Mad Men, Season 3, Ep. 12: The Grown-Ups.

Sadly, I’ve no time for the usual overlong ruminations on every awesome little detail of this week’s Mad Men. I can only hit the major highlights and leave the rest up to you. Here goes:

  • So Peggy and Duck are still on. (“Duck’s not married.” “… So why are you with him?”) Can I just ask: how grimy do you have to be to unplug the TV as your president’s life hangs in the balance, just so that your tryst with a young tenderoni won’t be canceled? The look on Peggy’s face when she finally catches wind of that news broadcast, along her helpless, bewildered, “What happened?” really say it all. Is it safe to assume that little rendezvous isn’t long for this world?
  • Don’s pretty apolitical, at least conversationally. He’s also in a great deal of denial. As Betty points out, he’s in his “trying to make things right” phase, from cuddling the crying infant to offering to deal with the kids to insisting the world will soon return to normal, despite the fact that JFK was gunned down, just waving to constituents in a convertible. It’s been a while since he’s had to confront things authentically and he’s having a difficult time calibrating his life to openness. (His scene with Peggy only underscores this.)
  • Doesn’t it seem like Betty’s way more visibly shaken by JFK’s death than her own dad’s? (Or is JFK’s death just the final straw here? The passing of a loved one, she can handle, but the televised assassination of a president and then, his supposed assassin, are just way too much. “What is going on here?” she demands with all the righteous indignation she’s been mustering this season.)
  • Isn’t it interesting how Sally offers Betty the immediate reassurance and comfort Betty withheld when Sally was equally distraught about Gene?
  • That scene with Don in the bedroom, wearing a leisurely brown sweater, slumped defeatedly in the wake of Betty’s confession that her love for him has died, is just as devastating as anything that happened last week. He can’t spin his way out of this. No Jedi mind trick will convince Betty that they can work things out—or that it’d be worth it if they did.
  • Pete’s back! From the opening moments, when he grouses about the instant hot chocolate (which you can tell is instant because “they use water instead of milk!”) then immediately apologizes, you know this is going to be a week we’ll get to cheer for Pete rather than indict and deride him. From losing out on a VP gig to Ken Cosgrove to his and Trudy’s awesome, awesome, bitter decision not to attend Roger’s daughter’s wedding, Pete was fantastic throughout. I loved lines like, “It’s one thing to go and pretend that I don’t hate them; it’s another to go and pretend that the president hasn’t been murdered.” and “They’ll never cancel. You know why? Because they’re happy.” At times, it’s easy to forget how dialed in Pete can be to people’s true feelings—about him, about work, about life. But it’s moments like these when we remember it’s possible for he and Trudy to seem far less like caricatures and more like relatable people. When Trudy declares that he should start gathering his clients, confident that they’ll follow him wherever he goes, we see the tide changing. The lindy-hopping couple of episodes past has been displaced—and I can’t wait to see where The Campbells 2.0 land.
  • Predictably, Roger’s daughter’s wedding was “ruined” in the wake of the president’s assassination, but I loved how the wedding was used to provide impetus for all these changes in attitude. First Pete’s, then Betty’s. And even if we don’t care, it also provided us a glimpse into the rust under the varnish of Roger and Jane’s marriage. How different they are with each other here than they were when he was crooning to her in blackface half a season ago.
  • Will Betty answer Henry’s proposal by next week or will that be held over for next season? What say you?

That’s all I can do, but I haven’t forgotten about the Joan/Roger convo; Don’s reference to Sal; or the fact that Carla smokes(!). Weigh in on that and more below.


slb (aka Stacia L. Brown) is a writer, mother, and college instructor in Baltimore, MD. Check her out here: and here:
  • quadmoniker

    I loved this episode most because I genuinely felt the terror and tension of everyone wrapped around a TV. I guess I’d never thought before about how scary that moment was. They did a really good job with that; all viewers too young to remember JFK being assassinated remember the same feeling on 9/11. Also, Don was rendered completely helpless by Betty. I thought his awkward efforts really true in this episode.

  • “Where were you when JFK was killed?” is the age-old question that popped into my mind as Duck unplugged the TV.

    Also, I love Don’s business casual look…the dark khakis, white collared shirt, navy v-neck sweater. Timeless, classic.

  • – I remember reading about the JFK assassination and watching documentaries about it, but this is the first time I think I really understood how completely it knocked people off their axis. When Betty screams after Oswald is shot and demands to know “What’s going on here?!” I totally felt her fear and confusion, the utter disorientation. They did a really really good job in this episode.

    – And now with the end of Canelot and the age of innocence, we have the probable end of Don and Betty. I don’t know how I feel about it. The Rome episode made me want to root for them but in the end that whole trip, the existence they had there was nothing but a beautiful dream. The reality of their marriage is that it doesn’t work and hasn’t in a while. That being said though I don’t think Henry and Betty have much of a future. More promises – someone else who wants to make her “happy”. I think Betty may have had enough of feeling trapped.

    – The world falls apart and Roger calls Joan. Nuff said.

    – Did anyone else want to slap the shit out of Margaret? That child is an insufferable brat.

    – Um, “Pee Wee”????

  • I haven’t yet watched the episode but am absolutely dying to based on the recaps so far.

  • keke

    I really loved this episode. I thought Weiner and co. did a really good job of capturing that day when ppl found out when the president died. Of course I was not alive then but I got a sense of how confused and afraid people were. I found myself glued to my tv watching this episode, I got the feeling that I was witnessing those unfortunate events along with the country. It was brilliant.

    The wedding was a disaster but Roger was absolutely wonderful this episode. His character has some of the best lines and he delivers them so well. I actually liked seeing how horrible his marriage is with Jane. And we see how he really longs to be with Joan.

    I don’t feel bad for Pete, I am still upset with him from the episode with the German nanny. I love Trudy, she really is a good match for Pete. Maybe now that Pete is going to round up his clients and leave SCoop; he can start to focus on marketing to the black population and take out ads in Ebony and Jet magazine. We’ll see!

    Even though Betty and Don are unhappy, it still kind of hurt when Betty told Don that she doesn’t love him anymore. I felt bad for Don and Betty. Don has been a horrible husband, and a not so great father. I don’t think he realized how much he needed Betty until the last episode when he finally told her the truth. Now she is fed up and I cannot say that I blame her but at the same time, I want them to work it out for some crazy reason.

    I am not so sure about Henry’s proposal. I just don’t understand it given that they don’t really know each other. Maybe he is thinking about the stigma attached to divorced women and he cares enough about Betty to try and save her from that embarrassment and shame that will come if her and Don don’t work through their problems. I don’t know. I do think that it is possible for him to love Betty but I just don’t understand the marriage proposal.

  • storm

    You did and an excellent recap. And I agree with most — if not all — of your comments.

    For myself, I have really come to love Roger’s character — and the gifted actor who plays him. His humor and his resignation with his choice in Jane are A-1. Ultimately, I predict that he and “Joanie” will actually develop a true, mature friendship. Witness how Roger called Joan after the wedding to talk about his reaction to the assassination. She is the only person he is willing to reveal his “real” (as real as he can get) self to. (The interactions between these two are beautifully sweet — and somewhat sad.)

    Did parents during that time really let their children watch around-the-clock news coverage of the assassination? I just kept thinking of the 24 hour coverage of 9/11 and how most parents kept their children away from tv as much as possible.

    Speaking of children, Sally has really grown into her role. I thought her expressions of worry and concern were quite real during this episode (especially when she comforted her Mom on the couch). In the past, I found her acting too be somewhat weak.

  • brownbelle

    I was happy to see Betty express some real emotion for once. I understand that the character is unhappy, but her blank superciliousness makes her seem like a Stepford Wife robot. I wonder how far she’ll go with Henry- when they were talking she actually SMILES,teeth and all! Has she ever done that on the show? Clearly he touches something in her that Don doesn’t (at least not anymore).

    I am rooting for an eventual Roger/Joan union. Given the state of his marriage and the age of his bride, I wouldn’t put it past her to leave him; likewise it’s very probable that Joan’s husband will get killed in service. Vietnam was mostly guerrilla warfare; there were no safe zones so even the doctors were constant danger.

    Pete and Trudy’s righteous indignation were quite amusing. Still, I don’t think that things will be peachy keen if he switches agencies either. To me Duck seems like he’s hanging on by a thread, and it wouldn’t take much to push him off the wagon…

  • I really loved this episode. I thought Weiner and co. did a really good job of capturing that day when ppl found out when the president died. Of course I was not alive then but I got a sense of how confused and afraid people were. I found myself glued to my tv watching this episode, I got the feeling that I was witnessing those unfortunate events along with the country. It was brilliant.

  • See, I dunno about Jane leaving Roger first. She does seem really over him and his antics (and that annoying daughter) and she certainly seems to realize that she opened herself up for a lot of ridicule and disrespect by marrying him…but at the same time she worked danged hard to get up under him. Remember when she first started at SCoop, and she was ethering fools because their job titles weren’t impressive enough? Or how she went sniveling prettily to him when Joan (rightfully) told her to clear her desk and beat it? She’s not a stupid girl, but I don’t really see her starting over as single secretary again. I think if she ditches him it’s gotta at least be for someone on his level or higher. And who would that be?

  • also, Angry Trudy’s dress? I need that in my life. Or at least something in that exact shade of blue.

  • I couldn’t STAND Trudy at first. She was constantly whining about stuff she didn’t have: the fancy apartment in season one, the baby in season two, while Pete was trying to counsel her to just be patient. This season, while she can be a little doormatt-y at times, I think we get a better sense that she is really motivated to look out for Pete’s interest (I’ve never been a huge Pete fan) and not just her own, so I’m somewhat more ok with hernow that she doesn’t seem to be a total brat.

    Count me among those who don’t see the Henry proposal going anywhere. Something about it is just off.

    and YAY for an episode without Righteous Hippie Teacher Lady!

  • keke, I was thinking particularly about when she comes home from vacay and she KNOWS Pete has been up to no good, but when he’s all “don’t leave me by myself again!” she’s just like, “ok”.

  • ladyfresh

    TV has changed out lives. It’s forty years later a big event happens and we are still glued to the set (ok now also our ipods and blackberries i think we still run to the closest tv though)

    wow i didn’t think they could get me to like Pete but i do now

    dammit Roger i knew it was Joan

    oh Don =( humpty dumpty fell off the wall

  • Kitty Knows Best

    I thought this episode was simply amazing! This is the best episode of the season. I do not see a relationship working out for Betty & Henry. Henry is sexy…but he has creepiness to him at the same time. Betty will remain unhappy if she goes from being kept by one man to being kept by another.

    I hope for a Roger-Joan union. I hate Joan’s hubby. He’s a total ass! He raped her at her worksite. I know it was the early ’60s but jeez that was hard to watch.

    I used to hate Pete but I cheered for him this episode. Trudy is the best wife on the show and I love her clothes! Betty, Joan & Trudy are the best dressed female characters. I also like Jane’s clothes too.

    Margaret was so unbearably ungrateful, self-centered and childish! I loved how the ex-Mrs. Sterling verbally slapped that brat and took the high road when most ex-wives wouldn’t.