the recap recap

The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps: ‘The Flood’

Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) - Mad Men - Season 6, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC
Photo: Michael Yarish/AMC

The critics were pretty frustrated with white people this week. The recaps compared “The Flood” to everything from a Woody Allen film (thanks to Ginsberg’s date) to a painfully awkward race-relations drama (thanks to Joan’s hug). A number of reviewers questioned whether Pete Campbell may have redeemed himself, though most think he remains a “shameful, shameful” character. Many evaluated the connective ties between the similarly assassination-themed “Grown-Ups,” though all were dissatisfied by Matt Weiner’s vanilla interpretation of MLK’s death. As our own Matt Zoller Seitz described it, “the chickens of Mad Men’s whiteness finally came home to roost,” and unlike Peggy, no one was left smiling on the couch. Here’s your weekly recap of the recaps.

* “Check out Moss in that scene where she finally gets some contributions from Abe about the apartment hunt. Her face goes through about 15 emotions in the space of five or six seconds. I know she gets Emmy nominations and stuff, but Moss just might be TV’s most underrated performer at this point, capable of complex, subtle work that rarely calls too much attention to itself. Just wonderful stuff.” —A.V. Club

* “That news is first broken at the ADDY Awards, where both SCDP and Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough are seated in the far back of the room. This underscores Chaough’s complaint last week about the smaller firms being left to fight over the scraps while the big boys stuff themselves full at the buffet, and further fuels the possibility that the two companies might come together in solidarity against their competition … The seating arrangements also allows the show to get away with giving us a gray-haired blur in the distance and calling it Paul Newman.” —Entertainment Weekly

*”Watching [’The Flood and ‘The Grown-Ups’] back-to-back reveals some notable connective tissue between the two … Perhaps most notably, in ‘The Grown-Ups,’ Pete Campbell had just been passed over for a promotion and was supremely shaken by JFK’s death, complaining to Trudy that ‘Harry Crane was looking at his paperwork, calculating how many ads weren’t going to be aired.’ In ‘The Flood,’ hey, guess what? Pete Campbell is still super-pissed at Harry Crane.”Esquire

* “Ginsberg’s so strange that it’s hard to tell if he’s mocking Randall’s talk of a visitation from MLK’s ghost or if he genuinely wants to hear more about it. He could be doing both at once.” —HitFix

* “Randall was just another reminder that the kind of elegant obfuscation that is Don’s stock in trade is largely going by the wayside. Don keeps encountering people who assault his worldview – hippies, rock chicks, swingers, drugged-out weirdos – and if, like Harry, he thinks this is all going to stop soon, he’s got another thing coming.” —Huffington Post

* “Peggy lost the Andy Award. To Megan. And she lost an Upper East Side apartment to somebody willing to go a little higher than $5,000 below list. But she gained something far more valuable: the knowledge that her boyfriend is so intimidated by her earning power that he’ll quietly move into a neighborhood he doesn’t like because he doesn’t feel like he has the right to complain. It’s not his money.” —Grantland

* “How will these mangled psyches cope two months later when Robert Kennedy shows up at the Ambassador Hotel?” —Los Angeles Times

* “[Randall’s] pseudo-hallucinogenic query was fun, but so rushed. Really, they just skipped right over it. The whole episode seemed scattershot to me. When I love ‘Mad Men,’ the characters are embodying the contradictions of the times. This week, they seemed to be acting them out.” —New York Times

* “Abe … is encouraging his girlfriend to buy something in the ‘West 80s.’ And Peggy has fallen hook, line and sinker for this plan, even though Abe’s not ponying up a cent for this purchase. Why? Because he slipped the phrase ‘raising our kids’ into his argument for moving into a more ‘diverse area.’ Those three little words knocked all sense of pragmatism out of Peggy’s head and reduced her to a giggling schoolgirl. Don’t let that guy’s name appear on any legal documents until he’s put a ring on it, Pegs.” —Rolling Stone

* “It’s important to note that we only had reactions to MLK’s death from black secretaries, line cooks, and ushers for no other reason than that Those In Charge Of All This have, from the beginning of our story, chosen to ignore the many worlds in which they did things other than serve the white men in charge. This choice fails both us out here in the real world and the characters we follow; it fails us all consistently; and though the failure is most evident in moments like this week, when the stakes seem all the higher, doesn’t mean the failure isn’t happening in small ways, every week.”Time

* “Those who love to hate Pete will say his reaction was annoyingly disingenuous. To me, his rage underscores what makes him one of the show’s most riveting characters (and it reminds us, at a particularly moralistic moment in ‘Mad Men’s’ trajectory, that the show’s moralism is never all that easily delineated). Despite having seemed utterly cavalier and prideful about his split from Trudy, Pete calls her to see if she and the baby need him to come home. (They don’t, or Trudy pretends that they don’t out of pride.) Unlike Don, who doesn’t want to face the ugliness of what’s happening around him, Pete is openly horrified. He tries to address his shock and anger at work, but old-school Bert Cooper tells him to simmer down. The answer, we’re repeatedly reminded by the older characters, is to ‘go to sleep’ and pretend the world isn’t coming apart at the seams.” —Salon

* “But for all the characters we spend time with in ‘The Flood,’ only one person speaks with the wisdom of experience: Ginsberg’s father, a Holocaust survivor who berates his son for abandoning his date after news of the assassination begins to spread.” —The Week

Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps: ‘The Flood’