about the decision. (Kind of like how he never asked her opinion on whether he should enlist. He just did it.)
While it was stunning to see Joan -- who tolerated grevious mistreatment by Greg in the past as the price for landing a husband (she told him he wasn't a good man adding "I know you know what I'm talking about") -- jettisoning her marriage, it shall prove fascinating to see her evolve into a strong, independent, single mother who's no longer simply after getting a ring on her finger.
My favorite part of the episode: Peggy shaking down Roger, shamelessly so, getting him to part ways with $400 in exchange for Peggy saving his sorry behind. Peggy is coming into her own, despite the unfortunate purse incident which came on the heels of her attempts to bond with Dawn and knowing what it's like to be "the only one" of her kind in the workplace.
Image credit: Michael Yarish/AMC.