Mad Men: Walking Papers

Mad Men S04E04: “Mystery Date”

Richard Speck’s July 1966 student nurse murder spree provided the backdrop for what was definitely one of Mad Men's weirder episodes to date. It’s not often that the series makes a historical reference (particularly a morbid historical reference) that I’m not familiar with. What can I say, I used to browse Wikipedia for fun.

So high five, Mad Men, I had to look that one up.

In “Mystery Date,” the women were badasses and the men were just asses. Mostly. Peggy was somewhere in the middle because, as she revealed during her little couch-side heart-to-heart with Dawn the Secretary, she worries that she acts too much like a man—especially at work—but she has to, so no one can fault her. Except she's not sure if she can keep it up. Peggy walked the line between the activities of the other men and women in “Mystery Date.” On one hand, she invited Dawn into her home, paid for her cab fare, and split a six-pack with her. On the other hand, she very badly wanted to snatch up her purse and the wad of cash she'd milked Roger for earlier in the evening, inherently distrustful of Dawn’s morals because of her skin color. Peggy caught herself, though, leaving the purse on the coffee table when she realized that she was on the verge of giving into the same prejudices that govern much of the goings-on at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Also in the middle of the spectrum was Mike Ginsberg, earning Decent Human Being points with his refusal to gawk at the crime scene photos Joyce Ramsay brought up from the Life Magazine offices. However, he found himself on the fast track to almost-fired when he couldn’t shut his flytrap at the Butler shoes proposal meeting and pitched an idea that Don had deemed unworthy after Butler had already agreed to another idea. Poor Mike, someone should probably teach him that the only person who can successfully channel Don in a board room is Don.

Though to be fair, Don didn’t hate the twisted Cinderella interpretation back at the office.

And Don, well, Don showed us his dark(er) side when a spiking fever convinced him to go home early...where he dreamed about strangling an old one-night (two-night? Three-night?) stand and hiding her corpse rather sloppily beneath the bed. I’ll admit, I worried that it was real for all of ten seconds because on Mad Men, it could go either way. Thankfully, it was all a fever dream. I don’t think I could have handled a Don Draper: Manhattan Strangler storyline.

Over in Rye, Sally bonded with step-grandma Pauline over the gruesome Chicago murders. Pauline spent most of the day talking on the phone in hushed, scandalized tones the way my mom liked to do when she was speaking of things unfit for the innocent ears of children. Newsflash, Grandma Pauline, talking as though you’re telling secrets to the telephone just makes us want to eavesdrop more.

Sally, of course, is a bright kid, channeled her Dick Whitman genes, and pulled the paper out of the trash to read up on the Speck murders herself. Subsequently unable to fall asleep, she and grandma had an honest chat on the sofa, where Pauline promised that Sally was safe, as she wielded an impressive kitchen knife. Sally still couldn’t fall asleep and because it was 1966, that mythical time when grandmas handed out pills like jelly beans, Pauline split a Seconal with her. When Betty and Henry returned in the morning, she was still out like a light beneath the couch Betty bought at the Addams family’s last garage sale.

I think we all know where this is headed.

But by far, the award for Most Badass Female of the Night went to Joan Harris, for finally booting Greg to the curb only a day after his return from Vietnam. I was initially worried that we were in for a “My Alcoholic Husband” storyline after it appeared that Greg asked for a new beer roughly every five to ten minutes—that would have been disappointing, because Joan is fierce and tough, and really should have done this two seasons ago. “I’m glad the Army makes you feel like a man," she told him, "because I’m sick of trying to do it.” Boom.


Questions:

1. It seems like all Roger does this season is throw money around. Does anyone suspect that he’ll be broke by the end of it?

2. For the first time in a long time, Peggy’s debate about her demeanor in the office made me doubt her desire to actually be in the office. But at the same time, she looked like she clearly enjoyed milking Roger for all the cash in his wallet, though that might have just been because it was Roger. Any thoughts on Peggy’s headspace?

3. Now that Greg is (I’m assuming) out of the picture, do we think there’s any chance for a Roger and Joan romance? I know I’m probably doing it wrong, but I really like them together.

4. So Don didn’t really cheat on Megan this week, but it’s coming, right? Eventually?

Comments (13)
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I think Roger is filthy rich, so he will never ever run out of money. The part where Roger was "forced" to hand out 400 dollars (which was a lot of money back then) to Peggy was absolutely hilarious. It would be too bad if Peggy decides to leave the office or stop being a copyrighter after she worked so hard to get the job in the first place.

I for one was actually hoping Joan would tell Greg the baby wasn't his when he would have told her he has a right to see his child. But unfortunately neither of those things happened.

Don will cheat, lie and deceive as he has always done. His dream to cheat on Megan is clearly his desire (or addiction) to sleep around. Though this could be misunderstood for his nightmare, but I'll pretend it's something he wants but knows he shouldn't.
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As nice as it was to see Madchen Amick again, the Don storyline/fever dream was the weakest element of the episode. Joan finally giving up on the man that raped her was the strongest; it's so obvious that Greg doesn't have his priorities straight, and the facade couldn't hold much longer.
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Another great review.

1. I can't wait to see Roger's arc for this Season. I'm hoping things get REALLY BAD.

2. I always struggle to read Peggy, that's part of what makes her so fascinating. We really did get another, really enjoyable side to her this episode.

3. Can't agree with you on Joger(?) Roan(?). That feels like a regressive move for Joan. I hope she finds someone new and worthy. One of my favourite character traits is sticking to your principles against significant social pressures to bend. It could be called the Citizen Kane philosophy. So when Joan followed through I cheered.

4. Don is slip-slipping away from Megan...
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Hoping if Roger's arc continues down the current path that they manage to find a storyline for Jane... I've always expected more for her.
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"...the women were badasses and the men were just asses."



+10 bonus points
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This was indeed a weird episode. I still have no idea why Joan married Greg in the first place and I don't know why she insisted on acting like things were okay between them until this episode. I think we are headed for a Roger/Joan romance...or maybe a Lane/Joan one?
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I don't think Don is going to cheat on Megan, which will be surprising in itself. The whole point of the nightmare was to emphasize to him how much he doesn't want to betray her. He's getting older and, whether he realizes it or not, he wants to settle in. His attractiveness to young women is also going to fade. What I do think will happen is that Megan will start to get bored with Don, as she starts to see the downside of the age gap and having to deal with his moods. She will end up cheating on him.
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I thought the strangulation scene was very well done, and, I admit, I wanted it to be real, as I think it would fit with Don's mysterious and somewhat creepy background and story line, as well as Mad Men's overall allure. Overall, this was a very women-driven episode, so Don killing a random woman, for whatever reasons, would seem fitting.



-Roger will never be broke, ever. He is always irresponsible and he always manages to squeak by somehow.

-Peggy is, and always has been, the most intriguing character on Mad Med in my opinion. I never guess what she is about to do, and I won't here. I just hope she gets her Peggy on.

-Roger and Joan seems logical to me.

-Don will cheat on her. I happen to think that it will be only once, and it will be with Betty. The consequences? Who knows.

-
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I love the idea of Don and Betty having an affair, but I've always been in the minority hoping they'd end up together in the end.



In season 3, episode 8, they took a trip to Italy together - still one of my favorite episodes - and the chemistry was impressive. But with Fat Betty having arrived this year, the dream might be dead...
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There is a huge chance that Joan and Roger will get back together. Roger and Jane are clearly unhappy, we all saw it in the premiere. Joan has split with Greg, hopefully for good, and it is Rogers baby.



BTW, I am on Firefox and for the past week every time I have tried to comment on a article, fire fox would take me away saying this tv.com was an "at risk/dangerous" site. What is that all about?
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I also get that message. I have Firefox... but it has happened on other sites as well.
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I have the same problem with my browser, Google Chrome.
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I get a similar message on Firefox
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