Mad Men: The Episode Where Everything Changes

We've all been tensed, waiting for it, since the show started: the moment when everyone's world would be blown apart. And so November 22, 1963 came to Sterling Cooper. And, as Pete Campbell put it, "the whole country was drinking."



As the news spread through the show's universe, we saw the quotidian collide with the global: work, love, relationships all suddenly became trivial. The reactions rang true - perhaps especially so when we've come to understand what it is to have a beloved young president whose very existence inspires optimism, and in a time when we've come to understand national tragedy and the panic it induces.


Meeting Peggy for a "nooner," Duck makes the questionable - and telling - decision not to inform her of the shooting until after sex... particularly callous when you consider that Peggy, from an observant Catholic family, would feel especially effected by the news of Kennedy's death. In a sense, all the relationships are thrown into stark relief: Jane and Roger prove to be on completely different wavelengths at a time when their generational differences are starting to tell; Margaret and Brooks commit to being part of a dying order; Pete and Trudie bond; Roger reaffirms his bond with Joan.


Mad Men: The Episode Where Everything Changes




If people's reactions were telling, Don's speaks volumes. And does this first disregard of his word as law presage a new era in the Draper home?


In the world of denial- or is it grit? - Roger and Mona go through with their daughter Margaret's wedding. Roger calls the moment hopeful in the midst of tragedy; it feels more like the last gasp of an old order who won't let go. Once again, Don tries to make everything right. But clearly, that time has passed. The moment's far more "if that's all there is" than romantic, and for the first time, Don has lost control - not just of the moment, but of the pulse of the times.


In the wake of Kennedy's - and then Oswald's - deaths, clearly Betty feels the time for inaction has passed. But is this brave - or another kind of running?


The showdown we've been waiting for was still shocking. Truthfully, I don't know how I felt about implicitly tying the Draper's marriage to the lost innocence of the Camelot years - but the show is telling us in no uncertain terms: nothing will ever be the same again.