From acid trips to smoking dope in a movie theater, the decade of the ’60s really seemed to make its presence known in Sunday’s episode of “Mad Men.”
Obviously, it’s always been the ’60s on this AMC series, but something about this particular episode really rang true for us — from Don Draper’s caddy (it looked to us like a ’67) to “Born Free” (the 1966 movie Peggy Olson went to see when she needed to get away from the office one afternoon).
And you had to wonder: Where on earth did they find that vintage HoJo’s? A Howard Johnson’s motel and restaurant played a big part in Sunday’s episode, and the facility this show’s location scouts found really seemed like the genuine article. But more on that in a moment.
But first that trippy acid sequence: Who went tripping? Roger and Jane Sterling (John Slattery and Peyton List), with a small group of others following dinner at the apartment of a friend who turned out to be Jane’s analyst.
Roger and Jane apparently had a fine time exploring their subconsciences and realizing certain truths about themselves and each other. Helping them on their way: The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and an ad in Life magazine with a photo of Ted Knight. What “truth” did they learn? That their marriage is over. By the episode’s end, they were splitting up, and Roger seemed relieved, if not thrilled.
What else happened? Read on:
The episode’s other principal plotline involved another couple — Don and Megan Draper (Jon Hamm and Jessica Pare), who ventured upstate in Don’s car to investigate that Howard Johnson’s — as the chain apparently considered Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce as its new ad agency.
But the trip went awry when Megan asserted herself over a dish of HoJo’s signature Day-Glo orange sherbet, letting Don know she resented how Don ordered her around the office and treated her more like his wife than a respected member of his creative team, particularly in front of her creative department peers.
Their HoJo’s fight was so serious that Don drove off, abandoning Megan briefly and then returning to find her gone. She turned up nearly seven hours later back home at their apartment in Manhattan, and they apparently made up.
Megan’s pitch to persuade Don that she should be treated less like an obedient wife, dovetailed with another pitch — Peggy’s pitch of a new ad campaign to the Heinz rep. When he rejected her ideas, she went uncharacteristically ballistic and berated the client, who then informed Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) that he wanted Peggy off the account, but not before belittling Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) with a string of sexist comments.
The incident is what drove Peggy to the movies, where she shared a joint with a male stranger and then had an intimate encounter with him in the dark.
She returned to work, where she later learned something fascinating about the new copywriter, Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman). He’s apparently a very unusual person: About 22 years previously, he told her, he was born in a concentration camp, an extremely rare occurrence.
And, in what might have been the episode’s biggest surprise, senior partner Bert Cooper (Robert Morse), who has been gradually stripped of power at the agency he founded, reasserted himself in the show’s final scene — standing up to Don and tearing into him about his lack of attentiveness to company business. Don was irritated by Cooper’s outburst, but in the end, he knew the senior partner was right.
Sunday’s episode of “Mad Men” was the sixth episode (fifth week) of the show’s fifth season. Episode Seven airs next Sunday (April 29) at 10/9c on AMC.