Mad Men: “The Flood”


I was initially tempted to blast “The Flood” for looking at the Martin Luther King assassination purely from a white perspective. If there were ever a chance for Mad Men to finally tackle race head on, this was it. Instead “The Flood” continues with Mad Men‘s near stubborn mission to analyze race obliquely.

However, I think it would’ve been disingenuous for Mad Men to suddenly shift gears. Moreover, it was interesting to see how upper-middle class white people reacted to the death of MLK. Also, instead of reaching towards some global snapshot of America’s zeitgeist amidst the riots, Mad Men drew inward, looking at how characters sought shelter within their respective families. In that regard, I thought the episode was a success.

(Joan’s hug is a metaphor for Mad Men and race)

Mostly, “The Flood” shows how white characters use this tragedy opportunistically.

Pete, for example, tries to use the death of MLK as a foot in the door with Trudy, only to be shut down – as if Pete needed to be anymore vilified. Later, he projects his feelings of guilt onto Harry Crane, who complains about loss of advertising, with a diatribe about how MLK was a father of four.

Peggy, meanwhile, continues her Liz-Lemon quest of having it all. Her real estate agent unabashedly suggests she strike while the riots drive down prices in the New York housing market. Likewise, Abe, a struggling journalist, is giddy with excitement to bail on Peggy at the gala to report on the riots.

On a lighter note, Peggy seems to be tickled when Abe hints at his desire to start a family. It’s nice to see a character who’s actually happy on Mad Men.

Then there was that insurance dude who wanted to make an ad exploiting people’s fear of Black Rage. This I wasn’t a fan of. It was trying to hard to be all “woah, it’s the late 60s and people are far out!” That’s some jumping the shark shit.

Of all the arcs this week, I thought Ginsberg’s was the best. Weiner has pushed our zany Jew into even zanier Jewishness, with Ginsberg professing his lack of sexual experience to his date whom his father selected. In the same vein of opportunism, Ginsberg Sr. suggests Jr. use MLK has a chance to get laid. Successful relationship have been built on worse, I guess…

who will be the Betty to my Abe(I really need a Peggy to my Abe…)

Then there’s Don.

I’m still not quite sure what to make of Don these days. In the previous season, Don seemed to be adjusting well to his new marital life, and was threatening to become vanilla. Now, though, he’s back to his philandering brooding ways. The obvious danger here is for Don’s arc to become turgid. However, I disagree. I think it’s bold for Mad Men to push a once loveable bad boy into a repulsive yet pitiable character.

We see this when Don admits to Megan that he’s finally come to love his children. We all know that Don had a shitty childhood, but this moment of vulnerability really hits home. That his childhood has resulted in an indifference towards his children is heartbreaking. Yet, when Bobby reveals that Henry has become his surrogate father figure, you wonder whether Don is too late.

Accordingly, Don steps outside to have a smoke and a brood.

(Pete ordering Chinese delivery was fucking classic television)

“The Flood” also further pushed the sense of apocalypse in Mad Men this season. The death drive, which has been present since the first episode, is in full effect.

We see this with Bobby who wants to tear away at the wallpaper that is out of sync on his wall. The death drive is about tearing away the veil to reveal the pure chaotic void beneath. Accordingly, Don and Bobby watch The Planet of the Apes twice, with the show focusing on the iconic climax.

It’s tempting to suggest that a major character – perhaps even Don – may end up committing suicide by the end of this season, but I don’t think Weiner will so nakedly repeat himself. Nonetheless, to what extent is Don’s behaviour a form of suicide? His current self-destruction is alarming even by Don’s standards. Christ, the way he was eye fucking Sylvia in the apartment lobby couldn’t have been more obvious.

I have a feeling season six’s finale is going to epic as shit.

large planet of the apes blu-ray11YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!




~ by braddunne on May 1, 2013.

One Response to “Mad Men: “The Flood””

  1. Great post!

    I’ve read that Season 7 is the end of Mad Men. However, it would be a shocker for a Season 6 ending with Don Draper’s suicide. He is definitely headed down a dark road to ruin. Or perhaps someone will murder the wife chaser.

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