Good to see Stephen King in a consultant role on "Mad Men." Thought he would have given Pete Campbell something more diabolical to do.
Kidding, of course. Mr. King is busy. But this episode was downright creepy and weird and King-like. Don had a murderous dream -- or is it nightmare? The Speck student nurse murders freak out Sally. And drunk Peggy is sort of annoying and depressing.
On the "Hell, yes!" side, Joan finally stands up to Greg. Because that dude had it coming. Has he ever done anything right? Ever?
Let's start with Don because a) I've teased it already and b) it was freaking weird.
Actually, things start out pretty boring in DonandMeganland. They start immediately with their fight-and-make-up routine, since they run into an old paramour of Don's in the SCDP elevator. Andrea was a former freelancer at SCDP who found time to mess around with Don at the loading dock at Lincoln Center. Was that place more sanitary in the 1960s?
"How many times is this going to happen?" Megan whines.
"We're in Midtown. I'm going to run into some people," Don offers. Midtown Manhattan is swarming with former Don conquests.
Don's not in the mood to fight. He's sick. Very sick. Megan points out that he "even looks bad," which rarely happens to Don. So after fighting with him some more about his frisky past ("That kind of careless appetite you can't blame on Betty," she says. Ouch, but true.), she sends him home to rest.
After a meeting with Butler Hosiery, in which Michael Ginsberg sells his ad campaign but still gets yelled at my Don because he offered another idea after selling the first, he goes home.
Knock-knock. Who's there? Andrea. Being sexy and overly forward. She just wants to "talk."
"We've done all the talking we're ever going to do," he says.
Apparently not, because later Andrea sneaks back in the house, reminds him of the loading dock incident and Don pushes himself on her wildly. Is it bad I kind of liked seeing Don get back into manwhore mode?
When they wake up, Don tells her there won't be a next time. "It was a mistake," he says.
Andrea's not having it. So Don, all sweaty and sickly, strangles her on the ground of his bedroom, pushes her under the bed (all that's visible is a high heel) and goes back to sleep.
I literally had my mouth open for a second, but the next second realized this, you know, couldn't be a thing. Truth. Later, it's revealed he imagined it all. Megan's been there the whole time, taking care of him.
I don't want to get deep into the psychology of this. I'm assuming Matthew Weiner wants you to know that Don's subconscious is either telling him to get rid of his past or telling him he can't get rid of his past.
I want to point out that this was totally random and odd, yet weirdly effective storytelling. Even though Andrea was cast directly from Cliche Crazy Ex Casting, I like when Don gets out of control. He doesn't know how to handle himself and that's always interesting to see (even in a dream).
What's next: Faye Miller coming back in a sex dream? Miss Blakenship? More Don nightmare/dreams, please.
You go, Joan: I always say this, but I love when Christina Hendricks gets a showcase. And her Joan got a whopper this episode after we missed her during last week's Ode to Fat Betty.
Hubby Greg is coming back from Vietnam after a year. I've always enjoyed our Joanie when she's Greg-less and also becomes less of the perfect wife robot she assumes she has to be.
Everything starts out good. Greg loves little Kevin Holloway-Sterling-Harris. Joan's ever-annoying Mom, Gail, goes out to let the "two visit a spell." Aw?
Later though, a bologna sandwich gives Greg the strength to tell Joan that he -- surprise -- is going back to Vietnam. In 10 days. And stay for another year, even though the two had agreed that he would be home to stay after a year. It's his orders, he insists.
Oh, Greg. Turns out over a dinner with his parents and Joan and her mom, that Greg VOLUNTEERED to go back for a year without asking Joan. I know, I know. It's Vietnam and they need good surgeons, but no one plays Joan like that.
They fight, of course. And thankfully Joan is sticking up for herself and showing how bad of a decision-maker and unprepared for Joan-as-wife he is.
After a nap, she's made her decision. "I was thinking about it and I want you to go."
Greg thinks she means she's OK with him going back.
"No, I want you to go and never go back."
Hell yes, Joan. Finally. Greg goes on and on about how the Army needs him and makes himself out to be the good one in this situation.
Then comes one of the best Joan lines ever: "I'm glad the Army makes you feel like a man, because I'm sick of trying to do it." I don't know when I'll ever be able to use that line myself, but I'd like to at some point.
And later, another sure-to-be classic Joan line: "You're not a good man. You never were. Even before we were married, and you know what I'm talking about."
I think it's safe to say that all "Mad Men" fans (and, therefore, Joan fans), had been waiting for this moment since, you know, Greg raped her in Don's office in Season 2.
Anyone sad to see Greg and his many tight white shirts go? No. Cool. Me either.
Peggy adopts Dawn for the night: I'm a little confused as to where the writers are going this season with Peg. So far, she has been a bit of a nuisance (insulting Megan, acting generally uppity). This time around, she takes advantage of Roger forgetting to do the whole Mohawk Airlines campaign presentation and gets $400 from him to stay in the office all night and do it.
Later, she hears a noise, inspects and finds Dawn, Don's secretary, sleeping in her boss' office. With rumblings of race riots starting in NYC, she's afraid to go home, but Peggy offers to put her up in her apartment for the night.
I do not like drunk Peggy. She annoyingly name-drops her journalist boyfriend as covering the race riots to Chicago, as though that will make Dawn feel somuchbetter! She then whines on about being unhappy at work. "Do you think I act like a man? I try, but I don't know if I have it in me. I don't know if I want to."
Dawn starts to look for the exit, but decides to go to bed, even after Peggy says she understands Dawn's loneliness at the office because she was once the only woman working there. Note to Peggy: being a white woman in the 1960s workplace and being a black woman in the 1960s workplace are SORT of similar, but not really though.
After all of this Peggy pauses, looks at her purse lying on the coffee table and hesitants to leave it in front of Dawn. This was one of the finest moments of the episode, a showcase of inherent prejudice, even ever so slight. It was all made worse when Dawn leaves a note in the morning thanking Peggy for "the hospitality."
Nice bonding session, Peggy.
Valley of the Sallys: Finally, what's little Sally Draper up to? Having a hard time at home with Henry's mom, Pauline (Sally never calls her Grandma). As an odd plot point, the Richard Speck murders of eight student nurses hangs over this episode like a dark cloud (the timing means this is middle of July).
Pauline reads about the murders in front of Sally, who is naturally curious but told to shut up and eat her tuna sandwich (Henry and Betty are off somewhere ignoring their kids). Later, Sally finds a newspaper, reads the news and is scared.
She goes downstairs in the scary Francis castle and finds Pauline, who does perhaps the worst job of explaining what happened to those nurses.
"Why did he do that?" Sally asks.
"Probably because he hates his mother," Pauline says.
Later, she gives her take on what probably happened: "The girls got ready for bed and there was handsome man there. And someone probably knew him, or not. ... the young innocent nurses in short uniforms, stirring his desire."
"For what?" Sally asks
"What do you think?" Pauline snaps.
Seriously. Later, after making Sally "feel better" by showing her her burglar alarm, a giant butcher knife, she gives Sally a Seconal -- a barbiturate! -- to help her fall asleep.
Sally is now most likely to have a "Valley of the Dolls" subplot or join a cult. Or both.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM 'MYSTERY DATE'
Most succinct observation about SCDP: "Y'all drink a lot." -- Dawn
Worst time to bring up Joan's accordion playing: When another player serenades them at the dinner when Joan discovers Greg volunteered to go back.
Most inappropriate work behavior: Peggy, Stan and Megan ogling the exclusive crime-scene photos of the student nurse photos Peggy's photog pal, Joyce, brings in the office.
Best comeback: When Don says Michael Ginsberg's voice is hard to listen to, Michael sticks up for himself by saying it's a "regional accent."
Sure, Don: "I married you and I'm going to be with you until you die." -- to Megan
Best Roger outburst: To Peggy: "Are you drunk?! Get your feet off the desk!"