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‘Mad Men’ Review: “The Flood”

Mad Men Review The Flood
AMC

Mad Men’ season 6 pitches its fifth episode of the season, “The Flood,” as the tragedy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination weighs on everyone, while Peggy attempts to put an offer on a new apartment..

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “To Have and To Hold” saw Harry and Joan coming to argue about her dismissal of a secretary, while Don covertly worked on a Heinz ketchup campaign, and Megan found herself in the position of having to shoot a love scene with another man, so what will the newest episode bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ season 6 episode 5, “The Flood”!

Peggy overlooks a new apartment while the realtor lays out its virtues, before Abe shows up and marvels at the realtor’s presumption that he’d be the one to make the decision. Elsewhere at the Francis household, Bobby observes the crooked patterning of his wallpaper and tears off a piece before being called to dinner, moving his bed to cover the damage.

On their way to an advertising award ceremony for which Megan has been nominated, Don and Megan run into Sylvia and Arnold, making lightly awkward smalltalk before their car arrives. Meanwhile, Michael Ginsburg returns home to find his father talking up his chess partner’s young daughter Beverly, having invited her over to meet and share dinner with Michael without his knowledge.

Don and Megan arrive to the ceremony, Don none too eager to see Peggy at the same event. Roger introduces Don to a potential new client, while Megan says hello to Peggy and catches up, though neither of them particularly care about the award they’re up for. Meanwhile at a diner, Michael and Beverly make relatively awkward smalltalk, admitting the contrivance of the situation.

Paul Newman begins to speak at the award ceremony, but is quickly interrupted by chatter that Martin Luther King Jr. has been assassinated. The groups reel at their tables, as a speaker makes the official announcement, and we see the Francis house, and Michael and his new friend reacting to the breaking news. Abe leaves to go cover the reaction in Harlem, while Betty does her best to calm the children. Having returned home, Megan speaks to her disgruntled father on the phone, ignoring that she won the award from earlier, while Pete calls home to check in on his family and finds little welcome from Trudy.

Don arrives at work the next morning, where Roger reminds him that last night’s client Randall Walsh (William Mapother) wants to meet them at 3, regardless of the mood of the day. Don tries to reach Dr. Rosen and Sylvia on their trip to Washington to no avail, while Peggy comforts her own secretary about the passing of Dr. King. Harry Crane worries about the advertising money being lost by the preemption, coming to a shouting match with Pete over the sensitivity of the tragedy, brought to an end by Bert Cooper’s intervention.

Back in Don’s office, Dawn finally shows up to work, insisting she’d rather be in the office to help take her mind off of things. Shortly thereafter, the mysterious Randall Walsh shows up with a proposal for the group, envisioning an insensitive ad inspired by an apparent vision of Dr. King’s ghost, but Don quickly balks at the idea and ends the meeting. Over in Peggy’s office, her realtor calls to update that they can use the tragedy to negotiate a lower offer in the Upper East Side apartment they’d seen.

Don continues to watch news coverage of the Washington riots, when Betty calls to remind him that he was supposed to take the kids. Don reluctantly complies, driving Bobby, Sally and Gene past the authoritative chaos in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Michael Ginsburg’s father scolds him that he should close the deal with Beverly, especially in uncertain times of tragedy, before heading off to work.

Don awakens the following morning, seeing Megan, Sally and Gene off to a vigil in the park and electing to watch Bobby, who had been banned from watching TV for his behavior with Betty. Don takes him to a showing of ‘Planet of the Apes,’ as the young boy marvels at the ending, and the pair elect to remain in the theater and see it again. Before the next showing, Bobby makes smalltalk with the African American custodian, impressing Don when the boy remarks that people should see movies in times of sadness.

Peggy learns from her realtor that they lost the apartment to a higher offer, though Abe offers little protest, busy writing his story and somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of living on the Upper East Side anyway. Elsewhere, Henry returns home to Betty and expresses his trepidation about working for the mayor, revealing that he’d been offered a largely unopposed seat in state senate. Betty enthusiastically agrees, but grows nervous when Henry expresses his excitement about people meeting his wife.

Megan expresses her worry about Don’s drinking in times of crisis, pointing out the example it sets for his children. Don replies with his disillusion about the prospect of raising children, that parents often go through the motions of pretending to love their children until they do something that actually impresses them. Megan cries at the sentiment, unsure of its implication.

While Pete awkwardly attempts to make conversation with a deliveryman, and Betty sighs about her inability to fit into an old dress, Don finds Bobby unable to sleep, and comforts him that no one would ever assassinate Henry as they did Dr. King. Afterward, Don lights a cigarette on his balcony, and listens to nearby sirens screaming past.

Naturally, it feels a tad off-putting to see the ‘Mad Men’ characters reacting to a national crisis so recently after one of our own, but many would also take comfort in seeing such shock and sadness faithfully portrayed. History naturally dictates that the King assassination would find its way into the ‘Mad Men’ narrative, though the impact of the tragedy largely overshadows any of the events within “The Flood.”

At best, the episode offered some long-overdue material for young Bobby Draper, even if the realization it provided Don toward the end felt a little heavy-handed for ‘Mad Men’s’ natural subtlety. Pete’s brief insertions into the story ultimately amount to very little, while Peggy similarly offers little forward motion, and even Michel Ginsburg’s role in the story feels superfluous. In the end, we understand that ‘Mad Men’ would devote an episode to the passing of such a revered historical figure, we just wish they had more to say, or at least more character action to be had from it.

Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s  episode “The Flood”? Check out all our other ‘Mad Men’ season 6 coverage here, and preview next week’s episode of ‘Mad Men’ season 6, “For Immediate Release,” below!

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