‘Mad Men’ season 6 episode 4 recap: The King Is Dead


Major historical events once again intrude on the world of Mad Men. Let’s get down to business. The most interesting news coming out of Mad Men land in the last week was Matthew Weiner basically saying that I was right and the show would go on without Don Draper – in fact, he might die this season. Last night, we had another episode that dealt with death and what we leave behind, so I’m prepared to be the smartest person in the world.

It’s awards season again, and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are up for the Heinz Baked Beans ad – ironic, considering they lost the client last episode. Even worse, their seats are way up in the rafters, giving the crew a stark reminder of their position as a small fish in a big pond. Guest speaker Paul Newman is interrupted by an audience member screaming that Martin Luther King Jr. has been assassinated, which sends the event – and the world – into chaos.

As riots break out across the country, Don tries to use them as an excuse to not have his weekend with the kids, because he’s a garbage person. Betty lays down the thunder on him, and we get a rare Bobby Draper sighting. It looks like he’s got some anxiety issues of his own now, picking at his wallpaper because the panels don’t line up. Don takes him to see Planet Of The Apes and actually shows some rare tenderness towards his son.

Amazingly enough, the person who actually came out looking the best in this episode was… Pete Campbell? It’s crazy but it’s true, as Pete (who has always been politically progressive) seemed to be the only SCDP partner to realize exactly how important King – and civil rights as a whole – were to a changing America. When Harry bitches about news coverage cancelling client ad buys, Pete opens up on him hard in front of everybody.

Meanwhile, Peggy is buying an apartment on the Upper East and planning a future together with Abe, which of course means everything is going to fall apart for her sooner or later. The amorous side-glances from Ted Chaough definitely seem to be a factor here. With professional power comes sexual power for Peggy, which is an interesting inversion of Joan’s character arc.

A solid episode, one that brought into stark focus the difference between the man Don Draper wants to be and the man he actually is – and feels helpless to change. This season continues to pick up speed, and I can see some serious fallout coming from an increasingly unstable America in the episodes to come.